A data-driven deep dive into a legendary comics author’s subversion of gender norms within the bestselling comic of its time.
By the time Chris Claremont’s run as author of Uncanny X-Men ended in 1991, he had changed comic books forever. During his sixteen years writing the series, Claremont revitalized a franchise on the verge of collapse, shaping the X-Men who appear in today’s Hollywood blockbusters. But, more than that, he told a new kind of story, using his growing platform to articulate transgressive ideas about gender nonconformity, toxic masculinity, and female empowerment.
J. Andrew Deman’s investigation pairs close reading and quantitative analysis to examine gender representation, content, characters, and story structure. The Claremont Run compares several hundred issues of Uncanny X-Men with a thousand other Marvel comics to provide a comprehensive account of Claremont’s sophisticated and progressive gender politics. Claremont’s X-Men upended gender norms: where female characters historically served as mere eye candy, Claremont’s had leading roles and complex, evolving personalities. Perhaps more surprisingly, his male superheroes defied and complicated standards of masculinity. Groundbreaking in their time, Claremont’s comics challenged readers to see the real world differently and transformed pop culture in the process.
J. Andrew Deman is on the faculty in the Department of English Language and Literature at St. Jerome’s University and the author of The Margins of Comics: The Construction of Women, Minorities, and the Geek in Graphic Narrative.
In The Claremont Run, J. Andrew Deman presents truly impressive data and shows the ways one might track how gender is represented in comics using various quantitative measures. The author’s qualitative analysis is also well developed and helps make the quantitative data relevant for all types of comics scholars. As questions about how the genre takes on identity politics become more and more prevalent, analyses like Deman’s, which develop complex syntheses rooted in data, will undoubtedly become foundational.
— Sam Langsdale, coeditor of Monstrous Women in Comics
J. Andrew Deman utilizes a mixed-methods framework to highlight how Chris Claremont’s work on the X-Men offered an innovative approach to gender and sexuality. Deman's research supports the often-lauded progressive stance attributed to Claremont by documenting the subtle ways in which his run centered a wide range of female characters and by carefully reconsidering the expectations linked to masculinity. The Claremont Run, in considering gender and bodies, emphasizes how Uncanny X-Men provides pathways for transformation and offers the reader an important way to see the series in a new light.
— Julian C. Chambliss, coeditor of Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural, and Geopolitical Domains
If you were ever curious how much each X-Man talks or thinks on the page, Deman’s book has cataloged and applied it in an essay written with deep love and admiration. It’s the perfect complement for anyone looking to revisit Claremont’s run or read his enduring stories for the first time.
— Eric Vilas-Boas, Vulture
Deman’s book offers us extended meditations on gender in the X-Men. It is a masterful work on the ways Claremont’s run is not only iconic, but achieves a level of gender subversion at a time when comics stood by traditional masculine and feminine roles . . . this is an excellent work of scholarship showing the ways public and academic scholarship can meet to open up new perspectives on works of popular culture.
— International Journal of Comic Art Blog
Foreword. A Danger Room of One’s Own by Jay Edidin
Introduction. X-Women to Watch Out For
Chapter 1. Jean, Moira, and the Archetypal “Claremont Woman”
Chapter 2. Storm: From Mother Goddess to Resolutely Indefinable
Chapter 3. Ladies Night and the Second Generation of Claremont Women
Chapter 4. She Makes Him Nervous: Cyclops’s Baseline Masculinity and the Exchange of Gender Power
Chapter 5. Wolverine as Subversive Masculine Paradigm
Chapter 6. A Spectrum of “Men”: Refracting Masculinities through Nightcrawler and Havok
Conclusion. A Legacy in Waiting
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