Captain Marvel: To be a heroine

It’s a long way from standard damsel-in-distress to the heroine of a comic series and upcoming movie. Carol Danvers’ story begins with Captain Marvel1 rescuing her in standard super-hero fashion, but then she becomes the hero(ine) of her story, becoming Captain Marvel herself.

She wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet at the start, since she was an Air Force officer when she first met the man who would change her life.

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Dr. Fate

In the 1940s comics that first featured Dr. Fate, his parents were a Swedish archaeologist and his spiritualist wife. In a larger, pop culture sense, however, he was the child of Helena Blavatsky and Howard Carter.

Like all the early heroes, he distilled elements that were floating around in the culture already. Both archaeology and spiritualism had their roots in the mid-1800s. Archaeology grew out of the attempt to trace the history of Biblical events, and to establish just how much of the actual narratives could be confirmed by outside evidence.Read More »

Shazam: Hear the Thunder, Ride the Lightning

My brother, who was something of a comics nut (still is, actually), had a bedspread made up of panels that were reproductions of the first issues of Action Comics, Detective, etc. We could recognize Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but one guy had us puzzled.

Who was the guy in red with the white cape? He seemed kinda like Superman, in a fancier outfit. (Unfortunately, we were not the only ones to think this. But let’s keep things in order.) Both he and Superman were doing anti-social things to cars; the man on the cover of Whiz! comics had pitched it into a far-off wall, and seemed pleased about it.Read More »

The Hard Road

Originally posted on Modern Mythologies:
For the large number of non-powered heroes in superhero comics, a very common narrative theme is what they could or would do if given superhuman abilities. In a variety of examples, the transformation either proves incredibly effective or incredibly damaging – sometimes even both. Invariably, the change is a temporary…

Wonder Woman: I Need a Hero(ine)

The Ages of Wonder Woman: Essays on the Amazon Princess in Changing Times – ed. Joseph J. Darowski
A Golden Thread: An Unofficial Critical History of Wonder Woman – Philip Sandifer
The Secret History of Wonder Woman – Jill Lepore
Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine – Tim Hanley

Wonder_Woman
Alex Ross’ classic Wonder Woman versus the new Jim Lee version.

All four of these books address one central issue: what is it to be a heroine and a woman? We’ve had the philosophical take on both Superman and Batman, as well as Batman on the couch. (Hell, the philosophers even had a bash at Green Lantern.) With Wonder Woman, it seems that books are like buses – you wait for ages and then there’s four at once.

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