Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This essay analyzes the history of representing Detroit in DC Comics, focusing on Amazing-Man in the 1980s series All-Star Squadron and Cyborg’s solo series in the 2010s as they reflect the shifting symbolic valences of the city. Set apart from the host of fictional cities that offer the DC Universe crime-riddled urban backdrops, Detroit is the chosen setting to situate mostly Black superhero characters to speak to and silo off particular social issues that threaten to overly complicate other fictionalized settings. A city as mythologized as American superheroes, Detroit is a crucial site for further exploration in superhero comics because an accurate rendering of its historical and material conditions—particularly by centering Black perspectives on this history—so readily makes the contradictions in the mythos of race, labor, and culture in America visible and legible. While grand narratives of the city as a totem of national progress and decline map comfortably onto a variety of super-hero stories—from the despair of a down-and-out city to the resiliency of Detroit workers— Detroit’s actual history crucially fractures these narratives, revealing the ideological limits of representing race in the genre.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-5205
Print ISSN
2473-5191
Pages
pp. 278-301
Launched on MUSE
2021-12-02
Open Access
No
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