There exists at least a handful of comic book adaptations that either completely eschew or compartmentalize the origin material. Be they successful as art or not, they represent the idea that it is possible to start (or restart) a comic book series without retelling the same origin.
The most enduring American hero of the last century is someone who lived half his life in disguise and the other half as the world's most recognizable man. He is not Jack Kennedy or Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, Batman or Jerry Seinfeld, although all of them were inspired by him.
I've enjoyed drawing since I was a little boy. Back then I used to amuse my school friends with drawings of characters I would create from my imagination. A lot of those early characters were based on animals.
In 1958 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the real-life superhero of a comic book that inspired disenfranchised American youth to take action against segregation. Today, the comic is finding a new audience in the Middle East.
The comic business is estimated to be a $1 billion business annually, but it's one of the few media forms that hasn't yet fully transitioned to the digital world. That may change with the coming influx of Apple iPads.