Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.19
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 85%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $5.19   
  • New (5) from $26.55   
  • Used (8) from $5.19   


Why are so many of the superhero myths tied up with loss, often violent, of parents or parental figures? What is the significance of the dual identity? What makes some superhuman figures "good" and others "evil"? Why are so many of the prime superheroes white and male? How has the superhero evolved over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries? And how might the myths be changing? Why is it that the key superhero archetypes - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, the X-Men - touch primal needs and experiences in everyone? Why has the superhero moved beyond the pages of comics into other media? All these topics, and more, are covered in this lively and original exploration of the reasons why the superhero - in comic books, films, and TV - is such a potent myth for our times and culture.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Fingeroth draws on his decades of working at Marvel Comics (including work as the editorial director of the Spider-Man comics family) to write this personal, engaging, and earnest work. He addresses, among other topics, superheroes and immigration (Superman, the ultimate alien), superheroes and family relations (Fantastic Four and X-Men), and the development of the teen voice in comic books (from sidekick to Spider-Man). Fingeroth hits a number of high notes, especially in his discussion of villains as proactive characters, as opposed to the usually reactive heroes. He also considers the idea of the female superhero. Fingeroth supports his assertions with a good array of scholarly and popular sources, including work by Joseph Campbell, Gloria Steinem, and Les Daniels. The result is an easygoing exploration of superheroes' cultural significance, and it will appeal to a mainstream audience. Comics legend Stan Lee provides the foreword to this slim volume. The hardcover carries a hefty price tag, so larger public libraries may wish to consider the paperback. Because of the subject matter's appeal and the accessibility of Fingeroth's writing, this title is an especially good choice for school libraries.-Audrey Snowden, Brewer, ME Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Fingeroth offers a lucid and accessible social critique of the mainstream comics' preternatural characters as well as reasoning why and how the public welcomes such stories. Although he rightfully reaches back to earlier literary uses and developments of heroic character types, these discussions don't demand strong academic knowledge of world cultures, nor do his analyses of superhero motives require readers to be grounded in theoretical psychology. Instead, this is an engaging discussion that may turn some readers into literary sleuths and deeper thinkers, simply because the writing is so solid and the presentation so balanced. Even those who aren't fans of Spider-Man or Batman will be able to understand the relevance of considering how fiction and culture interact with one another. An excellent resource for both research and pleasure reading.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826415400
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 2/27/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

As former Group Editor of Marvel Comics's Spider-Man line, Danny Fingeroth became intimately familiar with the key elements of superhero mythology. He is exceptionally well versed in just what it takes to breathe life into these characters. Fingeroth is currently the creator and editor of Write Now magazine. He lives in New York City with his wife, sons, and 30,000 comic books.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword 9
1 Why Superheroes? 13
2 It Started with Gilgamesh: The History of the Superhero 31
3 The Dual Identity: Of Pimpernels and Immigrants from the Stars 47
4 Storm of the Orphans: Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man 63
5 Amazon Grace: Wonder Woman, Xena, and Buffy 79
6 Thermonuclear Families: The Justice League, the S-Men, and the Fantastic Four 97
7 You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: The Hulk, Judge Dredd, and Wolverine 119
8 Changing Voices: From Robin to Spider-Man 139
9 Values and Villains: What's at Stake? 155
10 The Future of the Superhero 169
Afterword: Getting Personal 173
Select Bibliography 179
Acknowledgments 183
Index 185
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)