April 11, 2016

Elizabeth Warren is the heroine of a new comic book


In American politics, comparing your colleagues to the heroes and villains of popular culture is a common as abusing access to private jets. As Donald Trump bullies his way to the Republican nomination, comparisons to comic book villains abound. And just last month, Senator Elizabeth Warren found herself described as as “the Darth Vader of the financial services world” by Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer, who added, viciously, that a way must be found “to neuter” her. Which makes it particularly fitting that Warren, a longtime hero of progressive politics, is now the subject of a new biographical comic book that casts her in warm, albeit somewhat neutralized, light.

MSNBC’s Adam Howard reports that Warren now joins Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, and Sarah Palin in Storm Comics’ “series of Female Force comic books for young readers, which “center around themes of women’s empowerment.” Described as “decidedly non-partisan,” the books focus less specifically on politics of its subjects, in favor of describing their “accomplishments and groundbreaking status as prominent women in politics.”

As Storm Comics publisher Darren G. Davis told Howard: “Starting from her days of going to school and being a wife and a mother and really trying to make a difference from the perspective, that a woman can really have everything, I think her story really showcases that.”

These kind of “objective” portraits have probably helped get the series into schools and libraries, which have been particularly enthusiastic to carry it, according to Davis. Although, judging from sample frames of Female Force: Elizabeth Warren that were published by MSNBC, the emphasis on Warren’s early life and role as a mother and grandmother, as opposed to the specific, particularly contentious, fights she is leading—particularly her crusade against Wall Street greed—makes one wonder whether watering down the drama and urgency of Warren’s beliefs is the best way to get young people interested in politics.

The comic’s writer Warren Frizell told Howard that he “decided to focus on [Warren’s] humble beginnings and to tell the story of someone who has managed to compel themselves to fame just through hard work,” and that’s certainly admirable, just a long as readers can glimpse why the fame is justified. Anyway, as many have pointed out, “having it all” doesn’t necessary have to include marriage or child rearing.

Still, as Howard notes, Warren—who reportedly addressed Luetkemeyers’s name-calling by insisting that she’s really more of a “Princess Leia-type” —may be amused to see herself “elevated to the status of fictional heroine.” Because everyone knows that Darth Vader is really Karl Rove.

Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.