Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Comics & Colonial Propaganda: The Representation of Indigenous Superheroes in Contemporary Mainstream American Comics

Treadwell, Holly May (2023) Comics & Colonial Propaganda: The Representation of Indigenous Superheroes in Contemporary Mainstream American Comics. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.101153) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:101153)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only until May 2026.

Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of 176treadwell2023phdfinal.pdf]
Official URL:


This thesis examines the continual presence of settler colonial propaganda in Marvel and DC comic books from the 21st century. In order to do this, the study employs theory and works from Indigenous Studies and applies them to the analysis of comics, focusing particularly on the works of Raymond Stedman, Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, M. K. Green, Robert Berkhofer Junior, Michael Sheyahshe, Cornell Pewewardy, P. J. Deloria, Shepard Krech III, R. H. Pearce, Arlene Hirschfelder, Devon Abbott Mihesuah, and S. Elizabeth Bird. The work is framed around four categories, all of which have been drawn from these theories: the Bloodthirsty Savage, Naïve Sidekick, Romantic Ecologist, and Homogenous Relict. These categories are used as frameworks from which to compare the changing and sometimes contradictory nature of the stereotypical representations of Indigenous Peoples, whilst also drawing on colonial depictions, the origins of such stereotypes, and examples of these categories as presented in other media from the last century. The New Mutants series receives particular attention due to its prominence in the comic world and the fame of the team's Indigenous hero: Dani Moonstar. The examination of where and how the selected comics continue to facsimile or indeed reject and challenge these stereotypes, is followed by the conclusion which considers Marvel's newly published Indigenous Voices as an apt demonstration of the effect of hiring Indigenous creators. The aim of this work is to bring attention to the very slow (and at times lack of) progress made in terms of Indigenous representation, which feels especially important in an era full of efforts to improve the representation of marginalised and often misrepresented groups. In order to make better progress in this area, it is not only necessary to look at examples of where and why representation of Indigenous characters is done well; it is also essential to recognise the shortcomings and acknowledge exactly where and how creators are facsimileing colonial narratives that attempt to justify the genocide that facilitated the very existence of colonial countries such as those currently known as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Virtanen, Juha
Thesis advisor: Stirrup, David
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.101153
Uncontrolled keywords: Comics Indigenous Marvel DC Superheroes Race Colonialism Postcolonialism Contemporary Literature
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 04 May 2023 08:10 UTC
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 08:22 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Treadwell, Holly May.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.