Posted by: Doc Comics | June 7, 2012

SuperSummer week 2: the Superhero Monomyth

Are Superhero Comics too 'Liberal' or too 'Conservative?

For week two, we’re considering Rushing & Frentz’s “Mythic Perspective” and Peter Coogan’s “Superhero Genre” approach, which make for an interesting contrast. While Rushing & Frentz have us reflecting upon how we can find and make meaning from these tutelary archetypes of the Hero’s Journey Monomyth, Coogan argues for Mission, Powers, and Identity (and Supervillains) as unique and distinguishing literary elements of superhero narratives (with notable challenge by Henry Jenkins to his historical typology). Some questions for discussion can be found here and here!

We’ll also be reading the legendary GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW series “Hard-Traveling Heroes” and by the end of the week discuss Frank Miller‘s revolutionary DARK KNIGHT RETURNS epic that reimagines Batman and his mythos (MoreFun Tim brings some context). These readings will inform and illustrate Lawrence & Jewett’s Myth of the American Superhero critique! Together we’ll explore what kind of “A Better World” these supersaviors may imagine.


  1. As mentioned in class, since most of you are reading the pulp trade of GL/GA, you all will read pp.1-81 then choose either the ‘Speedy saga’ (p.217) or the John Stewart issues (p.266).

  2. My normal casual comic book reading has officially been corrupted by Coogan and Lawrence and Jewitt’s arguments today as we learned Aquaman broke the No Kill Code. I was devastated on an academic level.

  3. Links now embedded for easy click-and-read reference!


    • io9 breaks down “10 Genres that Superheroes have swallowed up.”

      This article seems to reinforce Jenkins’ project to take us “beyond thinking of revisionism as simply a phase in the development of the superhero genre. We have seen that from the beginning, the superhero comic emerged from a range of different genre traditions; that it has maintained the capacity to build upon that varied history by pulling towards one or another genre tradition at various points in its development; that it has maintained its dominance over the comics medium by constantly absorbing and appropriating new generic materials; and that its best creators have remained acutely aware of this generic instability, shifting its core meanings and interpretations to allow for new symbolic clusters.”

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