1st Edition

Superheroes and Identities

Edited By Mel Gibson, David Huxley, Joan Ormrod Copyright 2015
    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    294 Pages 15 Color & 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Superheroes have been the major genre to emerge from comics and graphic novels, saturating popular culture with images of muscular men and sexy women. A major aspect of this genre is identity in the roles played by individuals, the development of identities through extended stories and in the ways the characters inspire audiences. This collection analyses stories from popular comics franchises such as Batman, Captain America, Ms Marvel and X-Men, alongside less well known comics such as Kabuki and Flex Mentallo. It explores what superhero narratives can reveal about our attitudes towards femininity, race, maternity, masculinity and queer culture. Using this approach, the volume asks questions such as why there are no black supervillains in mainstream comics, how second wave feminism and feminist film theory may help us to understand female comic book characters, the ways in which Flex Mentallo transcends the boundaries of straightness and gayness and how both fans and industry appropriate the sexual identity of superheroes.

    The book was originally published in a special issue of the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics.

    Section 1 - Race  1. The Ku Klux Klan and the birth of the superhero Chris Gavaler  2. The absence of black supervillains in mainstream comics Philip Lamarr Cunningham  3. Islam’s Trojan horse: battling perceptions of Muslim women in The 99 Edwin Shirin  Section 2 - Narrative and the Development of Superhero Identities  4. The pursuit of identity in the face of paradox: indeterminacy, structure and repetition in Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman Clare Pitkethly  5. The Dark Knight under revision Molly Hatcher  Section 3 - Boys and Girls  6. Scott Pilgrim vs. hegemony: nostalgia, remediation, and heteronormativity Ryan Lizardi  7. Good Girl Art – facing images of women in David Mack’s Kabuki Frida Beckman  8. Who does she think she is? Female comic-book characters, second-wave feminism, and feminist film theory Mel Gibson  9. Seeing double - the transforming personalities of Alan Moore's Promethea and the Ulster Cycle's Cuchulain Hannah Means Shannon  10. The body unbound: Empowered, heroism, and body image Ruth J. Beerman  Section 4 - Supermoms  11. The feminine mystique: feminism, sexuality, motherhood Ross Murray  12. Supermoms? Maternity and the monstrous-feminine in superhero comics Jeffrey A. Brown  Section 5 - Queer  13. Hero of the beach: Flex Mentallo at the end of the worlds Will Brooker  14. Queer resistance, gender performance, and ‘coming out’ of the panel borders in Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman: Elegy Paul Petrovic  Section 6 - Audiences, Reception, Fandom  15. From fan appropriation to industry re-appropriation: the sexual identity of comic superheroes Gemma Corin and Gareth Schott  16. Captain America in the news: changing mediascapes and the appropriation of a superhero Jason Dittmer  17. Altered egos: gay men reading across gender difference in Wonder Woman Andrew R. Spieldenner  18. ‘Nice Cape, Super Faggot!' Male adolescent identity crises in young adult graphic novels Mark Malaby and Melissa Esh


    Mel Gibson is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Northumbria, UK. Her research is in Comics and Graphic Novels, Picturebooks and Children’s Literature. She runs training and promotional events about comics, manga, visual literacies and graphic novels for libraries, schools. Her website is http://www.dr-mel-comics.co.uk/.

    David Huxley is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. He is editor of the Routledge publication 'The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics' (2010 - present) and has drawn and written a wide range of adult and children's comics. His academic research is in censorship and the media.

    Joan Ormrod is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Her research uses empirical and discursive methods to examine women in comics and subcultures. She is editor of The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (2010- present) and organises The International Conference of Graphic Novels and Comics with David Huxley.