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Abstract/Statement

Climate activist Greta Thunberg recently likened her autism to a “superpower,” invoking a term first used in the American Golden Age comic Supersnipe in 1945. Thunberg’s use of the term superpower, however, is complicated by the way in which superhero comics have historically represented disability in general--and autism in particular. Over the past 30 years, representations of autistic characters in superhero comics have been very rare and mostly wrong, even as autistic presence has increased dramatically in film, television, popular fiction, and other media. This article examines the representation of autistic superheroes, who appear only rarely in superhero comics. As it discusses the presence and absence of autistic superheroes, their visibility and invisibility, it also constructs a provisional taxonomy of autistic representation in superhero comics, suggesting they appear in named, coded, claimed, and allegorical iterations.

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