When Action Comics #1 debuted in June of 1938, DC Comics—known as National Allied Publications at the time—just wanted to turn a decent profit, all they could hope as the Depression was winding down. The featured tale in the 11-story collection focused on a new spandex-clad superhero known as Superman. Created by Cleveland artists Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman was unlike anything the world had seen before.

Up until then, comic books had largely revolved around detectives and costumed pulp heroes, but Superman was different. Decked out in a colorful costume and sporting an array of super powers, such as super strength and the ability to leap a tall building in a single bound, the man with the S on his chest was a champion of the oppressed and downtrodden. In his debut issue, he clears the name of a woman set to be wrongly executed for murder and saves Lois Lane from a kidnapping attempt. Simple stuff now, but mind-blowing back then. 

Staples like his ability to fly, kryptonite, and the villainous Lex Luthor were waiting in the wings, but this was the moment that Superman took his first steps out of the primordial ooze of Siegel and Shuster’s imaginations and began his journey towards becoming an icon.