I was surfing the internet today, as I usually do when I’m taking breaks from writing, and came across an archived forum on Comic Book Resources. In it, forum members were listing disabled characters in both the DC and Marvel universes. One post brought up Matt Murdock, otherwise known as Daredevil, mentioning that he fights crime despite being blind.
However, another poster questioned whether Daredevil’s blindness, along with several other characters’ disabilities, was actually disabilities.
Merriam-Webster defines disabled as someone who is “incapacitated by illness or injury; also : physically or mentally impaired in a way that substantially limits activity especially in relation to employment or education.” In that vein, is Daredevil disabled? Yes, he cannot “see” in the normal sense, but his other senses are so heightened that it actually makes him super-human. If I look at the Merriam-Webster definition, Daredevil isn’t actually disabled. What?
As I read more and more, I found more and more occurrences where a superhero’s physical disability either wasn’t a disability or the disability was cured through some magical method.
Remember Spider-man bully-turned-Venom host Flash Thompson? He was shot in Iraq and the damage was so severe that both legs were amputated below the knees. And while he is a paraplegic outside of his union with Venom, when he’s connected with Venom, he’s cured and able to fight crime with the Secret Avengers.
How about Barbara Gordon? The former Batgirl was shot and paralyzed by Joker. She stayed strong, turning in the cowl for a computer to become the badass Oracle. She was a great role model for those in wheelchairs. Then, she found a cure for paralyzation in Africa, because legs rule!
The X-men? Yeah, moving on…
You see my problem? I want to not argue about this, but my world may be shattered. Are there any true physically disabled comic book characters? Mental is one thing, but what about physical?
I honestly don’t think there is, and that saddens me. When Barbara was Oracle, she saved Batman’s life more times than Bruce Wayne would like to admit. But was that worthless because she couldn’t walk while doing it?
If that’s the case, that needs to be fixed. I’m not asking for a super-wheelchair that transforms into a fighting robot, but I’m asking for something. I think there are people out there, both disabled and not, that would like to read a story about a physically disabled person who does not get magically cured in Africa.