Inventing Sources and the New Frontier of Comics Research
Research for Captain Marvel, Black Canary, and Storm is going well. As for Huntress, there’s not a lot of scholarly research for her other than when she’s with Birds of Prey along with Black Canary, Lady Blackhawk, and Oracle.
That being said, it looks like I’ll be reading a lot of Huntress comics and drawing my own scholarly conclusions, hence “inventing sources” in the title. How do I plan to do this?
Well, considering the lack of comic book heroine research out there in the first place other than Batgirl (for disability/feminism intersection), Wonder Woman (because feminism), Harley Quinn (for abused victim turned anti-hero along with her relationship to Poison Ivy), and Jessica Jones (for her Netflix series on rape culture), there are a ton of sources about Storm (first Black superheroine) and about Captain Marvel (mostly as a comparison to Kamala Khan (who in turn will have her own section on the website at a later date)).
It’s hard researching scholarly articles that don’t exist. I have found plenty about Huntress in regards to the failed Birds of Prey television pilot, a lot on the Arrow version of the character, and a lot of the Birds of Prey comics. With that said, there isn’t enough about Huntress by herself unless it’s in one of these three forms. It’s frustrating.
So, I feel like this will be a reoccuring theme for me with this project. Some heroines will be easier to find than others. Kamala Khan will be easier than Wonder Girl if for no other reason than Kamala representing a minority in America after 9/11 and what that means for the hero who idolizes Captain Marvel.
My goal is to have these resources fleshed out by the end of August and written by the end of September. My end goal for these four is October 15th. Whether that actually comes to fruition depends on a lot of factors, but this is my current goal.
Comic book research is not fledgeling by any stretch, but some heroes are more neglected than others. A lot of research has been put into Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Captain America, Storm, Kamala Khan, and a few others. Some have more intersectionality with other subjects like patriotism (Captain America/Superman), vigilantism/justice (Batman), African-American experience (Storm), Muslim experience (Kamala Khan), and feminism (Wonder Woman). But many are neglected.
I’m hoping to change that. This project, I believe in my heart of hearts will make people realize how important heroines are to research. While there is scholarly writing of how comics are used to teach values, very little of it is in reference to heroines or their superpowers. They are usually mentioned in passing, but not as the crux of the genre.
And that’s the problem. Because women are also part of the conversation. They draw, write, read, cosplay, and breath comic books. It’s time to give the superheroines their due time in the sun and it’s time to tell people why they are important to life, our values, and most importantly our culture.
Wonder Woman did so well as a film. And it’s not an anomaly. It’s a powerful message that women are part of the industry. It’s a part of our culture. It might not be the perfect movie, but it definitely shows heart and qualities that define Wonder Woman herself.
Shouldn’t we want that for other superheroines? Shouldn’t we want to idolize all heroes, not just men? Culture is ever-changing and it’s time to adapt to what comics have been telling us for over 75 years with Wonder Woman: Women are heroes too and they are here to stay.