Superhero Bodies: Identity, Materiality, Transformation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Superhero Bodies

Identity, Materiality, Transformation, 1st Edition

Edited by Wendy Haslem, Elizabeth MacFarlane, Sarah Richardson


194 pages

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Hardback: 9781138389892
pub: 2018-11-20
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Throughout the history of the genre, the superhero has been characterised primarily by physical transformation and physical difference. Superhero Bodies: Identity, Materiality, Transformation explores the transformation of the superhero body across multiple media forms including comics, film, television, literature and the graphic novel. How does the body of the hero offer new ways to imagine identities?  How does it represent or subvert cultural ideals? How are ideologies of race, gender and disability signified or destabilised in the physicality of the superhero? How are superhero bodies drawn, written and filmed across diverse forms of media and across histories?

This volume collects essays that attend to the physicality of superheroes: the transformative bodies of superheroes, the superhero’s position in urban and natural spaces, the dialectic between the superhero’s physical and metaphysical self, and the superhero body’s relationship with violence. This will be the first collection of scholarly research specifically dedicated to investigating the diversity of superhero bodies, their emergence, their powers, their secrets, their histories and their transformations.


"In many ways, this book builds on the best work in the field currently, extending the argument and debate around the topics of identity and representation, and provides a refreshing reminder of one of the important elements of the superhero genre, the superhero body." --John McGuire, Western Sydney University, Australia

Table of Contents


0. Introducing the Superhero Body by Elizabeth MacFarlane, Sarah Richardson and Wendy Haslem

1. Women in Comics: edited transcript of 2016 conference panel


2. Poison Ivy, Red in Tooth and Claw: Ecocentrism and Ecofeminism in the DC Universe by Victoria Tedeschi

3. Let’s Start with a Smile: Rape Culture in Marvel’s Jessica Jones by Verity Trott

4. Empowered and Strong: Muslim Female Community in Ms. Marvel by Wajeehah Aayeshah


5. Supervillainy at the Interface: Recent Hollywood Supervillains and Digital-Material Dialectic by Jessica Balanzategui

6. Against Impossible Odds: Supervillain Bodies in Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible and Matt Carter’s Almost Infamous by Julian Novitz

7. Are Zombies Superheroes? by Henry Kamerling


8. When Superman was Grown in a Tank by Evie Kendal

9. Only Transform: The Monstrous Bodies of Superheroes by Michael Kobre

10. SheZow: When the Superhero’s Gender Play is Child’s Play by Diana Sandars

11. The Silent Superhero: Filibus, Fantômas and Judex by Wendy Haslem

About the Editors

Wendy Haslem researches and teaches in the Screen Studies program at the University of Melbourne.

Elizabeth MacFarlane is a writer and lecturer in the Creative Writing program at the University of Melbourne.

Sarah Richardson is a PhD candidate and tutor in the English Literature program at the University of Melbourne.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Comics Studies

Routledge Advances in Comics Studies promotes outstanding research on comics and graphic novels from communication theory, rhetorical theory and media studies perspectives. Additionally, the series aims to bring European, Asian, African, and Latin American comics scholarship to the English speaking world. The series includes monographs and themed anthologies. Comics Studies is a recently established and rapidly evolving field with much exciting research still to be done, and Routledge Advances in Comics Studies is dedicated to furthering the understanding of comics as an art form and a medium of communication.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies