‘With great power comes great responsibility’: The impact of the parent-child relationship on the development of the heroic identity within comic book and graphic novel culture
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The aim of this thesis is to explore the impact of the parent-child relationship on the development of the heroic identity within the comic book and graphic novel genre. The life of a hero is seen as a solitary one. For many, this solitary life begins in childhood, often with the loss of the parent. For many heroes, their origin story begins with trauma and isolation. It is this trauma and loss that will be explored throughout this thesis. In a similar manner, many characters have developed surrogate parental relationships, impacting their heroic identities in a very real way. For many heroes the parental relationship, loss, and subsequent pseudo parental relationships are the reasons for their heroics. This thesis will explore the motivating factors for each hero based on their attachment types with their parents, as well as the significance of any loss they face. The core objective of this thesis is to understand why certain heroes behave as they do, be it craving isolation or their perpetual search for a new family. While many heroes have iconic, instantly recognisable origin stories, others are more recognisable because of their role as a hero, with their origin being somewhat more obscure, with each hero being impacted in a different way as a result. Many of the heroes discussed in this thesis are superpowered beings, however there are some that will be discussed who possess no superpowers, but are heroes, nonetheless. While each hero has developed a different type of heroism, based off a different origin story, each hero discussed is deeply impacted by the parent-child relationship.
Trauma and loss