DC’s Superman, who was found by his adoptive parents, is one of many comic heroes who are orphans: Spider-Man’s parents die in a plane crash; Batman’s parents are killed in a street robbery, and Black Panther – whose mother dies soon after childbirth and whose father is killed – is known as ‘the Orphan King’. Marvel’s X-Men experience both discrimination and social ostracisation. The superheroes’ early life experiences impact their roles and the stance they take over good and evil in their comic lives.
Looking beyond the traditional ‘superhero’ genre the exhibition also includes characters from early newspaper comic strips, Japanese Manga, and contemporary graphic novel protagonists. Historical newspapers, original artwork, and contemporary digital work will be on display, as well as examples of international comics rarely exhibited in the UK.
Three new artistic commissions that examine care identity and experience have been specially created for the exhibition by comic artists Asia Alfasi, Bex Glendining, and Woodrow Phoenix.
In the context of the Museum, there are striking parallels to explore between real foundlings and their illustrated counterparts.