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A woman's place is saving the universe. Think comic books can t feature strong female protagonists? Think again! In The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen you ll meet the most fascinating exemplars of the powerful, compelling, entertaining, and heroic female characters who ve populated comic books from the very beginning. This spectacular sisterhood includes costumed cri A woman's place is saving the universe. Think comic books can t feature strong female protagonists? Think again! In The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen you ll meet the most fascinating exemplars of the powerful, compelling, entertaining, and heroic female characters who ve populated comic books from the very beginning. This spectacular sisterhood includes costumed crimebusters like Miss Fury, super-spies like Tiffany Sinn, sci-fi pioneers like Gale Allen, and even kid troublemakers like Little Lulu. With vintage art, publication details, a decade-by-decade survey of industry trends and women s roles in comics, and spotlights on iconic favorites like Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen proves that not only do strong female protagonists belong in comics, they ve always been there."


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A woman's place is saving the universe. Think comic books can t feature strong female protagonists? Think again! In The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen you ll meet the most fascinating exemplars of the powerful, compelling, entertaining, and heroic female characters who ve populated comic books from the very beginning. This spectacular sisterhood includes costumed cri A woman's place is saving the universe. Think comic books can t feature strong female protagonists? Think again! In The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen you ll meet the most fascinating exemplars of the powerful, compelling, entertaining, and heroic female characters who ve populated comic books from the very beginning. This spectacular sisterhood includes costumed crimebusters like Miss Fury, super-spies like Tiffany Sinn, sci-fi pioneers like Gale Allen, and even kid troublemakers like Little Lulu. With vintage art, publication details, a decade-by-decade survey of industry trends and women s roles in comics, and spotlights on iconic favorites like Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen proves that not only do strong female protagonists belong in comics, they ve always been there."

30 review for The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jody McGrath

    This is about female superheroes, mostly unique, obscure ones. It is spread in decade format and has a lot of good information about them. I think I would have liked it more if they would have hit on a few more of the major ones though. It went through a lot a deifferent comic genres, and a lot of them felt demeaning,which didn't surprise me at all. Maybe not my kind of book, but I have a friend who is really into female superheroes and she will probably right a glowing review! * I read an ARC of This is about female superheroes, mostly unique, obscure ones. It is spread in decade format and has a lot of good information about them. I think I would have liked it more if they would have hit on a few more of the major ones though. It went through a lot a deifferent comic genres, and a lot of them felt demeaning,which didn't surprise me at all. Maybe not my kind of book, but I have a friend who is really into female superheroes and she will probably right a glowing review! * I read an ARC of this book and gave an honest review *

  2. 4 out of 5

    Artemis

    'A woman's place is saving the universe.' A great history lesson about the leading ladies in comic books, who, along with female creators and artists, have always been around in a supposed boys' club. 'The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen' by Hope Nicholson lists long-forgotten and overlooked female characters in chronological order from the 1930s to the 2010s. It is all very interesting. And with so many diverse and totally different females who are products of their time, you will find that 'A woman's place is saving the universe.' A great history lesson about the leading ladies in comic books, who, along with female creators and artists, have always been around in a supposed boys' club. 'The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen' by Hope Nicholson lists long-forgotten and overlooked female characters in chronological order from the 1930s to the 2010s. It is all very interesting. And with so many diverse and totally different females who are products of their time, you will find that Ms Nicholson has missed out some of them. For example, there is no mention of 'Rat Queens' - but 'Jem and the Holograms' gets its own section! - nor specific analyses on a lot of DC and Marvel superheroines like Power Girl and Kitty Pryde. Plus, why no history on Betty and Veronica and Sabrina the Teenage Witch? However, Nicholson recognizes stereotypes of women, including the "feminist", "strong female characters", who are, again, products of their time; such as the dark, brooding, scantily-clad, dominatrix anti-heroine that was so popular in the 1990s (i.e. Witchblade, and this could apply to "empowered" heroines like Catwoman). Unsatisfactory fan elements aside, I recommend the fun and educational 'The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen' to any comic book fan - young and old, male and female, and everything else. It can be devoured in a day. Women have always ruled. They have always been cool. We only need to remember and include them in any medium and field. Final Score: 4/5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. For comics novices and fanatics alike, you can expect a historical overview and explanation of some of the most famous, infamous, and all-but-forgotten heroines of comics and webcomics. Each section focuses on one decade, giving insight into the historical context of the overall comics market and how this impacted women (or, in some cases, how women impacted the industry). After the decade overview the b I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. For comics novices and fanatics alike, you can expect a historical overview and explanation of some of the most famous, infamous, and all-but-forgotten heroines of comics and webcomics. Each section focuses on one decade, giving insight into the historical context of the overall comics market and how this impacted women (or, in some cases, how women impacted the industry). After the decade overview the book provides individual character bios, context, sample panels, and how to get your hands on the comics runs (spoiler alert: many are, sadly, nearly impossible to find nowadays). The end of each section wraps up with the Hero of the Decade, which is where you'll find the comics heroines that are prevalent in pop culture: your Wonder Womans and your Batgirls, etc. This fantastic reference of female comic book characters and creators is destined for my own personal library shelves!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This was an interesting read. Learned about all kinds of comics I'd never heard of! This was an interesting read. Learned about all kinds of comics I'd never heard of!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zoé

