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Cop Bad Cop The Thematic Paradigm in American Comics Good Pow Zap Bang When a reader sees words like these it can mean only one thing Comic books have been a part of American culture for decades Many a child will spend his entire allowance on the colorful magazine not every adult is immune to the books charms Almost everyone has an inexplicable attraction to the heroes of the comics and no heroes are more popular than Superman and Batman The popularity of Superman or Batman is easy to understand if one reads The Thematic Paradigm by Robert B Ray Ray defines exactly the characteristics Americans look for in their heroes Briefly the American hero has a dual nature He is strong but compassionate brilliant but absent-minded Ultimately there are two kinds of these dual-natured heroes The good cop and the bad cop Ray calls the good cop the official hero The official hero is the one who operates within the law He is the one who follows the letter of the law as far as it can take him and then helps to form new laws for the future The bad cop is called the outlaw hero The outlaw hero is the vigilante the man who has taken justice into his own hands justice is far more important to the vigilante than the law is The two greatest comic book heroes of all time are easily placed into their roles as official hero and outlaw hero Superman the official hero was raised from birth to defend those weaker than himself and to uphold the American laws Truth justice and the American Way Batman on the other hand saw his parents gunned down when he was a small boy He became a crime-fighter to avenge his parents death Superman is the official hero Batman is the outlaw hero The official hero has several characteristics to identify him easily The first category explored by Ray
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