This is a brutal alternate reality - This is why I have included the "Strict" warning which states that this work is "Ideologically sensitive." You may disagree with the ramifications of the theme of this work. You are welcome to do so.
The tragic destruction of the hero in mythology is a timeless theme. The essence of comic book mythology is the fine line between good and evil. Superman is destroyed over and over in the comics. He was Killed by "Doomsday," He is killed by Wonder Woman or Batman in "imaginary stories." He is killed and brought back to life to fight again - to win and lose again and again.
Usually, in the 'real' comics, he wins. Usually. But the writers of comics realized a long time ago that it's boring to have an omnipotent hero who wins over and over again. They realized that stories where the hero gets beaten are more interesting - as long as he eventually wins. But this envelope has been pushed further and further. What happens when the hero really loses? When his powers fail him? The worst case scenario.
Naturally, the "real" Superman will continue to win and lose and win in the end. The original Superman always won very easily - which was exciting when the concept was brand new ... but alternate realities being a staple of the comic book genre, asthere must be another reality where he always loses. What would that be like? At the least it would be "Ideologically sensitive."
I have placed a disclaimer with, basically, the above statement on many of my works on this site because I am aware that some fellow Deviantart-ists do not like to see their heroes destroyed. I can understand this, so I think it's fair to express that I'm aware of some of the issues issues some people might have with the themes explored in my work here. Certainly if one does work which is acknowledged to be "ideologically sensitive" then one must expect someone to be offended.
In particular, the destruction of an iconic male hero like Superman or Hercules by a female is ideologically sensitive because it challenges the normal assumption that males are naturally more powerful than females. This assumption is certainly backed up by physiological realities within our species, but in nature it is more often than not the exact opposite. Males of many species are weaker than females. So the principle of male superiority is not universal. Likewise, "good" and "evil" are not universal absolutes. Challenging and subverting such ideas can open ones mind to understanding opposing viewpoints. We all hold beliefs which are despised by someone, somewhere.
If the hero myth has any real value in our lives, it is that it is aspirational. But one persons hero is another persons nemesis. One persons devil is another persons saint. Recognizing this, as an artist I have chosen to explore my own struggle with the ramifications of exploding and redefining the male hero myth.
While the world struggles with societal upheavals, many of which are expressions of clashing religious and philosophical ideologies, artists may be moved to reflect on these struggles and address them in some form. I believe that at the root of most of the world's conflicts is the unresolved question of gender primacy. Most of the women in the world live in societies in which they are subject to laws made exclusively by males. Many of these laws are — and have long been — uniquely oppressive to women. One can argue that males are also subject to unfair laws, among which are those which require men to fight in wars while women are omitted from such duty, but let's not forget — it is a male power structure which is making these laws. This has been true for thousands of years, but may not have always been the case. Not every society from the beginning of our species has treated women as inferior and subject to male rule. As a male, I am troubled by the current state of affairs since I believe that women are, as a group, naturally superior to men. On an individual basis we all have our strengths and weaknesses ... all women are not "better" than all men, nor is the reverse true. But as groups, or classes, the case can be made for female superiority.
There is no natural reason why the entire class of men should be entitled to have dominion over the entire class of women, but this is the world in which we currently live, as long as most of the worlds' governments and corporations are primarily controlled by men. I believe there is actually a greater case to be made for the dominance of women, as a group, over men. This theme is at the root of the work I post here. Using the comic book mythos as a means of exploring the alternate reality of the transition from male to female dominance in society. Comic books are, of course, very simple. There is liberty in the comic book form to decide what is real and what is not. Anything is possible. It is a fantasy medium. So themes can be dealt with is simple terms. This is why physical conflict is so essential to comics. Characters engage in physical battles which represent deeper struggles. It can be cathartic, or it can be troubling. I find the thing that troubles one the most is the thing that must be faced head on, rather than avoided.
There is a lot of similarly themed work here on DiviantArt, and I won't presume to know the artists' motives for all of it, but as far as I'm concerned, it all really is an expression of a real effort to deal with a profound ideological state of affairs. Society is changing in striking ways as women achieve gains in some places while forces work to keep them down in others. The symbolism of the muscular female can be seen a number of ways. Is it merely pornography? It is real empowerment of the female? or is it something else? Muscles seem have been the symbol of maleness for a long time, but even in the work of Michelangelo the muscular female is ubiquitous. As a usurpation of an assumed 'exclusively male' domain, the muscle woman presents a real threat to notions of masculine supremacy and thus, patriarchy.
Years ago it was unheard of for female comic book characters to have defined musculature. Look at the comics up until the 1970's and you won't see any female characters with flexed biceps and six-pack abs. Somewhere around the introduction of the character "Thundra" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thundra in 1972, the really powerful, muscular female became OK. She was one of the first real challengers to the male hegemony on muscle-power as she easily out-muscled the Thing. Once the door was opened, it became less and less taboo. It's interesting, though, that the most muscular female characters during that period were often villains, as if a muscular female had to be evil since she was a challenge to male norms. Thundra was interesting in that she was not really a villain at all, but a hero(ine) in her own right who was at odds with those male norms. It was brave of Stan Lee to introduce such a character - Thundra built on the strong female meme also explored by Marvel's Valkyrie, but differed from her in that she was not based on Norse mythology but on an imagined future on Earth in which females rule. DC comics explored the matriarchy theme a few years before in 1968 adventurecomicsblog.blogspot.c… in Adventure Comics wherein the female members of the Legion of Super Heroes are given enhanced powers by an evil matriarchal villain who wants them to kill the boys and take over. In that story, Supergirl realizes that she and the other girls are being controlled by the villainess and thwarts her evil plan, saving the boys and returning everything to normal, in which the boys are the leaders and the girls, their inferiors. In 1968 it was still necessary for females who wanted to be more powerful than males as inherently evil.
The only real exception was Wonder Woman who was created by a man who was an avowed female supremacist en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_…. But Wonder Woman was quickly established as a "safe" heroine because she was not mortal. Being a demi-goddess, her connection to ancient Greek mythology made it OK for her to almost as strong as Superman - or maybe stronger - or maybe not - but never clearly stronger. The ambiguity of her power undercut the message of female empowerment. Superman was well established as THE strongest hero of all. Wonder woman's powers could be construed as "magical" so even if she could equal Superman, it could always be dismissed. Also, she was never drawn as muscular until well after female muscles became acceptable. So while Wonder Woman was on some level a challenge, she hardly posed a real threat to patriarchal ideology in comics. Wonder Woman was an outlier until other true ballbusting females like Thundra came along. These days even the good-girls can be ballbusters ... fc00.deviantart.net/fs47/f/200… ... this would have been obscene and scandalous had it been published in 1968.
Maybe it was Billie Jean King defeating Bobby Rigg in 1973, or Helen Reddy singing "I Am Woman" in 1975, or the influence of Ms. Magazine founded in 1971, or "Pumping Iron II: The Women" in 1985, or any number of other game changing cultural moments, but the powerful female is here to stay. The muscular female is no longer a novelty but a real icon of heroism, and she can challenge the patriarchal norm while remaining heroic. And if muscular women can "challenge" male dominance in the world of comic book fantasy, then why can't they actually win?