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Super Heroes - A Modern Mythology

Super Heroes

A Modern Mythology

By Richard Reynolds
Series: Studies in Popular Culture Series

Paperback : 9780878056941, 134 pages, 25 b&w illustrations, April 1994

A study of one of popular culture’s superstars whose enchanting mystique pervades the modern world


The superhero has been the staple of the modern comic book since the late 1930s. The phenomenally successful movies Superman and Batman have made these two comic book superheroes as familiar worldwide as any characters ever created. Yet to relatively few aficionados are they known at first hand from their appearances in comic books.

Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology explores the origins of the superhero by documenting how heroes emerged from the comic book genre and are defined both by its history and by audience expectations.

To show some of the most influential and paradigmatic figures, this study focuses on the texts of three comic books in the genre—The X-Men, The Dark Knight Returns, and Watchmen. It examines ways in which the comics mythologize both the role of the hero and the nature of consensus, authority, and moral choice.

Blending academic scholarship with specialized knowledge of the comic book medium, Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology will have appeal for several audiences. Since most of the academic scholarship published on comic books has focused on history rather than on cultural analysis, this book will be of immense value to scholars of popular culture.


"The X-Men, The Dark Knight Returns, and Watchmen take center stage in an academic study of the rise of the superhero in modern popular culture. Traces the developments from the 1930s, identifies the seven laws of superheroes, and provides a rare cultural analysis to complement the many histories of comic books."

- Book News, Inc.