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Cree, Canadian and American: negotiating sovereignties with Jeff Lemire’s Equinox and the ‘Justice League of Canada’ (2014)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>The Luminary
Issue number6
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Canadian and Torontonian Joe Shuster co-created Superman in 1938, drawing on his experiences at the Toronto Daily Star to define Clark Kent’s everyday life as a reporter. Despite Shuster’s Canadian co-authorship of the definitive American comic book superhero, John Bell suggests “Canadians are probably too wary of the uncritical portrayal of unrestrained heroism and power for the superhero genre ever to become a mainstay of the country's indigenous comic art” (84). Bell’s comments express national scepticism towards American myths of heroism, perhaps best summed up in the equally iconic Canadian trope of the ‘beautiful loser’. Whilst comic books may heighten these distinct senses of a national narrative, they are also the potential sites of encounter for intersecting national cultural narratives. Onesuch encounter can be seen in the recent “Justice League Canada” storyline of American publisher DC Comics’ Justice League United. Echoing its past connections with Canada, DC Comics’ Canadian cartoonist Jeff Lemire has created a superhero team storyline set explicitly in Northern Ontario, Canada, also introducing an Indigenous female superhero named Equinox to the DC comic book universe. Cree, and from Moose Factory, Ontario, the hero Equinox is in everyday life the teenager Miiyahbin Marten. Whilst the ‘DC universe’ is firmly a realm of the fantastic, Lemire’s storyline underscores how its characters provide real-life negotiations of American, Canadian and Indigenous identity. National boundaries, identities and sovereignties are potentially re-enforced and challenged through “Justice League Canada,” and particularly in the visualisation of Equinox. The mainstream storyworlds of American comic books are complicated by this negotiation of plural sovereignties.

Bibliographic note

Date of Acceptance: 16/03/2015