In 2018, superheroes rule the world.
The biggest movies and TV shows of the last decade have come from the pages of DC and Marvel comics. Classic characters such as Spider-Man and Batman remain huge pop culture phenomenon, while cult favourites such as Jessica Jones and Deadpool are finding new life in cinemas and on Netflix.
But how did comic books take over the world? And how did they transform from a niche interest in the 1930s to the explosive and powerful force they are today.
Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, an exclusive new series from AMC, delves into the true origin stories behind some of the most famous comic characters of all time.
Here are five reasons you will love the Secret History of Comics…
1. This isn't a TV show just for comic book lovers
The stories in this series are about subjects much bigger than the characters on the page. You don't have to know anything about Spider-Man or Batman to appreciate the role that comics have had in shaping and mirroring society across the last eighty years.
From heart-breaking personal stories like the breakdown and reconciliation of Marvel icons Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s friendship to the political actions of the church when they started burning comics, the stories range from the personal and human to the political.
2. The origins of Wonder Woman will blow your mind
If it seemed radical to have a female superhero leading a movie franchise in 2017, imagine how significant and controversial it must have been to have a Wonder Woman comic in the 1940s.
However, the feminist and inspirational character isn't the most sensational part of Wonder Woman's story.
The real jaw-dropping part of the origins is the relationship between Wonder Woman's writer William Marston and his lover Olive Byrne and wife Elizabeth. Suddenly all the whips and dominant females in the WW stories make a lot a more sense when you understand the true birth of the comic series.
3. Superman's creators will make you shed tears
The first and arguably most iconic superhero of all-time has a real-life backstory that is as moving and inspirational as any of Clark Kent's adventures in ink.
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster may be credited today with the creation of the Man of Steel, but the story about how they came up with the idea and somehow lost it all is a classic underdog story.
Thankfully, there is a happy ending for Siegel and Shuster, which proves the power of public opinion and honour can sometime defeat even the rule of law.
4. The importance of Milestone Media
There is much more to the history of comics than DC and Marvel and the episode on the birth, crash and revival of Milestone Media showcases another side to the story.
Created by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T Dingle, Milestone was built to give underrepresented minorities a voice in American comics.
Although characters such as Black Panther and Luke Cage had existed previously in Marvel Comics, the men from Milestone wanted minorities to create their own stories on the page, rather than rely on the work of middle-aged white men.
The results, which included the Static Shock cartoon series, changed the world of comics forever.
5. New York's connection to comic book history
The history of New York City and comic books are bound together. In a special episode dedicated to the Big Apple, the series explores why writers and artists have continually chosen the American city and how it has developed and changed from the golden age, through gritty changes in the 1980s to the tragic events of 9/11.
The threat of terrorism to New York and the work of Marvel after the Twin Tower catastrophe changed the perception of comics forever. Comics gave new hope to people who reached for stories to truly understand the events that had taken place.
On the big screen, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man film and the Dark Knight series changed public perception forever. Comics had earned the respect of mainstream media, kick-starting the revolution that dominates cinemas and TV screens today.
AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics premieres on Monday, January 8th at 9pm on AMC – BT TV channel 332/381 HD.
BT Sport pack customers can watch on Sky Guide channel 192.
Catch up on the BT Player and BT TV app.