Duke University Libraries
The 1980s: Vigilante Heroism in an Age of Destruction
Events like the Vietnam War and Watergate left many Americans disillusioned with traditional heroes. In response, 1980s comic books began to feature a new breed of crime-fighting superheroes who pursued their own brand of social justice with anarchic zeal, defying social convention, morality, and often the law. These "vigilante superheroes" saved the world from self-destruction in an era when real-life leaders struggled to address global terrorism, environmental devastation, and the threat of nuclear war. Comic books also became a medium for sophisticated cultural commentary. The Watchmen, a 12-part limited series, portrayed a cast of wholly imperfect superheroes whose failures and embarrassments served as a warning against placing trust in "heroes" to solve the world's problems.
Wolverine no. 17, Nov., 1989 Justice League International no. 10, Feb., 1988 Green Lantern no. 185, Feb., 1985 Watchmen no. 1, Sept., 1986