Dr. phil. Anke Bock

Project Overview - Superevil: Villains in Silver Age Superhero Comics



My dissertation project focuses on the American supervillain whose characterization is directly dependent on the accompanying superhero. The villain figure is extremely complex and correlates with the hero’s portrayal. The mutual relationship between the two is therefore the basis of my analysis. In its course, I will have a closer look on different types of villains, for which theories on evil in general serve as starting point. The object of inquiry is the American comic predominantly of the so-called Silver Age.1 This era comprises roughly the 1960s and is the birthplace of many popular heroes of today’s movies like The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, Black Panther or The Fantastic Four. As the titles adumbrate, the Silver Age is also called the Marvel Age. Stan Lee’s publishing house left its mark on the medium comic, the genre of the superhero comic and the characters depicted. This is the reason why my focus lies primarily on Marvel comics but also considers the ones published by the other great comic publisher DC. The characterization of hero and villain is analyzed against the backdrop of the political, social, (pop)cultural, scientific and religious contexts of that time. Therefore, my project examines the varieties of evil, their portrayals and functions in the contexts of the comics’ time.


Research Keywords:

Sequential Art, the Superhero, Popular Culture, Gender Studies, Studies of Evil, Seriality, Film Analysis



[1] Since the Golden Age of the superhero comic has established most of the genre’s conventions and the Bronze Age has deconstructed them, both eras serve as comparative values as do comics published by smaller publishing houses as well as postcolonial or feminist comics, which function as reaction to the established conventions of the genre.




  • Summer Term 2021: Master Tutorial
  • Winter Term 2020/21: Master Tutorial
  • Summer Term 2020: Master Tutorial
  • Winter Term 2019/20: Analyzing Comics: Women in Superhero Comics
  • Summer Term 2019: Notions of Evil in Comics and Graphic Novels, Master Tutorial
  • Winter Term 2018/19: Master Tutorial
  • Summer Term 2018: Analyzing Sequential Art, Master Tutorial

Presentations and Publications

  1. Presentations
  • 10/2020 -               “Death of the Endless and Fan Projections” with Ashumi Shah at the digital annual ComFor Conference, October 8-10, 2020    
  • 09/2020 - „Hyper-Masculinity vs. Disability – Doctor Donald Blake alias Thor and their shared personality“ at the 4th Global Meeting of the Superhero Project, Duisburg/Essen, September 4-6, 2020
  • 02/2019 -             “Visualisierung innerster Gefühle – Angst in Guy Delisles Hostage“ at the Comics Symposium Berlin, February 9, 2019
  • 03/2018 -   “Superpowers Do Not Make You Equal: Invisible Girl and the Failure of an Emancipated Portrayal of Women.” at the 2018 PCA/ACA National Conference, Indianapolis, March 28-31, 2018
  • 03/2018 - Moderation of the Panel “Comics and Comic Art: Gender Identities” at the 2018 PCA/ACA National Conference, Indianapolis, March 28-31, 2018
  1. Publications
  • “Sexuality as Devil’s Tool – Namor and his never-ending love for Invisible Girl“ in The Marvel Universe, Eds. Douglas Brode, Alicia M. Goodman and Robert G. Weiner. (forthcoming, 2022)

  • “You be the hero, I remain the sidekick? - Rick Jones’ quest to save humanity” in The Human in Superhuman, Eds. Sandra Eckard and Alex Romagnoli. (forthcoming, 2022)

  • “Death of the Endless and Fan Projections” mit Ashumi Shah in Comics und Agency – Akteur*innen, Öffentlichkeiten, Partizipation, Eds. Vanessa Ossa, Jan-Noёl Thon and Lukas Wilde. (forthcoming, 2022)

  • “Hyper-Masculinity vs. Disability – Doctor Donald Blake alias Thor and their shared personality” in Proceedings of the Superhero Project 4th Global Meeting, Eds. Torsten Caeners and Danny Graydon. (forthcoming, 2022)