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Modern Mythology: Superheroes and Comics
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"A look at Comic Books"

An Essay by Mike Roop

2002 Mike Roop and Artistic Visionz


What is it about the genre of Superheroes that attracts fans and admirers? It has been said that comic books are likened to recreating myth of long ago using modernized characters. Some comics, like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel directly link to such things, utilizing mythology as a basis, or in the least, a contributing factor, albeit a major one.

Comic Books, and the Heroes and Villains contained therein, often times seek to deliver a most basic story: "Good Versus Evil." A timeless idea that as long as there are people who commit evil acts, there will always be a counterpoint. There will arise those with an ability to fight that evil, whether their abilities are as simple as a common man utilizing practiced skills, or be it as fantastic as god-like strength, speed and agility, or amazing powers that nearly defy explanation.

Over the years as comic books have been created, the public has been treated to innumerable heroes and villains with uncounted and varying sets of powers and skills with which to dazzle our imaginations. The stories and settings shown to us have been similarly diverse. Some are alien and unnatural, fantastic landscapes and backdrops that are unlike anything we have ever seen. Some take place in cities and towns, neighborhoods and alleyways that we are so familiar with. But they all reel us in like a fish on a hook because they feed our imaginations and allow us to escape into times, places, and events that are new and exciting and unlike anything we have ever actually experienced.

Sure, movies and television, plays and musicals all provide similar offerings. For some, reading the book will always be better than watching the movie. And in that vein, Comic Books, almost a mesh of the two, will always appeal to people of all ages.

It has been said that comic books are designed for the adolescent male. That due to the maturation process a boy goes through, he relates well to Heroes in Comic Books. It has been said that some men, the ones who still buy comic books well into their golden years, are those "who never grow up." But let it be said here, if nowhere else, that Comic Books and their fantasy world appeal to many the world over, regardless of gender, age, or religion.

Young people who enjoy comics are told to "grow up" and stop reading such things. Older people who read them are viewed as immature or childish, labeled "comic book geeks" and other such generalizations. While I am not one to say that such instances of human nature are impossible, I will say that they are the exception and not the rule.

Many people of all ages, races, genders, and so forth enjoy the fantasy escape provided by Comic Books, as well as a host of other forms of entertainment, and most are well-adjusted, mature individuals, some of whom are quite intelligent. And like anything else in this world, there are always "bad apples that spoil the bunch," but one should not be fooled into thinking that one person of note is an equal representative of such groups or interests.

But for all its detractions, the genre of Comic Books and Superheores remains a force in the ranks of fictional literature.

That said, the issue of who likes Comic Books should no longer be an issue. What one should focus on are the heroes depicted therein and the exploits thereof. There are many comic books written today that cover the scope of imagination. From ordinary citizens who face extraordinary circumstances, to beings with extraordinary powers who face ordinary situations, and anything and everything in-between. Superman, Batman, The X-Men, Spiderman These are but a scant few of the heroes we have been shown.


Many of todays heroes are considered vigilantes by definition. The concept of vigilantism may lend an air of immorality or unjust actions to heroes, but for the most part, this is a concept easily overlooked when one considers that heroes, by their very nature, commit acts of justice and good deeds meant for the betterment or safety of mankind. Through words and actions, Heroes strive to rid the world - or galaxy, or universe - of various evils and atrocities meant to befall the common man. They accomplish what most of us normal folk cannot and they do so with engaging descriptions and colorful costumes meant to capture our collective imagination. And they do it so well.

If you collect a group of people, each individual will have their own favorite or group of favorites. Like any other group of fans of any other form of entertainment, Comic Books garner stalwart and staunch defenders of favorite heroes, and villains, too. Because Comic Books present, as a whole, such a large and diverse selection of characters, it is sure to be said that anyone can find at least one they relate to and enjoy more than any other.

While various Comic Books, with their heroes and villians, may come and go, there is one thing that will always remain. We will always remember how our imaginations were fueled by these modern-day versions of ancient myth and legend.


Mike Roop



"So many writers...So Many artists all were motivated to create because of comic books! What is harmful is to deny humans--even young humans--their right to fantasy and imagination!" -Dr. Joseph Zensie

reset May 1st 2002

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