Saturday, July 29, 2017

Superhero Media: Fearless Defenders - Doom Maidens

Man, but Marvel Comics seems to be going after a diverse market these days. Fearless Defenders is aimed not only a a predominantly female readership, but also a queer one. It doesn't quite get to the lofty heights at which it aims, but takes a decent swing at it. Rather than being about the classic (all-male) Defenders, Doom Maidens focuses on Valkyrie and her quest to stop the destruction of the world at the hands of her titular foes, the previous versions of her that went rogue and evil. On this quest, Valkyrie takes Misty Knight, Power Princess and Annabelle Riggs, a queer archeologist. Why is Annabelle's sexuality important to note? Because she fits the "damsel" role in the story, yet is constantly being rescued by female superheroes, yet the sexual tension is retained. This is not done for male titillation, but is consciously subversive and intended to provide a broad spectrum of women, including the queer ones. 

In aiming for third-wave feminist empowerment, Fearless Defenders doesn't quite get there, with plenty of the T&A shots common in comics and some lazy, stereotype-reinforcing jokes. That said, this comic was a massive hit with young adult women, with it's all-female hero team, well-rounded characters and competent, older female villain with disposable, gorgeous male sidekick. Naturally, this meant that Fearless Defenders was relentlessly attacked by whinging man-babies on the internet who believe that comics should only be for their tiny demographic. In response to a barrage of negative and sexist reviews and complaints, Marvel canceled the series. A couple of months later, Marvel released a new series, featuring an even bigger all-female team of Avengers. Well done, Marvel, well done.

This, like Miss Marvel, is another one of those comics that is really good, but I didn't get a lot out of it. But, hey, it's not for me, so why should I give a shit? When I've shown Fearless Defenders to female friends who are interested in comics, but wary of how their gender is represented, the response has been strong and, more often than not, led to the acceptance of more recommendations and an appetite for more comics. Now that's what I want; more people reading comics and loving superheroes. That's why we need more comics headlined by women, queer people, people of colour, transgender people and everybody else in the world who doesn't get enough representation. Yes, the classic heroes are great and need to stick around, but there's room enough for a bunch of white guys and a posse of kick-arse girls like the Fearless Defenders, rock on.

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