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Superheroes in Crisis

Adjusting to Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s

by Jeffrey K. Johnson

Publication Year: 2014

As the founding fathers of the superhero comic books, Superman and Batman have defined a genre of American mythology from the mid-twentieth century to the present. The author describes how the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight dealt with their midlife crises brought on by the cultural and social changes of the 1960s and 1970s. Johnson describes how the superheroes’ problems and adaptations mirror much of American societal changes during that time. RIT Press is pleased to announce Superheroes in Crisis as the second book published in its Comics Studies Monograph Series. The series editor is Dr. Gary Hoppenstand, Professor of English at Michigan State University.

Published by: RIT Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Series Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword: Comics and Storytelling

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pp. ix-x

The human condition is one that seems to insist on the need to invent stories. In ancient times, oral storytelling explained the powers of nature and the origins of self. Stories soothed, frightened, and inspired people, but perhaps most importantly, they entertained...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xx

In April 2011, the Internet was atwitter with reports that an important American had seemingly turned against his country. A U.S. leader and icon had decided to renounce his American citizenship, and this action had confused and angered a large number of U.S...

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1. The Early Years: Original Heroes

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pp. 1-26

Both Superman and Batman were created and debuted during the Great Depression, and because of this, the characters’ personalities were a reflection of the era’s hopes and fears. The two comic book superheroes were designed to grapple with nemeses that...

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2. Middle Age Changes

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pp. 27-54

On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy took the oath of office and became the thirty-fifth President of the United States. The young leader delivered a speech that day which symbolically marked a paradigm shift. Kennedy famously stated...

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3. The Early 1970s—Self Doubt and Worry

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pp. 55-78

The great baseball philosopher (and catcher) Yogi Berra once famously said, “You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”1 Many Americans entered the 1970s not knowing where they were going, and afraid of...

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4. Where Do We Go From Here? 1975–1979

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pp. 79-102

The second half of the 1970s began very differently than the first half had. While 1970 had commenced with trepidation and fear, many Americans believed that the nation could adjust to the 1960s political and social changes and create a better society. The events...

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Conclusion

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pp. 103-106

In an often discussed scene in the 2004 Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill 2, David Carradine’s title character, Bill, gives an impassioned speech about Superman. Bill attempts to explain his actions during the two Kill Bill films by using the Man of Steel as a metaphor. He soliloquizes: ...

Bibliography

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pp. 107-114

Index

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pp. 115-121

Colophon

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p. 122-122


E-ISBN-13: 9781933360812
Print-ISBN-13: 9781933360805

Page Count: 142
Illustrations: 6, some color
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Comics Studies Monograph Series
Series Editor Byline: Gary Hoppenstand

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States -- History and criticism.
  • Superman (Fictitious character).
  • Batman (Fictitious character).
  • Superheroes in literature.
  • Social change in literature.
  • Literature and society -- United States.
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