Few scholars nursed on the literary canon would dispute that knowledge of Western literature benefits readers and writers of the superhero genre. This analysis of superhero comics as Romance literature shows that the reverse is true--knowledge of the superhero romance has something to teach critics of traditional literature. Establishing the comic genre as a cousin to Arthurian myth, Spenser, and Shakespeare, it uses comics to inform readings of The Faerie Queene, The Tempest, Malory's Morte and more, while employing authors like Ben Johnson to help explain comics by Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, and Grant Morrison and characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, and the Justice League. Scholars of comics, medieval and Renaissance literature alike will find it appealing.
Jason Tondro teaches superhero comics and graphic novels in the English department at the University of California, Riverside, as well as at community colleges in the Southern California area. He also blogs regularly as "Doctor Comics," both on his own blog at doctorcomics.blogspot.com and at other comics sites such as Comic Book Therapy.