ENGL 2030 Themes in Literature and Culture: Graphic Novels
Essay #2 Criteria and possible topics
Essay #1 must follow proper MLA format and all Out of Class Essay criteria from the syllabus.
Times New Roman, 12 point, double spaced
Internal citations and works cited entries based on proper MLA format
Without both, documentation grade is zero
Only one primary source is required, but you must use two outside academic
sources (outside research)
Third person pronoun usage
Stay away from simple plot summary
Literature analysis uses present verb tense
Use the terms and ideas from
and from the literature analysis
handouts from OWL
You may create your own topic/thesis if you choose
Topics must come from the following texts:
X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
Dark Knight Returns
Note: You are free to change these topics, if you wish, to create new ideas. Remember, analysis
is all about an interpretation that can be supported from the text.
X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
Explore the metaphor of mutants as a representation of real world prejudices. Why use a
fictional concept, “mutants” to represent a very real problem?
How do the authors use moral ambiguity to explore the motivations of characters,
sometimes villainous characters?
What connections does the novel have to our real world history and culture?
Many different ideologies are at work in this novel.
How do the authors mix superheroes and real world issues? Is the mix successful?
How is the “moral” of the graphic novel shown? Is the theme of the novel a more realistic
Explore the motivations of the villains of the novel.
Many people feel that Marvel Comics inject realism into their superhero stories. How real
does this story feel?
Do the X-Men represent a diverse cast of characters? How is this shown?
What do the X-Men represent in the fictional world that translates into real world
concerns? Why give them powers, costumes, and secret identities?
Dark Knight Returns
Why does Frank Miller change the age and time period of Batman for his novel?
How effective is the darker, more edgy version of Batman? Do you see this version in
modern incarnations of the character?
Does this novel relate to the time it was written?
What is the role of media, law enforcement, and or the establishment in this story?
Does this novel relate to the incarnation of Batman that is shown in Paul Dini’s
, the graphic novel we read earlier in the semester?
Is there a significance of changing the character of Robin?
Does this version of Batman relate to our modern world? If so, how? Can the modern
incarnations of the character be totally different, in the opposite direction of the classic
Batman is a definite staple of popular culture. Does this translate into what we would
consider classic literature? Explain.
What is Alan Moore trying to say about the very concept of superheroes? Does he feel
they are still relevant to our world? Do you feel he even cares for the idea?
Create a character study of any character from the novel. What are their motivations?
How do they fit into the overall theme and ideas of the graphic novel?
What sorts of symbolism are at play in the graphic novel? Ex. The Comedian’s smiley
face pin, Nostalgia, vigilantes, Rorschach’s mask,
Explore the theme of obsolescent superheroes.
How does the history of
mirror, yet deviate from, our real world?
Does the fictional history of comics intersect with the fictional world of
Explore moral ambiguity in the motivations and plot of the novel.
Being the only “superhero” in the graphic novel, why does Dr. Manhattan act the way he
acts in the story? Why is he ambivalent to most aspects of humanity?
The Comedian is seen as loathsome human being. However, he is a celebrated agent of
the US government. Why have the character in this role? What is his role in the overall
commentary on super heroics?
Ozymandias is named after the poem by Percy Shelley. Using the poem, explain how the
poem relates to the character?
Ozymandias’s plot to unite the world is successful, to a point. How does this play off of
the concept of being a “hero”? Is Rorschach’s “sacrifice” a sense of his rigid concepts of
total right and wrong?
Compare Nite Owl and Rorschach. How do these characters relate to each other?
Note: You may create your own topics, if you so choose. Try comparing various cha
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