Batman: A Hero Unmasked : Narrative Analysis of a Superhero Tale
Berg Nellis, Kelly A.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Fine Arts and Communication
MetadataShow full item record
Comics are an integral aspect of America's development and culture. The comics have chronicled historical milestones, determined fashion and shaped the way society viewed events and issues. They also offered entertainment and escape. The comics were particularly effective in providing heroes for Americans of all ages. One of those heroes -- or more accurately, superheroes -- is the Batman. A crime-fighting, masked avenger, the Batman was one of few comic characters that survived more than a half-century of changes in the country. Unlike his counterpart and rival -- Superman -- the Batman's popularity has been attributed to his embodiment of human qualities. Thus, as a hero, the Batman says something about the culture for which he is an ideal. The character's longevity and the alterations he endured offer a glimpse into the society that invoked the transformations. This study examines, through narrative analysis, the ways in which the Batman changed during the past 50 years. Two Detective Comics comic books featuring the Batman -- one from 1939 and another from 1987 -- are analyzed, focusing on characters, setting, events and participants. Investigation reveals that while the Batman character remains essentially unaltered for more than 50 years, the narrative that continuously reinvents the heroic archetype changes as society evolves. This duality may provide a key to the longevity of this cultural icon. In turn, that key may open the door to what is important to Americans.