When they first appeared during the ‘Golden Age of Comics’ (1938 to 1954), ‘supervillains’ were little more than eccentric gangsters. Criminals with clear motives, they were distinguished from the norm by their use of technological gimmicks or weird costumes rather than special powers. Genuinely ‘monstrous’ supervillains such as the Joker, Two-Face and the undead Solomon Grundy were in the minority. As Mark Edward DiPaolo says, the ‘Golden Age’ Joker was a ‘sane, Moriarty figure’ (DiPaolo 2009: 205). However, the self-regulation of the American comics industry from 1954, under the auspices of the Comics Code Authority (CCA), created conditions that caused characters such as these to evolve into motiveless psychopaths, often mutated or deformed. The portrayal of the Joker
Recommended CitationFennell, Jack, The aesthetics of supervillainy, Law Text Culture, 16, 2012, 305-328.