Italianness in non-Italian comics

I suspect that while not all Italian American characters in cape comics adhere entirely to the mafia stereotype (Punisher comes off as a better example of a character who’s ethnic but not entirely defined by his ethnicity), DC’s Huntress is a very egregious example. Or rather the Helena Bertinelli incarnation. The very first Huntress dressed like a tiger and fought Black Canary. The second one being Helena Wayne (Batman’s child, predating Damian Wayne) is the pilot episode for Helena Bertinelli.

It’s got to do with some massive retcon that if Helena Wayne couldn’t appear as Batman’s daughter anymore, she could be reinvented into Helena Bertinelli who wanted his approval. This also came with a rather stereotypical background (admittedly JJBA’s not entirely any better though there are notable exceptions, being the mentor figures and the author went to Italy so and same for Egypt). I actually think actual Italian Americans like Ragnell beat me to it.

If there’s ever a crypto-Italian American in cape comics, it should be Barry Allen. He’s often overlooked by Italian Americans and sometimes actual Italians to the point where his Italianness might be the real elephant in the room. He’s tardy, obsessed with avenging his late mum (that’s a carryover from a storyline where he’s obsessed with avenging Iris’s ordeal), has a patron saint in Jay Garrick and could make for a good Dante Alighieri proxy.

Much like Ragnell, it took some epiphany into understanding what’s wrong with Helena Bertinelli and it’s not so much about the racebending but that she’s kind of stereotypical (same for other characters). I’ve yet to set foot on Italy but being intimated with Italian culture through hanging out at Italian language websites a lot (not always but often is the case) to put it kindly Bertinelli’s very much an American interpretation of all things (Southern) Italian.

Sicily, mob ties and all as well as presumed African descent (Bertinelli’s reinvented as being of apparent African descent, barring other things). Allen, on the other hand, doesn’t seem Italian-looking but so do Mario Balotelli (a Ghanaian who’s adopted and lived in Italy for all his life, making him more Italian than any Italian American would ever be), Milva (to be fair, Italian redheads aren’t that common to begin with) and a few others.

There are likely some natural Italian blonds (and so do some Italian Jojo characters) so in a way Barry’s not that out of place. Maybe not entirely free of stereotypes, be it mafia or tardiness but that Barry does seem Italian in a way making him into a proper Anglo-Saxon Protestant wouldn’t do. (Hirohiko Araki certainly isn’t any better though he may have the benefit of a doubt by being intimated with Western pop music and having travelled himself.)