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Superheroes and Comic Book Vigilantes Versus Real Life Vigilantes: An Anthropological Answer to the Kick-Ass Paradox

Weston, Gavin. 2013. Superheroes and Comic Book Vigilantes Versus Real Life Vigilantes: An Anthropological Answer to the Kick-Ass Paradox. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 4(2), pp. 223-234. ISSN 2150-4857 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article explores comic-book superheroes and vigilantes through an anthropological lens to tackle the paradox offered by Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass: why have comic books not inspired more real-life vigilantism? Applying social science literature on vigilantism, social banditry and death squads to fictional characters and contexts, this article explores the gaps between vigilante fact and vigilante fiction. It takes as its starting point Ray Abrahams’ observation that three factors lend themselves to the emergence of vigilantism: dissatisfaction with justice, awareness of other vigilantes and a pre-existing social or cultural template. Given the prevalence of comic-book superheroes and vigilantes as cultural template, this paper reappraises the limits of Abrahams’ model and reflects on the ambiguities of vigilante fact and fiction.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1080/21504857.2012.682624

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology

Dates:

DateEvent
2013Published

Item ID:

11928

Date Deposited:

02 Jul 2015 08:50

Last Modified:

12 Feb 2019 10:56

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/11928

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