Superheroes of the Round Table

Comics Connections to Medieval and Renaissance Literature


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About the Book

Few scholars nursed on the literary canon would dispute that knowledge of Western literature benefits readers and writers of the superhero genre. This analysis of superhero comics as Romance literature shows that the reverse is true—knowledge of the superhero romance has something to teach critics of traditional literature. Establishing the comic genre as a cousin to Arthurian myth, Spenser, and Shakespeare, it uses comics to inform readings of The Faerie Queene, The Tempest, Malory’s Morte and more, while employing authors like Ben Johnson to help explain comics by Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, and Grant Morrison and characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, and the Justice League. Scholars of comics, medieval and Renaissance literature alike will find it appealing.

About the Author(s)

Jason Tondro teaches superhero comics and graphic novels in the English department at the University of California, Riverside, as well as at community colleges in the Southern California area. He also blogs regularly as “Doctor Comics,” both on his own blog at and at other comics sites such as Comic Book Therapy.

Bibliographic Details

Jason Tondro

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: 68 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6068-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8876-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  viii
Introduction  1
One • Double Identities and Arthegall’s Yron Man 19
Two • Kirby’s Masque 51
Three • “By My So Potent Art” 91
Four • Arthur, the Four-Color King 142
Five • Grant Morrison’s Grail Quest 189
Notes  227
Bibliography  232
Index  237

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “That big S on Superman’s chest? S stands for Spenser and Shakespeare, too.  As knowledge of literature can inform readings of superhero comics, knowledge of the DC and Marvel universes can inform readings of Malory and ben Johnson.  And don’t you love that title?”—Library Journal
  • “Well-written, balanced, educated, intelligent, and also very seductive in its arguments”—Ler BD