The Ages of Superman

Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times

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About the Book

Since Superman first appeared on the cover of Action Comics #1 in 1938, the superhero has changed with the times to remain a relevant icon of American popular culture. This collection explores the evolution of the Superman character and demonstrates how his alterations mirror historical changes in American society. Beginning with the original comic book and ending with the 2011 Grounded storyline, these essays examine Superman’s patriotic heroism during World War II, his increase in power in the early years of the Cold War, his death and resurrection at the end of the Cold War, and his recent dramatic reimagining. By looking at the many changes the Man of Steel has undergone to remain pertinent, this volume reveals as much about America as it does about the champion of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

About the Author(s)

Joseph J. Darowski teaches English at Brigham Young University and has published on comic book superheroes such as the X-Men, Wonder Woman, and Superman as well as on television series such as Chuck and Frasier.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Joseph J. Darowski

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6308-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8964-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface
JOSEPH J. DAROWSKI      1

“Superman Says You Can Slap a Jap!”: The Man of Steel and Race Hatred in World War II
TODD S. MUNSON      5
Supervillains and Cold War Tensions in the 1950s
LORI MAGUIRE      16
Kryptonite, Radiation, and the Birth of the Atomic Age
PETER LEE      29
Truth, Justice, and the American Way in Franco’s Spain
LOUIE DEAN VALENCIA-GARCÍA      45
The Inflexible Girls of Steel: Subverting Second Wave Feminism in the Extended Superman Franchise
THOMAS C. DONALDSON      62
Black Like Lois: Confronting Racism, Configuring African American Presence
CHRISTOPHER B. ZEICHMANN      78
Red, White and Bruised: The Vietnam War and the Weakening of Superman
JASON M. LATOUCHE      91
The Struggle Within: Superman’s Difficult Transition into the Age of Relevance
PAUL R. KOHL      103
“It’s Morning Again in America”: John Byrne’s Re-Imaging of the Man of Steel
DANIEL J. O’ROURKE and MORGAN B. O’ROURKE      115
The New “Man of Steel” Is a Quiche-Eating Wimp! Media Reactions to the Reimagining of Superman in the Reagan Era
JACK TEIWES      125
More Human than (Super) Human: Clark Kent’s Smallville and Reagan’s America
MICHAEL SMITH      143
The “Triangle Era” of Superman: Continuity, Marketing and Grand Narratives in the 1990s
MATTHEW J. SMITH      156
Searching for Meaning in “The Death of Superman”
JOSEPH J. DAROWSKI      166
Death, Bereavement, and the Superhero Funeral
JOSÉ ALANIZ      177
Superman and the Corruption of Power
STEFAN BUCHENBERGER      192
This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s Comic Book Universe: The Return of the Golden Age Superman
JEFFREY K. JOHNSON      199
In a World Without Superman, What Is the American Way?
JOHN DAROWSKI      209
Traveling Hopefully in Search of American National Identity: The “Grounded” Superman as a 21st Century Picaro
RANDY DUNCAN      218

About the Contributors      231
Index      235

Book Reviews & Awards

“The content is not only engaging, but insightful…definitely something you should read”—Superman Homepage-News

“Well-written…intriguing”—Comics Bulletin

“Goes into extensive detail about the individual characters starting from their origins and their transition and evolution through the decades…makes for fascinating reading”—Collectors’ Corner.