Essay

Order Instructions/Description

Write a min 6 page essay on ONE of the following topics:
1.      One of the things that we haven’t really accounted for is the exaggerated nature of the comic-book superhero, in terms of how this might connect to the idea of surreality? What is the value or effect of seemingly silly details like Batman’s pointy ears or Superman’s red briefs on the experience of reading a superhero comic? What elements in particular add something new to the role of the superhero in our culture?
2.      The superhero teaches us moral righteousness, but also embraces vigilante justice. How do superhero texts speak to this contradiction without invalidating their role as a heroic paradigm?

3.      We spoke a great deal in class about the sexually subversive elements within superhero comics (both heterosexual and homosexual). Running with this idea, define a key aspect of the subversively erotic in two of our texts, a consistent technique that such comics use to create this erotic appeal.

4.      How do comics exaggerate setting in order to justify the need for the superhero? What sort of world do the creators present in such a way that a superhero could plausibly occupy them, or even be needed by them? Identify a consistent trait of superhero settings within two or more of our texts and show how it works to enable the superhero fantasy.

5.      In keeping with McCloud’s theories on time and motion in comics, deconstruct an action scene or two in one of our comics in order to show how the author/artist create a visceral, kinetic experience using a static medium.

6.      Compare the Superman that we see in Dark Knight Returns to the one we see in Birthright. How does the same character present both respect for old-fashioned virtue and cynical commentary on the dangers of simplistic morality? Conduct a parallel reading of these two figures in order to say something meaningful about the man of steel in two very different stories.

7.      Compare Alan Moore’s feminist subtext in Watchmen to Ms. Marvel. Moore suggests that superheroines are exploited for the sexual gratification of men, through a complex process of good intentions compromised and social pressures to conform (not unlike those we discussed in our unit on stereotype). To what extent does this same process manifest in the Ms. Marvel story we read or, if it doesn’t, how does Ms. Marvel invert, subvert or dodge this?

8.      Use the aspect of the superhero to definitively prove whether The Maxx is a tragedy or a comedy.

9.      Compare Alan Moore’s Watchmen to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Which text offers a more resonant or effective commentary on the role of the superhero in our culture and why does the other text fall short?

10.  Compare Gilgamesh to one of our superhero comics in order to demonstrate what the visual medium contributes to the portrayal of the epic (super)hero. What is gained or lost when rendering our heroes in a visual medium as opposed to a textual one?

11.  Compare the isolated loner mentality of Batman, Superman or Ms. Marvel to the team/family dynamic of the X-men in the Dark Phoenix Saga? How does working alone vs working as part of a collective alter the fundamental nature of the superheroes as characters? What significant shifts can you identify and what effect do these shifts have on the narrative structure itself?
Your essay uses flawless language to advance an involved and insightful argument that clearly addresses the topic at hand and reflects a deep understanding of the primary texts, secondary texts, and course lecture material. Your paper is ready to publish in an academic journal.

Notes:
Make sure to frame your own independent, highly focused argument based upon one of these topics as a foundation. Develop a position (thesis; opinion; stand; resolute view; etc.) on the topic and then go about logically proving your point in formal essay style, drawing from the requisite sources (primary texts, and – if necessary – secondary sources). Remember to always ask yourself how the writers are achieving the effects you claim, and avoid plot summary. I know the story. The basic method of textual analysis is this: 1) you must establish your specific claim (usually in the first or second sentence of your paragraph), 2) present your evidence (quotation, paraphrase, or summary) and then, 3) most importantly, you must analyze your quotation in order to demonstrate its relevance to your claim. USE MLA FORMAT, and double space, please! The point of the analytical essay is to do a close reading of the text(s) in order to demonstrate how particular features impact the larger work(s). You need to 1) focus on the texts. Don’t just talk about the ideas. This isn’t philosophy, its literature, so keep the literature front and center. 2) Examine the language to show how the text works. 3) Then put that technique into the frame of the larger work to show why it works.