    This was a fun read! The book is divided by decades, starting in the 1930s all the way to the 2010s, and presents female characters that are representative from their decade in comic book history. Each section begins with a short description of comic book history and female representation, which really helps put the characters that are presented in perspective. The book also takes a quick look at women creators and fans to provide more context. It was really neat to see the evolution of women rep This was a fun read! The book is divided by decades, starting in the 1930s all the way to the 2010s, and presents female characters that are representative from their decade in comic book history. Each section begins with a short description of comic book history and female representation, which really helps put the characters that are presented in perspective. The book also takes a quick look at women creators and fans to provide more context. It was really neat to see the evolution of women representation in comics, especially as there were some interesting figures in the 1930s and 1940s. The voice of the author is very strong - her love of comics and her sense of humour are present throughout and are contagious. Of course, the history covered is pretty broad as it covers almost a century and because it focuses mostly on the characters and their stories, but I still feel I got to learn more about comic book history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ☼Book her, Danno☼

    ~ review copy SISTERHOOD of SUPERWOMEN was an interesting read. The art choices are great and of course, there can never be enough of them. The author takes a look at the progression, and sometimes regression, of female characters in American comic books. She breaks the book up into chapters by decades; a format that works exceedingly well as the American culture changed over time, responding to events such as World War II and the Groovy 60's. One of the features I liked in the book was the inclusi ~ review copy SISTERHOOD of SUPERWOMEN was an interesting read. The art choices are great and of course, there can never be enough of them. The author takes a look at the progression, and sometimes regression, of female characters in American comic books. She breaks the book up into chapters by decades; a format that works exceedingly well as the American culture changed over time, responding to events such as World War II and the Groovy 60's. One of the features I liked in the book was the inclusion of real-life women in the Comics industry. It makes sense, for example, that both women artists and managers would pick up the slack during the 1940s while so many men were in the military. SUMMARY THE SPECTACULAR SISTERHOOD OF SUPERWOMEN is going to appeal a lot people. Fans of comics and anime are going to want to add it to their libraries because it provides a useful history. Those of us who like comics and are interesting in expanding our reading experience are going to find it helpful in finding new series. There are plenty of the ones you'll recognize, like Lu-Lu and Wonderwoman, but there will also likely be ones that are new to you --like Torchy Brown and Seniorita Rio.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    This is actually a pretty amazing look at the history of comics through a presentation of the most important female characters (both biologically female and M2F transgendered characters) that have been in all types of comics from the 1930s through today. These include characters from both superhero comics and comics of other genres, including romance, Western, scifi/fantasy, and horror titles. In the process, we get to see how the views about women by society have evolved over the years. What wa This is actually a pretty amazing look at the history of comics through a presentation of the most important female characters (both biologically female and M2F transgendered characters) that have been in all types of comics from the 1930s through today. These include characters from both superhero comics and comics of other genres, including romance, Western, scifi/fantasy, and horror titles. In the process, we get to see how the views about women by society have evolved over the years. What was particularly interesting as discussions about the growing involvement of women in the process of creating comics and how the related fandom treats women. The books is extremely thorough and interesting. In a way, this is really a timely read with the release and success of the Wonder Woman movie. This really is a must read for any interest in gender studies or comics history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Milky Mixer

    No question, this is beautiful book. From its wraparound cover and transparent dustjacket to its crisp pages and colorful decade-by-decade breakdown, it is clear to see a lot of love went into this book. Less clear is a thread that ties these characters together or explains why they were chosen to be featured. Not that I didn't enjoy myself! I have to admit, an encyclopedia of obscure comic book heroines appeals to me, and I may even track down some of the unknown offerings presented. (The autho No question, this is beautiful book. From its wraparound cover and transparent dustjacket to its crisp pages and colorful decade-by-decade breakdown, it is clear to see a lot of love went into this book. Less clear is a thread that ties these characters together or explains why they were chosen to be featured. Not that I didn't enjoy myself! I have to admit, an encyclopedia of obscure comic book heroines appeals to me, and I may even track down some of the unknown offerings presented. (The author does a great job of pointing curious novices in the right direction.) But if they are meant to be obscure, then why are famous characters like Dazzler and Little Lulu here? If the book is simply meant as a collection of the diversity of female-led comics and stories, then ok, it does that. And it's fun! However, some of these characters star in a maximum of 1 or 2 issues, so other than being notorious or novelty, I'm not sure what impact they made in the history of heroines. If the book is aiming to be a historical album showing change over 80+ years of comics, it might have been peppered with some well-known characters, too. Characters who not only showcase this diverse representation of unique women and girls, but who were also gamechangers in the boys' club of comics over the years, in one way or another. Characters like Little Orphan Annie, Scarlett from GI Joe, Black Canary, Black Orchid, Crazy Jane, Dorothy Spinner, Sue Storm, Storm, She-Hulk, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Rima the Jungle Girl, Red Sonja, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch might seem more mainstream (and maybe the author was avoiding that), but they defied formula and would have been interesting inclusions in this decade-by-decade approach. They were each rebels in their own way, and they each stood out alongside their male counterparts in ways that made them unique "for their time." So maybe it wasn't everything I wanted it to be, and maybe I didn't understand the odd reflections on some of the characters (even Wonder Woman seems to get snubbed a bit), and maybe I didn't understand how the author could possibly think Jem & the Holograms was a bad show. But it's still a cool book that I'm happy to have in my library. And I smiled seeing Katy Keene!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel McKenny

