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Elkhart’s Hall of Heroes houses comic book history

Ross Finney | Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just over in Elkhart is the world’s only museum completely dedicated to comic book superheroes.

The Hall of Heroes is a non-profit organization with the mission to preserve the entire printed history of comic books. It operates and makes acquisitions using funds from tours, donations and fundraisers including comic conventions and events like the upcoming Super-Villain Haunted House for Halloween.

The Hall has been featured on FX’s “Collectibles,” in Wizard Magazine and in the Comic Buyer’s Guide. It features an astonishing collection of superhero comics and television and film memorabilia that can interest the most casual fan or the most dedicated comic buyer. Housed in a building modeled after the Hall of Justice from the “Superfriends” TV series, the Hall is curated by Allen Stewart, an authority on comic history.

“The collection covers the entire 70-year history of comics,” Stewart said. “We’ve got everything.”

That isn’t an exaggeration. The collection includes a copy of every major super hero title published since 1958. That’s over 50,000 comic books.

Walking through the museum is a trip through time, and Stewart has organized distinct Golden and Silver Age comic sections. The Golden Age section is a special point of pride for Stewart.

“I’m a huge history buff, and I love WWII, and one of the most interesting eras for comics was during the War,” he said.

The comics on display show a variety superheroes involved in the war effort, from Batman and Robin participating in a War Bond march to Uncle Sam fighting like a costumed crusader. The most important comic in this section is the first of issue of Captain America: On the cover, the hero punches out Adolf Hitler. The Hall of Heroes is the only place outside of the Smithsonian to see this comic on display.

The Silver Age section is a must for fans of Marvel Comics. It includes the first comic appearances by all the major Marvel heroes, including the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Spider-man. DC Comics are represented as well, as is an impressive action figure collection.

For more casual superheroes fans, there is a replica of the Batcave from the 1960s “Batman” television series and an entire section devoted to superhero films. The latter houses a collection of rare posters, autographs and movie props that are sure to impress. Among the cooler items are a Green Goblin Bomb from the “Spider-man” movies and a working replica of the mechanical heart worn by Robert Downey Jr. in the “Iron Man” series.

The upstairs portion of the museum houses the comic collection itself, which runs all along the walls. Above the comics are the various toys spanning many eras, countries and types, including action figures, statues and costumes. The floor is divided into DC and Marvel sections and features an impressive amount of original comic art as well as animation cells. It’s a must see for anyone who is fan of comics or even for folks who might just be interested in a unique area attraction.

Stewart recommends coming out to see the Museum at one of its Halloween events.

“The Halloween House of Villains is really cool. We get people to play the costumed villains, the place is lit with black lights, and the path through the museum is like a comic book story itself,” raves Stewart, who is quick to point out that anyone, not just kids, can enjoy this event.

“We had a lot of fun last year and hope it’s just as successful this year.”


Around the Bend

What: Hall of Heroes

Where: 58005 County Road 105, Elkhart

When: Tours by appointment. The Halloween Haunted House of Villians is open 7-9:30 p.m. on Oct. 14-16, 22-23 and 29-30

How much: $5 for adults, $3 for children

Learn more: (574) 237-0755 and the Hall of Heroes Facebook page