In 1940, DC Comics debuted some of its most popular characters, including the Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Robin, the Joker and Catwoman. To celebrate, the Hall of Heroes Museum hosted an all-day event July 25, 2015, that felt like a miniature comic-con.
Nestled in the woods on the outskirts of the “bustling metropolis” of Elkhart, Indiana, is a small, two-story museum that is one of a kind: Hall of Heroes, which is curated by Allen Stewart (funny how his first name is the Flash’s last name, and he shares a surname with a Green Lantern). The building itself is a replica of the Hall of Justice, the headquarters of the Justice League. Ironically, it almost looks like it was once a small barn, especially since it sits next door to a house. This humble yet glorious place has attracted much international and high-profile attention in its several years of operation—including a visit from comics legend Stan “The Man” Lee himself! Not bad for a museum that’s a few blocks away from an area that could easily be passed off as the Kent farm, where a certain “amazing stranger from the planet Krypton” grew up.
For this anniversary, Hall of Heroes had nearly a dozen volunteers mingling with the crowd dressed as superheroes and brought in many local artisans and merchants selling “nerdy” goods and services. But the aforementioned volunteers didn’t stop with interacting with patrons and taking a few pictures. Around noon, they performed a wedding between the Joker and Harley Quinn—who were played by a real-life husband and wife cosplay team—that was presided over by a captured Batman. It really did seem like a scene from the Adam West “Batman” series. Later, Harley did a bouquet toss while singing “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” by Beyoncé. The flowers were caught by a little girl dressed as Raven from Teen Titans.
Comic artist Scott Rosema, whose credits include Space Ghost, X-Men Adventures and Valliant’s Solar: Man of the Atom, traveled from Muskegon, Michigan, as a special guest. He spoke with fans and sold signed prints of his artwork.
A costume contest for both kids and adults was held in the afternoon. One brave fangirl came dressed as Rocket Raccoon and another as the TARDIS from “Doctor Who” despite this being a DC event. The grand prize for the adult contest was being featured on an upcoming reality series about the museum. While the costumes were detailed and creative, only one child and one adult could emerge victorious. In this case, it was the bouquet-catching Raven and a young man with an amazing homemade Firefly costume from “Batman: Arkham Origins.”
Despite its small size, Hall of Heroes is packed with several million dollars’ worth of items that could delight comic fans for hours. It features over 60,000 comics; over 10,000 toys, figures and props; and over 100-plus pieces of original art comic pages and animation cells from fan-favorite cartoons and comic books. All of these are separated in four timeframes—Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and Modern Age—along several walls. By far the most valuable item is an original Captain America #1 from 1941. Yes, the comic that famously featured the titular patriotic superhero punching out Hitler nine months before the United States entered World War II. The museum also houses all of the first issues of every Marvel comic from the early- to mid-1960s, among other things. With all these precious rarities lining the walls, flash photography was banned in order to preserve them.
Another of the crown jewels of the collection include Adam West’s costume the “Batman” TV series. It even came with a letter from West himself authenticating the outfit. Next to that is the costume worn by William Katt in “The Greatest American Hero.”
While the downstairs primarily focused on the most valuable comics and Batman, the “attic” of the museum featured comics and toys from various other heroes, such as Superman, Green Lantern and the X-Men. It even included a vintage four-player arcade machine of the 1992 Konami “X-Men” game, which could still be played by museum-goers for a quarter.
The Hall of Heroes is a must-see stop for any comic book and superhero fan, especially during events like this. Next, the museum will be a hosting a Hall of Villains Supervillain Haunted House on several weekends in October for Halloween.
You can learn more about the museum on its website.