Canada has often had a complicated relationship with the idea of the superhero. We often see comics as a genre from “away”, not “of here”. Our comics have historically had a fairly short run, been overwhelmed by an American market, and have experienced our Canadian view that pop culture created in Canada is always going to be second rate.
Superheroes generally have an outlaw quality to them – vigilantes… and historically Canadian representations of law and justice have been centred around the notion of “good governance” and the assumption that our police figures are capable. We have all heard that the Mounties, for example, “always get their man”. So, the notion of a group of outlaws often hasn’t sat well with the view many Canadians have been acculturated to think of ourselves. Canadians have traditionally had a lot of difficulty with the notion of one larger than life figure who has a destiny to succeed beyond others. This is something we have often associated with American ideologies since it generally stems from the American Dream of the “self made man”.
Despite these short print runs and the scarcity of Canadian comics, there have been some amazing and incredible Canadian comics and superheroic figures. Canadian superheroes generally do something different, question their own role, and push genre boundaries to try to figure out how the superhero can fit in a distinctly Canadian cultural apparatus. Because the Canadian nation is often uncertain about who we are as a culture, our superheroes tend to be somewhat uncertain, tend to question things, tend to embody an outsider aesthetic.
Throughout October, I hope to bring you some questions, thoughts, and perspectives on the Canadian superhero and introduce you to some Canadian superheroes of the past and present who may fascinate, entice, and challenge you.