When meek Peter Parker was bitten during a radioactive spider during a science demonstration, he found he had gained super-human abilities. Peter first began to use his powers to gain fame and fortune as Spider-Man, but after his beloved uncle was killed by a criminal he could have caught earlier in the day, Peter realized his great power came with great responsibility to help others. From that day Spider-Man eschewed fame and fortune in favor of using his powers to help others and fight evil.
The cowl's basic design has remained unchanged; however, it has been frequently updated to advance Batman's crusade. The one aspect of the cowl that does undergo variations is the ears, although the length and pointiness of the ears are supposedly primarily due to the style of the artist drawing Batman, and tends not to be tied to the functionality of the cowl in any way. However, artist, Karl Kerchl has drawn Batman's costume vault showing that he has a wide selection of cowls with ears of different lengths (Adventures of Superman #643).
Since the North American history is relatively short, in searching for the superhero, maybe you should take a look into European or Asian history. I’m pretty sure there were stories about the super-capable guys fighting for the justice long before the 1934. These stories were probably told by the word of mouth, more likely then written down or sketched.
The practice may have originated in a Celtic festival, held on 31 October–1 November, to mark the beginning of winter. It was called Samhain in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, and Calan Gaeaf in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. The festival is believed to have pre-Christian roots. After the Christianization of Ireland in the 5th century, some of these customs may have been retained in the Christian observance of All Hallows' Eve in that region—which continued to be called Samhain/Calan Gaeaf—blending the traditions of their ancestors with Christian ones. It was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí), and the souls of the dead, could more easily come into our world. It was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter.