Making Curriculum Pop

Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked (The History Channel)
Monday, February 7th at 3/2c

Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked explores the way iconic comic book characters have reflected their times, from the 1930s to the 21st century. Superman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Spiderman, the X-Men, The Hulk-these popular characters have become role models for generations of readers. Comic book superheroes are certainly part of the imaginary universe they inhabit, but they also reflect the real world in which they were developed. This 2-hour program traces the evolution of comic books from the Great Depression through today, showing how they are and have been a fascinating window on our world. Interviews with comic book writers and illustrators give students an understanding of the creative process these artists use as they construct their tales. Educators may want to use clips from this program in their course units and lectures on the historical eras discussed in this program.

Curriculum Links:
Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked would be useful for History, Media, Communications and Global Studies courses. It is appropriate for high school and college students.

View the Teacher's Guide:

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Uncover the history of Comic Book Superheroes

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Frank, I just saw a good bit of this on the history channel this morning while trying to get my mind off the stationary bike.  I was fascinated and it gave me a good topic of conversation to use with a former student I correspond with in Afghanistan. 

As a cautionary note for those wanting to use this--do preview.  The Wonder Woman episodes are quite shocking.  As the commentator points out there are S & M references that would for sure need permission before they could be used in most classrooms.

Am I getting something wrong here?  I can't find any rebroadcasts of this show, and the links only send me to Stan Lee's Superhumans.  Is  History Channel going to rebroadcast this?
This is probably repeated sometime later in the school year. You may have to periodically check THC website schedule. Sorry you missed it. It may also be available for purchase from THC store.

Russ, I posted links to the YouTube vids on my site (in the Dark Knight Returns Group page or you can just look them up on YouTube.



Awesome resource Frank. Thanks for the additional links and description.

This video can be found (in portions) on YouTube, I believe, but it is difficult to find a hard copy to purchase. I spent the past month looking!!



I enjoyed this program and wanted to purchase it for use in my classes, but have had a rough time finding it.  I think I located a copy on Amazon, but was a little shocked at the price.
Just an FYI-- I found the value of this film is in what it shows not only about the history of superheroes but what this history shows about our culture and us, as audience. Realizing the power that readers have to transform art, story, and shape a medium is important for students to understand. Getting students to think about stories/art/news as constructed is important for them both as recipients of media and creators. I think the comics shown over time in this film as they reflect cultural concerns, events, and even fear is outstanding. I asked my students to take pictorial notes--yes, doodling symbols, icons, and other drawings to show their attention and understanding of the film. It was a great way to get them to actively view and think.

This looks great! But I can't find the link with information on the Unmasked program. Is that not available online or dvd?


I was able to find the ISBN by searching the web long enough, found a couple of copies but couldn't afford them on a teachers salary.  I'd suggest if you can find the ISBN yourself, see if you can get it through Inter Library Loan and view it then return it.  Some interesting concepts, such as the Wonder Woman and Batman/Robin theories.  are not quite the material for High School or Middle School, but good theoretical constructs all the same.


Here's the whole show streamed on VEOH -


THANKS!  Couldn't get to the bookmarks fast enough.  Now I know where to find it when I need it.

While a good resource, it is a general overview of comics and some themes and social significance, I found it to be lacking in some areas, where it really drew it out in others and lingered on specific comics.  I was surprised at the little use of X-Men, especially since it was Giant-Sized X-Men that really brought together a diverse team in personality and ethnicity.  Not only that, but X-Men was probably the first to feature women prominently, thanks to Claremont.  X-Men has always been progressive with female characters, though sometimes sexualized, while Wonder Woman was highly fetishized but the first female superhero.  And the program seemed to ignore that, only focusing on the racial tension reflection of the 60s, equating mutancy with being African-American.  But I don't think women in comics has become as big of an "issue" until recently, since this has been aired.  (I might be wrong, but it's been a LONG time since I've seen this.  I was a sophomore in college when it first aired.  But it would've been nice to see more of the impact of the X-Men in general, especially since it was the dominant Marvel book for so long.)  Fans are asking for more and stronger women that are better characters.


But overall, a great use for intro to comics.



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