Supergirl comics were published in the late 1950’s, in an atmosphere that is considerably different from that in which Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was created. Supergirl comics were created in the post World War II setting, when Americans reverted to their traditional beliefs. In contrast, Batman; The Dark Knight Returns was created during the Cold War era of the late 1980’s, when tensions ran high between the two super powers; the Soviet Union and the United States of America. These two different contexts resulted in the creation of two very different comics, especially, in terms of their representation of violence and crime in the city. In Supergirl, the re-adoption of traditional ideology called for the minimalization of visual representation of violence, whereas, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the excessive display of violence in the mass media is reflected in the amount of violence portrayed in this graphic novel. Respect for authority was very highly valued at the time the Supergirl comics were created. In fact, this is seen overtly in the comics when Superman tells Kara to do as he asks (The Supergirl from Krypton 5). Superman is the symbol of authority in this comic because he is the male figure. Males of the time were by default regarded as rational, logical and dependable beings. This very idea of submitting to the male authority figure was highly valued at the time. Therefore, the act of disrespect this figure and overtly disobeying the male authority figure was seen as unconventional and even foreign, as it contradicted the traditional values shared by the public. Acts of violence and crime were downplayed in this comic because of this very idea of respect for authority and tradition. Violence was not seen as an effective means of conducting oneself in society; however, obedience to authority was and thus, violence was minimally represented. In contrast, the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns comics portrays as atmosphere where respect for authority is not as highly valued. The 1980’s media representation of criminals and their bold disregard for authority and symbols of power facilitated their willingness to participate in criminal activities without reservation. Their apathy runs deep, not just for authority figures but also for the law itself. This kind of disregard for authorities and institutions is represented countless times in the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. One such instance is illustrated on page 61(Miller) where the mutant leader threatens the police commissioner, James Gordon, on a television appearance. Thus, the depreciation of authority figures in the media representation is reflected in Batman; The Dark Knight Returns and leads to an increase in the portrayal of threats of violence within the novel. Supergirl was instructed by Superman to first conform to earthly ways. She was not to use her superpowers to fight crime. Instead, she uses her super powers to fix household problems like her broken bed and the mirror (The Supergirl from Kyrpton 7), and for cooking and re-freezing melted ice cream (Secret of the Super-Orphan 2). These traditional roles were highly valued for girls and are known as ‘back to the kitchen movement’. These ideas minimize the occurrence of violence, because, violence and crime were not actions associated with a women. Instead, there are numerous instances of what respectable women should do and these included kitchen duties, staying at home, childcare and ultimately becoming home bodies. Conformity to traditional gender ideologies were not important in the context in which Batman:The Dark Knight Returns was created. Within this context women and girls were entering the crime fighting scene. Although this is a more male-dominated profession, Ellen Yindel was the most qualified to be the next police commissioner for Gotham City, a city infested with crime. Robin, very different from the last two incarnations, is now a young girl hired by Bruce Wayne, both of...
Cited: 1958). Supergirl Archives Volume 1. New York: DC Comics, 2001. 11-37.
Supergirl Archives Volume 1. New York: DC Comics, 2001. 39-47.
Supergirl Archives Volume 1. New York: DC Comics, 2001. 48-55.
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