Icons of Authority and Resistance: An Ideological and Semiotic

A look at the influence of superhero comics on today’s society.

The paper will argue the thesis that superhero comics have performed an ideologically dichotomous role in modern popular culture: at once they are both key structural supports of the ideological architecture of American imperialism while, at the same time, often functioning as subversive figures of resistance to the primary authority structures of that same empire. While an ideological analysis allows us to explore the functions of comic book superheroes in the power dynamics of mass culture, a semiotic analysis complements this approach by allowing us to understand how their ideological function has been reinforced by their iconic status within modern culture.