April 26, 2011



Where would I find the piece?

Dave Lull



Mendelsohn's attachment to ancient models of metamorphosis make him miss what was truly ground breaking about the comic heroes of the early 1960s. They did in fact reverse a previous model of metamorphosis, but it was a model from the 1940s and 1950s. Throughout this whole period Americans (and Japanse, and most everyone else) were treated to cautionary tales of exposure to radiation. Radiation, in this discourse, breeds *monsters*. Rampaging giant spiders, ants, grasshoppers, Gojira etc. were the result of exposure to radiation, creatures so dangeous they had to be destroyed.

What is really so new, so revolutionary, about the comic book heroes of the early 60s is that their heroic powers were granted to them by exposure to radiation. The Fantastic Four and Spider Man are the most obvious examples of this trend, though the Hulk is another. By giving a positive spin on the metamorphosis effected by radiation, they decisively reversed the earlier trope of radiation breeding only monsters. That this occurred around the time of the highest level of anxiety around nuclear weapons and radiation - the Cuban Missile Crisis - may or may not have been a coincidence.


Mendelsohn always has something interesting to say.

And let's hear it for intriguing failures.

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