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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, September 21, 2015


Abjuring, as I always do, the ideological definition of anything, here's my shortest possible definition of the superhero figure in terms of its being both "super" and "heroic:"

"The superhero is a hybrid figure, in which the reader's feelings of awe and admiration for the spectacle of heroic endeavor are melded with those feelings typically called "the sense of wonder" by science fiction, fantasy and related genres."

In short, this may be the closest I can get, in a project I'm contemplating, to describing the two forms of the sublime I've detailed here-- the dynamic sublime and the combinatory sublime-- without invoking Kant and thus immediately causing the casual reader to check out.  The same thing for my specialized terms of "awe," "admiration," and others that I've used in more complicated contexts.

I may ring in some alterations here or there, but I'll probably hew closely to this basic formulation from now on.


A. Sherman Barros said...

Hi Gene,

I hate you, and I want you to know that. I thought I was free of spending too much time reading comic books, convincing myself that one couldn't say much about the form, and then here you go, with some more great posts about Thor. You made me dig back on my collection, as I was never a big fan of Thor (just enough to develop a crush on Lady Syf), and re-read some of the early stories from the Lee/Lieber/Kirby run, and those made me think about what differenciates a superhero from a god. I was thinking in terms of Pierre Veyne's stance on his "Did the Greeks believe in their Myths", spurred by the obvious overstepping of the god identity over the superhero identity on "The Thundergod and the Thug" in Journey Into Mystery #89.

I got so carried away that (you gessed it) I started a new blog (still a white piece of electronic paper - you can find it at http://crackpowwham.blogspot.com/) to spill my thoughts on it (hope to start this next weekend - hoping it won't become another intermitent blog like HOUSE OF SIN or a stillborn like CAPES AND BUSTIERS).

An than you put forward this attempt of defining superhero, that goes straight to the matter. Well, I just need to chew on it a little more, and than I will comment properly. For now, just wanted to thank you for bringing me back in, just when I was trying to get out!.

Ah, and I hate you! Don't forget that... ;)



Gene Phillips said...

In the words of Montgomery Burns: "Ex-cellent." (Well, it's two words the way he says it.)

For the past year, I've deliberated kept HOUSE OF SIN on my blog list as part of my diabolical plan to lure you back into blogging, and it's worked! (If only subliminally...)

Glad you liked the Thor posts; I remember how much I enjoyed the Mangog mini-epic as a kid, and it was a challenge to look past an adult's realization of the goofs and inconsistencies and try to see the essence of the story within. By contrast the Conway story has potential but wastes two good ideas by dumping them together.

Looking forward to the new blog---