‘I was swallowed by metaphor and digested by self-loathing’: De-toxifying Masculinity in Gail Simone’s Secret Six
Peter Cullen Bryan
This essay explores the intersections and divergences of Catman and Bane within Gail Simone’s Secret Six run. Simone is a pivotal figure in the development of modern comics, instrumental in spreading the term “Women in Refrigerators” and exploring disability and trauma in her Birds of Prey run. Simone’s oeuvre explores modern questions of gender and performance. Both Catman and Bane subvert expected behaviors of male superheroes, instead grappling with their respective masculinities. Each undergoes a transformation in comparison to their preexisting depictions, becoming better versions of themselves. Simone’s characterizations mitigate the toxic aspects of their personalities retaining their core identities. This offers an opportunity to recontextualize and perhaps redeem even highly problematic characters within comics and opens new avenues for discourse on gender and superheroes.