With the latest Batman movie wowing critics and breaking a new box-office record every weekend, it's hard to argue that old-school comic book characters still have tremendous clout.
Perhaps we're experiencing the true Golden Age of the medium.
But it wasn't always this rosy. There was a long stretch in the 1960s and '70s when comic books - especially the DC titles - were struggling both artistically and thematically.
And back then the superheroes were, well, kind of jerks.
A Web site named Superdickery has taken note of that fact. The humor site is dedicated to extolling comic book covers that emphasize wacky, idiotic, insensitive or suggestive material.
Superdickery began in 2004 as a response to a message board thread that wondered how the comics industry had been able to survive so long. The site takes its name from the mean-spirited behavior often displayed by Superman on covers during the Silver Age era. This was a marketing tactic employed to introduce a story line so confounding that the reader would need to plop down 10 to 15 cents to learn how it came together.
But most of the time it made the Man of Steel look like a heartless jackass.
Featured covers include images showing Superman pulverizing the Statue of Liberty, refusing to give a dehydrated Aquaman water, forcing his pal Jimmy Olsen to live in a slum and marry a female gorilla, sentencing Batman to burn at the stake for his crime of witchcraft and making out with Mister Miracle's wife.
Among the most baffling is a 1959 issue of Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane. The cover shows the hero dropping in on Lane as whitebread pop singer Pat Boone serenades her. Superman's word balloon says, "Pat Boone and Lois Lane are singing a new song about me! It's a great tune, but I must use all my super-powers to prevent it from becoming a hit."
A caption on the Superdickery site adds: "You'll note that this is the start of a trend where Superman feels obliged to prevent anyone he knows from ever knowing the sweet, sweet taste of anything remotely resembling success."
The site is broken up into nine categories such as Stupor-Powers (ridiculous displays of heroic abilities), Weird Science (bizarre uses and misuses of gizmos) and Suffering Sappho! (a Wonder Woman gallery that deals with the character's bondage predicaments).
Perhaps the most fascinating batch is titled Propaganda Extravaganza, which frequently focuses on World War II-era images ridiculing the Nazi and Japanese forces. It is described by the site's creators as "home of the most astoundingly politically incorrect covers you've ever seen."
This is epitomized by a 1943 Captain Marvel Adventures issue that is both racially offensive and undeniably phallic. On the cover the World's Mightiest Mortal holds a battleship-caliber shell aimed toward Germany (as a sign tells us) while a grotesque caricature of a black man detonates it with a blow from a sledgehammer. Captain Marvel shouts "Attaboy, Steamboat!"
Hopefully, this will not be part of the plot when the big-screen version of Captain Marvel ("Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam") hits theaters next year.