Superheroes can reveal the best of humanity, and indeed the worst of it. They put the super in superlative: they have the greatest strength, knowledge and powers. Some are from this planet, others are visitors, but they have one common purpose: to protect the Earth and its people.
And on most occasions, they have to protect Earthlings from themselves.
Comic book news website Monkeys Fighting Robots argues that superheroes owe their success to the progressive politics of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. In their first Superman story from 1938, the Man of Steel was pitted against explicitly political enemies.
In the two-part story from Action Comics #1 and #2, Superman saves a wrongfully convicted woman from the death penalty, he stops domestic violence, investigates a corrupt American senator and uncovers a sinister plot from a lobbyist who wants to start civil war in Latin America.
Wonder Woman was created as a political figure, according to her co-creator William Marston. In 2004's Wonder Woman: The Complete History, he referred to the superhero as "psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world".
The most explicitly political superhero is DC's Green Arrow, who has identified as an anarchist, a Marxist, or a "Commie" since his first appearance in 1941.
Superheroes, as well as being political figures, can face political situations. Marvel's Civil War storyline pitted Iron Man against Captain America in conflict over the Superhero Registration Act. ComicBook.com argues that the story went deeper than teams of heroes facing each other: "It speaks to our interest in where our personal freedoms intersect with public safety".
The X-Men, a group of mutants shunned by society, have become a "gay fairy tale", according to the Comics Alliance. The orphans, exiles and outcasts are taken in by the surrogate tribe: the X-Men. Some of the mutants identify as LGBT with Mystique being openly bisexual and Colossus being explored as a gay character in an alternative storyline.
Sir Ian McKellen, who appeared as the villainous Magneto in the film adaptations of the comic book series, said he took on the part because of the gay rights parallel.
He said: “I was sold it by Bryan (Singer, director of X-Men) who said, ‘Mutants are like gays. They’re cast out by society for no good reason’.
“And, as in all civil rights movements, they have to decide: Are they going to take the Xavier line — which is to somehow assimilate and stand up for yourself and be proud of what you are, but get on with everybody — or are you going to take the alternative view — which is, if necessary, use violence to stand up for your own rights.
"And that’s true. I’ve come across that division within the gay rights movement.”
Comic creators should be political, both in their work and as activists, argues Graphic Policy. They face low pay and no benefits in their line of work, so they need to campaign on healthcare, import tax, net neutrality and immigration, which can all affect their livelihood.
Although comic books explore a hyper-reality, featuring superhumans and mutants, they mostly take place on Earth, where our heroes protect humanity. Sometimes from a planet-shattering disaster, or a megalomaniac, but sometimes from humans themselves: and with human relationships comes politics.