    Long story short: read this. Full review here: https://rachelmans.wordpress.com/2017... Long story short: read this. Full review here: https://rachelmans.wordpress.com/2017...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle (In Libris Veritas)

    4.5 Stars! #readathon It’s pretty easy to assume that comic books are a man’s game. When you think about the big name heroes out there a lot of them are men, some of the most vocal fans are men, the majority of the comic book companies are run by men. From the outside looking in it can be pretty sparse looking, but women have been a part of the industry since it’s beginning both in the creative chairs and on the pages. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is a book that serves to highlight so 4.5 Stars! #readathon It’s pretty easy to assume that comic books are a man’s game. When you think about the big name heroes out there a lot of them are men, some of the most vocal fans are men, the majority of the comic book companies are run by men. From the outside looking in it can be pretty sparse looking, but women have been a part of the industry since it’s beginning both in the creative chairs and on the pages. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is a book that serves to highlight some notable characters throughout the decades. Superheroes are some of the few instances where I enjoy the ‘extra credit’ research I tend to do on the internet. I like the weird origins stories and the not so popular side characters that time has desperately tried to forget, but I also like finding new favorites from older eras. Sisterhood delivers on both points. There are a lot of characters packed into this book, spanning from the 1930’s to the current decade we get a wide variety of women who have appeared in comic books. Each entry comes complete with a notable quote, their first appearance, creator, and small summary; underneath all of that, we get a longer summary of their adventures and their impact (or lack thereof). This isn’t a book that paints all of the characters in a positive light and Nicholson is quick to point out flaws in the stories and the characters themselves. It’s important to note that not all of the women in this book are in fact superwomen, some are normal women in more contemporary stories like romance or straightforward mysteries. I personally didn’t find this to be a problem though as I’m rather uninformed on those genres of comics and I genuinely enjoyed learning more about them. Nicholson doesn’t shy away from the more risque comics either, and several main characters from sex comics are also featured which I honestly didn’t know had as big of a market as they did in the time periods they show up in. I’m really looking forward to trying to find some of these comics on my own. A lot of these comics are ones that I would have sort of glossed over and moved on, pegging them for something I wouldn’t like, but I actually wouldn’t mind trying out an old romance comic or seeing what the old T&A comics were actually like (versus the way I picture them). If you enjoy reading comics, especially those with prominent female characters, this is definitely a book to check out! There are plenty of genres to choose from and a lot of information given, so I feel that everyone is bound to find one or two that they want to learn more about.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ElphaReads

    This book is a MUST HAVE for comics fans! It's a great look at a number of excellent ladies in comics, from the 1930s up until the 2010s. It covers classic favorites such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, and Ms. Marvel, but also talks about some the layman may not be as familiar with, like Miss Fury, Friday Foster, and Jaguar! Hope Nicholson has done her research and she has given the spotlight to a lot of great characters, just as she has analyzed and disseminated some of them for their pro This book is a MUST HAVE for comics fans! It's a great look at a number of excellent ladies in comics, from the 1930s up until the 2010s. It covers classic favorites such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, and Ms. Marvel, but also talks about some the layman may not be as familiar with, like Miss Fury, Friday Foster, and Jaguar! Hope Nicholson has done her research and she has given the spotlight to a lot of great characters, just as she has analyzed and disseminated some of them for their problematic sides as well as the side that make them contenders to be covered in this book. I loved it and read it all in one night. Sure, it kind of hurt to see her say not nice things about the role of women in WATCHMEN, but she sure is right. I will be getting my own copy of this to be sure!!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Hernandez

    I enjoyed this book! There were, at times, more attention given to a few over others, but that could be because there aren't a lot of information accessible! I definitely noted a few ladies I want to read on, and I did see plenty that I knew (Hi Captain Marvel! Ms. Marvel! Monstress! Batgirl! Supergirl! Wonder Woman! I could go on and on.). I just hope to see that it helps bring more attention to our ladies now as comic books are so much more than men. Would recommend! I enjoyed this book! There were, at times, more attention given to a few over others, but that could be because there aren't a lot of information accessible! I definitely noted a few ladies I want to read on, and I did see plenty that I knew (Hi Captain Marvel! Ms. Marvel! Monstress! Batgirl! Supergirl! Wonder Woman! I could go on and on.). I just hope to see that it helps bring more attention to our ladies now as comic books are so much more than men. Would recommend!

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Keep

    Disappointing There is still room for a great book written about female comic book characters and creators charting the rise of fall of both and using historical and social trends to illustrate and examine the subject. I accept that this book is not that and rather it is a collection of short pieces about characters. However, the absences frustrated me. No Halo Jones or Tank Girl or any character from the X Men. No Sue Storm. It is, in every sense, frustrating and incomplete

