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Batman Returns

Brazilian Conflicts and the Popular Culture of Sovereignty

Martijn Oosterbaan

This article explores the aesthetic elements of sovereignty. Building on the anthropological literature on sovereignty and on contemporary work on the politics of aesthetics, the article analyzes contemporary appearances of Batman symbols and figures in Rio de Janeiro. Despite political debate and academic discussion about the Batmen appearing in mafia-like militias and popular street protests in Rio, the question of what these appearances tell us about the relations between popular imagery and political contestation has remained untouched. This article supports the work of writers who argue that superhero comics and movies present fierce figures that operate in the zone of indistinction, at the crossroads of lawful order and its exception. However, it adds to this literature an analysis that shows in what kind of sociopolitical contexts these figures operate and how that plays itself out. To understand the contemporary appearances and force of figures of the entertainment industry better, this article proposes the concept “popular culture of sovereignty.”

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Democracy’s Children?

Masculinities of Coloured Adolescents Awaiting Trial in Post-Apartheid Cape Town, South Africa

Adam Cooper and Don Foster

This study explored the young, marginalised masculinities of 25 boys awaiting trial for various offences in Cape Town, South Africa. The boys came from impoverished areas created by Apartheid legislation and most of the boys were involved in gangs. Through their language and descriptions of practices the boys construct three intersecting discourses of masculinity, as they strive to be the toughest gangster, the sweet “mommy’s boy” and a “gentleman” who provides and protects for his family. Although the boys end up in the criminal justice system awaiting trial, they still have a certain amount of agency, as they slide between discourses and temporarily become gangster superheroes. These boys’ masculinities are bound up with their context: they live in a place with a violent past and a tumultuous post-Apartheid present, precipitating substantially ambivalent subjectivities.

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Comics as Public Pedagogy

Reading Muslim Masculinities through Muslim Femininities in Ms. Marvel

Shenila S. Khoja-Moolji and Alyssa D. Niccolini

In this article we examine the production and operation of the character, Kamala Khan, a Muslim American-Pakistani superheroine of the Ms. Marvel comic series, to glean what this reveals about Islam and Muslims, with particular attention to representations of Muslim masculinities. We argue that Ms. Marvel's invitation to visualize Muslim girls as superheroes is framed by a desire to interrupt rampant Islamophobia and xenophobia, yet, in order to produce such a disruption it relies on, and (re)produces, stereotypical conceptualizations of Muslim masculinities as mirrored in men who are conservative, prone to irrational rage, pre-modern, anachronistic, and even bestial. However, as the series progresses we notice the emergence of representations of complex and complicated Muslim masculinities that cast doubt on these tired, hackneyed ones, thus making way for a comic to undertake the pedagogical work of resistance. We see this graphic novel, like the shape-shifting Kamala herself, as wielding potentially dynamic and transformative power in social imaginaries.

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Spectacles of Masculine Super-Heroism

Mapping the Early Superstardom of “Jayan” in Malayalam Cinema

Raj Sony Jalarajan

Krishnan Nair, popularly known by his screen name Jayan, is often hailed as the first-ever “superstar” actor in Malayalam cinema. The metamorphosis of Jayan’s cinematic stardom signifies the masculine prototype with which Indian film stars attain cultural dominance by aestheticizing their corporeal self. This article approaches the earlier superstardom in Malayalam cinema by deciphering the centrality of Jayan as a Superman-superstar figure. It argues that the heroic screen image, dialogue delivery, stylized stunts, and trendsetting costumes introduced by Jayan in the 1970s–1980s established a new reception of the masculine body that glorified the semiotics of the “Superman.” Using the spectator–spectacle discourse on superstardom, this article examines how different shades of superstardom, especially its posthumous restructuring and reproduction, affect the fate of superheroes in regional cinemas.

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A Girl of a Certain Age

Claudia Mitchell

Boys and Girls: Superheroes in the Doll Corner ([1984] 2014), and Barrie Thorne in her Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School (1993) and many others have helped to illuminate the gendered dynamics of pre-schools, daycares, and other early childhood

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I'm No Princess

Super Hero Girls Together

Lucy I. Baker

properly, assemblage of DC Superhero Girls (DCSHG). 1 Created by DC Entertainment and Warner Bros Consumer Products, with ephemera distributed and manufactured by Mattel, the franchise leverages the creative spaces of the superheroes, dolls, and

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Girls Transgressing Boundaries and Challenging Borders

Julie Snyder

the hopes of what we as authors, thinkers, writers, doers, and carriers of our own girlhoods envisage for the future. Who are the girls in The Girl in the Text ? The girls privileged in the book are diverse ranging from Pakistani superheroes

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Narrating Muslim Girlhood in the Pakistani Cityscape of Graphic Narratives

Tehmina Pirzada

” (1949: 23). David Lewis (2013) argues that in contrast to Campbell’s hero, the American superhero ventures on an adventure, achieves victory, but remains unchanged and immortal in the process. Therefore, superheroes, especially in the American context

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Book Reviews

Lise Tannahill, Eliza Bourque Dandridge, and Rachel Mizsei Ward

-hop ‘present’ to create multiple and contradictory visions of African American life (118). Readers looking for commentary on the current uptick in the number of Black superheroes can handily consult the volume’s third section. Consuela Francis dives into the

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Editorial Board Reflections on Formative Books and Other Media

Ken Parille, Kenneth Kidd, Jay Mechling, Victoria Cann, and Edward W. Morris

character. Finding him interesting in a way other male superheroes were not, I decided to collect all his appearances, eventually buying “The Galactus Trilogy” issues in the early 1980s. Though I could not then have put it in these terms, the character