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Icons of the American Comic Book: From Captain America to Wonder Woman

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Multiple generations have thrilled to the exploits of the heroes and villains of American comic books. These imaginary characters permeate our culture--even Americans who have never read a comic book grasp what the most well-known examples represent. But these comic book characters, and their creators, do more than simply thrill: they make us consider who we are and who we Multiple generations have thrilled to the exploits of the heroes and villains of American comic books. These imaginary characters permeate our culture--even Americans who have never read a comic book grasp what the most well-known examples represent. But these comic book characters, and their creators, do more than simply thrill: they make us consider who we are and who we aspire to be. "Icons of the American Comic Book: From Captain America to Wonder Woman" contains 100 entries that provide historical background, explore the impact of the comic-book character on American culture, and summarize what is iconic about the subject of the entry. Each entry also lists essential works, suggests further readings, and contains at least one sidebar that provides entertaining and often quirky insight not covered in the main entry. This two-volume work examines fascinating subjects, such as how the superhero concept embodied the essence of American culture in the 1930s; and the ways in which comic book icons have evolved to reflect changing circumstances, values, and attitudes regarding cultural diversity. The book's coverage extends beyond just characters, as it also includes entries devoted to creators, publishers, titles, and even comic book related phenomena that have had enduring significance.


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Multiple generations have thrilled to the exploits of the heroes and villains of American comic books. These imaginary characters permeate our culture--even Americans who have never read a comic book grasp what the most well-known examples represent. But these comic book characters, and their creators, do more than simply thrill: they make us consider who we are and who we Multiple generations have thrilled to the exploits of the heroes and villains of American comic books. These imaginary characters permeate our culture--even Americans who have never read a comic book grasp what the most well-known examples represent. But these comic book characters, and their creators, do more than simply thrill: they make us consider who we are and who we aspire to be. "Icons of the American Comic Book: From Captain America to Wonder Woman" contains 100 entries that provide historical background, explore the impact of the comic-book character on American culture, and summarize what is iconic about the subject of the entry. Each entry also lists essential works, suggests further readings, and contains at least one sidebar that provides entertaining and often quirky insight not covered in the main entry. This two-volume work examines fascinating subjects, such as how the superhero concept embodied the essence of American culture in the 1930s; and the ways in which comic book icons have evolved to reflect changing circumstances, values, and attitudes regarding cultural diversity. The book's coverage extends beyond just characters, as it also includes entries devoted to creators, publishers, titles, and even comic book related phenomena that have had enduring significance.

20 review for Icons of the American Comic Book: From Captain America to Wonder Woman

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Definitely a fan's (and in some cases, a fanboy's) collection. While in the case of fictional icons, a non-critical enthusiasm on the part of the essayist is fine (the Captain America essay, for example; yes, he's an admirable character, but maybe reign that crush in a little bit), it's less enjoyable, and acceptable, in the case of companies and flesh and blood human beings. A comparison read between the Stan Lee and the Marvel Comics essays best exemplifies this. The latter repeats some mythic s Definitely a fan's (and in some cases, a fanboy's) collection. While in the case of fictional icons, a non-critical enthusiasm on the part of the essayist is fine (the Captain America essay, for example; yes, he's an admirable character, but maybe reign that crush in a little bit), it's less enjoyable, and acceptable, in the case of companies and flesh and blood human beings. A comparison read between the Stan Lee and the Marvel Comics essays best exemplifies this. The latter repeats some mythic statements regarding Lee and Marvel that the former essay specifically states as apocryphal, while the essay on Lee respects the man enough to not whitewash over his complicated, and at times unpleasant, relationship with Jack Kirby. We will never know the real truth behind the arguments there, since one of the men is dead and the other has a personal interest--and arguably, as the spokesperson and face of the company, a professional obligation--to spin it best in his favor; but the essay acknowledged that there were two sides to it without demonizing either. I use Fredric Wertham as a watershed for any comics commentary, and his treatment varied throughout the volumes; no essay went so far as to label him a crock, but most downplayed the legitimate portions of Seduction of the Innocent while addressing the wilder ones. The essay specifically on him was neutral to the point of dry, but it was also so neutral it neutered the significant background to Wertham's crusade: i.e., his treatment of poor and underprivileged children, his anger at the double standard against them in the courts as opposed to richer children also charged with juvenile delinquency, and the reason for his rejection of the industry's Comics Code. It was not only that he distrusted the effectiveness of letting the companies regulate themselves (shades of the modern banking industry may here apply), as the essayist wrote; but under the new Code, when someone was punched, instead of the blood or gore of previous, there was now nothing--an absence of consequence to violence that Wertham found as insidious as the violence itself. This is an entertaining work, and a good introduction to some lesser known players and characters within the U.S. comics world. But the scholarliness of the essays varies, sometimes significantly, which is a disappointment.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Volume 2 only

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jack Fate

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erin P.

  6. 5 out of 5

    emily

  7. 4 out of 5

    Man Solo

  8. 4 out of 5

    P.M. Bradshaw

  9. 5 out of 5

    COM Library Rarian

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deandre Griffin

  11. 4 out of 5

    Clif

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Jacob

  13. 5 out of 5

    Spotted Owl

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deni

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

  16. 4 out of 5

    Faranae

  17. 4 out of 5

    Omar N'Diaye

  18. 4 out of 5

    Frisko

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Montes Rodríguez

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex

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