Phase I
Phase II
Phase III
Phase IV
Phase V


Ever-Ending Battle is an independent research study focused on the unique relationship between the superhero comic book genre and issues of mortality. The field of Thanatology – the study of a society's perceptions of and reactions to death & dying – has lead in recent decades to the creation of hospice care, enhanced care for the elderly, and increased understanding for victims of loss and trauma. As a mirror to certain aspects of culture, superhero comic books are a fertile yet untapped source of thanatological exploration.

For greater details, please consult the Mission Statement.

PHASE I - EEB Questionaire

As of January 27, 2005, the International Comic Arts Association (ICAA) has begun hosting the Ever-Ending Battle pilot questionaire online. Available both to fill out at their site as well as to download in .PDF form and print out, the questionaire is meant as the EEB's inital data-collection tool concerning comic book readership and thanatological concerns. The ICAA is inviting all of its membership as well as site visitors to take part in this historic poll -- which takes only 5 minutes! In addition to hosting and coding the questionaire at their site, the ICAA also provided the design for the EEB logo as well as the printable .PDF version of the questionaire.

The online questionaire has no set end-date at the moment, but the first wave of data-collection will conclude in March in time for Phase II, detailed below.

PHASE II - Initial Results

On March 24, 2005, the Irvine Room at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina hosted the at the Popular Culture/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) panel "Comic Art & Comics IV: The Quick and the Dead: Death, Revenge, and the Undead" during Day Two of its annual conference. Moderated by the University of Washington's Jose Alaniz, the panel featured A. David Lewis providing analysis to the initial results of the EEB pilot questionaire as well as collecting similar data from the comic academics in attendance. (The PowerPoint presentation for that panel as well as Matt Gardner's "X-Men: 'Death Becomes Them'" flash animation can be found here.)

Discussion and dissection of EEB's as part of the research study's first official report to the scholarly community occurred and was covered at length by comic book news site Broken Frontier in this April 13, 2005 article.

PHASE III - WizardWorld Boston

On October 1, 2005, WizardWorld Boston will host the "Ever-Ending Battle: Superheroes and Mortality" panel featuring writer Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman, The Adventures of Superman, The OMAC Project), artist Paul Ryan (Avengers, Fantastic Four, The Phantom), and Wizard journalist Mike Cotton. In addition to the discussion moderated by A. David Lewis, print versions of the EEB questionaire will be made available to the attending audience for further data collection. Moreover, an academic Call For Papers will be announced at that time for a symposium on the topic in the Spring 2006 edition of the International Journal of Comic Arts (IJOCA).

PHASE IV - IJOCA Symposium

Call For Papers

Note: The deadline for this CFP has passed and all submissions have been both reviewed and submitted for publication in IJOCA 8.1.

Call For Papers: "Ever-Ending Battle" - Special Symposium on Heroism & Mortality in Comics for Spring 2006 International Journal of Comic Art issue.

The International Journal of Comic Art (IJOCA) is pleased to welcome submissions for the upcoming symposium in its Spring 2006 edition 8.1. The wide focus of the symposium, entitled "The Ever-Ending Battle," will be on issues of mortality in comics, particularly, but not exclusively, the relationship between death and heroism.

Do media such as comic books, comic strips, editorial cartoons, or graphic novels treat death, mourning, bereavement, or even resurrection/rebirth differently from other forms? What are superheroes' relationship to death? How do satirists address the passing of a major real-life figure? What happens when a comic strip creator dies, yet his/her work lives on? Are heroes allowed to mourn (and what allows them to be so often resurrected)? Topics abound - From Superman to little Orphan Annie to the late Hirschfeld to cartoons of Arafat to the rebirth of Green Lantern...and beyond! Papers utilizing the thanatological works of Ernest Becker or Elizabeth Kubler-Ross are especially encouraged.

Submissions are asked to be approximately 5,000 words in MLA format and delivered in Windows-based Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, or rtf formats, either on a computer diskette by postal mail or as an attached file by November 26, 2005 to:

A. David Lewis
IJOCA Ever-Ending Battle Symposium
15 Glenville Avenue #5
Allston, MA 02134

Writers will be notified by December 7 and should be prepared to quickly perform final edits for IJOCA's December 15 deadline. All potential images to be included with the article should be scanned at 300 dpi, converted to black and white JPG format, and submitted with the original November file. Please remember to include full contact information with each submission.

PHASE V - Symposium Publication & CAC Presentation


The Spring/Summer 2006 edition of the the International Journal of Comic Art (vol. 8, no. 1) featured the 108-page print symposium of the following works:

Click here for a .PDF of Lewis' Introduction
Lewis, A. David
Ever-Ending Battle Symposium - Introduction (approx. 2000 words)

Brunner, Edward
Death and the Maiden: Milton Caniff’s Pre-War Anti-Elegiac War Elegy (9772 words)

Blumberg, Arnold
"The Night Swen Stacy Died:" The End of Innocence and the Birth of the Bronze Age (5228 words)

Kawa, Abraham
The Universe She Died In: The Death and Lives of Gwen Stacy (6143 words)

Alaniz, Jose
Death and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond (3812

Farley, Wilbur
“The disease resumes its march to darkness”: The Death of Captain Marvel and the Metastasis of Empire (1589 words)

Duffy, William
Sing Muse, of the Immortal Hero: Using Epic to Understand Comic Books (5658 words)

Niederhausen, Michael
Deconstructing Crisis on Infinite Earths: Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, JLA: Earth 2, and Flex Mentallo (3781 words)


Comic-Con International - San Diego 2006 one again featured the outstanding Comic Arts Conference founded by Randy Duncan and Peter Coogan (Superhero: The Secrets Origin of a Genre). This year, Session #12 showcased selections from the Ever-Ending Battle symposium:

Sunday, July 23, 2006
11:30-1:00 Comic Arts Conference Session #12: Ever-Ending Battle Symposium

Contributors to the Ever-Ending Battle Symposium, published in the International Journal of Comic Art (Spring 2006), apply thanatology—the study of death and dying, particularly its application to the bereaved or mourning—to the serial storytelling of sequential art and the cultural depictions of death in superhero comics. Jose Alaniz (University of Washington), Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg (Geppi's Entertainment Museum), William Duffy (SUNY Buffalo), Wilbur Farley (SUNY Stony Brook), Abraham Kawa (Aegean University), and Michael Niederhausen (Cuyahoga Community College) explore the deaths of Captain Marvel and Gwen Stacey, the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the ways epics can be used to understand superhero comics. Room 7B