Posts Tagged ‘bondage’

Comic Archetypes: The Golden Age Hypnotic Heroine

His­to­ry: Look­ing over the diverse cast of hyp­not­ic char­ac­ters in the Gold­en Age of Comics (which is the peri­od from the start of comics pub­li­ca­tion through the end of WW II) one is even­tu­al­ly struck by the ram­pant sex­ism and male dom­i­na­tion involved. There were a num­ber of vil­lains whose pri­ma­ry motif was some form of hyp­no­sis in the Gold­en Age, but almost every one was male, from the shady sideshow hyp­no­tists and crafty con artists to the mys­te­ri­ous mys­tics and malev­o­lent magi­cians to the sin­is­ter sci­en­tists and dement­ed doc­tors. Which should be no sur­prise, as there were very few female vil­lains at all dur­ing that time. Also, the great major­i­ty of these char­ac­ters were “one-shot” char­ac­ters who only appeared in a sin­gle issue: for re-occur­ring char­ac­ters like Lex Luthor, hyp­not­ic con­trol of the hero was a ploy they might use on rare occa­sions but nev­er spe­cial­ized in. Strange­ly enough, or, rather, more like­ly anoth­er sign of the times, is that such hyp­not­ic con­trol was rarely used against or by women. 

There were a few excep­tions, of course, such as the reoc­cur­ring Jus­tice Soci­ety vil­lain­ess Har­le­quin, who used a pair of hyp­not­ic glass­es as part of her cir­cus clown motif, but she was a much more sym­pa­thet­ic char­ac­ter and even­tu­al­ly reformed, and the one-shot vil­lain­ess Lady Ser­pent, who used her hyp­not­ic gaze to mes­mer­ize a female jail guard into let­ting her escape, yet her foe, the Black Ter­ror, fore­warned about her pow­ers, was able to resist her. (Curi­ous­ly, Cat­woman would use use the same trick to escape prison in a much lat­er com­ic, hyp­no­tiz­ing a female guard with a cat’s‑eye-jeweled lock­et.) It almost seems as though the comics writ­ers just did­n’t want to or weren’t allowed to have a female char­ac­ter, hero or vil­lain, who could con­trol the male char­ac­ters: it was accept­able for Luthor to put Super­man under his hyp­not­ic con­trol, but no woman could. Giv­en the sex­ism of the cul­ture at the time, that seems a like­ly explanation. 

But there was one excep­tion to all of this sex­ism, the most famous hero­ine of this era and pos­si­bly any era. And that was Won­der Woman. 

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing “Com­ic Arche­types: The Gold­en Age Hyp­not­ic Heroine”

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