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Superheroes!: Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films

Superheroes!: Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films
Roz Kaveney

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Modern myths, cheap trash or the objects of fetishist desire? Most people know something about Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Wonder Woman, even if what they know is heavily filtered through film and television versions, rather than the comics in which they first appeared. Yet, even though the continuity of the DC and Marvel Comics universes rival or surpass in size almost anything else in Western culture, surprisingly little attention has been paid to comics, which we were supposed to grow out of. In "Superheroes!", acclaimed cultural commentator Roz Kaveney argues that this is a mistake, that, at their best, superhero comics are a form in which some writers and artists are doing fascinating work, not in spite of their chosen form, but because of it. "Superheroes!" discusses the slow accretion of comics universes from the thirties to the present day, the ongoing debate within the conventions of the superhero comic about whether superheroes are a good thing and the discussion within the comics fan community of the extent to which superhero comics are disfigured by misogyny and sexism.

Roz Kaveney attempts to explain the differences between Marvel and DC, the notion of the floating present (or why Spider-Man, fifteen when he adopted the costume, is still only in his early thirties), and the various attempts by both companies to re-invent and re-boot individual characters and their entire continuity universes. She also looks at the influence of comics on the group of film and television screenwriters she calls 'the fanboy creators', all of whom moonlight as comics script writers, using Joss Whedon as her case study, and examines the adaptation of well-known comics into large-budget feature films, not always to the advantage of the material.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • 1
  • The Freedom of Power:
  • Some First Thoughts of Superheroes
  • i
  • Origin Story
  • ii Powers and Responsibilities
  • iii Powerful Adversaries
  • 2
  • Watching the Watchmen:
  • Saving a World with Superheroes
  • 3
  • Dark Knights, Time Lords and Mutants - Sustaining the Superhero Narrative
  • i
  • Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns'
  • ii Kurt Busiek's 'Avengers Forever'
  • iii Grant Morrison's period on 'New X-Men'
  • 4
  • A Kind of Epic Grandeur - Events and Reboots in the Comics Universe
  • 5
  • Gifted and Dangerous:
  • Joss Whedon's Superhero Obsession
  • 6
  • Superherovision:
  • From Comic to Blockbuster
  • Bibliography
  • Filmography
  • Index

Author Info

Roz Kaveney is the editor of and main contributor to 'Reading the Vampire Slayer', and the author of 'From Alien to The Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film' and 'Teen Dreams: Reading Teen Film and Television'. She is widely published as a reviewer of film and as a cultural commentator; in the 1980s, she was one of the first mainstream critics to write about graphic novels.


"Roz Kaveney writes about the superhero myths with intelligence and love, from the inside, without the lofty alienation that says these texts are interesting but too dumb to know it. This book should be on the shelf of every comics fan, and proves that everyone should be a comics fan.
Paul Cornell (comics writer and scriptwriter for Doctor Who)"

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.

ISBN: 9781845115692
Publication Date: 19 Dec 2007
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 216
Width: 134

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