Friday 20 January 2017

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th January 2017 - "The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History" by Hope Nicholson and various comic artists (Quirk Books)

For this week's Book of the Week we're gazing into the far-flung future (May in fact) for a divine slice of super-sisterhood for all mighty girls...
Hope Nicholson's "The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History" may be one hell of a mouthful as a book title but from the very moment you clap eyes on the cover, you know you're in for a bit of a treat.

We often hear talk that a new comic series features a "strong female hero who kicks ass and uses her brains, beauty and brawn in equal measure" - or words to that effect whenever a new female comic protagonist hits the newsstands. But as Hope finds out, digging back into the archives of DC and Marvel (and a few other publishers but mostly this is a US-centric look at comics), strong female characters have been in comics for a very long time.

Starting out way back in the 1930s with probably the most well-known female comic hero of all time - Wonder Woman, Hope also digs into the archives to find an incredible eclectic mix of characters from the sublime to the ridiculous. Sassy super-spies, sci-fi superstars, super-powered gals who kick ass and a ton of mystic mythical madames, this collection really does feature an amazing roster.

Broken down by decades and moving things right up to the 2010 and onwards, Hope nominates a "Hero of the Decade" in each case, and digs into the quite often murky real-life backstories of characters as well as their fictional ones.

Both Charlotte and I absolutely ATE this book up (though I couldn't let her chug through it on her own as there's some content in here that's strictly not for 8 year olds).

It was a fantastic chance for me to introduce some of the classic female comic book heroes to Charlotte - and also a good chance to see how trends have altered (honestly though, what on earth happened to comics in the 60s and 70s - when feminism was on the rise it almost felt like this was the time when the industry started to use sex appeal as a way to shift units rather than sass and brainpower).

I was delighted to see Squirrel Girl make the roster, bringing things bang up to date with my own current personal fave. Charlotte already knew about Ms Marvel so I filled her in on some of the gaps. She wanted to know where a few missing characters were (so I had to patiently explain that this was mostly to do with American comics - though boy oh boy wouldn't you love to see a European / World version of this?)

It's the sort of fascinating slice of comic history that you just never want to end. I'd have been happy if this book was 50 times thicker than it was (and it's by no means a lightweight tome) as I never tire of reading books about comics.

An utterly fabulous and thoroughly absorbing book.

Quirk are also soon publishing a similar collection of super-villains so watch out for that around the same time (it also looks stunning!)

"The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History" by Hope Nicholson is out on 2nd May 2017, published by Quirk Books (Preview / review copy kindly supplied)