9. Superman and the other superheroes served as morale boosters during World War II
Superman’s war service, which occurred in newspaper strips, comic magazines, on radio, and in film was directed almost entirely at raising morale, both at home and with the men and women serving overseas. His engagement with enemy troops usually took place as a side-effect of his having to rescue Lois during one of her news-finding missions. Most of the DC Comics superheroes fulfilled similar missions during the war, with stories of them thwarting saboteurs and espionage agents, conducting espionage themselves, and meeting with the troops during training. All the superheroes, as well as other comic characters including Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor, and many more urged Americans to buy bonds, support war drives, and recycle paper. In 1941, Batman and Superman joined forces to raise money for war orphans.
In at least one way they contributed to the value of their magazines as collector’s items in the post-war era. Paper drives continued throughout the war, with Americans urged to collect and recycle newspapers, magazines, and work papers. Many of the comic books from the first decade of Superman found their way into recycling plants, making the earliest editions of Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman, and others scarce. In the late 20th century the scarcity made the value of such early editions soar to record heights. In 2021 a copy of Action Comics #1 sold for the record price of $3.25 million in a private sale. The seller had purchased the item just three years earlier, for which he paid $2 million. According to experts, only about 100 copies of Action Comics #1 exist today. How many were recycled during the war years is unknown.