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Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  56 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
An exhaustive and entertaining study of the superhero genre, Superhero: the Secret Origin of a Genre traces the roots of the superhero in mythology, science fiction, and the pulps, and follows the superhero's development to its current renaissance in film, literature, and graphic novels.
Paperback, 290 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Monkeybrain
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Apr 26, 2009 Matt rated it liked it
I admire a lot of the spadework Coogan has done here, and I am more or less convinced by the tropes he outlines as being the foundation of what we recognize as the superhero-- I think he's right that these are the elements that make the superhero recognizable.

I think, though, that the way he chooses to talk about superhero comics is rarely all that interesting. It seems like once the superhero has been recognized as being there, the comic by default becomes a superhero comic, which I think does
Aug 17, 2007 Remy rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: the devil
Shelves: comics
Okay. I admit it. I didn't even get 100 pages into it. I almost stopped once when the book cited Wikipedia, but no, I endured. The straw that broke the camel's back came in the form of its discussion of Fat Bastard from Austin Powers in the context of supervillians. I rarely feel offended by people muchless prose. This book offended me.
John Carter McKnight
Coogan is very specific about what he sets out to do in this book adapted from his dissertation: describe the origin and evolution of the superhero as a storytelling genre. As to origins, he does a very good job, tracing the superhero's origins in scientific romances and pulp fiction. I found his theorizing weak and his take on the genre's evolution sadly lacking.

Coogan presents a theory of genre evolution drawn from Thomas Schatz's _Hollywood Genres_. I would have liked to have seen a wider su
Sep 26, 2015 Diz rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
This goes in depth into the history behind the comics, but rather than talking about the formation of the publishers of the first comics and the artists who worked for them, this goes into the literary predecessors of the superhero genre, so you'll read a lot about pulp fiction and mystery men. In fact, it covers superheroes a lot less than I was expecting. If you're interested in the literary pre-history of comics, this is interesting, but if you wanted to read more about superheroes themselves ...more
Jan 27, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
i like this book because growing up i loved watching superheros on t.v. and I was i excited to read this book about heros. While i was reading this book I learn so much from it. like what type of superheros there were and how diffrent they are. The only thing i didnt like about this book is the supervillians because they always seem to ruin everything. But this book is really interesting all in all beacuse I feel as if I'm learning so much about heros on a higher level of dicovery And that reall ...more
Jun 04, 2012 Forrest rated it it was amazing
For those of you interested in comics, particularly of the long underwear and cape variety, this book is a superb source for understanding the conventions, tropes, and general history of the genre.
Apr 05, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
The book suffers a bit from repetition, especially on the history of the genre--the same refutations of other contenders for the title of "first superhero" appear at least twice. However, the definitions and descriptions of the genre were nicely done, and I found the discussions about the possible future of the genre to be intriguing.
Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre by Peter Coogan (2006)
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