This chapter briefly charts the history of the comic book from a superhero fan’s point of view. It notes the range and diversity of superheroes, stressing their differences rather than their generic identity alone. It constructs a first-stage working definition of the superhero genre based on the following elements: the orphan hero; the hero as demigod; the devotion to a personal rather than legal sense of justice; the contrast between the human and the superhuman; the secret identity; the hero’s doubtful relationship to political order; and the indiscriminate blending of science and magic.
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