Superheroes Doing Good Without Capes

Today’s superheroes show there is more than one way to do good.

Superhero Batman looking down at Gotham.

(Ollyy /

Superheroes are known for doing good. They have special powers that enable them to do things that ordinary humans can't, like flying, seeing through walls, and shape shifting. That’s why comic book heroes have been popular for generations.

Most of these comics feature superheroes fighting supervillains, according to, but typically, nothing has been done to actually change the system. Until recently. Superhero comics are now tackling social justice issues like racism, inequality, and climate change.

Nightwing and the New Superman
Two DC Comics series are showing that the lead characters are doing good outside of their superhero roles. In both Nightwing, a comic that portrays a grown-up Robin/Dick Grayson after he left his role as Batman’s sidekick and in Superman: Son of Kal-El – which features Jon Kent, the son of Superman – the characters are tackling social justice issues.

In the Nightwing series, Grayson became very wealthy after inheriting a large sum of money and he has become a philanthropist who invests time and money to help alleviate poverty in the city. He became a major investor in the Truth, an independent media outlet that Kent works for that helps bring about positive change.

The fact that Kent is a Kryptonian refugee also gives him first-hand knowledge of the plight of migrants and an acute awareness of the dangers of climate change. This new generation of heroes are committed to making the world a much better place.

Social Justice Comic Books
While promoting social justice in mainstream comic books is a new trend that should be encouraged. Comic books and graphic novels have also specifically been designed for that purpose.

While comic books have been around since the 1930s,  according to the National Museum of American History,  the earliest ones were reprints of newspaper funnies. Superheroes made their first appearance in 1938 with the introduction of Superman. Graphic novels didn’t make an appearance until the 1970s.

The combination of text and graphics in these novels make them effective tools to tackle tough issues like racism, according to The Conversation. Some examples are They Called Us Enemy, about George Takei’s  (the Star Trek actor) Japanese-American family’s experiences being interned during WWII. Or Jerry Craft’s New Kid about the experiences of a private school student who is one of just a few students of color. This graphic novel actually won the prestigious Newbery Medal.

Trinity Jagdeo, a  New Jersey teen created her own comic series that features superheroes with disabilities. She wrote the series to provide positive role models for kids who use wheelchairs or have Down’s Syndrome.  All of the protagonists in the series are superheroes who have special abilities. This is a way to shift how society views people who are disabled.

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