The Ages of the Avengers

Essays on the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Changing Times


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About the Book

Comic book audience expectations have fluctuated dramatically through the years, and comic book creators have had to adapt to shifting reader concerns. One of Marvel Comic’s most popular franchises for five decades, the Avengers have always been reflective of their times, having adapted to an evolving readership to remain relevant. This collection of fresh essays by popular culture scholars examines Avengers story lines such as the Korvac Saga, Civil War, and Secret Invasion, and scrutinizes key characters including the Black Panther and Hank Pym. Essays explore how real-world events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the end of the Cold War, and 9/11 influenced popular entertainment in America.

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: 204
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7458-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1849-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  (Joseph J. Darowski) 1

The Cuban Missile Crisis in Four Colors: “The Avengers Meet … ‘Sub-Mariner’!” as an Allegory to Armageddon (Liam Webb) 5
“The Avengers always stand ready to do their part”: The Avengers and the Vietnam War (Lori Maguire) 12
“The ­Kree-Skrull War” and the Growth of Uncertainty in the Cold War Era (Paul R. Kohl) 25
Earth’s Mightiest (Dysfunctional) Family: The Evolution of The Avengers Under Jim Shooter (Jason Sacks) 31
Madonna’s Birth and God’s Death: Marvel Comics, the Death of God Movement, and the Religious Climate of the 1970s (Nathan Gibbard) 45
“The Korvac Saga”: Exiles from Reason and Fragments of a Contemporary Mythology (Giacomo Matteo Miniussi; translated by Laurie Schwartz) 56
Stung by Stigmatization: Yellowjacket and Wasp Dis/Reassembled in the Age of Reagan (Peter W. Lee) 65
Everything Old Is New Again: Figuring Out Who the Enemy Is in the 1980s (Jason LaTouche) 79
The Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and America’s ­Post–Cold War Identity Crisis (John Darowski) 92
The Spy King: How Christopher Priest’s Version of the Black Panther Shook Up Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (Todd Steven Burroughs) 103
The Ultimates as Superheroes in the Age of Social Media and Celebrity (Morgan B. ­O’Rourke) 120
“No!” Great Lakes Avengers and the Uses of Enfreakment (José Alaniz) 139
The Uncivil Debate Within Marvel’s Civil War (Mark Edlitz) 155
Islamic Invaders: Secret Invasion and the Post–9/11 World of Marvel (Dyfrig Jones) 165
“The one with the kids on the island”: Avengers Arena and Teenage Dystopian Fiction (Joseph J. Darowski) 178

About the Contributors 189
Index 193

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “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