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Gender and the Superhero Narrative

Gender and the Superhero Narrative

Edited by Michael Goodrum, Tara Prescott-Johnson, and Philip Smith
Foreword by Ryan North
Paperback : 9781496821102, 320 pages, 38 b&w illustrations, October 2018
Hardcover : 9781496818805, 320 pages, 38 b&w illustrations, October 2018

A timely, exciting look at the controversies and changes in the role of gender in comics


Contributions by Dorian L. Alexander, Janine Coleman, Gabriel Gianola, Mel Gibson, Michael Goodrum, Tim Hanley, Vanessa Hemovich, Christina Knopf, Christopher McGunnigle, Samira Nadkarni, Ryan North, Lisa Perdigao, Tara Prescott-Johnson, Philip Smith, and Maite Ucaregui

The explosive popularity of San Diego’s Comic-Con, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One, and Netflix’s Jessica Jones and Luke Cage all signal the tidal change in superhero narratives and mainstreaming of what were once considered niche interests.

Yet just as these areas have become more openly inclusive to an audience beyond heterosexual white men, there has also been an intense backlash, most famously in 2015’s Gamergate controversy, when the tension between feminist bloggers, misogynistic gamers, and internet journalists came to a head. The place for gender in superhero narratives now represents a sort of battleground, with important changes in the industry at stake. These seismic shifts—both in the creation of superhero media and in their critical and reader reception—need reassessment not only of the role of women in comics, but also of how American society conceives of masculinity.

Gender and the Superhero Narrative launches ten essays that explore the point where social justice meets the Justice League. Ranging from comics such as Ms. Marvel, Batwoman: Elegy, and Bitch Planet to video games, Netflix, and cosplay, this volume builds a platform for important voices in comics research, engaging with controversy and community to provide deeper insight and thus inspire change.


"This compilation provides an engaging introduction to central issues regarding how female superheroes address representations of equality, justice, and female empowerment that are absent in law and in government policies. The collection addresses the conception of the female superhero narrative that not only resists institutionalized systems of oppression (including comics production and marketing and the entertainment industry) but also asks consumers and creators to question and push our ideas and definitions of who and what comprises a superhero. "

- Shilpa Davé, Gender & Society

"Highly recommended. "

- A. Ellis, Northern Kentucky University, CHOICE