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nutkin

    I learned about so many new female characters while reading this book & can't wait to look into more of them. I stopped and watched the Friday Foster film after reading about her and am so glad that I did! I learned about so many new female characters while reading this book & can't wait to look into more of them. I stopped and watched the Friday Foster film after reading about her and am so glad that I did!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    How do you include a character of Raina Telgemeier's but not include anything from the Tamakis or Noelle Stevenson? How do you include a character of Raina Telgemeier's but not include anything from the Tamakis or Noelle Stevenson?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Full of lots of interesting information - I recognized most of the early ones, but the stories of some of the later characters are pretty amazing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    This is not just an encyclopaedic run down of mainstream female comic book characters, although it does include a few. It's a collection of characters that reflect the time they were written in and, to someone who is a comic book newbie like me, they're characters you probably won't have heard of. Each character brings her own version of what it is to be a woman (and a hero), which is something I found really interesting. There might be characters in here that you wouldn't class as particularly This is not just an encyclopaedic run down of mainstream female comic book characters, although it does include a few. It's a collection of characters that reflect the time they were written in and, to someone who is a comic book newbie like me, they're characters you probably won't have heard of. Each character brings her own version of what it is to be a woman (and a hero), which is something I found really interesting. There might be characters in here that you wouldn't class as particularly feminist, but that someone else might. It offers different perspectives through each character and that in itself tells you that comic books have had a long history in portraying complex female characters. It's eye-opening. It's not just about the characters though - it's much more about the presence of women in comic book history. Be it as writers, artists or fans. They've been in it from the start, but they're often forgotten or overlooked. This book explores that history and celebrates the women who paved the way, and who are still paving the way today. The things I found the most interesting were the parts about fan culture and how this has changed through time. The tendency is to think that only men were comic book fans up until recently. The truth is that female fans have always been there, but maybe in a less visible or less documented way. The author, Hope Nicholson, makes the point that 'many female readers were happy to read comics when they could buy them in well-lit stores and markets. But for some reason, hobby shops - usually located in dim, dingy basements and run almost exclusively by men - held little appeal.' This was during the direct marketing by comic book publishers in the 1970s and 1980s and might explain why less women were buying comics at that time. Whether you're interested in women's history in comic books in particular or not, if you're interested in comics at all, this is the book for you.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fábio de Carvalho

    The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is a commendable attempt by Hope Nicholson to showcase women in comic books through the ages, but poor explanations, esoteric references and weird selections unfortunately lowers its quality. For some reason, about one in two selections are described as terrible characters, with a conclusion stating something along the lines of "but really, even if she's terrible, it's okay to have some guilty pleasures, you know?"... which really doesn't seem like a fair The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is a commendable attempt by Hope Nicholson to showcase women in comic books through the ages, but poor explanations, esoteric references and weird selections unfortunately lowers its quality. For some reason, about one in two selections are described as terrible characters, with a conclusion stating something along the lines of "but really, even if she's terrible, it's okay to have some guilty pleasures, you know?"... which really doesn't seem like a fair explanation of what makes these characters awesome. It also often seems as if Hope Nicholson herself does not think that her chosen characters are awesome. She needs to exagerate her statements or cynically deliver them, or throw in some cringy sarcasm along the lines of "This character stays a badass and keeps on adventuring lol psych she marries her man and becomes a stay at home", that could have been funny had it not used so many times in her book. Nicholson also references many unknown characters many times, and some of them are so often referenced that as a reader we wonder why she didn't add them to her book instead of some of the characters she had trouble bolstering. Betty and Veronica, for example, must be referenced half a dozen times, but they don't have their own entry (and if it's because she feels they are terrible characters, well, "it's okay to have some guilty pleasures, you know?). If they are so important that they are used as references for so many other characters, then why not add them to her book instead of another hero she can't seem to defend selecting? I feel like this book could have used more equilibrium between the unknown and the historical, be they Jubilee, Rogue, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Storm, Talia al Ghul, Buffy, etc. And if she's gonna add so many characters she feel are exploitative or weak, why not throw in Fable's Snow White, I Roved Out in Search of Truth and Love's Cinder, Saga's Alana, Hit-Girl, Gunnerkrigg's Court's Antimony and other lesser known characters that at least are laudable in their execution? The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen was interesting and made me learn a lot, but I'm disappointed in its execution. I liked it, but it seems a bit insecure and it's a shame.

  19. 5 out of 5

    TammyJo Eckhart

    Hope Nicholson has a lot of knowledge about comic books, the role of female characters in comics, and the changes to the literary art form from the 1930s through today. However, while she Nicholson mentions several times in the book that this is a "feminist" book, the criteria for including (or not including) particular characters was a mystery. It was a real adventure to learn about comics and character I may never have heard of but some series and characters were missing or included that made Hope Nicholson has a lot of knowledge about comic books, the role of female characters in comics, and the changes to the literary art form from the 1930s through today. However, while she Nicholson mentions several times in the book that this is a "feminist" book, the criteria for including (or not including) particular characters was a mystery. It was a real adventure to learn about comics and character I may never have heard of but some series and characters were missing or included that made me scratch my head. "Girl Genius" is discussed in the 2010s introduction yet none of the characters is focused on yet back in the 1940s chapter there are several "weak" characters that made me cringe to even read about. Give me a reason for each character to be chosen, make it clear, so that a one-issue heroine seems worthy to be included along with an award-winning, decades long superhero. The book is divided into nine chapters, each focused on a decade of time, and each ending with a "Icon of the Decade." Some of these are "superwomen" and some are "awesome" but many of the characters seem to be included because they were unique or subversive and without a clear definition of why characters (and comics) were chosen the overall group feels uneven. The information about the characters and comics is also a bit uneven. Many entries were so detailed about the character's life and adventures that I felt no need to go and find the "essential reading" that concludes each section. Other entries were more critique of what is stereotypical (or not), sexy (or not), subversive (or not) than who the character was or the comic they appeared in. I was pleased that each entry had at least one image of the character though these ranged from a small square or rectangle to a full-page spread. I'm not sure why some of these images were more expansive than others but the small ones were a bit annoying. This was an entertaining and fun read. The book itself is superior craft, stitched pages, needed dust cover, and colorful hardcover design; it is clear that Quirk values this line of books about comic books that they are putting out. I just wanted a bit more from the inside, too.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Podraza

