Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines

I lift cars, I can lift car door handles. -Wonder Woman

By Mike Madrid

If you’ve ever pondered the history of your favorite adventure heroine you’ll love this book. Well researched and entertaining to read, Supergirls, chronicles the superheroine’s influential role in pop culture and her impact on society’s perception of women. The book takes a historical approach to the superheroine’s image and persona from the early 1900s to present day. Superheroine’s have been repressed, empowered, protected and exploited over the course of time and have reflected the morals and spirit of the era.

For example, in the 1940’s when the world was at War the superheroine was fighting the Japanese and the Nazi’s as patriotic soldiers and fighter pilots. At the war’s end she retired her guns and became a more passive, yet romantic, partner for her superhero counterparts in the 1950s. When the Comic Authority Board later relaxed the rules for the depiction of women in comics she became an increasingly sexualized character. The women’s movement and the sexual revolution gave the superheroine an independent yet sexually progressive viewpoint. And the 1980’s reflected a hedonistic super-sexed party time.

Today, the superheroine calls her own shots, addresses global problems, in addition to defeating the bad guy for world harmony. She’s no longer an appendage for the superhero but a fighting force in her own right. If you ever wondered about She-Hulk, Supergirl, Batwoman, Catwoman or Wonder Woman then this is the book for you. Educational and interesting, author Mike Madrid, does an excellent job in conveying the curious relationship between women, culture and the comic superheroine.

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