First of all, no, it isn’t Superman. It does however become a bit tricky to define the first Superhero unless we set some parameters.
For the purpose of this article, a Superhero is a man or woman with an extraordinary (not necessarily inhuman) ability that uses their ability to fight crime or the forces of evil. If you disagree with this definition then there are plenty Reddit arguments for you to lose yourself in.
In 1903 came the first appearance of a masked superhero-like character not-so-gloriously named ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’. The Scarlet Pimpernel is a wealthy Englishman, actually a cunning swordsman, who rescued aristocrats from the guillotine during the French Revolution. The first mention of actual ’Superheroes’ only followed a little later.
In 1934 we are introduced to Mandrake the Magician who is considered by the experts to be the first ‘Superhero’. His ability was to manipulate people using a hypnotic ability, think The Force from Star Wars or Derren Brown. Our creative muscle had only begun to flex with Mandrake the Magician and not long after him came a deluge of Superhero characters with every imaginable superpower.
Superman finally graced our newspaper comic strips, and later our screens, in 1938 and can surely be considered one of the most influential characters for the superheroes we see today.