This title is a consideration of the modern Superhero comic as an expression of spiritual desire, showing what Superheroes can teach about our most essential human needs. Ben Saunders shows that Superhero comics address deep emotional needs. From their earliest days, Superheroes have engaged with some of the most profound spiritual questions that a human being can face: What does it mean to be good? Why is there evil? Why can't I have what I want? How should I live, knowing that I must die? The book suggests these fantasies of power and romance are attempts to wrestle and negotiate with some fundamentally spiritual issues: the problem of evil, the inescapability of human imperfection, and the stark fact of mortality. Saunders argues that the best Superhero comics are not only significant aesthetic achievements - expressions of a misunderstood and under-appreciated art-form as distinctly American as Jazz or Rock & Roll - but that their aesthetic significance derives at least in part from their unique handling of these religious and spiritual themes.
With chapters on Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and Iron-Man, he considers these characters as artistic projections of our most primitive desires, and our highest aspirations. This series aims to showcase new work at the forefront of religion and literature through short studies written by leading and rising scholars in the field. Books will pursue a variety of theoretical approaches as they engage with writing from different religious and literary traditions. Collectively, the series will offer a timely critical intervention to the interdisciplinary crossover between religion and literature, speaking to wider contemporary interests and mapping out new directions for the field in the early twenty-first century.
Ben Saunders is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oregon. He is author of Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation (Harvard University Press, 2006, nominated Finalist of the Oregon Book Award) and of numerous essays on different aspects of literary culture from Shakespeare to the present. He is also co-editor, with Roger Beebe and Denise Fulbrooke, of Rock Over the Edge: Essays in Popular Music Culture (Duke University Press, 2002).
Acknowledgements; INTRODUCTION: The Power of Love; 1. SUPERMAN: Truth, Justice, and All That Stuff; 2. WONDER WOMAN: Bondage and Liberation; 3. SPIDER-MAN: Heroic Failure and Spiritual Triumph; 4. IRON MAN: Techno-Faith; CODA: Modern Gods; APPENDIX: Methods and Problems in Superhero Studies; Notes; Index.