Book Cover: Secret Identity Reader: Essays on Sex, Death and the Superhero, Lee Easton, Richard Harrison

Secret Identity Reader: Essays on Sex, Death and the Superhero

Lee Easton, Richard Harrison
  • $25.00

December 2010
392 pages | ISBN 978-1-894987-50-9

Comic book superheroes have risen from their newsprint beginnings to dominate films, infiltrate the literary establishment, and become an integral part of popular culture. Secret Identity Reader: Essays on Sex, Death and the Superhero is a collaboration between two authors who investigate, and often disagree on, key facets of the superhero character and storyline. Masculinity, origin stories and the problem of the sidekick are all fair game in this wide-ranging discussion, which also considers the superhero’s place in a post 9/11 world and ponders why these characters keep dying and coming back to life.


1. The First Introduction to This Book: On the Uncanny Nature of Alter Egos, or the Secret Identity of Comic Book Critics
2. Origin Issues: A Second Introduction to This Book
3. The Dark Knight Origin of the Man of Steel
4. How Comic Books Became Postmodern: A Rough Guide to the Evolution of the Comic Book Superhero Narrative
5. Modernism and the Silver Age
6. The Fantastic Paper-Man: Heroic Proportion, the Ideal Body and Me
7. Sharing a Quick Look: A Gay Man Reads His Comics
8. Grown Women's Bodies in a Young Boy's Hands: A Memoir
9. Boy Trouble: The Sidekick Problem in the Superhero Comic
10. "No! It Can't Be! I Saw You Die!" – A First Look at Comic Book Mythology and the Return of the Dead
11. Beginning and End
      11a. Beginning, Middle and Beginning Again
      11b. No Ending? No Problem! Reboot, Rinse, Repeat
12. The Heroic Narrative in Crisis
13. "Crisis? What Crisis?"
14. The Death of the Secret Identity: The Graphic Novel and the Superhero Story
15. Rogers and Stark: Of Masks and Men
16. Hidden, Not Gone: The End of Death and the Return of the Secret Identity


Telling Secrets (Tim Blackmore, Canadian Literature, 06/12/2012)
“It is a great relief to read a book as thoughtful, intelligent, well-informed, perceptive, and smart as Lee Easton and Richard Harrison’s Secret Identity Reader.... It’s a pleasure to see this kind of study done right (the word “properly” just doesn’t pack the colloquial wallop it needs).”


Read an excerpt from Secret Identity Reader

About the Authors

Lee Easton works in the Department of English at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. He began his lifelong habit of reading superhero comics in Sudbury, Ontario, after receiving an issue of World's Finest Comics. He has taught courses about comics at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, and at Mount Royal University alongside his colleague and collaborator, Richard Harrison. In addition to teaching and writing about superhero comics, Lee also writes about the representation of gender and sexuality in film and science fiction. He is currently the chair of the Department of English at Mount Royal University.

Richard Harrison’s eight books include the Governor General’s Award–finalist Big Breath of a Wish, and Hero of the Play, the first book of poetry launched at the Hockey Hall of Fame. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, a position he took up after being the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary in 1995. His work has been published, broadcast and displayed around the world, and his poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. In On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood, Richard reflects on his father’s death, the Alberta Flood and what poetry offers a life lived around it.

Other Titles by Richard Harrison

25: Hockey Poems, New & Revised (2019)

On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood (2016)

Now is the Winter: Thinking about hockey (2009)

Worthy of his Fall (2005)

Hero of the Play: 10th Anniversary Edition (2004)

Big Breath of a Wish (1998)

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