The portrayal of crime and justice in the comic book superhero mythos

Scott Vollum, Cary D. Adkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the representation of crime and justice in the worlds and lives of two of the most popular and pervasive comic book superheroes: Batman and Superman. The messages conveyed in the stories of these two superheroes are identified and discussed in relation to three different contexts: (1) the structure of the society in which the superhero resides, (2) the crime and criminals they come up against, and (3) the crime-fighting superheroes themselves. The perspectives of crime and justice conveyed by the predominant images and messages are then examined in accordance with Sutherland's tripartite framework of criminological inquiry: The representation of law, the breaking of law, and the reaction to the breaking of law are considered. Finally, the hegemonic messages implicit in the comic book superhero mythos are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-108
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


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