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Masks and Capes

The superhero genre has provided some wonderfully in depth examinations of philosophical and moral questions such as, what does it mean to be human? Or who watches the watchmen? The genre also produces action and adventure–oriented works for those interested in a lighter read. Popular superhero franchises are increasingly being translated to the big screen fueling interest in the genre.

Alan Moore; Dave Gibbons

Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 2005.

Watchmen is considered to be one of the defining works of the graphic novel form. In 1988 the book was awarded a Hugo in the category of other forms. Time Magazine has recognized Watchmen as “the best of the breed.” The title is a reference to the question “Who watches the watchmen” by Juvenal.

Alan Moore

Swamp Thing: love and death. New York: Warner Books, 1990.

Alan Moore’s re–imagination of a creation by Len Wein explores a myriad of topics such as environmentalism, and numerous social issues of the time.

Alan Moore, Gene Ha, Zander Cannon

Top 10 Book 1. La Jolla, CA: America’s Best Comics, 2000.

A lighthearted look at superheroes confined to a city of their own since the end of the Second World War. The stories center on the members of precinct ten and their investigations in the city of Neopolis.

Frank Miller

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. New York, NY.: DC Comics, 2002.

In 2005 Time Magazine declared The Dark Knight Returns as one of the 10 best English language graphic novels ever written. The story follows Bruce Wayne as he once again dons the batman mantle after a ten year retirement.

Geoff Klock

How to read superhero comics and why. New York: Continuum, 2002.

For those seeking to glean more from the superhero genre, books such as this can help us see beyond the capes and tights to deeper and more meaningful discussions of morals and ethics.

Stan Lee; Chris Claremont; Louise Simonson; Bob Harras; Jaye Gardner

X–men Inferno. New York, NY.: Marvel Comics, 1996.

A good example of the action–oriented adventure stories of the superhero genre. This title is also a good example of a crossover. Crossovers allow authors to blend characters or groups from other titles into stories under other existing or new titles. In this case Marvel comics pulled from its line of “mutant” titles.

Phil Jimenez; et al

The DC Comics encyclopedia: the definitive guide to the characters of the DC universe. New York: DK Pub., 2004.

This one volume goes a long way to show how varied and detailed a single superhero storyline can be. Collected are over 1,000 heroes and villains that have appeared in DC Comics over the years.

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