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Rohrdanz, Jessica Lynn. "Superheroes for a Superpower: Batman, Spider-Man and the Quest for an American Identity." Thesis Master of Arts. Youngstown State University, 2009. 
Added by: joachim (6/22/11, 12:48 PM)   Last edited by: joachim (6/22/11, 1:06 PM)
Resource type: Thesis/Dissertation
Language: en: English
BibTeX citation key: Rohrdanz2009a
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Categories: General
Keywords: "Superman", Ethics, Politics, Superhero, USA
Creators: Rohrdanz
Publisher: Youngstown State University (Youngstown)
Views: 1/359
Attachments   URLs   http://rave.ohioli ... _num=ysu1242442545
Comic books, as items of mass culture, are designed to sell, designed to be profitable. To generate profit, they have to be popular. Comic book titles that Americans could not relate to did not sell and were then canceled. Some of the most popular and long-standing comic books are ones that star superheroes. Superheroes represent idealized American heroes. Their superpowers give them the ability to protect Americans in a way that older pulp magazine and dime novel heroes could not. By looking at superheroes during different points in time, we can see what Americans during those times valued and what they feared. American hopes, fears, and dreams can all be found in comic books.
The first chapter in this thesis discusses dime novels and pulp magazines as contributing to the development of comic books. As works of popular fiction, aimed at the working class, dime novels and pulp magazines are very much like comic books. The following chapters outline periods in American history and provide insight into how comic books reflect the popular attitudes and beliefs of Americans during these periods using two well-known superheroes, Batman and Spider-Man. The willingness of Americans to accept super-powered heroes reflects their belief in an all-powerful government and a super-powered nation. In a world where America was all-powerful, Americans needed heroes that were just as powerful to show them how to use that power responsibly. This thesis ends with a discussion of how the concept of superheroes helps Americans deal with the disparate division of power in a republican democracy and with the repercussions of being part of a superpower nation.

Table of Contents

Introduction (1)

1. Development of Comic Books (3)
– Dime Novels and Pulp Magazines (4)
– DC Comics (9)
– Marvel Comics (11)
2. The Early Decades (13)
– The Creation of a Dark Knight (14)
– Response to Change (21)
3. Post-War Comic Books (28)
– Science! (30)
– The Comics Code Authority (31)
4. The 1960s and 1970s (35)
– Tongue-in-Cheek: Batman in the 1960s (37)
– The Amazing Spider-Man (40)
– Spider-Man and the Comics Code Authority (43)
5. The 1980s (47)
– Thinking outside the Panel (48)
– Batman Returns: The 1980s (49)
6. Final Thoughts (54)
– The Bullpen (56)

Appendix: Websites for More Information (60)
Bibliography (63)
Added by: joachim  Last edited by: joachim
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