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Neal Curtis

. Of all the Batman stories that address the thin line between law and violence, it is perhaps The Killing Joke (Moore and Booland, 2006) that most succinctly and starkly dissolves the line between Batman and The Joker, between good and evil, order and chaos, sanity and madness. Aside from this, Alan Moore’s story takes place in continuity and is also notable for the shooting and disabling of the daughter of the Police Commissioner and original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon.5 The book uses numerous formal techniques to problematise any simple opposition between the Batman

in Sovereignty and superheroes
Neal Curtis

to achieve a ‘superior finality’, or sovereign completion in the face of apocalypse is precisely what threatens to bring the apocalypse about. Although superhero comics regularly partake in this projection of the bad infinite there are plenty of stories that explicitly treat the threat of apocalypse and the ‘necessary’ violence it supposedly demands as an explicit theme. This can be seen in Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, discussed in the introduction, but Alan Moore’s Watchmen is perhaps exemplary in this regard.9 This subject is primarily addressed through the male

in Sovereignty and superheroes
Neal Curtis

exploitation. Notable amongst these so-called mature revisions were Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (discussed in Chapter 3) and Alan Moore’s Watchmen (discussed in Chapter 7). The point to make, however, is that although social attitudes have affected the evolution of the genre, it is not true that these changes were forced on an inherently limited and conservative concept. Change was built in right from the start. This is the reason that they are so open to creative development and remain so popular today. As Henry Jenkins has argued, calling changes to a superhero

in Sovereignty and superheroes
Neal Curtis

superheroes regularly take animals as their totems, Animal Man represents the totemic relation itself and articulates our deep kinship with and dependency on the animal kingdom. Aside from Animal Man, another character that clearly marks our connectedness and mutual dependency, this time to the realm of plants and vegetation, is Swamp Thing. In the first chapter of Book 1 of Alan Moore’s run (Moore, Bissette and Totleben, 1987), we find Swamp Thing, formerly the chemist Alec Holland, in a cryo-chamber, presumed dead after being shot. He is the ‘property’ of a company

in Sovereignty and superheroes