Comic Book Crime: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Comic Book Crime: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Comic Book Crime: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Comic Book Crime: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Synopsis

"Carrying ahead the project of cultural criminology, Phillips and Strobl dare to take seriously that which amuses and entertains us- and to find in it the most significant of themes. Audiences, images, ideologies of justice and injustice- all populate the pages of Comic Book Crime. The result is an analysis as colorful as a good comic, and as sharp as the point on a superhero's sword."- Jeff Ferrell, author of Empire of Scroungenbsp; nbsp; Superman, Batman, Daredevil, and Wonder Woman are iconic cultural figures that embody values of order, fairness, justice, and retribution. Comic Book Crime digs deep into these and other celebrated characters, providing a comprehensive understanding of crime and justice in contemporary American comic books. nbsp;This is a world where justice is delivered, where heroes save ordinary citizens from certain doom, where evil is easily identified and thwarted by powers far greater than mere mortals could possess. Nickie Phillips and Staci Strobl explore these representations and show that comic books, as a historically important American cultural medium, participate in both reflecting and shaping an American ideological identity that is often focused on ideas of the apocalypse, utopia, retribution, and nationalism.nbsp; nbsp; Through an analysis of approximately 200 comic books sold from 2002 to 2010, as well as several years of immersion in comic book fan culture, Phillips and Strobl reveal the kinds of themes and plots popular comics feature in a post-9/11 context. They discuss heroes' calculations of "deathworthiness," or who should be killed in meting out justice, and how these judgments have as much to do with the hero's character as they do with the actions of the villains. This fascinating volume also analyzes how class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation are used to construct difference for both the heroes and the villains in ways that are both conservative and progressive. Engaging, sharp, and insightful, Comic Book Crime is a fresh take on the very meaning of truth, justice, and the American way. nbsp; Nickie D. Phillipsnbsp;is Associate Professor in the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. nbsp; Staci Stroblnbsp;is Associate Professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. nbsp; In thenbsp;Alternative Criminologynbsp;seriesnbsp;

Excerpt

Comic book readers around the world know that the medium’s unforgettable heroes and villains are capable of leaping out of their pages and into our lives. Upholding “truth, justice, and the American way” with super-powered strength and agility that is “faster than a speeding bullet,” Superman emerged from his Kryptonian rocket ship and onto the American cultural landscape, an origin story told and retold countless times to no less fanfare. Iconic Spider-Man inspired a generation of youths who related to his soft-spoken geekiness, yet reveled in the “great power” he gained from a spider bite—also saddling him with the proverbial “great responsibility.” Wonder Woman’s golden “lasso of truth,” originally forged from the magic girdle of Aphrodite, gave the world a woman super-empowered to squeeze the truth out of even the toughest villain. Captain America, Batman, and Green Lantern: the list goes on, and yet so many have become mainstays in American popular culture, nearly universally recognizable and often deeply loved.

Comic book lore inspired generations of readers—even members of the criminal justice community who work with real-life criminal offenders. Such was the case with Judge Jack Love of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Judge Love sentenced the very first offender to electronic monitoring after reading a Spider-Man story in which the superhero is tagged with a device that tracks his movements. Judge Love saw the potential for such a . . .

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