    Hope Nicholson is the kind of person that makes me think, “I want to be more like her!” Not only is her lipstick always the perfect shape and hue (she used to post lots of pictures on Twitter, so that’s not an ENTIRELY weird thing to say), this Canadian gal is a fierce comics historian dedicated to finding, restoring, and reprinting out-of-print comics—her newest revival project, Sally the Sleuth, is a 1930s sex comic!—as well as promoting diverse voices through her own Bedside Press. Hope’s mos Hope Nicholson is the kind of person that makes me think, “I want to be more like her!” Not only is her lipstick always the perfect shape and hue (she used to post lots of pictures on Twitter, so that’s not an ENTIRELY weird thing to say), this Canadian gal is a fierce comics historian dedicated to finding, restoring, and reprinting out-of-print comics—her newest revival project, Sally the Sleuth, is a 1930s sex comic!—as well as promoting diverse voices through her own Bedside Press. Hope’s most recent book, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History, reflects her keen research skills and kaleidoscopic approach to the history of comics by presenting “the weirdest, coolest, most of-their-time female characters in comics” in a surprisingly binge-able encyclopedic form. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen surveys 100 female characters—both troublesome and wholesome—beginning in the 1930s with the “birth of an industry” and ending in the “digital and diverse world” of the 2010s. The sections are framed by a short introduction that provides context about happenings in the comics industry and an essay about the “icon of the decade” that features the most well-known character from the era. Hope’s framing helps to orient the reader as the medium shifts in culture, readership, and form over each decade. While these essays are short and simple, they provide an excellent outline for readers who may be less familiar with the history of comics. Perhaps more valuable, though, are the spotlights on the role of women in comics for those readers who may only be familiar with the more male-centric versions of that history. As Hope points out in her introduction to the 1930s, “women as creators, fans, and characters were right there from the start”—a narrative that often falls to the background (if it appears at all) in many books about comics. Each character is introduced by a banner that gives her name, a brief description, a quote from her comic, the name of her creator(s), and the book in which she first appeared. These short summaries are great for any researcher looking for preliminary information about a character, especially in conjunction with the “essential reading” recommendation that often includes where to find contemporary reprints that feature the character. However, the banners also include chuckle-worthy quotes and character descriptions that every reader will enjoy. Straight from the pages of Moonshadow, for example, Sunflower is a “[w]anderlust hippie turned interstellar Madonna” who believes “[t]here’s got to be more to life than acid and Nixon and venereal disease.” It is a difficult task to boil a complex character down to a single sentence in addition to digging up an exemplary quote, but Hope crafts an informative and witty introduction to just about every character. I have no doubt that her apt descriptions will be the standard for those struggling to describe elaborate characters. At the heart of The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen are single-page essays that critically examine the role, background, and life cycle of each character. Hope expertly weaves in the ways that the culture of the era affected the development and success (or failure) of the female characters she focuses on while simultaneously narrating the rise (and, sometimes, fall) of the character and their book. These essays may be short, but they are both informative and entertaining—a great place to start research on a character! A self-proclaimed “feminist book,” the portrayal of female bodies and minds is integral to many of Hope’s essays. The most exciting essays for me are those that celebrate healthy examples of sex comics and their sexy characters. “How to write about a porn comic without talking about porn is a challenge,” Hope writes, “[a]nd yet porn made by women for women is pretty important to talk about.” Here she is referring to Nibbil from Colleen Coover’s Small Favors, but this is an attitude that Hope carries throughout all of her analyses. Not enough is written about sex-positive comics, and it is refreshing to read Hope’s unabashedly celebratory writing of these works. Hopefully the essays on characters like Nibbil and the more well-known Barbarella will inspire others to read, learn, and write more about sex comics. In addition to highlighting the ways that female characters are empowered and empowering, Hope also calls attention to the ways that characters are objectified and undermined by both the creator and other characters in their stories. The voluptuous body of Pauline Peril, for example, is defined by the fact that “her chest is the size of her head and her waist is the size of her wrist,” and because she is too “dim” to see the motives behind other characters’ actions, Hope asks, “Not exactly a role model, is she?” Characters will often make readers cringe, but these female characters were chosen from a multitude of possibilities because they have a (sometimes small, sometimes big) role to play in the female-centric history that the overall book encompasses. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is constantly straddling the line between feminist criticism and reference book. Hope uncovers the incredible ways that female characters influenced the look and shape of comics and their inhabitants while simultaneously tracking the ebb and flow of flawed representation. By the last entry, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, it is obvious that representation has both improved and still has a long way to go. Hope is optimistic, though: “If Kamala Khan signifies the future of the superhero genre in particular, and the comics medium as a whole, then I think we can all look forward enthusiastically to the future.” It would be impossible to include every notable character, so it is inevitable that some readers will be disappointed that some of their favorites are missing. (Even J. D. Biersdorfer’s New York Times review includes a paragraph pointing to “indie notables” that “definitely feel missing in action.”) However, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen strikes a balance between the little known and the iconic that gives both diehard fans and newbies a thoughtful and fascinating reading experience. If you find yourself hungry for more, I would suggest Trina Robbins’s books about the history of women in comics—Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer; From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Female Comics from Teens to Zines; Pretty In Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013; and The Great Women Cartoonists—for a more detailed view of the many of the creators and characters that Hope touches on.

