Posted by: Doc Comics | June 21, 2012

SuperSummer week 4: Superminority MythRepresentation


This week we’ll be sampling the critical perspectives of race, class, and gender within Hegemonic Ideology to explore challenges to superhero representation. We begin with the paradoxes in depicting Black Superheroes (and thorny issues of comic book commodities) by reading about Milestone Comics’ ICON and DC’s ‘whitewashing RetCon‘ difficulties. [What happened to BET‘s Black Panther cartoon is surprising.] As we then explore readings about the race, class, and gender trouble (The 99?) in comics and other media, we’ll tackle the “Wonder Womyn Problem” of “Women in Refrigerators” for feminist critics and SuperMoms [not to mention Wonder Woman herself]. We’ll end the week discussing the GenderQueer superheroine in BATWOMAN: ELEGY and it’s praise and criticisms! How do these multicultural characters conform to and challenge some superhero conventions as SuperAntiheroes… or Vendetta vigilantes? And the Final Essay discussed!

UPDATE: A post on the fate of the Wonder Woman TV pilot (and the collective sigh of relief from fans), and the never-ending battle over media representation continues as Pixar’s BRAVE sparks feminist debate and homophobic speculation!



  1. I have been following your essays and stories for nearly a year now. I would like to share an essay I wrote on Minority superheroes – “Where are the powerful Black Superheroes?” ( and a letter to DC regarding the recent death of an Iranian female hero: “The Death of Diversity in Comics” ( I hope you find them interesting. Feel free to comment if you have the time to do so.

    • Thanks for linking, Ebonstorm, I’ve linked your essay on past entries but it is well-worth revisiting.

      As a fantastic recent essay by Gary Phillips attests, the oft-repeated “superhero whitewash” from media gatekeepers just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny of a *glaring* historical pattern of exclusion (that is, institutional racism). The problem is also discussed in other posts as a paradox of representation; that is, portraying an Other as too similar or too different, and relying upon tokenism and stereotypes, as ‘Whiteness’ is normalized in media.

      The late Dwayne McDuffie and Milestone Comics were trailblazers for bringing multicultural characters to life from minority creators, but this legacy is tarnished by DC ‘benching’ these characters. These Race Problems (and Gender Troubles) continue and, while comics have come a long way, they still have very far to go before we can imagine equal and equitable representation.

  2. BET’s Black Panther intro!

  3. I can’t help but wonder what a Ghandi-inspired superhero might look like? Or a radical pacifist? Perhaps a 2-page XTRA CREDIT meditation on the idea, or whether the superhero “no kill code” already flirts with these themes as often as L&J’s ‘fascist” tendencies?

  4. Reblogged this on SUPERHERO RHETORIC FORTRESS OF BLOGITUDE! and commented:

    Next week’s superadventures!!

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