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Because you are reading this column on Robot 6, which is one of the blogs attached to Comic Book Resources, which is a long-time website devoted to covering all aspects of comic books, from industry to fandom, it’s safe to assume that you already have the equivalent experience of a Bachelor of Arts in superhero studies.
Therefore, Oklahoma City University professor Marc DiPaolo’s War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film is probably going to be something you’ll enjoy curling up with or reading on the beach, even if it is a college textbook with the words “politics” and “ethics” right there in the title. (And, if you’re already pretty conversant in superheroes, it’s worth noting that DiPaolo never talks down to readers, so his work is easy to engage with even if a Superhero and Politics 101 book seems like something you’re well beyond).
DiPaolo defines “superhero” rather widely, including not only the capes and codenames crowd popularized by DC and Marvel, but also Captain Kirk, James Bond, Dr. Who, Rambo, Xena and Jack Bauer and other such idealized heroic figures from genre entertainment. His cast assembled, his book contains a series of chapter-length essays, each dealing with a particular character or group of characters and various political readings of their various adventures.
Broadly, the thesis is that superhero adventures comment on, react to and even shape American public opinion and government policy, a discussion largely divorced from the opinions or intentions of their creators (With a few obvious exceptions, like the way the various worldviews of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and John Romita shaped the original Spider-Man comics).