The Superhero module (CG50005)

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Module code


The aim of the module is to introduce students to a wide variety of superhero comics, from the 1930s to present, and to explore how the genre, and the figure of the superhero, has been used as propaganda, or has been appropriated for political satire. It will also look at the relationship between the superhero as presented in comics and in other mediums (such as literature, film, animation, and games).

Indication of weekly topics:

The Origin of the Superhero - Falk, The Phantom / Siegel and Shuster, Superman / Kane and Finger, Batman

The Superhero at War - Simon and Kirby, Captain America / Beck, Captain Marvel / Post 9/11 comics

Wonder Women - Martson and Peters, Wonder Woman / Mills, Miss Fury / Conner, Power Girl /Hicks, The Adventures of Superhero Girl

The Superhero Reborn - Lee and Kirby, The Fantastic Four / Lee and Ditko, Spider-Man

Fall of the Superhero - O’Neil and Adams, Green Lantern and Green Arrow / Claremont and Byrne, X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga / Miller and Mazzucchelli, Daredevil: Born Again / Miller and Mazzucchelli, Batman Year One / Miller, The Dark Knight Returns / Moore and Gibbons, Watchmen / Mills and O’Neill, Marshal Law

The British Superhero - Gifford, Streamline / Anglo, Marvelman / Morrison and Yeowell, Zenith / Morrison and Quitely, Flex Mentallo

The Contemporary Superhero - Millar and McNiven, Civil War / Cooke, The New Frontier / Morrison and Quitely, All Star Superman / Wilson and Alphona, Ms Marvel / Fraction and Aja, Hawkeye   


This module is assessed 100% by coursework as follows:

  • Journal (20%)
  • Presentation (20%) given in class, topic to be agreed with module organiser
  • Research essay, 4,000 words (60%)

Intended learning outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • Articulate critical responses to the history and politics of the superhero genre in comics
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the themes found in superhero comics
  • Articulate independent critical responses to a range of superhero comics
  • Critically analyse the representation of the superhero in other mediums (esp. literature, film, animation, and games)


Dr Chris Murray


Every second week there will be one seminar (2 hours), 16 contact hours in total.