In 1938, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster introduced their now iconic superhero, Superman in Action Comics #1, ushering in the golden age of comic books. Around the same time, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain began their work in developing pure penicillin, the first natural antibiotic which was discovered by Alexander Fleming a decade before, for use as a therapeutic agent.
Similar to what the Man of Steel did for comic books, the clinical use of penicillin ushered in the golden age of antibiotics, eventually saving many lives.
After Superman, other superheroes, such as Batman, Wonder Woman and Captain America, were introduced, as comic books were becoming a mainstream artform. Similarly, after penicillin, the development and clinical use of streptomycin, tetracycline and other antibiotics emerged. Unfortunately, not all golden ages last a thousand years.
After World War II, the popularity of comic books and their once cherished characters began to lose their luster. By the 1960’s, the emergence of drug resistance along with other factors marked the end of the golden age of antibiotics. (more…)