On superheroes and community

One thing I'm liking about various recent superheroes is that they're surrounded by community.

A couple of years ago, Captain Marvel had half a dozen close friends, a sort of chosen family, who were always there for her and knew her in both identities. (That changed a bit when she went out in space, and who knows how things'll be with the new series, but it was a notable-to-me feature of DeConnick's first run.)

Recently, Supergirl on TV has several close friends and family members who know her secret identity and provide support and friendship. She had a line a couple of episodes ago something like "[Superman]'s so used to going it alone, he doesn't know any other way."

Ms Marvel is embedded in a caring family and a community, even though most of them don't know her secret identity. And she has one close friend who does know her identity, and various older superheroes have been kind of mentoring her in various ways.

In the latest issue of Spider-Gwen, Gwen goes to talk with Jessica "Spider-Woman" Drew, who's apparently become something of a mentor even though she lives in a different universe.

And I'm now reading Silk, and she hangs out in a bar with a couple of women who are friends and colleagues of hers, and they don't know her secret but they're supportive about her going on a date.

And none of this is really *new*; superhero comics have always had strong supporting casts. But I feel like superheroes have traditionally spent a lot of time being angsty loners, keeping a careful distance from potential friends and lovers because (a) they want to keep their identities secret, and (b) they don't want to give bad guys potential "kidnap and hurt the hero's family" leverage. And I suspect that one meta-reason was that a core audience for those comics was angsty loner teen boys.

I don't want to make too much of the fact that all of my above examples are women and girls, because most of the superhero stuff I'm reading and watching these days is about women and girls. The newer male heroes may well have the same kind of thing going on. And I'm conflating various things here; in particular, the Silk example probably isn't noticeably different from stuff that's happened in the past, and there are probably lots of examples of past heroes with supportive communities anyway.

So really all I'm saying is that I feel like I've been seeing this kind of thing a fair bit lately, and I really like it.

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