Tag Archives: superheroes

Report on the Superhero Identities Symposium (December 2016)

By Naja Later

Organised by the Australian Research Grant-supported Superheroes & Me research team, the Superheroes Identities Symposium ran at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne on 8-9 December 2016. The symposium hosted over 50 speakers whose research questioned what defines superheroes and how superheroes define us. With a wide range of panels, speakers, events and attendees, the symposium created a dynamic environment in which new frontiers of superhero research collided and collaborated with wonderful possibilities for the future.

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Superior Unreliability: Thoughts on Narrators in Comics on the Occasion of Spider-Man 2012/13 by Stephan Packard

The following thoughts started off as a contribution to the online roundtable on unreliable narration in comics at the German Society for Comics Studies, ComFor. I am indebted to fellow roundtable participants Burkhard Ihme, Dietrich Grünewald, Elisabeth Klar, and Daniel Stein, as well as roundtable organizer Felix Giesa, for the engaging and inspiring discussion.

Spoiler Alert: Peter Parker is no longer the amazing Spider-Man; in fact, he is no longer Peter Parker. Doctor Octopus, one his longest-running villains, has taken possession of Peter’s body, is living in and through him and has been secretly continuing both his private and his secret identity. While Doctor Octopus’ Spider-Man has since launched into his own series, the Superior Spider-Man replacing (for now) the established Amazing Spider-Man, the original replacement of one mind by another took place around issue #698 of Amazing, late in 2012. More specifically, it took place before that issue starts, but readers only find out about it on the last few pages. Up to that point, the readers are deceived, much like the other characters surrounding Peter and Spider-Man. So the narration is unreliable in the strict sense of the prima facie interpretation requiring revision. But does the unreliable narration imply an unreliable narrator? And what can this unreliability tell us about the general problems of applying narratological concepts such as narration, narrator, and unreliability, which are typically formed vis-à-vis written lingual narrative, to comic books?

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Posted by on 2013/08/12 in Guest Writers



New MP3 Download: Death and the Superhero

Today we present the second MP3 to come out of the Comics Forum Presents… series, José Alaniz’s talk ‘Death and the Superhero: StrikeForce Morituri‘, which took place at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds earlier this year.

‘Death and the Superhero’ looked at the ways in which the superhero genre deals with death through the use of a case study: Marvel Comics’ Strikeforce: Morituri (1986-1989). This lecture runs for just over an hour.

You can download the MP3 below, or from the Death and the Superhero archive page (where you can also download the event’s poster). All downloads are free.

Comics Forum Presents… Death and the Superhero: StrikeForce Morituri by José Alaniz (introduction by Ian Hague)

Direct download as an MP3 here (1:05:39, 60.1MB (right click and ‘Save Target As…’)).

Online streaming and alternative download formats are available here.

Be sure to check back later in the week for the monthly Comics Forum News Review, coming up on Thursday!



Between Supermen: Homosociality, Misogyny, and Triangular Desire in the Earliest Superman Stories by Eric Berlatsky

Fig 1, ™ and © DC Comics.

Fig 1, ™ and © DC Comics.

The Superman “shield” most familiar to contemporary readers is a pentagon. Emblazoned on his chest, it is a recognizable symbol of the “first superhero” whose emergence in Action Comics in 1938 gave birth to the genre most associated with the history of American comics. Interestingly, however, the symbol has little resemblance to that which first appeared on Superman’s chest in his debut. In those early days, Superman, created, by Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist), had a simple triangle on his chest, with a sinuous “S” in its center. The shift in insignia is largely insignificant, but the original shape is reflective of the ways in which those early stories revolve around a “love triangle” that is both familiar and unconventional. [1]

Fig 2, ™ and © DC Comics.

Fig 2, ™ and © DC Comics.

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Posted by on 2013/04/11 in Gender, Guest Writers, Women



The Reinterpretation of the superhero in Seagle and Kristiansen’s ‘It’s a bird’ by Esther Claudio Moreno

Steven T. Seagle’s It’s a bird is a comic that reflects on the figure of Superman and on the author’s life to pose a question: Do we need heroes? Through a personal story, Seagle provides the reader with a brilliant, meaningful and moving work, a cathartic experience that transforms him into the hero of his own epic.

With superb mastery and sobriety, the autobiography combines the deconstruction – a typical (but not exclusive) device of postmodern art – with traditional epic. One of the characteristics of postmodernity is the deconstruction of “meta-narratives” and myths. In It’s a bird we witness the deconstruction of, arguably, the greatest myth in comics –Superman, the symbol (among other things) of the American Spirit: “You’re as much America as jazz, baseball or comic books”(p. 41), Seagle says, and throughout the comic the validity of the superhero is challenged as the representation of the American way of life, as the personification of masculinity, of the exemplary citizen, of the immigrant who longs for the land of liberty, of “the metaphysical ideals – truth, infinity, faith…” (p. 42), etc. Superman presents himself as the self-made man, the winner, the embodiment of the American dream, and Seagle cleverly destroys it.

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Posted by on 2011/06/17 in Guest Writers



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