September 25, 2008
Daredevil is blind due to a chemical spill that burned his eyes and simultaneously gave him extremely fine other senses.
September 20, 2008
Keeping with the Marvel Comics theme, Snake-Eyes is a ninja commando for the anti-terrorist strike force G.I. Joe. His first appearance was in G.I. Joe #1 in 1982.
Snake-Eyes was injured in a helicopter crash that severely burned his face and destroyed his vocal cords. Throughout the series, Snake-Eyes never speaks (his injuries made him unable to phonate), and his face is always hidden behind a mask.
Several issues play up how repulsive his face is under the mask, and he seems to be sensitive about it. It is apparently so ugly that it makes elite special ops soldiers cringe. (In issue #96 his face is revealed and it was really underwhelming. It wasn’t really that bad.)
At no point in 155 issues of the comic, do I remember Snake-Eyes using any sort of augmentative alternative communication, either aided or a formal sign language. Only gestures. The implication seemed to be that the rest of the team knew him so well (many of them served with him in Vietnam before they formed the G.I. Joe unit) that they could just naturally understand him.
Again, as with Professor X, his disabilities serve to exaggerate and emphasize some other positive quality.
He is secretive– the government has made his name a Classified secret. (He literally doesn’t have a face.)
He is silent– he’s a skilled ninja master. (He cannot speak. )
September 20, 2008
Charles Xavier, leader of the X-Men, is typically depicted in a wheelchair. This character debuted in Uncanny X-Men #1 in 1963.
Professor X is a superhero in his own right. The wheelchair serves as a cue that his powers are mental rather than physical. Charles is amongst the most powerful telepaths in the world. While other superheroes deliver physical ass-kickings, Charles’ domain is the mind. Depicting him as an old man (baldness?) in a wheelchair emphasizes this.
Thinking about other examples of how disability is used in popular culture to emphasize some other positive quality…