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An Editor’s Note in the voice of Stan Lee

In The Cancer Plot: Terminal Immortality in Marvel’s Moral Universe, authors Reginald Wiebe and Dorothy Woodman play with form and begin each section with an Editor’s Note. We thought you would enjoy reading the first one. Of course, the book is a scholarly book on a serious topic that is the result of a decade-long writing relationship. But still! There is room for fun and innovation even when discussing the weightiest of subjects, such as cancer.

GREETINGS, DEAR READERS! You might be wondering, at this point in our timely tome, why you are encountering this editorial fly in the academic ointment, this interregnum of ideas. Neither fret nor fear, faithful friends! Your energetic editor will emerge to mark transitions in this tome, changes in these chapters, partitions in these pages. Too often books of knowledge see themselves as garrulous gendarmes of gravitas rather than graceful guides. Stan Lee’s carnival barker persona is the most famous iteration of the superhero comicbook editorial voice, but its ubiquity signals a kind of approach to superhero stories. Comicbooks such as Alan Moore’s Supreme; Joe Casey and Tom Scioli’s Gødland; and Matt Fraction, Gabriel Bá, and Fábio Moon’s Casanova deploy this type of self-aware editorial voice when dealing in pastiche or subversion of 1960s-era superhero comics. The humour of the voice does not hive off scholarship from popular writing, but bridges the voices and the forms. While the stories of Jane Foster’s breast cancer or Captain Marvel’s death are nuanced portrayals of morality and mortality, they also are also inextricably linked to the silliness and exuberance of their genre.

In the scintillating Section I, we lay the fecund foundation for the fantastical fables that we will investigate. Chapter 1 looks at death in Marvel comicbooks. Chapter 2 dives into the role of the body in cancer narratives and superheroic tales: transformation and excess are common to both, and the chapter explores their iconography and impact.

Prepare yourselves, then, for a keen consideration of a daring dimension more nefarious than the Negative Zone: the role of cancer in Marvel’s superhero comics!

The Cancer Plot cover