From Gods to Superheroes: An Interpretive Reading of Comic Books and Religious Pluralism
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The study of pop culture within the framework of the humanities has gained increased scholarly attention. However, one area of interest that has not been fully addressed in the social sciences is the role comic books play in shaping cultural identity. This paper examines comic books as cultural artifacts that signify an alternative means of assessing the evolution of plurality and its relation to cultural identity. Drawing on the work of Paul Ricoeur and Hans-Georg Gadamer I employ a hermeneutical approach that highlights the multimodal nature of the comic book. The comic book presents a multilayered structure of narration that combines mythic narratives, rich symbolism, and ethical frameworks. Stated simply, I suggest that comic books present a new location for the actualization of myth in a increasing secularized society. Moreover, drawing on the findings of social semiotics theory and cultural psychology, I claim that comic books present an opportunity for scholars to critically examine the value we place on plurality in the west. In particular, I discuss how plurality is represented from 1938 to the the present through the longstanding titles “Green Lantern” and “Captain America”. These titles are important because they are widely read and have played a formative role in popularizing the comic book in Western culture. Both “Captain America” and “Green Lantern” present a vision of plurality that not only reflects the cultural landscape, but seeks to transform it.