"In this innovative collection of essays, renowned psychologist Robin S. Rosenberg and comics scholar Peter Coogan explore the question 'What is a superhero?' from a variety of viewpoints. With essays from scholars and commentary by the writers and creators themselves, including extensive material from Stan Lee, Danny Fingeroth, and their peers, What is a Superhero? is the first volume to provide a true synthesis and reflection of the state of superheroes in our culture today."--Book jacket.
Introduction / Robin Rosenberg and Peter Coogan Section I. Super and hero: powers and mission. The hero defines the genre, the genre defines the hero / Peter Coogan ; We could be heroes / Will Brooker ; What is a female superhero? / Jennifer Stuller ; Straddling a boundary: the superhero and the incorporation of difference / Clare Pitkethly ; Save the day / A. David Lewis Section II. Context, culture, and the problem of definition. Superheroes and the modern(ist) age / Alex Boney ; Heroes of the superculture / Richard Reynolds ; Superheroes by design / John Jennings ; The experience of the superhero: a phenomenological definition / Dana Anderson ; What is a superhero? No one knows that's what makes 'em great / Geoff Klock Section III. Superheroes need supervillains. Why supervillains? / Paul Levitz ; Superheroes need supervillains / Frank Verano ; Superheroes need superior villains / Stanford W. Carpenter ; The subjective politics of the supervillain / Chris Deis ; Supervillains who need superheroes (are the luckiest villains in the world) / Andrew Smith ; Sorting out villainy: a typology of villains and their effects on superheroes / Robin S. Rosenberg Section IV. From the experts: comic book writers define the superhero. More than normal, but believable / Stan Lee ; Making the world a better place / Jeph Loeb ; Power and responsibility ... and other reflections on superheroes / Danny Fingeroth ; Superheroes and power / Dennis O'Neil ; The importance of context: Robin Hood is out and Buffy is in / Kurt Busiek ; Superheroes are made / Tom DeFalco ; Extraordinary / Joe Quesada ; The superprotagonist / Fred Van Lente ; Superheroes and supervillains: an interdependent relationship / Ivory Madison.