“Holy Agency, Batgirl!”: Evaluating Young Adult Superheroines’ Agency in Gotham Academy and Ms. Marvel

Catherine Clark, Trinity University


This study utilizes textual analysis to understand the representation of two female protagonists’, Kamala Khan and Olive Silverlock, agency within the first volume of Ms. Marvel and Gotham Academy. Crossing comic worlds, this study seeks to determine whether or not these representations align with any waves of feminism, or continue postfeminist dialogue within media. Panel by panel, word by word, expression by expression, this researcher notes, categorizes, and analyzes these protagonists’ words marked as text, behaviors performed, and expressions shown through artistic representation on the page.

Situated on a cross-roads between postfeminism and the potential fourth wave of feminism, this study applies the Holistic Agency Spectrum Scale, constructed by Clark and Henderson (2016), to measure Kamala Khan’s and Olive Silverlock’s individual, social, and authoritative agency.

As female representation within comics continues to rise, it is important to accurately determine whether these representations are a true step forward or merely a reiteration of the past.