This title presents an entertaining and exhaustive history, tracing the superhero's roots in mythology, science fiction, and pulps, which follows the genre's development to its current renaissance in film, literature, and graphic novels....
|Title||:||Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre|
|Number of Pages||:||290 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre Reviews
I admire a lot of the spadework Coogan has done here, and I am more or less convinced by the tropes he outlines as being the foundation of what we recognize as the superhero-- I think he's right that these are the elements that make the superhero recognizable.I think, though, that the way he chooses to talk about superhero comics is rarely all that interesting. It seems like once the superhero has been recognized as being there, the comic by default becomes a superhero comic, which I think does a lot to flatten out the experience of reading comics. Maybe that's the problem, that his category is way too broad to say anything interesting about it. But Coogan here is most successful at pulling together a lot of information so that it is all in one place-- the prehistory of the genre, and especially the information from the pulps seems new and hard work, and the stuff about the ages of comics, though it seems a little bit off to me, is nice to see articulated so clearly here. But when it comes to saying anything really interesting about the genre, Coogan's book kind of doesn't quite do that. I think the problem is that so many different comics understand what they are doing in different ways, and accomplish different things, that what we don't need is a definition of what a superhero comic is (which, if that concept were not already understood, or if Coogan's definition brings new figures into the conversation that otherwise were not considered superheroes, I missed it) but a consideration of the way particular superhero comics interact with that definition. At least that's what I would want to see out of this.There's a similar and related issue that Coogan doesn't really address, which is the complicated relationship between superheroes and American comics-- thought he admits at one point that seeing the two as synonymous is problematic-- that is mostly an idea that he seems to develop here. I think, in other words, that he makes too much of superheroes, as something that developed without a clear debt to other comics also being published.... His treatment seems to lack so many of the outside factors that it makes me bristle a little bit, and I'm pretty fiercely a formalist myself.
Okay. I admit it. I didn't even get 100 pages into it. I almost stopped once when the book cited Wikipedia, but no, I endured. The straw that broke the camel's back came in the form of its discussion of Fat Bastard from Austin Powers in the context of supervillians. I rarely feel offended by people muchless prose. This book offended me.
Coogan is very specific about what he sets out to do in this book adapted from his dissertation: describe the origin and evolution of the superhero as a storytelling genre. As to origins, he does a very good job, tracing the superhero's origins in scientific romances and pulp fiction. I found his theorizing weak and his take on the genre's evolution sadly lacking. Coogan presents a theory of genre evolution drawn from Thomas Schatz's _Hollywood Genres_. I would have liked to have seen a wider survey of the use of the term in literature and media studies, but Coogan's application of the theory to the "Ages" of comics (Golden, Silver, etc.) is haphazard, self-contradictory, and thin, as well as being too temporally bound. Was the abandonment of "relevance" in comics in the early to mid 1970s a part of an inevitable genre evolution towards the baroque, or a response to the end of the Vietnam Era? Were comics after the return of the Teen Titans really baroque? Comics scholars tend, it seems, to be fixated on the Golden and early Silver Ages: odd, as most of them tend to be too young to have grown up with those comics. Coogan does a good job on some of the 1980s classics, but everything post-Crisis on Infinite Earths (1986) gets very short shrift. A glaring oversight for a genre theory of superheroes, Coogan never addresses the concept of the superhero "mantle" existing apart from individual wearers, though he dates the start of the Silver Age to the "return" (actually complete reboot) of The Flash. If you're particularly interested in the pulps and early comic strips, this book has some excellent material. Otherwise, it's all right, readable, though it definitely descends into random mumbling towards the end.
i like this book because growing up i loved watching superheros on t.v. and I was i excited to read this book about heros. While i was reading this book I learn so much from it. like what type of superheros there were and how diffrent they are. The only thing i didnt like about this book is the supervillians because they always seem to ruin everything. But this book is really interesting all in all beacuse I feel as if I'm learning so much about heros on a higher level of dicovery And that really caught my eye as a reader and a fan.
This goes in depth into the history behind the comics, but rather than talking about the formation of the publishers of the first comics and the artists who worked for them, this goes into the literary predecessors of the superhero genre, so you'll read a lot about pulp fiction and mystery men. In fact, it covers superheroes a lot less than I was expecting. If you're interested in the literary pre-history of comics, this is interesting, but if you wanted to read more about superheroes themselves, there are better histories available for that.
For those of you interested in comics, particularly of the long underwear and cape variety, this book is a superb source for understanding the conventions, tropes, and general history of the genre.
Two stars for content and zero for the writing.I'm not a literary scholar, but Coogan's application of Thomas Schatz's model of genre development seems reasonable. I have no argument with it. But Coogan's work depends so heavily on Schatz that the latter ought to get some credit on the title page.Coogan quotes long passages from Schatz and other authors. At least one 2-page section is almost entirely quotes run together with transitional phrases. Elsewhere there's an unattributed quote.The unattributed quote is one editorial flaw among hundreds. There are abundant typos, and dozens of places where phrases and sentences are repeated almost verbatim within the same paragraph. The author seems to have slapped the book together from sections of previously written articles, chapters, and conference notes, and not read it over even once. MonkeyBrain Publishing clearly didn't spend a dime on copy editing either.Coogan's definition of a superhero (as opposed to super hero) is based firmly on the Superman first seen in Action Comics No. 1 in 1938. So when the penultimate chapter argues that Superman was, in fact, the first superhero, it's not exactly news and it's very much a circular argument.I've always liked Samuel Snoek-Brown's assertion that "Popular culture studies provide us with a means of critically examining the culture we live in according to academic standards of research and argument." Coogan has a PhD but he misses those standards by a mile.
Coogan's purpose here is two-fold. He is attempting to provide a map of the genre conventions of the superhero narrative (in accordance with Thomas Schatz's theories) while also mapping the history of the superhero genre itself. The former he does quite well, presenting a clear and succinct argument for a way the superhero genre could be structured. The latter is somewhat problematic. He relies on total acceptance to his own genre definition in order to prove his structural history, sometimes making claims that seem quite easy to contradict with evidence that he sometimes ignores or dismisses simply because it breaks his paradigm. The tragedy is that the second part of the argument isn't strictly necessary. Without it his main analysis would seem stronger and quite important. But since the book insists on tying both together and constantly dismisses any counterclaims, the failings of the second argument seem to call into question the credibility of the first. This is quite unfortunate because overall his take is rather insightful and innovative.
The book suffers a bit from repetition, especially on the history of the genre--the same refutations of other contenders for the title of "first superhero" appear at least twice. However, the definitions and descriptions of the genre were nicely done, and I found the discussions about the possible future of the genre to be intriguing.
Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre by Peter Coogan (2006)