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

21 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 

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Donald J. Wurzelbacher on October 19, 2013
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Super Fan on October 31, 2013
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By superfan on October 16, 2013
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terence Jervis on January 15, 2014
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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Format: Hardcover
75 years ago a tiny spaceship carrying a baby from another galaxy crash-landed in Kansas and comics have never been the same since. Maslon and Kantor in "Superheroes: Capes, Cowls and the Creation of Comic Book Culture" lovingly depict the story of superhero comics from its origins in June 1938 when Superman was introduced in the 10-cent debut issue of Action Comics to the present day when a movie version of The Avengers grosses 1.5 billion dollars at the box office. How did this happen?

If you want to find out, you could do no better than read "Superheroes" from start to finish. What's immediately refreshing is that the authors have chosen to concentrate on one aspect of the vast cosmos of comics allowing them to go into fascinating detail throughout the 302 beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written pages. For instance, did you know that at first, instead of downing a can of spinach, Popeye used to rub a chicken to get his super strength? Or that the Incredible Hulk was grey-colored in his first-ever appearance? And that Nicolas Cage took his stage name from his favorite comics superhero, Luke Cage?

Perhaps most impressively, the two authors are super-skilled at evoking the emotions of the comics audience throughout the years. And that's what comics are all about - more than anything, I believe, they elicit an emotional response from their readers. My heart literally skipped a beat when I turned to page 205 and saw the cover of the first issue of The Hawk and The Dove - a cover that always made me soar, and one I hadn't seen or thought of in 40 years. The thrill was still there.

Moreover, the access that Maslon and Kantor had to the creators of many of these comics characters provides for some exquisite quotes throughout "Superheroes.
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