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.