Print ISBN: 978-1-68217-908-6
# of Pages: 948
# of Volumes: 2
Print List Price: $295
e-ISBN: 978-1-68217-956-7
eBook User Price: $295
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Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes & Superheroes

Editors: Bart H. Beaty; University of Calgary & Stephen Weiner; Maynard Public Library
September 2018


Heroes and Superheroes collects the heroic tales of the super-powered crusader and the exploits of the morally ambiguous or derisive anti-hero that have become the seminal classics in the graphic novel landscape. Whether it is the vigilantism of Batman, the doubts of Spider-Man, or the tales of Norse myth in Thor, the techniques and traditions of literature are perpetuated in this medium of heroes and superheroes.

Scope & Coverage
With 20 brand new essays, this two-volume set covers more than 150 well-regarded works of the hero or superhero genre, summarizing plots and analyzing the works in terms of their literary integrity and overall contribution to the graphic novel landscape. It contains works from prominent publishers, as well as leading hero or superhero titles from alternative and independent publishing houses. The entries in this encyclopedic set cover a wide range of periods and trends in the heroes and superheroes genre: from the social relevance of Green Lantern/Green Arrow during the Bronze Age of Comic Books to the grim satire of Watchmen in the Modern Age; from watershed events such as the death of Captain America to the trudging narrative and complexity of Cerebu; and from the caped and costumed crusaders who justly contest evil with supernatural abilities to the flawed and tragic antihero or the unheroic, brooding vigilante and their moral struggles and complexity.

Organization & Format
The essays in Heroes and Superheroes appear alphabetically and are approximately 4 to 5 pages in length. Each essay is heavily formatted and begins with full ready-reference top matter that includes the primary author or authors; illustrators and other artists who contributed to the work; and the first serial and book publication. This is followed by the main text, which is divided into sections:

Publication History presents an overview of the work’s origin and publication chronology.

Plot provides an in-depth synopsis of the main story progression and other story arcs.

Volumes orients the reader or researcher to the accepted reading order of the work.

Characters present detailed descriptions of major characters in the story, beginning with the main protagonists and antagonists.

Artistic Style provides analysis of the work’s visual content.

Themes identify the central themes in the work and how they are expressed and how they relate to characterization and style.

Impact covers the work’s influence on the creators’ careers, publishing houses, the medium of graphic novels itself, and literature in general.

Bibliography lists secondary print sources for further study and examination, annotated to assist readers in evaluating focus and usefulness.

Appendixes & Other Special Features

  • Appendixes listing major graphic novel awards
  • Genderal Bibliography
  • Timeline discussing significant events
  • Biographical sidebars on an author or illustrator
  • Nearly 100 photos
  • Indexes
    • Works by Publisher
    • Works by Author
    • Works by Artist
    • Subject

View a Full List of Titles from the Critical Survey of Literature Series