  21. 5 out of 5

    FloeticFlo

    The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen pleasantly surprised me! I took it on my flight expecting to read only the chapter introductions and then skim the entries. But I found myself pretty much reading it cover to cover. I learned a lot about the comic book industry in the past, and lots of random fun facts. (For example, did you know that Nurse Comics were a big thing? Yep. Who knew?? I mean, maybe you did, but I didn't.) I also enjoyed reading the entries about the superwomen. It was nice to The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen pleasantly surprised me! I took it on my flight expecting to read only the chapter introductions and then skim the entries. But I found myself pretty much reading it cover to cover. I learned a lot about the comic book industry in the past, and lots of random fun facts. (For example, did you know that Nurse Comics were a big thing? Yep. Who knew?? I mean, maybe you did, but I didn't.) I also enjoyed reading the entries about the superwomen. It was nice to see... Read the full review on May 11, 2017 at Book Nerds Across America: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Cooke

    In an era where the female characters known worldwide to geeks and non-geeks alike can be counted on one hand (ie. Wonder Woman, Batgirl), The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen couldn’t come at a better time. Highlighting countless comic book heroines, Hope Nicholson’s well-researched and enlightening book takes us through the eras that these characters came out of. Nicholson is no stranger to research and has been doing work as a comics historian for quite some time now. Her reprints and rest In an era where the female characters known worldwide to geeks and non-geeks alike can be counted on one hand (ie. Wonder Woman, Batgirl), The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen couldn’t come at a better time. Highlighting countless comic book heroines, Hope Nicholson’s well-researched and enlightening book takes us through the eras that these characters came out of. Nicholson is no stranger to research and has been doing work as a comics historian for quite some time now. Her reprints and restorations of the Canadian heroes Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Brok Windsor got noticed by many and helped launch her career forward as a smart, and meticulous researcher, always on the lookout for interesting projects that the market is in need of. It makes a lot of sense that Nicholson was brought on for this project and I honestly can’t think of a better person to have put this together with precision, accuracy and genuine affection for the characters and the content. While there are other books such as Jon Morris’ The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains and The League of Regrettable Superheroes which poke fun at some of the sillier characters in a delightful way, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen does a fantastic job of taking characters, silly and all, relatively seriously and giving them a proper history that you may or may not have known about prior to picking the book up. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen gives you enough information and teaches you about amazing female characters throughout the years and makes you (or maybe just me!) want to read more about them and find their comics or campaign to have some of these characters in new and modern comics. Quirk Books has been putting out a TON of great geek-related content lately. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen along with Wonder Woman, and Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs and other such books are much sought after and needed. They’re appeasing a demographic within the geek industry that has long been neglected (and is STILL largely neglected) and finding a market with a crowd that is desperate for quality non-fiction (and fiction) that caters to things that that they care about. Verdict: The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is an absolute MUST BUY. It’s something that I truly believe should not just be on the shelves of every girl but every person, period. It’s a great reminder that strong women and great characters have been around for ages and there are more names that we should know besides Wonder Woman and Batgirl. This book is a great book for a collection or as a coffee table book – as a present for a friend or a present for yourself. It’s just great and I really and truly believe that you need to pick up a copy ASAP. NOTE: I’ve worked with Hope before on The Secret Loves of Geek Girls so my review isn’t completely impartial. That being said upfront, if I felt I couldn’t provide you all with a honest review of this book, I would have passed it on to someone else so please trust that this review comes with integrity.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 4.0 of 5 Hope Nicholson's The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is an astounding historical look at some of the stronger female characters to appear in comics since the 1930's. Not all of them are "superwomen" - as in, a hero with super powers - but all should be considered "super women." The collection is culled by Nicholson, a publisher and comics fan, and is certainly somewhat subjective, but the research here ... the uncove This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 4.0 of 5 Hope Nicholson's The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is an astounding historical look at some of the stronger female characters to appear in comics since the 1930's. Not all of them are "superwomen" - as in, a hero with super powers - but all should be considered "super women." The collection is culled by Nicholson, a publisher and comics fan, and is certainly somewhat subjective, but the research here ... the uncovering of some old and often forgotten characters is really tremendous. I've highlighted a good number of these characters with the intentions of looking to read their adventures. Unfortunately most of them published before 2000 are not reprinted and difficult to find (which makes it more interesting to get this glimpse of them). But as with nearly any collection of this sort, those of us with even a modest, minimum knowledge of comics will wonder why some are included and others are not. Where's Veronica from the Archie comics, if Little Lulu is the "Hero of the Decade" for the 1930's? And Barbarella and Vampirella make the list, but Storm and Kitty Pryde of the X-Men don't? In some cases Nicholson seems to go for the obscure over the famous - though not always. We still get Ms. Marvel (times two) and Batgirl and Witchblade and Silk Spectre. We even get Maika Halfwolf from the graphic novel/comics series Monstress (volume two just won a Hugo Award this week as I write this) which shows how current Nicholson is on her reading. I enjoyed learning about a lot more strong female characters in what I have always perceived as a male market (Nicholson puts that into perspective as well) and the history of the characters, and why Nicholson believes they are strong characters, despite (sometimes) being overly sexualized in appearance or character. Part of what makes this such a delightful read is Nicholson's casual, friendly demeanor in her writing style. Her commentary (I almost consider them 'asides') are usually sarcastically fun ("I guess reading tales about making our with your dead best friend's husband is fun for the whole family"). I'm not sure that I'm interested in knowing more about all the characters revealed here ("One story features Nibbil engaging in balloon sex - that is, sex with word balloons"), but my interest is piqued with most of these superwomen. Thanks, Hope Nicholson, and I'll look forward to a Volume 2! Looking for a good book? The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson is a wonderful history of strong women in comics from the 1930's to today. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    My fiancé borrowed this book for me from the library on International Women's Day because he thought I'd enjoy it, and I did! It was a lot of fun to read. There are around a hundred of lady superheroes in this non-fiction book! Which is a lot, which means the writer didn't have too much time with each character. I wish we had longer chapters with the really popular ones because I would have liked to know more about some of my favorite superheroes. Especially since for the superheroes I loved tha My fiancé borrowed this book for me from the library on International Women's Day because he thought I'd enjoy it, and I did! It was a lot of fun to read. There are around a hundred of lady superheroes in this non-fiction book! Which is a lot, which means the writer didn't have too much time with each character. I wish we had longer chapters with the really popular ones because I would have liked to know more about some of my favorite superheroes. Especially since for the superheroes I loved that are brought up in this book, I already knew the information that was given. However, I did learn a lot about other superhero women. I am not sure if I retained all the information since there was a lot of women to read about but I had a lot of fun reading about them. I also loved seeing all of the artwork for the specific comics and the different styles. I was shocked at how many I recognized the art from but didn't recognize the names of the superhero. The writing is well done, and sometimes even funny. I assumed it would feel like a textbook but for superheroes, which I was fine with because it was about a topic I was interested in learning about. And although it is similar, the writing is comical and the author's voice shines through. It felt like I was sitting with the author and she was telling me information about these hundred superwomen. So that was a really fun aspect of reading this book. Overall if you're a fan of superwomen or want to get into reading more superwomen comics this is a great book to pick up. I think if you want a handful of information about a lot of different superwomen so you can decide which ones to get volumes of issues of this is a great start. I wrote down some names of superheroes I found interesting and wanted to know more about. I already requested some Alias: Jessica Jones comics from my library in excitement for reading more comics with superhero women as the focus. If you have any suggestions I'd love some! I am always up for more superwomen comics to read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rowan Hagerman

