Diversifying the Superhero World


Mandrake the Magician, a man capable of hypnotism and illusion, debuted as the first super hero in 1934. Four years later, Superman came flying into the comic book world and immediately became an idol to children and adults across the nation.

Superman is the paradigmatic traditional superhero: white, male, good- looking, strong, smart, virile, and, not to mention, straight. Many other fit these descriptions. For decades, most spectators have only seen this limited type number of superhero description. However, there are exceptions.

One of the first nontraditional superheroes was Matt Murdock, also known as Daredevil, who was created in 1964. Matt was blinded when he saved a man from getting hit by a truck carrying a radioactive substance. The substance spilled and blinded him, yet enhanced all of his remaining senses. Daredevil became the first superhero with a disability.

A lesser known character named Karma, also known as Xi’an Coy Manh, is a Vietnamese psychic and, an openly-lesbian superhero who debuted in 1980, a time when homosexuality was less accepted than it is now.

Keeping with the times, in 2002 a new character called as Dust blew into the comic book world. An Afghan woman named Sooraya Qadir, Dust wears a head scarf that covers the lower half of her face. This gives viewers a hint about her culture and religion.

Superheroes like Matt, Karma, and Dust are leading the way to a newer, more diverse comic book world inclusive of LGBTQ+ characters, people of color, women, and individuals with disabilities. Their characters tend to have diverse characters have diverse creators, too. Steve Orlando, a writer who is bisexual, has said that his openly gay characters “aren’t just trailblazers but human and relatable.” Orlando added, “many people have been waiting for a superhero who is like them. I believe everyone deserves to have a Peter Parker moment where you can say, hey that guy is just like me and that guy’s a superhero. Maybe I can be one too.”

[Source: National Geographic]

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