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Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Length: 304 pages Optimized for larger screens
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this companion to the documentary Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, Maslon and Kantor (Make ’Em Laugh, 2008) track the history of superhero comic books, beginning with the humble birth of Superman in 1938, through the momentum-crushing Comics Code Authority, and to the superheroes’ defiant comeback, leading to the multibillion-dollar industry of today. Along the way, the authors note comics’ deep connection to American history, from Captain America punching Hitler on the cover of his debut issue to the benchmark Spider-Man story depicting the aftermath of 9/11. Using interviews from the documentary, they profile writers, artists, actors, and the characters themselves on splashy, colorful pages bursting with well-reproduced panels, covers, and film stills. It’s more of a browsable survey than a narrative history, and most of the attention is paid to big-name figures, but, all the same, Maslon and Kantor have admirably included profiles of the women, minorities, and LGBT individuals involved, super and otherwise. Readers hoping to fill in their knowledge of superhero backstory will find a lot to like, as will diehard fans looking for a cheery swagger down memory lane. --Sarah Hunter

Review

“From its roots in the pulp novels of the early 1900s to its contemporary ubiquity, Superheroes! provides intriguing fodder for those of us who wonder how this age of adolescence dawned, and why it’s stuck around so long. . . . colorfully and copiously illustrated . . . the companion volume to the three-part PBS documentary series Superheroes:  A Never-Ending Battle. If the television series represents an express ride through 75 years of comics history, its more comprehensive coffee-table iteration is ideally suited to those of us nerds who’d prefer to take the local."--The New York Times Book Review

“A deeply knowledgeable, engaging, and respectful history . . . will enlighten the casual fan and challenge lifelong fans.”—Mark Squirek, New York Journal of Books

“Exceptionally comprehensive”—ComicsGrinder.com

"A breezy, imaged-filled narrative perfect for someone who wants a single volume history of comic superheroes. . . . I enjoyed it. If you have someone who still can’t believe you read superhero comics, this is a nice volume to explain the power and history of the genre."--dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com 

Product Details

  • File Size: 82997 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype (October 1, 2013)
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2013
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C8S9XLO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,565 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not a huge comic book fan. My favorite Superhero has always been and always will be Superman. But I'm mostly interested in his stories through media of cartoons, radio, TV and films. With the exceptions of the infamous Doomsday storylines from the 90s, I find comics interesting at times but not worth the inflated prices that would be spent purchasing them each week. However, this book intrigued me partially because it is a companion to the PBS special "Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle" which I found very well done. I literally did not put this book down for the day I spent reading its 304 pages. I read it when it came in the mail by Amazon in the mid afternoon and it rarely left my hands other than short 'potty' breaks and a simple supper. The book is easily the best written history of comic book heroes I've ever read. Maslon and Kantor did an amazing and thorough job researching over 75 years of CB history. As I stated earlier, I never was a big comic book fan but I have kept up with what's going on in the comic book world partly because my daughter and son in law ARE big comic book fans. This book discussed much of what I did know about some characters (Mainly Superman and Batman) but also gave me some real lessons on the behind-the-scenes' origins of some of these Superheroes and what caused such appeal to audiences. It discussed some of the best DC and Marvel has to offer as well as the flops. They briefly touched on television and movie incarnations but mostly it was an incredible look into the world of the comic book Superheroes. The pages are full of color and as exciting as the characters themselves. So if I, a so-so comic book fan, can read this large 300 page book in less than 24 hours, anyone who is a true comic book fan should be even more excited about this wonderful history of the genre. Five stars. Hope you find it as exciting as I did.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a awesome book for anyone who is a casual fan of comics or a superfan!!! What I love most is how the book starts from the time of comic strips and leads right through present day comics. I myself am a casual fan of comics. I also received a reviewers copy of the book before it was released for public consumption. I have absolutely no issue with the typos like other reviewers of this book have written about (because lets face it, I read a reviewers copy which will have mistakes).

As a whole I love this book. It is great for discussion and for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of Superheroes and comics in general. It is a fantastic coffee table size book and a great gift book, full of color and adventure.

Kudos to the authors for creating a history filled book that is a page turner!!!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I bought it for my Dad's birthday (and also secretly for myself). The book is endlessly rich--between the two of us I think we've worn out the spine. Comprehensive without being reductive, the book is also a genuine object of beauty. Essential for fans of comics and history buffs--a history of superheroes is a history of the American 20th century.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Just a few days ago I caught up with the three-part SUPERHEROES TV documentary originally shown on PBS. Now I've had the chance to read the "companion book" to the show. My experience with such "companion books" to TV shows has been that they tend to be heavy on visuals and glitz and light on solid info about the topic. Not so with this one, however. Whether or not you've seen the TV show, it's a pretty good history of comic-book superheroes and their media spinoffs. I found it an entertaining read and learned a few new things (being, if I say so myself, an expert on the topic) and I could certainly recommend it to someone who didn't know a lot about the background of superheroes and wanted to bone up. Even if, as usually happens with this kind of book, I sometimes put the book down and thought about how I might have written it differently if somebody hired me to write a history of superheroes:-)

No book could cover everything a lifelong superhero/comic book fan might want to see covered, but this one does a decent job, including expanding on certain topics I thought were slighted in the TV series, such as non-Marvel and DC supehreroes and the details of the legal troubles of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, before they made a pension deal with DC Comics and got their creator credit restored.
As another reviewer noted, the book has its share of minor factual errors and typos, such as stating that the original Captain Marvel comics ended in 1951, rather than late 1953 (maybe they confused the 1951 date with the end of ALL-STAR COMICS). But I didn't think the errors were too serious or egregious.
I didn't enjoy the last third of the book dealing with the "Modern Age" treatment of superheroes as much as the earlier sections.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lot's of pictures, splash pages, interesting anecdotes and a very good read. The book is very chunky so enjoyable! Take your time to enjoy it!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book (although I could have done without the exclamation mark). Produced to accompany the superb three-part PBS documentary, it divides itself up into sensible and informative bite-size chunks and covers the development of (exclusively) super-hero comics from WWII to 9/11. The text is fine, and while making occasional value judgements is mostly impartial and non-controversial, even when dealing with comics' laughably incompetent attempts to deal sensibly with death, romance, politics, female characters, or gay characters, the latter three either excruciatingly, patronisingly "right on" or embarrassingly ignorant or reactionary. As post-Silver Age comic book creators (and some of their readers) clearly don't get out much, they are at their brilliant best when dealing with the more imaginative and fantastic aspects of the super-hero world, which is where they excel. However, someone should clue them in that not all relationships have to end in death and fist-shaking, tear-stained agony ("Nnnoooooo!!!!"); sometimes, people just move on.

The first of the book's three segments deals with the charming innocence of the early years, a mix of happy, smiling faces, strutting bonhomie, and snarling wartime propaganda. Wertham and the book burnings are there, but so is the charm and naiveté, culminating in the George Reeves Superman series. The second covers the rise of Marvel and the arrival of pop art, the Batman TV series, and the beginning of introspective, self-questioning super-heroes, from the thoughtful soliloquies of the Spider-Man series and Lee and Colan's Captain America to the squirmy self-flagellating white liberal hand-wringing of Green Lantern/Green Arrow.
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