Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Lanette Cadle


violence, gender, postmodernism, superheroes, comic books, feminism, masculinity studies, homosocial communities, nostalgia, simulacra, DC Comics, New 52

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


The performance of various forms of violence has been intertwined with superhero comic books since the genre's inception. In 1999, comic book author and industry insider Gail Simone called attention to the genre's tendency to injure, cripple, kill, or disempower its female characters, oftentimes in order to advance the plot or characterization of their male counterparts. The purpose of this thesis is to examine why, fifteen years later, violence against women in mainstream superhero comics still occurs in a different and more frequent manner than violence against men. This study uses examples from DC Comics "New 52” line, which involved a company-wide reboot of all characters and universes, to explore the inherently postmodern nature of superhero comic books and analyze their constructions of gender. Ultimately, the analysis of both the visual and textual components of these comic books suggests that the current representation of women in mainstream superhero comics stems from a deep-seated ambivalence towards the breakdown of conventional gender protocols, which manifests itself as a reaction to progress made by feminist and women's rights movements.


© Natalie Renae Monzyk

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