    The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson is a wonderful book explaining the different decades of superwomen in comic books. I love how much history this book carries about superheroes and teaching younger generations that everyone can be a hero. This book is different than other things I have read because it doesn’t really have a storyline or traditional chapters. This book is more like a listicle of informative facts about each hero. The only real downside is the fact you onl The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson is a wonderful book explaining the different decades of superwomen in comic books. I love how much history this book carries about superheroes and teaching younger generations that everyone can be a hero. This book is different than other things I have read because it doesn’t really have a storyline or traditional chapters. This book is more like a listicle of informative facts about each hero. The only real downside is the fact you only get one to one-and-a-half pages of information but I at least know the name of the hero should I want to learn more about them. The best part of this book is the fact the author does this thing called “Hero of the Decade” where she picks the most popular superwoman from that decade and talks about the theories as to why this is. The author of this book, Hope Nicholson, is in my eyes very clearly a feminist, due to how she speaks about certain characters and her voice in how she writes as well as her opinion on things; such as the heroes in the 70s and how they acted. Speaking of feminism, this book speaks to me as a feminist because I know more male superheroes than female, and with this book, I’ve learned that females in comics go all the way back to the 1930s. I found a superhero that I would love to learn more about because she is a photographer. The reason why I love this hero is that of how she acts and the fact she is a female photographer. I recommend this book to anyone who is a huge comic book nerd and just loves to read more about strange characters and interesting comic book history.

  26. 5 out of 5

    RumBelle

    I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I think it left a lot of important, well known and diverse characters out. I also think that one only major characteristics of a lot of the characters included had to do with their sexuality, or sexualizing them and little else. This, to me, was a little demeaning. There were so many characters Nicholson could have talked about that had more depth and dimension, but she chose not to. Flip side of that, the writing was good, and the characters t I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I think it left a lot of important, well known and diverse characters out. I also think that one only major characteristics of a lot of the characters included had to do with their sexuality, or sexualizing them and little else. This, to me, was a little demeaning. There were so many characters Nicholson could have talked about that had more depth and dimension, but she chose not to. Flip side of that, the writing was good, and the characters that were discussed more for their actions, powers and exploits made for really interesting reading. The selection of illustrations was good too, for the most part, and portrayed the characters well. The book covered female comic book characters from the 1930's up to present day. There were a lot of notable names missing though, for example only one female character from the X-Men (one!) was even mentioned and that was Dazzler. I have nothing against her, I like her as a character but where were the entries on Storm, Jean Grey, Shadowcat, Black Widow, Wasp, ANY of the women from Black Panther...I could go on for pages. All of these female superheroes are relevant and extremely important to their storylines. For that matter where were the entries on Black Canary, Hawk Girl, Mera... on the DC side. So many major characters were left out of this book it was just sad. In my view, it showed a real lack of knowledge about relevant, major, detailed characters from comic book history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daisy May Johnson

