The last several decades have witnessed the publication of many revisionist and self-critical superhero comics, yet the most critically discussed of these focus on the straight white male characters who have always dominated the genre. In contrast, the ongoing series Alias (2001–4) stars Jessica Jones, a superhero turned private investigator who is empowered by a radioactive accident yet disempowered by her gender within a male-dominated superhero community that both excludes women and actively abuses them. This article argues that Alias redresses the superhero genre's marginalization and victimization of female characters by emphasizing Jessica's complex subjectivity and implicating male superheroes in her multifaceted abuse. It also considers Jessica's translation into more traditional comics series, wherein she becomes sidelined as a wife and stay-at-home mother; these series prove the difficulty of maintaining progressive politics within genres where the visual and narrative conventions are so steeped in gender stereotypes.
“I just want to feel something different”: Re-writing Abuse and Drawing Strength in Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos's Alias
Anna F. Peppard is an incoming postdoctoral fellow at Brock University. Her work on the representation of sex, gender, and race in American popular culture has appeared in Canadian Review of American Studies, International Journal of Comic Art, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Fashion Studies Journal, Studies in Comics, and the anthology Make Ours Marvel: Media Convergence and a Comics Universe (University of Texas Press, 2017).
Anna F. Peppard; “I just want to feel something different”: Re-writing Abuse and Drawing Strength in Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos's Alias. Feminist Media Histories 1 July 2018; 4 (3): 157–178. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.3.157
Download citation file: