The ComiQuad: “Roots” of Superhero Hair Color

Boom! Wham! Pow! The ComiQuad is a brand new column dedicated to the spandex-laden world of comics and superheroes. It goes up each Friday Tuesday and will alternate between comic book reviews and other comic book news. Zam!

Last week we ushered in the beginning of a brand new month. A month of gradually colder weather (although apparently not as cold as Halloween’s). A month of class scheduling. A month of turkey, family gatherings, and pilgrims. It is November. The month is also known as No-Shave November, that special time of year where your poorly groomed male friends get even more poorly groomed. To celebrate, this week’s ComiQuad will be all about hair.

For all intents and purposes, I will be leaving oddly-colored aliens, monsters, and angry green men out of this blog post. Since people/monstrosities like The Hulk do not exist in real life (to my knowledge), I cannot accurately address the stereotypes he would face in modern society. I can only assume people would harshly judge his purple shorts.

bald: [bawld] / (adj) / definition: prone to antagonizing superheroes; evil

There is no love for bald people in superhero comics. Lex Luthor, Superman’s main antagonist, is bald. So is Brainiac. And Kingpin. And Mr. Freeze. The only significant positive shiny-scalped character in superhero comics is Professor Charles Xavier from the X-Men, and his very existence gave birth to an incredibly obscure bald female villain, Cassandra Nova.

So, ComiQuad readers, if you find yourself with a receding hairline some morning, prepare for a career change. Quit community service, forget the Rogaine, and begin terrorizing some orphans*, because the rest of your life is set in stone to be a supervillain.

So a Blonde Walks Into a Comic Book…

Studies, social trends, phrases like “gentlemen prefer blondes,” and adages like “blondes have more fun” tend to indicate that blondes are just better than the rest of us. Check out the girls from your high school graduating class. Half of them are blonde now; they must be happier.

In comic book land, however, they are not quite as popular. Think about all of the superhero movies you’ve seen over the past few years? Superman isn’t blonde. Neither is Batman. Nor Spider-Man. Nor Wolverine, Cyclops, Captain America, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Mr. Fantastic, nor the Human Torch. They’re all brunette.  Thor is the only exception (and Ozymandias if you saw Watchmen). The other famous blonde men who haven’t made the big screen? Aquaman, Green Arrow, Booster Gold, and The Flash.

For women, the famous blondes include Black Canary, Power Girl, Supergirl, Emma Frost, and Invisible Girl. The last three have been in movies (1984’s Supergirl, 2011’s X-Men: First Class, and both film incarnations of The Fantastic Four, respectively).

Supergirl is the 1%. Redhead lady is the 99%. | Courtesy

Unfortunately, most of the blonde characters also seem to fall under blonde stereotypes. Of the six men listed above, all except The Flash are known for being some of the most arrogant and vain superheroes. Black Canary, Power Girl, and Emma Frost are known for weaponizing their sexuality. Some incarnations of Supergirl and Invisible Girl have made them seem innocent.

Obviously, these stereotypes are unimportant and trite when looked at individually, but they are interesting when lined up in a group.

Case Study: Bottle Blondes

Those girls who dyed their hair blonde going into college? They have role models too! And the false hair-vertising may run more than skin deep in meaning.

Meet Harley Quinn and Mystique. Harley often makes herself out to be a ditzy blonde lunatic who’s completely useless as a villainous sidekick. Mystique’s less-threatening human form is that of an attractive Caucasian blonde (who often looks like Rebecca Romijn).

Harley is actually a brilliant (but still goofy) psychiatrist with extreme gymnastic skills. In the graphic novella Mad Love, Batman admits to the Joker that Harley came much closer to killing Batman than the Joker ever has. She has also stated on numerous occasions that she isn’t a natural blonde.  Mystique is an intelligently deceptive, shape-shifting red-head who uses trickery to get her way.  Neither villainess is naturally blonde. Both, however, don a blonde ‘do to trick others into underestimating them.

Run the World (Redhead Girls)

Fun facts: on average, redheads make up approximately 2% of the United States population, but they make up 100% of the punchlines for any and all jokes told in college.

In superhero-land, male redheads are practically nowhere to be found. Unless you count Wally West or Arsenal, but I’m willing to bet most people don’t know who they are.

Lady redheads, however, actually appear in much greater quantity than blonde ladies and possibly even brunettes. Batwoman, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Hawkgirl, Starfire, Jean Grey, Mera, and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2 and the upcoming Avengers) are all frequently-featured flame-follicled females.

Gorgeous cover art is gorgeous. | Courtesy

My only explanation for this statistical oddity is artwork. Red is a really striking color. The art in DC’s Batwoman is evidence of this, with the flaming red in stark contrast to Batwoman’s outfit and Gotham’s grim scenery; same goes for Batgirl. Red goes excellently with Poison Ivy’s plant motif. Starfire has the word “fire” in her name. Jean Grey’s phoenix theme, Mera’s mermaid theme, and Black Widow’s…black widow spider theme all lend themselves to red.

Apparently brown is less visually appealing for comic book covers.

Until Next Issue

Here are today’s lessons: 1) If you are going bald, prepare to take over the world. 2) If you know a girl who dyes her hair blonde, she is also plotting to take over the world. 3) That redhead you make fun of with “ginger” jokes? She’s probably going to let you suffer at the hands of baldy and bottle-blonde when you need rescuing.

That is, unless the redhead is a guy.  Then, continue with the jokes. Worst case scenario, he becomes a Weasley.

*Neither The Quad nor The ComiQuad endorse terrorizing orphans. So please, show some restraint.

About Jon Erik Christianson

Jon Christianson (COM/CAS '14) is the zany, misunderstood cousin of The Quad family. His superpowers include talking at the speed of light, tripping over walls, and defying ComiQuad deadlines with the greatest of ease. His lovely copyeditors don't appreciate that last one. If for some reason you hunger for more of his nonsense, follow him at @HonestlyJon on Twitter or contact him at!

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