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
“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
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