Monday, June 6, 2011

ENG 140J Final Reading List

This is the final reading list for my just completed course on the Superhero Narrative. Like many such lists, it is the result of many compromises. But it serves as a useful point of departure.

Chapter One: The Superhero Origin
Action Comics #1 in Superman in the Forties
Superman #1 in Superman Archives
Film: Superman: The Movie
Umberto Eco, “The Myth of Superman” in Arguing Comics, p 146-164
Peter Coogan, “The Definition of the Superhero” in A Comics Studies Reader, p 77-93
Detective Comics #27 in Batman Archives, volume 1
Batman: Year One
Amazing Fantasy #15 in Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, volume 1.
Ultimate Spider-Man 1-7
"The Secret Untold Relationship of Biblical Midrash and Comic Book Retcon", A. David Lewis

Chapter Two: Nemesis
Film: Unbreakable, M Knight Shyamalan
The Killing Joke, Alan Moore & Brian Bolland
Kathrin Bower, “Holocaust Avengers: From ‘The Master Race’ to Magneto”
X-Men 150, Chris Claremont & Dave Cockrum
Craig Fischer, “Fantastic Fascism: Jack Kirby, Nazi Aesthetics, and Theweleit’s Male Fantasies”
"The Social Modes of Heroization and Vilification in Bram Stoker's Dracula", Ana Gal
Triumph & Torment, Roger Stern & Mike Mignola
Novel: Soon I Will Be Invincible
Icon #1 and Hardware #1
Ch.1 of Caped Crusaders 101: "Black Heroes for Hire" by Jeffrey Kahan and Stanley Stewart
Select pages from Spawn vol. 1 (adding up two about 3 issues worth)
Ultimates #2
Alias (excerpts)
"Comic Book Masculinity and the New Black Superhero" by Jeffery A. Brown
"What's Going On? Black Masculinity in the Marvel Age", Michael van Dyke

Chapter Three: Love
Robert Lendrum, “Queering Super-Manhood: Superhero Masculinity, Camp and Public Relations as a Textual Framework”
Frank Bamlett, "The Confluence of Heroism, Sissyhood, and Camp in The Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather,” ImageText 5.1
Fantastic Four Annual 3
Amazing Spider-Man 121
Astro City 6, “Dinner at Eight”
Astro City 1/2, “The Nearness of You”
Ultra: 7 Days
Television: Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, “Ultra Woman,” Season 3, episode 7

Chapter Four: Friendship
Novel: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
Film: Thor
"The Legend of Master Legend", Joshuah Bearman, Rolling Stone
"Real Life Superheroes Fight City Crime ... In Costume", NPR interview with Phoenix Jones and DC Guardian
"Homemade Heroes Offer Local Law Enforcement", San Diego Tribune (Jan 17 2009)
Alan Moore on Glory
"No Capes! Uber Fashion and How Luck Favors the Prepared", Vicki Caraminas
Television: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 6 episode 7), “Once More with Feeling”
Online: Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
Television: 60 Minutes, “The Musical Spectacle of Spider-Man”

Chapter Five: Death
The Death of Captain Marvel
Jose Alaniz, “Death and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond”
Wilbur Farley, “’The Disease Resumes Its March to Darkness’: The Death of Captain Marvel and the Metastasis of Empire"
“The Dark Phoenix Saga”: X-Men 101-108 and Uncanny X-Men 129-138
Film: Spider-Man 2
Arnold T. Blumberg, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died: The End of Innocence and the ‘Last Gasp of the Silver Age’”
Abraham Kawa, “The Universe She Died In: The Death of Lives of Gwen Stacy”
“Kraven’s Last Hunt": Web of Spider Man 31-32, Amazing Spider-Man 293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man 131-132
Vigilante #50


  1. Where were these courses when I was in college?

  2. You'd be surprised how many comics courses are being taught these days. When were you in college?

  3. Some of our teacher told about these comic stories,now i am totally cursing myself.

  4. I am stunned that a website which sells essays has posted to my blog. I very much want to remove your comment, but you actually seem to be a real person, and not a spammer. Still, your website is deplorable, and any student caught using it at UCR will fail the class and be put under Academic Review.

  5. Mid '80s through early '90s.

  6. I'm very flattered that you've included Triumph and Torment in your course ... but where are you finding copies for you class? Marvel allowed the book to go out-of-print years ago.
    -- Roger Stern

  7. Roger - And I, in turn, am flattered to see you here!

    UC Riverside is home to the Eaton Collection which, in addition to being one of the world's largest SF/Fantasy collections, is also an enormous comics collection especially strong from the 60s-90s. We have a copy of Triumph & Torment there. So my students went up to Special Collections in the University library and read it there. I also had my own copy, which I could have put on reserve, but with 65 students I was loath to do this and it proved unnecessary.

    Since you are here, I am obliged to note that you also came up in our discussion of representations of women in comics, when we discussed the progressive nature of your Captain Marvel/Monica Rambeau and the regressive tactics later employed upon her. One of my students wrote her term paper on the portrayal of black women superheroes, focusing especially on Captain Marvel, Storm, and Milestone's Rocket.

    If I may ask, how did you find my page?

  8. Hi,

    Like Roger, I'm thrilled to see my Gwen Stacy paper on your reading list. It's one of my favorite accomplishments in my academic comics writing career to date. Your course looks very well structured!

  9. Thank you, Arnold!

    We found your article very helpful in a few ways, one of which was a vector to talk about the whole "Age" system of classification for superhero history, its origins, and so on. But your larger point, that death seemed to open the doors for many other previously-unthinkable stories, was the topic of conversation for several in the class. Thanks for writing it.

  10. Hi, Jason. This sounds like an exciting course. Have you looked at any of Michael Chabon's nonfiction on superheroes?


    PS. There is a typo in you reference to Gal.

  11. Hi Dr. Comics,

    I just want to let you know how flattered I am that your reading list for ENG 140J includes my article on Dracula. The class looks wicked cool! I wish more universities had teachers / scholars interested in teaching comics / graphic novels.