The Myth of the Supermom

by Betsy

With Mother's Day just around the corner (at least here in the United States), it seemed appropriate to take a look at superhero moms in comic books. The trouble was, in the world of comics, superhero moms are few and far between.

I set out to write a great post about superheros who are also moms. But it turns out, the list is pretty short. There's Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman, mom to Franklin and Valeria.

Sue has definitely faced a lot of challenges as a superhero mom. When she was pregnant with Franklin, she had to take maternity leave from the team, then discovered that her cosmic irradiated blood cells would make it difficult to carry the child to term. Kind of makes morning sickness not seem so bad. Her second child was stillborn, which upset Sue to the point where she turned into a supervillain... but then discovered that Franklin had saved the child... but that she could only have the baby with the help of FF nemesis Dr. Doom... and the troubles go on and on, including conflicts with Reed over how to take care of the children that are compounded when your son is a mutant with potentially enough psionic energy to eliminate all life on Earth.

As a woman who is both a member of the Fantastic Four and a mother, Sue Richards is the ultimate working mom. Unfortunately, she shoulders this burden alone - there are no other characters in the Marvel or DC universes who are both active superheroes and mothers. Not even Wonder Woman, an icon of female strengths and power, has tackled motherhood. Poor Sue doesn't have any other moms to talk to over coffee about, say, the challenge of finding last-minute childcare when Galactus strikes.

It's been said that comic books are modern-day mythology. So why are working mothers so notably absent?

It's not that it's impossible for a mother to take on the dangerous job of being a superhero. After all, plenty of mothers in the real world have dangerous jobs. There are women who serve in the armed forces or work as firefighters or police officers.

Comic books, for better or worse, tend to be targeted towards men, particularly young men. They likely find a character like Peter Parker's struggles with the social world of high school relatable. And with the small amount of female creators, that isn't likely to change any time soon.

But I prefer to think positive. Maybe there are so few superhero moms in comic books because all moms have superpowers. We have the ability to heal boo-boos with a single kiss; the strength to lug a baby, a bulging diaper bag, and a week's worth of groceries up the stairs; to find missing objects like pacifiers or soccer cleats; to produce a healthy meal from a seemingly empty kitchen... and much, much more.

Happy Mother's Day to Sue Richards - and to all of the Supermoms out there.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Great article Betsy. That is why Sue ranks #1 on my list.