    Due out in May, this is one of those books that I want to write about now and talk about now because it's great. Simple as that; I have been looking for books and for writers that historicise their work from a female and a feminist perspective because, so often, that is a perspective that is lacking. And it's a perspective that I've not come across that much in comics and so, because of all of that, and the characters that this text covers, and the sheer welcome presence of it, that I review it Due out in May, this is one of those books that I want to write about now and talk about now because it's great. Simple as that; I have been looking for books and for writers that historicise their work from a female and a feminist perspective because, so often, that is a perspective that is lacking. And it's a perspective that I've not come across that much in comics and so, because of all of that, and the characters that this text covers, and the sheer welcome presence of it, that I review it and tell you to get it on order and get it on request and to find a hole in your budget for it now. Nicholson writes with a lot of love for her subject and isn't afraid to pull and poke at the holes within it. There are always problems in beloved things; nothing is not perfect and there's a skill in being able to love and to address the problematics within your subject. Nicholson doesn't shy away from addressing these and I was struck most powerfully by this with her discussion of Witchblade. Witchblade is a comic I've always struggled with visually and Nicholson both reassured me with this perspective whilst helping me to understand the aesthetic more. And I like this; I like people that make me think twice about something. So yes, this is an early review, but it's a review that I've sat on for about two weeks now and that I don't want to sit on any more. This is an important and relevant book that talks about heroines ranging from Squirrel Girl through to Xavin through to The Wing. Nicholson ranges widely and freely around her topic and I like that a lot. I like this book, can you tell? There's a place for it in the world, and I'd like it to inhabit it quite solidly. As Nicholson herself writes, strong female protagonists "belong in comics [and] they've been there all along." My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    A compendium of female characters from comics' long and varied history. Having read books about comic super villains and super heroes, I can assert that this book fills a huge gap. Most of those villains and heroes are male. Female representation matters, and Hope Nicholson's book is packed full of women characters from the big companies (Marvel, DC, Dark Horse) as well as independent publishers. Each character is given an introduction, a brief synopsis, and a note about where to find her storie A compendium of female characters from comics' long and varied history. Having read books about comic super villains and super heroes, I can assert that this book fills a huge gap. Most of those villains and heroes are male. Female representation matters, and Hope Nicholson's book is packed full of women characters from the big companies (Marvel, DC, Dark Horse) as well as independent publishers. Each character is given an introduction, a brief synopsis, and a note about where to find her stories for yourself. While this formula is effective, it does get a little hard to follow after a while as one character merges into another. Nicholson does her best to keep such blurring at bay by really focusing on the details of each character and what makes them stand out from the crowd. I love that there is a serious feminist bent to many of the characters, which is perhaps just a factor of being a strong woman, fictional or otherwise. I enjoyed this book a great deal, but I am a huge comic book fan. I'm not sure this book is for the average reader with only a passing interest in comics, but if you are a fan/nerd you will almost certainly love it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn Santiago

    This book taught me a lot of things about the comics world I had no idea existed... it introduced me to oldies but goodies and current comics that aren't very well known. While this book gives the reader a brief description of the female character, it also sheds a light on the circumstances of its time. This basically meant why it flopped or why it shined, which was sometimes not because of the story itself, but rather the comics market. The reason the book is not 5 stars is because some charact This book taught me a lot of things about the comics world I had no idea existed... it introduced me to oldies but goodies and current comics that aren't very well known. While this book gives the reader a brief description of the female character, it also sheds a light on the circumstances of its time. This basically meant why it flopped or why it shined, which was sometimes not because of the story itself, but rather the comics market. The reason the book is not 5 stars is because some characters that are highlighted aren't exactly awesome... several characters were pretty terrible and there are others that could have been highlighted instead. Also, too many Riverdale references. Nonetheless this is a good book to flip-through, it's divided by decades so should you can jump in at any time. Another addition I found cool is that at the end she gives some recommended reads, which are usually where you can find reprints or just to encourage you to take a look around your local comic shop to find some in their original print.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I kind of wish this book had a different title. Using "Superwomen" gives the impression the book discusses superheroes but isn't the case. Perhaps saying...sisterhood of obscure female characters! :) That isn't accurate either because we do get Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel and other well known female characters. I would say the majority of this book focuses on obscure (only appeared in one single page comic??) or at least not well known comics characters.....and mainly on female characters who en I kind of wish this book had a different title. Using "Superwomen" gives the impression the book discusses superheroes but isn't the case. Perhaps saying...sisterhood of obscure female characters! :) That isn't accurate either because we do get Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel and other well known female characters. I would say the majority of this book focuses on obscure (only appeared in one single page comic??) or at least not well known comics characters.....and mainly on female characters who end up naked or having sex. So was this a book about sex in comics? I can't say it was about feminism or feminists in comics bc so many of the characters were described as ditzy or overt caricatures of women and they were only in one page of one comic so they didn't even offer longevity. Why do we need to know about them? None of that is bad, but just wasn't what I was expecting when I randomly picked it up off the library shelf! So...4 stars bc it really did act well as a history tome of sorts, but really more like 3.5 bc it felt a little all over the place of what it's goal was.

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