2021 Comic Studies Society Prize for Edited Collection
From Superman, created in 1938, to the transmedia DC and Marvel universes of today, superheroes have always been sexy. And their sexiness has always been controversial, inspiring censorship and moral panic. Yet though it has inspired jokes and innuendos, accusations of moral depravity, and sporadic academic discourse, the topic of superhero sexuality is like superhero sexuality itself—seemingly obvious yet conspicuously absent. Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero is the first scholarly book specifically devoted to unpacking the superhero genre’s complicated relationship with sexuality.
Exploring sexual themes and imagery within mainstream comic books, television shows, and films as well as independent and explicitly pornographic productions catering to various orientations and kinks, Supersex offers a fresh—and lascivious—perspective on the superhero genre’s historical and contemporary popularity. Across fourteen essays touching on Superman, Batman, the X-Men, and many others, Anna F. Peppard and her contributors present superhero sexuality as both dangerously exciting and excitingly dangerous, encapsulating the superhero genre’s worst impulses and its most productively rebellious ones. Supersex argues that sex is at the heart of our fascination with superheroes, even—and sometimes especially—when the capes and tights stay on.
About the Author
Anna F. Peppard is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow in Brock University’s Department of Communication, Popular Culture, and Film. She has published widely on representations of gender, race, and sexuality in popular media, including comic books, television, and sports culture. She is a regular contributor to the podcast Three Panel Contrast.
Insightful...Peppard’s assemblage shows just how varied and multivalent superhero media is, as well as highlighting the diversity of experiences and interpretations of it. Supersex is a broad cultural survey of superheroes, with insights that are beguiling fuel for the critical imagination. — Foreword Reviews
Peppard's introduction is a brilliant overview of the history of superhero bodies that perfectly sets the stage for the essays that follow, and the epilogue by Richard Harrison is an inspired piece that provides a satisfying summation for this eclectic collection. Supersex is intelligent and entertaining and, for comics fans, it opens new avenues for thinking about how superheroes affect readers and culture. — Comic Book Yeti
If the stated task of assembling a volume dedicated to 'unpacking the superhero genre’s complicated relationship with sexuality' does seem not impressive enough, Peppard has also managed to curate a book that is utterly enjoyable to read. In other words, the sexiness of this collection is tied not only to its intellectual contributions, but also to its affective power—at times I felt downright naughty for reveling in Supersex as much as I did...[Supersex is] strong...from cover to cover. — Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society