How Comics Reflect Society

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Title
How Comics Reflect Society
Language English
Time Added 10th April, 2016
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American superhero-comics have been around for over 70 years now. In that period not only the genre and its medium matured but also the social, cultural and political environment changed. This paper hypothesizes that superhero comics change over time to stay relevant and that the observant reader can make conclusions about the time during which a comic was written by analyzing it. The first part of this paper gives a short summary of the history of superhero comics from the creation of Superman in 1939 to the Modern Age of Comics. It explains how the superhero comic originated in the late 1930s, blossomed in the 1940s, struggled in the 1950s and reinvented itself in the 1960s. Events like the introduction of the Comic Book Code and the death of Gwen Stacy will be presented and it will be explained why they had an immense impact on the comic-book culture. Also, the definition of the term superhero will be discussed. Afterwards, the essay focuses on the different kinds of comic-book revisionism and the different reasons for it. This and the chapters before help to understand how the comic book industry works and how innovations in comic books are introduced and why they happen. The main part of the essay continues to prove the hypothesis on the example of three superheroes that have all existed since the Golden Age of Comics: Wonder Woman, Captain America and Batman. Each of those superheroes will provide an example for a different kind of social change: With the help of Wonder Woman, the change of the women's role and the change of feminism will be examined. Captain America is a great example of a superhero created out of a social and political need and of the struggle that arises when this need is fulfilled. He also poses as an example for how comics comment on political changes. Finally, the Batman comics are used to illustrate the power Dr. Frederic Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent had over society and over comics itself. That chapter also discusses what the changes, made to Batman comics in reaction to the accusation of homosexuality, say about the reputation of homosexuals in the 1950s. The last part of this essay gives an example for the possibilities to use this topic in school, in English as a foreign language or history classes.

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