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Domestication, Dysfunction, and the Rise of Superhero Fandom

Domestication, Dysfunction, and the Rise of Superhero Fandom

(p.145) Chapter Five Domestication, Dysfunction, and the Rise of Superhero Fandom
Bending Steel
Aldo J. Regalado
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the anti-comics crusade of the 1950s. Rooted in the ethos of an atomic modernity in which the suburban home was thought of as a vanguard against internal and external threats, this mainstream movement identified the comic book industry as a threat to children and hence to the nation's virtue and security. Superheroes were accused of undermining gender norms, atomizing families, promoting violent and antisocial behavior, subverting democracy, and otherwise making Americans more susceptible to the values of a capitalist economy run amok. As a result of the success of the anti-comics crusade, comic book companies reworked their characters, stripping superheroes of their more transgressive qualities and making them conform to Cold War consensus culture. The chapter concludes by studying how baby boomer aficionados of the superhero genre organized themselves into fan communities and reactivated the superhero's anti-modern potential during the 1960s as part of a broader rebellion against consensus culture.

Keywords:   anti-comics crusade, atomic modernity, comic book industry, consensus culture, superhero genre, superhero fandom

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