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TitleRacializing Discourses in Comic Books: An examination of Marvel Comics The Punisher
TagsMarvel Comics Batman Comics Adult Comics Marvel Avenger Comics
LanguageEnglish
File Size6.2 MB
Total Pages74
Document Text Contents
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Table of Contents



Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... 3

Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 4

Chapter 1: Introduction ............................................................................................................... 5

Literature Review............................................................................................................................ 7

What is a Comic? ........................................................................................................................ 7

Comics as Educational Tools ...................................................................................................... 8

Comics and the Criminal ............................................................................................................. 9

National Identity in Comics ...................................................................................................... 10

Constructionism ........................................................................................................................ 12

Problem statement ......................................................................................................................... 14

Theory ........................................................................................................................................... 15

Methodology ................................................................................................................................. 17

Research objectives ....................................................................................................................... 19

Chapter Outlines ........................................................................................................................... 19

Chapter 2: Racialization through Dress, Language and Geography ..................................... 21

Dress .......................................................................................................................................... 21

Language ................................................................................................................................... 26

Geography ................................................................................................................................. 30

Chapter 3: Racialization Through References to War ............................................................ 38

Increased Level of Acceptable Violence ................................................................................... 39

Enforcement of National Boundaries ........................................................................................ 42

Nationalist Rhetoric................................................................................................................... 46

Chapter 4: Stated Motivations for Committing Crime and how they Contribute to

Racialization ................................................................................................................................ 51

Motivations to Commit Crime for Racialized Characters ......................................................... 51

Money .................................................................................................................................... 52

Power ..................................................................................................................................... 53

Ruthlessness........................................................................................................................... 55

Motivations for Committing Crime for Non-Racialized Characters ......................................... 58

Crime-fighting/Patriotism ...................................................................................................... 58

Protecting others .................................................................................................................... 61

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As we read our way through the comics, we see in Figure 2.12 from Issue 3 page 12, the

Dos Sol cartel in one of their locations in a rundown building, which appears to be an old,

possibly abandoned, gymnasium. The basketball hoop and backboard are still present but the

walls seem to be decayed and it looks as if the paint is peeling. Despite being within the United

States the image shows degradation and dilapidation, but the space is occupied by racialized

characters and thus takes on particular meaning. When Royal (2007) talks about the power of the

image he suggests that, “the figures that make up the comics rub up against reality in ways that

words cannot, revealing the various assumptions, predispositions, and prejudices that the author-

illustrators may hold” (p. 7). We can see this happening in The Punisher (2014) through the

continued linkage of race and crime. Although, I argue that assumptions, predispositions, and

prejudices are a product of a more hegemonic discourse and not solely the work of the authors.

To understand the messages that are being passed between creator and reader, the readers must

understand the codes used in the comics to depict events. Hall (1995) explains,

Primarily, culture is concerned with the production and exchange of meanings – the

‘giving and taking of meaning’ – between the members of a society or group. To say that

two people belong to the same culture is to say that they interpret the world in roughly

the same ways and can express themselves, their thoughts and feelings about the world,

in ways which will be understood by each other. Thus culture depends on its participants

interpreting meaningfully what is happening around them, and ‘making sense’ of the

world, in broadly similar ways (p. 2).

By recognizing Latino characters as racialized “Others”, it is easy for the comic to suggest that

they do not belong to an overarching American identity. This places Latino characters not only

outside of America spatially, but also ideologically. The examples provided here in are just some

of the ways that characters in The Punisher (2014) have been racialized. The larger implications

of racialization are seen both in the hegemonic narrative we are presented within the comic book,

and how easy it is for a reader like myself to understand the messages that the writers are trying

to get across, because of my exposure to and position in North American white culture.

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