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Death, Disability, and the SuperheroThe Silver Age and Beyond$
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José Alaniz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781628461176

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2015

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628461176.001.0001

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The Dismal Trade

The Dismal Trade

Death, the Market, and Silver Age Superheroes

(p.158) 7 The Dismal Trade
Death, Disability, and the Superhero

Alaniz José

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter addresses the superheroes' experience of the “death”/resurrection cycle in serial narratives. This cycle shows that the Silver Age superhero is not only a disability disavower and overcompensator, but is also a death denier. Through their deaths, superheroes ritualize, render meaningful, and exorcise cultural trauma. Their resurrections likewise help generate a sense of hope and new beginnings into storylines, at the same time implicitly reassuring readers of the durability and continuity of the values they embody. Superheroes also seem to communicate an underlying fear and motivation amounting to the genre's structuring disavowal. For writer Ernest Becker, fictional death may remind people of the mortality that their culture represses, but it deprives the reader/viewer of a real, direct appreciation of death—the only thing that would make life “meaningful.”

Keywords:   death/resurrection cycle, superheroes, serial narratives, Silver Age superhero, death denier, cultural trauma, Ernest Becker, fictional death, mortality

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