Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 122

name a few. By the early 1970s, sales declined significantly, undermined by TV and film. That didn’t stop Marvel from installing its own U.K. publishing arm around that time, and it didn’t prevent the debut of arguably the most influential fantasy magazine in the world, 2000AD. But what happened in the 1980s—specifically the British Invasion of American comics in the form of writers Alan Moore and Grant Morrison and artists Dave Gibbons and Dave McKean and how they subverted American icons like Superman and Batman—would forever link the comics histories of the two nations forever. Murray conveys this oft-told tale with aplomb, his only shortcoming being that he doesn’t offer fresh quotes from Moore. Overall, though, this chapter, “Revisionism and the British Invasion (1981-1993),” is a superior summary of the events and moments that evolved the medium into a true art form. Sadly, the book’s conclusion reads more like a requiem for British comics, which continues to lose its best and brightest talents to the comics and film and TV industries in the States. This ongoing defection of native Gen-X and Millennial storytelling to satirize and deconstruct monolithic characters fashioned by the Greatest Generation is an irony sometimes difficult to interpret and evaluate. It leaves readers asking: Will British comics characters always remain secondary to America’s? Will British creators forever be enslaved to American creations and characters, the very same products that British artists helped evolve and develop? In his book, Bending Steel: Modernity and the American Superhero, historian Aldo Regalado makes the case for superheroes serving as a response to industrialization, modernization, and capitalism. Sure, very often these characters and stories reinforced conventions of race, class, and gender, but they were also capable of, at times, subverting the dominant paradigm. In the chapter, “Jungle Lords, Haunting Horrors, and the Big City,” Regalado digs deep into Edgar Rice Burroughs’ iconic protosuperhero Tarzan, reminding readers that the Burroughs novels “emerge as cultural artifacts that embody a white middle-class masculine ambivalence toward modern America.” More interesting is his appraisal of dark pulp writer H.P. Lovecraft, who, by Regalado’s estimation, “negotiated a life at the fringes of society, rejecting commercialism and blocking out what he perceived as the chaos of modernity by retreating into the tight-knit world of amateur press associations.” What’s omitted, however, is how hard Lovecraft worked to mentor and cultivate relationships with many young authors whose own creations would dominate popular culture, including Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian) and Robert Bloch (Psycho). 117