In our discussions of mainstream comics we so frequently refer to the “superhero genre” that we may have neglected to consider whether it is a genre.
Luckily, Grant Morrison, as always, is a couple of steps ahead of us.
“The basic idea of the superhuman is a very malleable one — you can do ‘realistic’ superhero stories like say Watchmen, which takes a hard-nosed look at how these creatures might alter the social and political landscape of our own world, or you can — as I prefer to do — position them as archetypes that allow us to talk about the world using the language of symbolism and allegory,” he tells The Big Issue in Scotland. “There have been ‘realistic’ superhero stories, ‘surreal’ superhero stories, superhero westerns, superhero war stories, superhero detective stories, superhero horror stories, superhero romances etc.
“I’m not even sure if there is a superhero genre or if the idea of the superhero is a special chili pepper-like ingredient designed to energize other genres. The costumed superhero has survived since 1938, constantly shifting in tone from decade to decade to reflect the fears and the needs of the audience.”
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