In the long, twisted history of comics there have been plenty of ugly instances of misrepresentation, sexism and homophobia across both character depictions and story lines. But there have also been huge steps forward, stories and characters that remind us of the power of inclusive storytelling.
Out of the ashes of The Joker’s senseless assault on Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke came Oracle, who not only gave empowerment back to Babs, but also reminded both readers and creators of the importance of reflecting everyone in their stories. Oracle allowed readers in wheelchairs to see themselves represented as vital and important heroes and it was understandable that the New 52 reboot, which allowed Barbara to return as Batgirl thanks to experimental surgery, felt in some ways like erasing an important step forward in representation.
But where the big two have faltered and failed, there has always been independent comics offering sharp stories and inclusive characters. And Lion Forge Comics are certainly living up to their slogan “Comics for Everyone!” with the introduction of a new hero named Jonah this July. In Superb, readers will meet Jonah, a young man with Down Syndrome who hopes to use his superpowers, which include strength, telekinesis, and telepathy, to help the world. Superb is part of Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime series, which was recently launched. Superb is being released as part of a partnership between Lion Forge and the National Down Syndrome Society.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, National Down Syndrome Society president Sara Hart Weir said of the comic, “As the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, NDSS is thrilled to work with Lion Forge in the development of a Superb comic superhero named Jonah. We look forward to sharing Jonah’s adventures with Catalyst Prime’s wide readership to encourage the value, acceptance and inclusion of the superheroes we know exist within all people with Down syndrome.”
Lion Forge’s president Geoff Gerber also released a statement regarding the new comic book hero, saying “Everyone faces different challenges in life, but those challenges don’t prevent us from wanting to be heroes. Superb is a story about two young people faced with challenges who struggle to understand one another and what it means to be heroes. But, some challenges are more difficult for many of us to understand. Luckily, NDSS is willing to help our creators explain this and to help our readers understand. Nothing could be more important when telling the story of a character who acquires powers that increase his capabilities without taking away his disabilities.”
Check out the full cover below and get ready for July!