This article at Wikipedia lists the first appearances of Heroes, Villains, and Teams in DC Comics., but what this table does not show is the first appearance of different versions of these characters. I am fascinated by this topic and given the fact that there have been multiple versions of all the major characters in the DC universe, I am constantly stopping to look-up when so-and-so first appeared. Take, for example, Superman… Between 1939 and 1986, there were three versions of Superman. The Superman of Earth-One first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1939). The third came along Post-Crisis when Superman was rebooted in The Man of Steel #1 (1986).
The second version of Superman kind of, sort of materialized sometime when the silver age began with the introduction of the multiverse. In the late Fifties, DC introduced the concept of a least two universes, Earth-Two where the first Superman lived and an Earth-One where the second Superman resided. This concept was first revealed in a story titled “Flash of Two Worlds” Flash #123 (September 1961).
However, it was determined, retroactively by observant fans that while Earth-Two was first mentioned in this issue, Earth-One first appeared alongside the first appearance of Superboy in More Fun Comics #101 (January 1945). It was concluded that the Superboy character could not be the same person as the character who first appeared in Action Comics #1 because both had slightly different origin stories. Although both had the same origin of coming from Krypton and much of that mythos was the same. What is different is that the early Superman did not begin his public career until he reached adulthood. Therefore, Superboy must have been the teenage version of the Superman who resided in the same universe as the second Flash (Barry Allen) who first appeared in Showcase #4 (October 1956) and who met the Earth-Two Flash (Jay Garrick) in Flash #123.
It would then follow that the adult Superman of Earth-One must have had a first appearance at some point after Superboy appeared and this was determined to have been in a story that appeared in Superman #76 (May/June 1952). The story was titled The Mightiest Team in the World. It is in this story that Batman and Superman met for the first time – despite having worked together in over a decade worth’s of The World’s Finest series. This is a story that has been reprinted more than once and has been retold at least once. In it, Bruce Wayne meets Clark Kent on a cruise ship. They are forced to share a cabin and now must deal with not revealing their secret identities to each other. Lois Lane is aboard and she attempts to use Batman to make Superman jealous. In the end, Lois winds-up going on a date with Robin.
Although it is considered that Batman of Earth-Two first appeared in Batman #1 (Spring 1940) and not Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). According to ComicBookDb.com, there exists a shared history between the Earth-One and Earth-Two. They also give the first appearance of Batman of Earth-One as Detective Comics #327 (May 1964). It is in this issue that Batman and Robin got a “new look“.
Prior to the distinction between Earth-One and Earth-Two, the characters had a shared history in a Batman character that existed on an “undefined” Earth. Contrary to popular belief, not all Golden Age stories are automatically Earth-Two but exist as a shared history between Earth-One and Earth-Two characters. The first clear appearance of the Earth-One Batman was Detective Comics #327 and the first appearance of the Earth-Two Batman was Justice League of America #82. The Batman that was a member of the Justice League of America will be considered to be the Earth-One Batman since the JLA is clearly an Earth-One concept.
Robin of Earth-Two came along in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940), his Earth-One counterpart first appeared in Superman #76.
Other notable first appearances are:
|Green Arrow||More Fun Comics #73
|Adventure Comics #258
|Wonder Woman||All-Star Comics #8
|Wonder Woman #98
|Aquaman||More Fun Comics #73
|Adventure Comics #229
|Hawkgirl||All-Star Comics #8
|Brave & The Bold #34
|The Flash||Flash Comics #1
|Green Lantern||All-American Comics #16
The Earth-One Green Arrow is considered to have first appeared in a Superboy story in Adventure Comics #258 (July 1958). In a story titled “Superboy Meets the Young Green Arrow!” Clark Kent first meets Oliver Queen when both were teenagers. As Superboy, he encourages his new friend to become a modern-day Robin Hood.
In Wonder Woman #98 (May 1958), a modified origin story of Wonder Woman was told. We also learn that this Earth-One Wonder Woman can glide on air currents. The Earth-Two Wonder Woman lacked the ability to fly on her own. The Earth-One Wonder Woman last appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (March 1986).
The third version of Wonder Woman was introduced in Wonder Woman #1 (February 1987). The first 35 issues of this series were drawn by my favorite comic book artist, George Perez. They are collected in three volumes and, as I recently discovered, are available at my local digital library Hoopla for check-out.