In The Supervillain Reader, edited by Robert Moses Peaslee & Robert G. Weiner. Published by University Press of Mississippi, 2020.
The Supervillain Reader, featuring both reprinted and original essays, reveals why we are so fascinated with the villain. The obsession with the villain is not a new phenomenon, and, in fact, one finds villains who are “super” going as far back as ancient religious and mythological texts. This innovative collection brings together essays, book excerpts, and original content from a wide variety of scholars and writers, weaving a rich tapestry of thought regarding villains in all their manifestations, including film, literature, television, games, and, of course, comics and sequential art. While The Supervillain Reader focuses on the latter, it moves beyond comics to show how the vital concept of the supervillain is part of our larger consciousness.
Editors Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner collect pieces that explore how the villain is a complex part of narratives regardless of the original source. The Joker, Lex Luthor, Harley Quinn, Darth Vader, and Magneto must be compelling, stimulating, and proactive, whereas the superhero (or protagonist) is most often reactive. Indeed, whether in comics, films, novels, religious tomes, or video games, the eternal struggle between villain and hero keeps us coming back to these stories over and over again.
Contributions by Jerold J. Abrams, José Alaniz, John Carey, Maurice Charney, Peter Coogan, Joe Cruz, Phillip Lamarr Cunningham, Stefan Danter, Adam Davidson-Harden, Randy Duncan, Richard Hall, Richard Heldenfels, Alberto Hermida, Víctor Hernández-Santaolalla, A. G. Holdier, Tiffany Hong, Stephen Graham Jones, Siegfried Kracauer, Naja Later, Ryan Litsey, Tara Lomax, Tony Magistrale, Matthew McEniry, Cait Mongrain, Grant Morrison, Robert Moses Peaslee, David D. Perlmutter, W. D. Phillips, Jared Poon, Duncan Prettyman, Vladimir Propp, Noriko T. Reider, Robin S. Rosenberg, Hannah Ryan, Lennart Soberon, J. Richard Stevens, Lars Stoltzfus-Brown, John N. Thompson, Dan Vena, and Robert G. Weiner.