The Unforgettable Miss Fury Public

An Examination of an Almost-Forgotten Golden Age Superheroine

The history of women in comics is as varied and rich as the medium itself. However, some female figures in comics fade into obscurity while others are propelled into notoriety. Miss Fury was one such obscure comic heroine during the Second World War, which ran from 1941 until 1952. She is significant because she was the first superhero to be created, written, and illustrated by a woman, Tarpé Mills. This project aims to understand why Mills and her body of work remain relatively unknown. In order to do this, Wonder Woman will be used as a counterpoint. Wonder Woman is seen as a feminist comic book icon, and it must be proven whether Miss Fury was as influential as Wonder Woman during the decade in which they were both created. Within this thesis, Wonder Woman and Miss Fury’s respective origins will be introduced and discussed. Their authors, William Marston and Tarpé Mills, and their backgrounds will be examined. Their upbringings will be focused upon, as it has a direct influence on the empowerment of their main characters. Then, both sources will be directly compared and contrasted with one another through use of a close textual analysis. In addition, the original Miss Fury will be placed in direct comparison to two modern adaptations of the character. These adaptations reveal the shortcomings of capturing the essence of the original Miss Fury, while also taking the character in bold new directions. This project examines these two notable characters through the use of feminist theorists like Simone De Beauvoir and Laura Mulvey, and the cultural analysis of comics by academics like Thierry Groensteen. This project reveals that certain characters, like Miss Fury, are unable to change with shifts in American culture. The shifting American ideals surrounding Miss Fury through the following decades are ultimately what led to Miss Fury’s downfall as a comic heroine. This project aims to shine a light on a landmark achievement in sequential art that has been nearly forgotten by the American public.

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