#NeMLA17 #S621: “DC vs Marvel in Japan”

Thanks to all who turned out for the Northeast Modern Language Association’s session on Edgar Allan Poe in popular culture! Now I’m about to present at 11:45 AM Eastern as part of the DC vs Marvel panel. Follow along with this linked slide presentation, and feel free to submit questions there or on Twitter, hashtags #NeMLA17 #S621.


My Presentations at #NeMLA17: Poe’s Pop Culture Afterlife, Disability in My Hero Academia, Batmanga and Spider-Man Sentai

Yeah, the only Poe image I could find that fits here was from Bungo Stray Dogs–don’t blame me, it’s a fun series!

I’ll be presenting (and working the registration table) at the upcoming Baltimore meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association, March 23 to 26, at the Marriott Waterfront. The full schedule of presentations is available to search or download, and if you have any questions about the convention, feel free to tweet at me, email me at derekmcg@buffalo.edu, or approach me at the convention (my name badge will have “Staff” on it).

The Pop Culture Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is a zombie: his themes, tropes, stories, tone, and arguments persist long after his death, not only in subsequent poetry, short stories, and criticism but also in film, television, music, and new media. This session looks at approaches to reading Poe’s influence forward into later popular culture, in particular strategies for incorporating works of current popular culture in the classroom when teaching Poe. Presentations look at Poe’s influence on The Following, Richard Corben, Fight Club, and Black Swan. Friday, March 24, 8:30-9:45 AM, Grand Ballroom 2

Batmanga and Captain America Ramen: DC vs Marvel in Japan

Shifting from comics publishers to multimedia content-branding enterprises, DC Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment have enlarged their markets overseas. While their fictional accounts are set largely in the United States, their film productions have sought to appeal to a wider global audience, especially in marketing towards Japan. Starting in the 1960s, DC licensed Batman for a 50-chapter manga series that proved popular in Japan. However, as this Batmanga series only recently has been translated and distributed to United States audiences, the potential bidirectional partnership between DC and Japanese publishers has been far less obvious compared that same partnership opportunity for Marvel. The list of Japanese properties featuring Marvel characters is extensive: ramen shops produce Captain America and Iron Man-themed meals; studios such as Sony and Madhouse produce anime based on Blade, Black Widow, the Punisher, and the X-Men; and Marvel has partnered with manga publishers for transpacific crossovers, such as between its Avengers and Kodansha’s Attack on Titan. Even the live-action Spider-Man series in Japan in the late 1970s allowed its local producer, Toei, to develop the tropes, special effects, sets, and costumes that would give birth to the ubiquitous brand Super Sentai, known in the United States as Power Rangers.

While Marvel is more visible, this competition between it and Marvel has not necessarily translated into more cinematic success in Japan: both Batman vs Superman and Captain America: Civil War opened much later than they did in other parts of the world, and sold far fewer tickets than Japanese films in the same opening weekends. This presentation will consider how economic, cultural, and media differences between DC and Marvel’s United States and Japanese distribution networks have led to innovations for both companies, while also increasing Marvel’s presence in Japan compared to DC. Friday, March 24, 11:45 AM-1 PM, Heron Room

The Quirkiness of a Superpower: Normalizing (Dis)abilities in Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia

Superpowered individuals are commonly treated in popular culture as the outsiders, their abilities making them stand out as othered. Japanese mangaka Kōhei Horikoshi reverses that idea in his comic My Hero Academia, recently adapted as an ongoing animated series. In his story, superpowers are the norm: 80 percent of the Earth’s population possesses such abilities, known as Quirks. This fictional world has adjusted considerably well to suit the needs of these superpowered individuals, who vary in size, ability, and shape: entrances serve persons both short and gargantuan, clothing stores make on-site adjustment to attire for multi-limbed or tailed individuals, and the government sanctions schools and agencies to allow for training of superheroes. In such a setting, My Hero Academia raises complicated questions about how othering can still persist, treating non-powered individuals as if they are analogous to persons with disabilities. For example, series protagonist Izuku Midoriya, who admires popular superhero All Might, is in that 20 percent of humans without a Quirk and is bullied by a superpowered classmate who mocks him with the nickname “Deku” (“Weakling”). A chance meeting with All Might reveals to Izuku that his superhero mentor has been living with an injury that is slowly sapping him of his Quirk, leaving the usually buff and tall superhero emaciated and bleeding. All Might’s injury is treated in-series as analogous to enervating conditions experienced by many people, showing how he lives with his condition while striving to maintain his previous and still arduous schedule of superheroing. My Hero Academia also prompts disconcerting questions regarding All Might giving his superpower to his new mentee Izuku, as this ability inheritance is treated as a way to normalize his supposed disabled body, prompting careful consideration about how this series reinforces and subverts representations of disabilities in superhero stories. Friday, March 24, 4:45-6:15 PM, Grand Ballroom 8