Monday, April 28, 2014

The Other Heroes: A Portrayal of Women in Comics - Part 5

Editor’s note: This series of blog posts was adapted from a paper written by Erminia “Minnie” Saucedo. Minnie’s series on this topic will enlighten you on the portrayal of women in comics. We’re excited that she’s shared this with us. Enjoy this enlightening series.

By Erminia Saucedo

The Future of the Super Heroine in Comics

Whether it is in the tales of high flying heroics, the hilarious antics of teens or the swift heart beats of a first love, women have their places in the great place that is the comic universe. As the industry begins to undergo another set of culture changes, so to will the portrayal of female characters in the illustrated
stories. Like in the real world, being women in a world ruled more by men is always difficult at times and there are days when everything looks grim and bleak, but there are always rays of light within those dark days. Many more comic creators have realized the flaws and triumphs of the past and have begun to learn from them, building on their legacies. Writers like Wolfman have seen the abused female character as a passionate being and have created numerous super heroines that do the gender proud by each and every single one being real as well as an individual; there are no cookie cut outs from one female model. On the romance and comedy side, the sixty year run of Archie has finally solved the question of just who Archie would choose, girl next door Betty or rich, pampered Veronica. In an issue released last year, Archie proposed to Veronica, finally having the brunette win over the blonde and causing a gleeful war of whether or not he was right between long time Archie fans; giving the realistic portrayal that sometimes the most unexpected girl wins out in the end. Even controversial issues women deal with today have been brought into the comic book universe because of attention to who the real modern woman is and what she deals with. D.C. Comics has recently revived the characters of Speedy, the arrow wielding side kick of the Green Arrow, and Batwoman, independent off and on partner of Batman, in rather shocking ways that have both been heavily applauded and criticized. Speedy, Mia Dearden, is a seventeen year old girl who the Green Lantern saved from a life of abuse, homelessness, prostitution and drug use who five years ago in Teen Titans #23 came out and revealed that she was
H.I.V. positive due to her past drug use and sex life. She now fights to protect other teens from ever having to go through all the pain she had to endure alone. Batwoman, Kate Kane, is a woman who was dishonorably discharged from her many years in the military due to being “outed” as a lesbian to her commanding officer, falling victim to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. She became an alcoholic because of the pain of losing all she had worked for but cut herself off and stayed sober as she alone took up the cowl when Batman left Gotham City for almost a year during the
Infinite Crises war; protecting people and their rights the way her retired general father failed to protect hers. Comic book sales have been wavering for the past ten years and have finally started to become somewhat steady in 2009. As the industry races towards the future that looks as if traditional printed books will be replaced with online releases, things will get interesting for female and male characters alike. Boom or bust, it is going to be a bumpy ride for women in comics, as it always has been. Next time you step into a book store, stop by the comic rack and flit through the new, obscure heroines’ series, you never know just who will become the next big star to burst through the glass-ceiling like world that is Comics.

This concludes The Other Heroes: A Portrayal of Women in Comics series.

Works Cited

Madrid, Mike. Super Heroines: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy & the History Of Comic Book Heroines. United States of America: Exterminating Angel Press, 2009.

“Women in Refrigerators.”  Gail Simone page. Mar. 1999.

Wolfman, Marv. E-mail to author Gail Simone. (Date Unknown)

Hilty, Joan. E-mail to author Gail Simone. (Date Unknown)

“Gender Violence: A Look at Female Comic Book Characters.” Katherine Broendel blog. Dec. 17, 2009.

Robbins, Trina. From Girls To Grrrlz: A History of (female gender sign) Comics From Teens to Zines. Hong Kong: Raincoast Books, 1999.

Johns, Geoff. Teen Titans # 23- Lights Out Part 3: Secrets And Lies. United States of America: D.C. Comics Press, 2005.

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