One example of the mainstream superhero is issue no. 199 of Superman. This classic hero is distinct; his abilities are not exactly supernatural but heightened “naturalized strengths” of everyday people (Eco, 14). This keen individual strength and goodness is what readers find so entertaining in our society today. The superhero, a mild man by day and a crime fighter at night, Superman fulfills a fantastical role with which readers can identify.
The concept of anti-heroes is explored as well with Batman being a classic example of such. Issue no. 210 is used to show how Batman differs from Superman in that his abilities lie in his intellect and training (Jourdain, 1). He is more of a detective than a superhero, like Superman, he is also someone with a dual identity. He is a millionaire by day and a peace keeper at night. The distinctive thing about Batman is the “gadgets” that he has created to help him fight crime, not his superhuman strength (1).
Sidekicks, or partners, were not that common until Robin the Boy Wonder was drawn in the Batman comics. Robin was not the first sidekick, but he started a growing trend (Markstein, 1). On display is issue no. 150, Robin the Boy Wonder, who becomes Robin the Teen Wonder in later comics, and supports Batman’s heroics. The dialogue between the two creates an important dynamic for the narrative of the comic. Though Robin’s popularity has waxed and waned over time, he continues to play a significant part of the trademark that is Batman and Robin (1).
Villains are the evil wrong doers who challenge heroes. One of the villains on display is Doctor Octopus from the Spiderman series. The first appearance of Dr. Octopus was in Amazing Spiderman, issue no. 3. Our example is issue no. 88. He is a researcher in nuclear science and has four artificial tentacles; he can also breathe underwater (Couper, 1). His trademark colors are orange and green.
These are just a few of the mainstream examples in the exhibition. Through representations of mainstream, underground and international comics the viewer will be able to see a wide range of comic book types and breadth of the Robert M. Ervin, Jr., Collection and the characters themselves.
1. Chilton, Natalie, and Umberto Eco. “The Myth of Superman.” Diacritics 2 (Spring1972): 14-22.
2. Hatfield, Charles. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2005.
3. Frank, Jodette. “What's in the Comics?” Journal of Educational Sociology 18 (Dec. 1994): 214-222.
4. Jourdain, William F. “The Golden Age of Batman History” The Golden Age of Batman! 27 October, 2005. 4 November, 2005.http://www.goldenagebatman.com/gabathistory.html
5. Markstein, Donald D. “Robin the Boy Wonder.” Toonopedia. 13 February, 2001. 5 November, 2005. < http://www.toonopedia.com/robin.htm>.
6. Couper, Jonathan. “Spiderman Characters: Doctor Octopus.” SpiderFan.org 5 November, 2005. http://www.spiderfan.org/characters/doctor_octopus1.html.