Posted by: Doc Comics | July 31, 2010

Week 4: SuperMinority MythRepresentation and RetCon

In Week 4, we’ll be examining Superhero Myths through the critical perspectives of gender, race, and class.  As reflections of cultural change and challenges, superhero fantasies often imaginatively anticipate societal trends, anxieties, hopes, and problems.  But, as we shall see, numerous problematic paradoxes of representation persist within what is commonly considered a Patriarchal or masculinist narrative form.  Wonder Woman offers an interesting case of proto-Feminist issues that come to be unevenly represented (both narratively and visually), a problem also shared by other marginalized subjectivities and sexualities.  After examining the “Women in Refrigerators” syndrome, we’ll tour the Museum of Black Superheroes to reflect upon “Black superpower” and representation, as well as consider how “SuperQueers out of Closets” fare (The Authority‘s homosexual supercouple famously comes to mind). We’ll also examine The 99, a Muslim superteam.

Apollo and Midnighter of The Authority, voted one of the Top 10 Superhero Couples.

RetCon, or retroactive continuity, arises from a Sisyphean drive to impose narrative consistency upon decades of stories and characterizations (and, as Eco famously noted, keep characters updated yet seemingly frozen in time) or, more radically, to reinvent it.  The promise and perils of RetCon for defying the Comics Code to explore relevant social issues and the “invisible” intersections of White hetero-Patriarchal Privilege will come into focus (esp. with Batwoman and Wonder Woman‘s current RetCons) as we contemplate this weeks comics: PROMETHEA and ICON then V for Vendetta.

Your FINAL PAPER will examine a specific character, storyline, or graphic novel by using one of Brummett’s “critical perspectives” to explore the ideologies of gender, race, or class that are being negotiated in your chosen text. If texts are sites of struggle over ideologically-charged meanings, then what does your text teach us? What can we learn from your superhero, and why does it matter? And FYI, top papers will comprise a panel submitted to SWTX PCA/ACA.



  1. Here’s a take at what may be the “first black female superhero” named Butterfly… with scans!

  2. …and more on the racial politics of comic book representation, specifically Brevoort’s AVENGERS.

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