Superhero Comics

A complete guide to its history, form and contexts, Superhero Comics delves into the most successful and familiar of comic book genres. Chris Gavaler discusses a wide range of topics, starting with the history of the genre, from the early “Golden Age” to blockbuster 21st-century adaptations. Throughout this history he uncovers the genre’s cultural contexts, from anti-Nazi and Cold War politics to the rise of organized fandom and multi-media brand building. With the use of important theoretical and critical approaches to superhero comics, the book covers the form’s most celebrated series, exploring the legacy of superheroes such as Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and Alan Moore’s Watchmen.

This would make the perfect textbook for a class on the history of Comics. It’s great for comic fans who want to go beyond the pages of the latest DC or Marvel adventure to understand and appreciate how these stories evolved and what were their origins.

As a woman I’ve often been irritated that otherwise great stories get overshadowed by illustrations of female characters where you can barely see their faces/bodies because their breast size would rival a porn star. After all male characters generally aren’t drawn with a certain part of their anatomy outsizing their body so why should women be treated differently? I finally found the answer in this book.

You will learn how the aspects of male and female characters began and adapted as society changed over the years. What characteristics define someone as a ‘Super Hero’ as there must be more requirements than access to spandex? You’ll even learn some interesting legal history like finding out the word ‘Superhero’ is actually owned by Marvel & DC.

After reading this I definitely have a greater appreciation and understanding for what comics have given to our culture, how they’ve evolved and why we need them in society. Parents would be well deserved to read this so they can understand taking comics away from their kids because they don’t think they’re good education material or whatever is actually really stupid.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Academic for allowing me to review this book.

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*synopsis and pic from

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