We’ve seen superheroes with all sorts of abilities, and now a new comic is introducing one hero who uses his own autism to save people.
First mentioned here a year ago, Face Value Comics is now available in comic stores and online, and features a young man named Michael with a keen mathematical mind in a steampunk world. Created by writer Dave Kot and illustrated by Sky Owens, the story and the message of Face Value Comics has struck a chord with its depiction of what’s believed to be the first autistic superhero in comic books.
The comic is less a story than an essay on bad science. Cunningham summarizes the story of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who claims to have found a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism. While Wakefield’s research has become an article of faith in some circles, leading parents to the risky choice of not vaccinating their children, Cunningham shows, in just a few panels, that the research was faulty, unethical, and tainted by financial incentives. It’s a shattering story, and Cunningham backs it up with references in a followup post.
But does it need to be a comic? I started wondering as I read it, because it struck me as being more an illustrated essay than a sequential story. Cunningham relies heavily on the research of Brian Deer, a reporter for the Sunday Times, and he presents the reader with a series of facts and opinions, some presented by a narrator, some illustrated by simple art such as an altered photo of Dr. Wakefield, a map of the world, etc.