BAMF Women Superheroes: The Shadows of Kimiyo Hoshi

“I have to keep telling myself this isn’t the dark. I’m afraid of the dark. But the dark isn’t what I’m immersed in. I’m a physicist. I know better…I...

“I have to keep telling myself this isn’t the dark. I’m afraid of the dark. But the dark isn’t what I’m immersed in. I’m a physicist. I know better…I don’t fully comprehend it. But I’m not afraid.”

—Kimiyo Hoshi (McDuffie 124)

“They showed me what legends are made of.”

— Kimiyo Hoshi (Schlagman “Let There Be Light”)

There are few things better than a superhero who has a really mundane fear, and I’m not talking about how Storm’s claustrophobic; rather, something so terribly mundane that you might be tempted to laugh.

Kimiyo Hoshi is afraid of the dark.

Kimiyo Hoshi, aka Doctor Light. Photonic manipulator. Conduit of the star Vega. Physicist. Saver of the World on more than one occasion. Mother. And, Kimiyo is afraid of the dark.

I can’t. I love that this is so normal and so completely ironic all at the same time—especially when she literally logics herself out of being afraid of something that looks like the dark because it isn’t actually the dark.

That’s just amazing.

However, like a lot of women characters in DC’s universe (especially if you’re a woman of color), Kimiyo hasn’t really been well-treated, which—if nothing else—her history can attest to.

Because Kimiyo isn’t the first Doctor Light, and the Doctor Light who directly proceeded her wasn’t just a super-villain (since they’re usually more for the whole Wipe Out The World ploy) but was a murderer and a rapist; Arthur Light was—in fact—the rapist who raped Sue Dibny (the wife of Elongated Man) on the JLA’s own satellite, and was the reasons that the JLA stepped over their own authority—not unanimously—and had Zatanna magically mindwipe-sorta-lobotimize Arthur Light (Wikipedia “Doctor Light [Arthur Light]”).

Yes, I know that there are a myriad of super-villains who are murderers—and probably even a few others who are rapists—but how many superheroes’ names derive from these kinds of villains?

I’m not even sure that the retcon of the Silver Age’s Doctor Light’s origins, who first appeared in 1962 in Justice League of America #12, as having stolen the Light Suit from Jacob Finlay, who would have technically been the first Doctor Light via the retcon, was much better (Wikipedia “Doctor Light [Arthur Light]”).

Especially since Arthur Light killed Finlay.

Accidently.

Oops.

And, there’s an even further along retcon that changes Jacob Finlay’s involvement in the Light Suit so that he and Kimiyo’s father created the Light Suit for her (Schlagman).

So, yeah, I’m kinda not completely okay with this origin of Kimiyo’s name.

Kimiyo, however, first appeared in 1985 during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event in issue #4 and was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez based upon Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky’s Arthur Light character, but Kimiyo was a hero that the Monitor himself created to help save the Multiverse; however, before Kimiyo was a superhero, she was a scientist (as well as a medical doctor) in Japan: an astronomer and physicist who had become fixated upon the observable affects that the Crisis was having on the universe (Wikipedia “Doctor Light [Kimiyo Hoshi]”).

Kimiyo is also as arrogant and unpleasant as she is amazingly brilliant, and I kinda like that Kimiyo—even after she’s fully committed to the life of a superhero—is still kind of a jerk because it’s not like she lacks the social skills to be pleasant; rather, it’s that Kimiyo has rejected so much of what was considered good and right about traditional Japanese roles for women—that women “retire” from the workplace once they’re married, that they raise their children and obey their husbands—and with Kimiyo’s rejection of those norms, she kinda kicked out the entire women being delicate, shy flowers and, instead, is raising her kids as a single mum and working in her chosen field and is just stunningly more intelligent than most of the people in the room with her at any given moment.

Seriously, y’all, when Kimiyo is abducted-not-abducted and Starlight pretends to be her? Batman figures it out because Starlight-as-Kimiyo is way too nice (McDuffie 25).

But, Kimiyo isn’t just arrogant or snarktastic or smart; she’s brave, fearless in that way that’s totally terrified, and fights through everything that happens to her.

Kimiyo perseveres.

Whether it’s Arthur Light stealing Kimiyo’s light abilities (in a way that really does sound like a different kind of rape), Shadow Thief offering Kimiyo as an offering to his new god, Starbreaker basically eating Kimiyo (after a very vampiric fashion), Kimiyo perseveres (Comic Vine).

When everyone else is standing around trying to figure out what to do about the escaping Shadow Thief, Kimiyo throws herself in after him—not impetuous and without thought but knowing that if she doesn’t Shadow Thief will get away and Bad Things will happen—and braves her worst fears: the dark.

Except that the dark isn’t the dark; it’s dark matter, and Kimiyo logics herself through her fears so that, once the Justice League finally catches up, Kimiyo is there fighting the fight and saving the world one more time.

Because, while Supergirl and the Justice League taught Kimiyo what legends are, Kimiyo is the one who made herself a legend.

And, we can only ask ourselves why in the New-52, Arthur Light was brought back as a hero Doctor Light, and Kimiyo—if she appears at all—is his never-seen-outside-of-a-picture wife (Wikipedia “Arthur Light [Doctor Light]”).

Works Cited

Comic Vine contributors. “Dr. Light (Hoshi) (Character).” Comic Vine. Comic Vine Wiki. 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.

McDuffie, Dwayne (w) and Ed Benes (a). “When Worlds Collide.” Justice League of America Collected Edition (July 2014); #27 Justice League of America (December 2008), DC Universe; #28 Justice League of America (December 2008), DC Universe; #30 Justice League of America (February 2009), DC Universe; #31 Justice League of America (March 2009), DC Universe; #32 Justice League of America (April 2009), DC Universe; #33 Justice League of America (May 2009), DC Universe; #34 Justice League of America (June 2009), DC Universe. Digital Comic.

Schlagman, Adam (w), Rodolfo Migliari (a), and Max Fiumara (a). “Let There Be Light.” #1 DC Universe Holiday Special Vol. 1. (2008), DC Universe. Digital Comic.

Wikipedia contributors. “Doctor Light (Arthur Light).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Wikipedia contributors. “Doctor Light (Kimiyo Hoshi).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Image courtesy of DC

Trie – Deputy Editor

Hey, I’m ‘trie (sounds like “tree”). I’m a university-educated mixed media artist, wannabe writer, and the poster child for the nerd-geek-dork trifecta. I’m also a gender queer, pansexual, polyamorous feminist and Hellenic pagan with a social media habit like whoa.
Find me at: My Website, Twitter
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