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Sherlock Holmes' Connection To Rise Of The Superhero


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With the upcoming release of the film adaptation of Enola Holmes upon us, Cavill has played Superman, The Witcher and now Sherlock Holmes, which is quite the resume.
This also makes think about the consulting detective's influence on what became known as the Golden Age of comics, in a way Holmes is the character who bridged the gap between the larger than life heroes of pre-20th Century pulp and folklore and the more grounded heroes of 1930's noir detective and war/jungle adventure novels. Elements from those genres also influenced the concept of what we know as the superhero genre.

Also, when you think about it, while DC loves to make a connection between Holmes and Batman, there's also a connection between Holmes and the granddaddy of all superheroes Superman. Holmes in the canon books has shown to possess above the average human strength like in The Adventure of the Speckled Band where he unbended his fire poker after the story's antagonist Dr Grimesby Roylott bended it in an attempt to threaten Holmes and Watson. While Holmes is treated as a mysterious figure in some adaptations, he also is a public figure known by a lot of people. Superman's powerful eyesight even in his less powerful Golden Age years that gives him the ability to see things at the smallest levels no matter how far they maybe is basically a super version of Holmes powers of deduction plus the comics later gave him super intelligence able to make deductions (he needs skills like that for a profession like investigative journalism) and perform experiments in his fortress of solitude like Holmes used to do in 21B Baker St.

Being an investigative journalist means Clark Kent needed to perform deductions in order to get the story, the early Golden Age stories which involved more Clark Kent and Lois Lane investigating had a more noir detective vibe than the traditional superhero story.

Finally, one of the pulp heroes who influenced the Man of Steel, Doc Savage the Man of Bronze was said to have been created by combining the characteristics of two literary characters, the strength of Tarzan and the intelligence of Sherlock Holmes. I think that's enough evidence showing that Sherlock Holmes had some influence in the Man of Steel's creation.

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Holmes would vehemently deny it (claiming he was merely being logical, observant, etc.), but I see your point, at least to an extent.  And of course Clark Kent said similar things!

 

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I completely agree! Doyle's stories in The Strand Magazine were the action adventure entertainment of its time. When the pulps started - almost 40 years later - the charismatic leads and trusty sidekicks clearly walked in the shadows of Holmes and Watson. 

 

Further reading:

https://www.pulpmags.org/contexts/essays/golden-age-of-pulps.html#:~:text=The first of these had,was Astounding Stories%2C dated Jan.

https://thepulp.net/pulpsuperfan/2013/12/16/a-closer-look-at-sherlock-holmes/

 

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