Strong Female Protagonist and the Morality of Superheroes

Some spoilers at the end of this post

Superhero comics are the classic comic genre, and everyone knows the tropes. Strong Female Protagonist is a webcomic that examines these tropes and subverts them. It’s inclusive and socially conscious. It also features two of my favorite LGBTQ characters in comics, Tara/Feral and Lisa/Paladin. SFP delves into questions of morality, the nature of justice, and the consequences of power.

The main character, Alison Green, is quite literally a strong female protagonist. She developed super strength at the age of 14, along with millions of other 14 year olds, and began fighting supervillains for the government under the name Mega Girl. Alison eventually quits and applies to college. The story follows her as she wrestles with how to best utilize the power she has been given for good. This is a common theme in SFP, which all of the characters grapple with, with very different outcomes.

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SFP Issue 5 Page 20

Tara, or Feral, has regenerative powers and can regrow her internal organs. After years of fighting crime, she decides that the most effective way for her to do good is to donate her organs—forever. She is operated on full time, around the clock, as she can regenerate organs in a period of several hours. This action is protested by groups that discriminate against “biodynamics”, as those with powers are called, with one member even killing the first team of doctors set to operate on Feral. Mary Kim, or Moonshadow, was a member of Alison’s team when she was fighting crime. Mary Kim has the ability to bend light and become effectively invisible, and she used this power to kill rapists. Hector (Pintsize) began studying physics and biology in order to use his power to shrink for scientific advancement. The decisions of the other characters and Alison’s interactions with them help her get further in her quest to figure out her purpose.

SFP is a fascinating and modern look at the superhero genre, and I highly recommend it.

5 thoughts on “Strong Female Protagonist and the Morality of Superheroes

  1. It’s always nice to see comics that play with the superhero “genre.” I do like the idea of a comic that has the overall style and tone of a teen slice-of-life comic but with some of the trappings of a superhero story.

    1. Thanks for commenting! Yeah, I really like the focus on what daily life with superpowers is like and how that impacts average stuff like, like having a weird roommate situation or dating or on one page, getting a haircut. Spoiler: there is liquid nitrogen involved.

  2. Is there anything beyond simply trying subvert something that has been allegedly established as a trope? There’s plenty of webcomics I’ve read that begin this way–the author is working against what they believe is a commonly established trope without really questioning why the trope exists and whether or not the subversion is longstanding. A problem I’ve seen in lot of narratives that begin this way is that the author eventually wants the comic to become more than a simple subversion and, ironically, as they break away they begin to fall back into the established tropes. There’s also the question I have in that this supposed subversion may not actually be a subversion at all–we only think it is because somebody somewhere wrote it down on a website in order to be political or controversial.

    1. I mean, clearly there’s something there if the author chose to write about it, so why raise this question? Here and in other comments on the blog, your gatekeeping comes across as condescending. That probably wasn’t your intent, and I realize nuance is difficult in blog comments.

      I agree with you that sometimes a trope can be overplayed (and yes, subverting expectations is also a trope), but that’s a subjective determination that doesn’t impair anyone else’s ability to enjoy works that use that trope, to say nothing of an imagined threshold of objective quality that a work must rise to in order to merit attention.

      And anyway, since Strong Female Protagonist is online, why not read it for yourself and see what you think before asking someone else to justify it?

      1. I asked a question because I’d like an answer. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. If you’d prefer I didn’t ask questions, please let me know and I will no longer engage with my peers about their work.

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