Geekorama

From Superhero-Fiction
Authors Trish Heinrich and Jeremy Flagg Geek Out Over Superhero Pop Culture

S1E21 - Superheroes As a Means of Propaganda

July 2nd, 2020

For this week’s episode of Geekorama, we’re discussing the role that propaganda has played in the history of superheroes.

Pop-Culture Trivia- Batwoman: Kathy Kane

  • July 1956 Batwoman aka Kathy Kane made her debut. Here’s a little trivia about this interesting addition to the Bat-family: There are really two different women who have worn the moniker of Batwoman, the first was Kathy Kane who was introduced as a potential love interest for Batman to help combat accusations that Batman was gay propaganda. In spite of the fact that she became quite popular with readers, in 1964 the character was shelved and Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl took over as the female counterpart to Batman. In 1977, thanks to pressure from fans, Batwoman was brought back to assist Batgirl with defeating Killer Moth and Cavalier. Soon after she was killed off by the Bronze Tiger. Finally, in 2011 she was returned to the original continuity of the comics, revealed to be Bruce’s aunt who fought crime by his side after she was widowed and that they had become lovers before it appeared she was killed off

GEEK OUTS

Trish - A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney. It’s like Buffy and Alice in Wonderland had a baby. SO good, world-building that is vibrant but not overdone in exposition. A female protagonist that is three dimensional and avoids the ‘strong female character’ tropes. LOVED IT, going to buy the sequel.

Jeremy - I’ve been binging the latest season of the 100 on the CW. It marries some of my favorite things: regressed society with advanced technologies, tribalism, and a whole lot of bad decision making. It’s been a great show and really delved into the brutal nature of survival, however, the newest season is struggling. Really, you’re trying to work in a Back to the Future plot?

Deep Dive -Superheroes in the Propaganda Machine

In recent years we’ve heard the ongoing criticism, “Keep politics out of comic books,” and the people shouting that, you’re incredibly stupid and seem to forget that the very nature of comics is rooted in political propaganda. However, let’s start this dive into history with an English lesson:

Propaganda
noun

  1. : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person

 

WWII (The Obvious Starting Point for Many of our Modern Heroes)

  • Superman - Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (both Jewish) met at Glenville High School in Cleveland Ohio and in March 1938, 
  • Captain America - Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (both Jewish) through Timely Comics. While Simon created the identity of “Super American,” later changed to “Captain America”, 

Utilized in other forms of Propaganda

  • Wonder Woman - The engine of American ideology drives Wonder Woman, which is in the end a movie about violence...And so the surreality at the heart of American identity gets recycled, producing comic book movies to feed our least noble hungers. https://newrepublic.com/article/143100/wonder-woman-propaganda
  • Wonder Woman & Superman - In Deadly Legacy, DC joins forces with UNICEF to create a story line that specifically addresses “landmine awareness” for children. She along with Superman step outside their patriotic roots to delve into a much different message than national pride.
  • Green Arrow & Green Lantern (Drug Addiction) - Written by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams, the story line focuses on the duo combatting muggers who are robbing to score money for drugs. Amongst them, Green Arrow’s sidekick and now heroin addict, Speedy. 

HIV/AIDS Awareness

  • Superman / Wonder Woman - The French organization AIDES created two images depicting Superman and Wonder Woman with AIDS and the caption of, “Protect Yourself.” 
  • X-Men - 1993 during X-Cutioner’s Song, Stryfe unleashes a virus that infects mutants at random. This runs parallel to the mounting worry surrounding HIV and comes to a culmination when it kills Illyana Rasputin on the page in Uncanny X-Men 303.

 

QotW: What superhero do you love who also has a problematic origin story?

 

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