Monday, April 19, 2010
In an essay entitled "The Myth of Superman," writer/philosopher Umberto Eco commented on the narrative dilemma of serialized fiction, using Superman comics as an example. Eco was concerned with delineating the features of a 'closed' text - a classic Superman story is 'closed,' in Eco's terminology, because it is designed to elicit a predetermined response - the mythological iteration of the Superman character. Therefore, nothing can happen in a Superman tale which advances the hero along the life-path: he cannot marry, reproduce or grow old.
Has this held true with Superman comics? Is he still catching bank robbers and stopping trains circa the nineteen forties? Or has he been free from his "closed" environment and allowed to do 21st century deeds?Has his character grown?