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The 1938 version of Superman did not fly; Superman did not fly until some time in the 1940s. Earlier Western stories, based on Theosophy, had portrayed "the astral plane" as medium for non-physical "flight" as early as 1886.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Romance_of_Two_Worlds

Many Western stories represent a flying "point of view" in the sense of a disembodied dream or visionary experience.

By the 1930s, there were superheroes with the power of physical flight.

http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/o/ogonbat.htm

However, one of the most powerful comic book heroes predating Superman was Mandrake the Magician (1934),who had almost any power the writer (Lee Falk) cared to grant him.

Did Mandrake ever demonstrate the power to fly or levitate prior to Superman's first flight?

  • Here's a link to Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed where they talk about the history of flight in comics goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/07/22/… It probably doesn't answer your question but I find these very interesting. – sumbuddyx Mar 30 '14 at 9:15
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    In his very first appearance in mid-1939 ... Namor the Sub-Mariner flew! Indeed, that is very interesting! That might be the first physical superhero flight in Western comics. The fact that the article mentioned this, rather than Mandrake, suggests that Mandrake did not fly from 1934 to 1939. – Rick Mar 30 '14 at 9:35
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Here's a strip said to be from '36, with Mandrake jumping from a plane and suspending himself fifteen feet above the ground instead of dying without a parachute: http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/484990.html

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  • That's a fascinating find! It's also very interesting to me that Mandrake's exploits resemble the pulp occultism of the early 20th century - probably related to British re-tellings of Indian levitation stories! Thanks! – Rick Mar 31 '14 at 9:16

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