Secret Identity Reader: Essays on Sex, Death and the Superhero

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By: Lee Easton, Richard Harrison

December 2010
392 pages | ISBN 978-1-894987-50-9

Comic book superheroes have risen from their newsprint beginnings to dominate films, infiltrate the literary establishment, and become an integral part of popular culture. Secret Identity Reader: Essays on Sex, Death and the Superhero is a collaboration between two authors who investigate, and often disagree on, key facets of the superhero character and storyline. Masculinity, origin stories and the problem of the sidekick are all fair game in this wide-ranging discussion, which also considers the superhero’s place in a post 9/11 world and ponders why these characters keep dying and coming back to life.


1. The First Introduction to This Book: On the Uncanny Nature of Alter Egos, or the Secret Identity of Comic Book Critics
2. Origin Issues: A Second Introduction to This Book
3. The Dark Knight Origin of the Man of Steel
4. How Comic Books Became Postmodern: A Rough Guide to the Evolution of the Comic Book Superhero Narrative
5. Modernism and the Silver Age
6. The Fantastic Paper-Man: Heroic Proportion, the Ideal Body and Me
7. Sharing a Quick Look: A Gay Man Reads His Comics
8. Grown Women's Bodies in a Young Boy's Hands: A Memoir
9. Boy Trouble: The Sidekick Problem in the Superhero Comic
10. "No! It Can't Be! I Saw You Die!" – A First Look at Comic Book Mythology and the Return of the Dead
11. Beginning and End
      11a. Beginning, Middle and Beginning Again
      11b. No Ending? No Problem! Reboot, Rinse, Repeat
12. The Heroic Narrative in Crisis
13. "Crisis? What Crisis?"
14. The Death of the Secret Identity: The Graphic Novel and the Superhero Story
15. Rogers and Stark: Of Masks and Men
16. Hidden, Not Gone: The End of Death and the Return of the Secret Identity


Read an excerpt from Secret Identity Reader


Telling Secrets (Tim Blackmore, Canadian Literature, 06/12/2012)
“It is a great relief to read a book as thoughtful, intelligent, well-informed, perceptive, and smart as Lee Easton and Richard Harrison’s Secret Identity Reader.... It’s a pleasure to see this kind of study done right (the word “properly” just doesn’t pack the colloquial wallop it needs).”

Other Titles by Richard Harrison

Now is the Winter: Thinking about hockey (2009)

Worthy of his Fall (2005)

Hero of the Play: 10th Anniversary Edition (2004)

Big Breath of a Wish (1998)

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