Superheroes have always been political and, consequently, controversial. Revisionist history will lead you to believe that the first issue of Captain America (where Steve Rogers punches Hitler in the face) earned unanimous praise upon publication, but Marvel—then known as Timely comics—received a ton of backlash for the cover.
If you ignore the Nazi sympathizers, which is an excellent rule for life in general, most of the issues' complaints came from concerned Americans that thought the book would escalate the tensions between America and Germany. To be fair, Captain America #1's publication date was nine months before Pearl Harbor. It isn't a stretch to understand how Americans (many old enough to remember World War One) might have found the issue equal parts cathartic and distressing.
Before Captain America socked the Furher in the dome, another superhero battled Hitler in the comics. In the February issue of Look magazine in 1940, Superman became the first character to tussle with Hitler. In a wonderfully atavistic two page story, Superman escorts Hitler and Stalin to the League of Nations for sentencing. Given that the issue takes place a year before America's official entry into World War 2, it's no surprise that an article urging America to retain its neutrality appears within the very same copy of Look.
Looking back at Superman's brief battle with Hitler in Look magazine, running parallel to an article about America's apprehension around entering WW2, made me wonder about our current political climate. Smarter folks than me have drawn correlations between Putin and Hitler, but when will artists begin to echo that sentiment in their work? And more specifically, will comic artists ever feature Putin in their work? Are we too savvy to have an issue of Green Lantern where Hal Jordan chucks Putin into orbit?
I don't have the answers to these questions, but I'd love to hear what you think about this in the comments.