Editor Misiroglu and her band of merry men (for, indeed, all the other contributing writers are male) have spent years writing about the topic, as researchers, critics, and comics creators. Entries have been updated and histories streamlined since the initial, 2004 publication, and the vast world of crusaders, caped and otherwise, is thoroughly covered.
Herein lies a key piece of the book's appeal: it is not only a guide to settle origin-story disputes
between comics fans but interesting even for casual readers. Entries avoid drawn-out retellings and focus on character origins, key historical episodes, powers, weaknesses, archfoes, and romantic distractions.
Strengths include the breadth of entries; well-organized contents; an extensive index; and a wealth of photos, movie stills, and comic-book art. The book's introduction to superhero history includes political and comics-publishing frameworks and a concise definition of the term superhero itself; it is interesting, engaging, and often surprising. Also included are entries covering major players, stories, and history in specific categories, such as Alternative superheroes, Multiculturalism, Robot heroes, and Superheroines.
Radio serials, television programs, and films are fully explored, effectively demonstrating the superhero omnipresence in popular culture for the better part of the last century.
A useful tool for students of popular culture, history, and serialized storytelling, plus just plain fun for the rest of us, this inexpensive volume delivers the goods with a biff!, bam!, and pow! Recommended for both reference and circulating collections in school and public libraries plus academic libraries serving general and arts education. Those holding the first edition would also be well served by updating, as the last decade has been an especially busy time for the superhero genre.
Causes Gina Misiroglu Supports
Doctors Without Borders, American Cancer Society, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund