Cowboys and superheroes


Hankins, Sarah Russell. 1983.  "Archetypal Alloy: Reagan's Rhetorical Image." In The Hero in Transition, ed. Browne, Ray B., and Marshall Fishwick, 266-79.  Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University Popular Press.

266-67 Reagan elected as the classic hero of the Old West

267 heyday of the Western genre in America:
"Gunfighter" 1950
"High Noon" 1952
"Shane" 1953
1958 54 full-length Westerns were made
1959 8/10 top ten TV shows were Westerns

268 in 1960s outlaw became the hero
cf. Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns
"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"
"Left-handed Gun"
"True Grit" 1969 (John Wayne has unheroic characteristics)
Superheroes in Marvel and DC comics

268 cites Campbell and Frye for archetypal pattern
268-70 distinguishes between pattern and generic qualities:
1. hero comes from outside society
2. ascetic quality
3. aversion to women
4. compassion for the society of which he is not really a part
5. always in the business of conquering evil.


Blythe, Hal and Charlie Sweet.  1983.  "Superhero: The Six Step Progression." In The Hero in Transition, ed. Browne, Ray B., and Marshall Fishwick, 180-87.  Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press.

Comic book story-pattern:

1. A menace.  Society or the whole world threatened.  Law enforcement, armies, etc. are helpless.
2. Superhero appears or is summoned.  (Preliminary encounter with enemy.)
3. Pursuit of enemy by superhero.
4. Confrontation.  Indecisive.  Superhero captured / enemy escapes.
5. Final confrontation.  Mental superiority of superhero.
6. Restoration of order.

Traits of the superhero:

1. Extraordinary powers.
2. Used only for good.
3. Is human.
4. Has secret identity.
5. Powers are limited.
6. Adult, white male.