By Dawn Mitchell
The Indianapolis Star

Elkhart, IN (AP) – One of the best cartoons of the 1960s featured an insect superhero named Fearless Fly. At the first sign of impending doom, he would duck into a matchbox, don his special glasses and transform from the meek Hiram to the mighty Fearless Fly. That pretty much sums up the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum: Small but mighty, and not what it appears to be on the outside.

The Hall of Heroes is the world’s only superhero and comic museum and it’s in the Elkhart backyard of its founder. It encompasses nearly 80 years of comic book superhero history. As its website notes: “It’s history. Just way more super.”

The museum could easily be mistaken for an auto body shop behind someone’s home, but those in the know will recognize it as a replica of the Hall of Justice from the classic “Super Friends” cartoon.

Founder Allen Stewart’s love of superheroes started when he was a kid watching the old “Batman” series and “Super Friends.”

“I’ve been collecting for 40 years, and it’s become the largest collection in the world,” he said.

The hall features both Marvel and DC characters.

“We started the museum about 13 years ago to showcase the collection,” Stewart said.

A visit from Stan Lee a few years later and a few features on national news sites gave the little museum some much-needed publicity.

“We’re one of the biggest attractions in the state, and it’s literally in my backyard, which is why we’ve been trying to move,” Stewart said.

The museum will close Aug. 4 to move from its current location at 58005 17th Street to a larger facility in Elkhart at 1915 Cassopolis St., with plans to open Labor Day weekend.

The museum is a floor-to-ceiling superhero heaven that includes the original Batman costume from the 1960s TV show to first-edition comic books to movie props.

The collection includes over 60,000 comics, over 10,000 toys and games, and animation and comic art.

The new facility will allow the museum to display a 1965 Kirkham Shelby Cobra re-creation seen in the first “Iron Man” movie and the motorcycle prop used by Nicholas Cage in the 2007 film “Ghost Rider,” both of which have been stored in a back room.

On a recent visit to the museum, there were quite a few oooh’s and aaah’s at the displays and not just from children. Visitors reliving their childhood could be heard saying, “I had one of those when I was a kid,” and “I wish I still had mine, it would be worth a fortune now.”

It’s hard for Stewart to pick just one favorite out of the collection.

“Probably the Adam West Batman suit and the `Captain America’ No. 1 is one of my favorite pieces,” he said. “There are so many favorites.”

Adam West Batman suit
Allen Stewart in his museum
Captain America’ No. 1