There have been many artists and writers over the past 77 years who have helped define three of the most popular pop culture figures in history: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
A handful of those same creators have ties to the Lehigh Valley.
The iconic comic book titans will meet for the first time on the silver screen in director Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film is scheduled for a March 25 release.
Before the Dark Knight, Man of Steel and Amazon princess come face to face (to face) on the big screen, check out these five local artists who have helped shape DC's "Trinity" since their respective debuts more than seven decades ago:
Artist Jim Balent held the attention of many male comic book readers in the early and mid-'90s thanks to his work on DC's "Catwoman" series; ditching her classic purple slit dress, matching cowl and green cape for a tight-fitting, purple bodysuit. "Catwoman" ran for seven years and in turn defined Batman's iconic female antagonist for a new generation of fans. (Balent stayed with the series through issue No. 77.)
Balent left mainstream comics in 1999 to form his own publishing line, Monroe County-based BroadSword Comics, with his wife, Holly Golightly. BroadSword is best known for publishing the series "Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose."
Scott Hanna, of Riegelsville, has built a reputation for being one of, if not the, fastest inkers in the business and one of the industry's most reliable talents. With more than two decades of inking the most famous superheroes on the planet, Hanna continues to put his artistic stamp on DC Comics.
Hanna began his rise to prominence in the early half of the 1990s as one of the inkers of DC's famous "Knightfall" storyline. "Knightfall" pitted the Dark Knight against the villain Bane. The resulting fallout briefly confined Bruce Wayne to a wheelchair after his back was snapped by Bane, while a replacement Batman -- Jean-Paul Valley -- sought revenge on the masked brute. (The famous back-breaking scene was recreated by director Christopher Nolan in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises.)
Hanna has since worked on a slew of related books, including "Robin," "Detective Comics," "Adventures of Superman," "Batman and Robin," "Justice League of America," "Birds of Prey," "Outsiders," "Wonder Woman," "Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman" and, most recently, "Superman: Lois and Clark."
Artist-inker Bob McLeod is a Lehigh Valley transplant by way of his native Florida. He is best known for introducing Marvel's first X-Men spinoff team, the New Mutants, in "New Mutants" No. 1. McLeod's move to DC in the late '80s included a watershed moment for the Man of Steel. In the pages of "Action Comics" No. 662, Clark Kent reveals to a (surprisingly) stunned Lois Lane that he and Superman are one in the same -- a move that was literally decades in the making.
McLeod, fittingly enough, was also one of the artists who helped Lois and Clark tie the knot in 1996's "Superman: The Wedding Album." His other DC credits include "Superman: The Man of Steel," "Wonder Woman," "Superman" and "Detective Comics."
RALPH "RAGS" MORALES
Ralph "Rags" Morales provided the stunning interior artwork for DC's critically-acclaimed, and controversial, 2004 miniseries "Identity Crisis." The story, written by novelist Brad Meltzer, was more of a "Who Done It?" murder mystery than the standard tights and flight fantasy -- a grisly tale that includes rape and not one, but two, brutal murders. (The father of the second Robin, Tim Drake, is killed off, as is the Elongated Man's wife, Sue Dibny; the latter of which sets the main plot in motion.) Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are among the heroes who find themselves at a moral crossroads as the mystery unravels, leading to the shocking finale.
Morales, who resides in the Slate Belt area, later worked on DC's "Nightwing" series -- which followed the adventures of Batman's former sidekick (the first Robin, Dick Grayson) -- and "Superman/Batman." Morales' tenure on the latter series even featured a sly visual nod to former Bangor-based rock band Postal.
In 2011, Morales teamed with superstar comic book writer Grant Morrison to give the last son of Krypton a modern makeover in DC's "Action Comics." The update was part of DC's line-wide "New 52" relaunch and featured a young Clark sticking it to evildoers in a plain white T-shirt, blue jeans and a red cape. Morales and Morrison left the book after 18 issues.
Though the bulk of award-winning artist Lee Weeks' works have fallen under the Marvel umbrella (his 2013 miniseries "Daredevil: Dark Nights" includes a hospital scene set in Bethlehem), he did pencil the 1997 prestige format one-shot "The Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet." Weeks worked as a storyboard artist on Superman: The Animated Series.
Weeks -- who is also a Valley transplant, by way of his home state of Maine -- currently provides artwork on "Superman: Lois & Clark," which features inks by Hanna.
Honorable mention: Comic book legend Jim Steranko, a native of Reading, revolutionized the medium in the late 1960s with his pop art and surrealism-inspired work on the Marvel titles "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Captain America." However, Steranko momentarily made the jump to rival DC in 1984, to write, draw, color and letter a story for "Superman" No. 400. He also penned the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Ties That Bind."