As with any books looking at a selection of characters, with a title like ‘The Spectacular Sisterhood Of SuperWomen’, you do expect the author, in this case, Hope Nicholson, has covered all of the major ones. In her introduction, Nicholson cites only America and Canada, yet Barbarella is included and she’s French. Would it have been too much to include a few more pages to include British icons Jane and Modesty Blaise or even Judge Anderson or Halo Jones? Although Nicholson explains Barbarella has her strips (sic) available in America, Modesty and Halo do as well. Even from America, there is no Brenda Starr or even Sally Forth (both versions), it isn’t as though she ignores Wallace Wood’s work.
Anyway, each section is broke into decades and then into characters with art samples for all and how easy or difficult it is to locate the strips to look at. How the headline for each character tends to throw until you adjust to it. Unlike the other Quirk Book I reviewed this month, the text is continuous than like them and am surprised the publishers changed format for this book.
Many of these characters, especially in the 1930s are the first of a kind. Torchy Brown is a black character and not atypical of how male characters were stereotyped. Little Lulu is the first to be created by a woman, Marjorie Henderson Buell.
In case you didn’t know, for the 1940s, Wonder Women wasn’t the first costumed super-heroine but Miss Fury created by Tarpé Mills, another lady creator, having two firsts. In case you wondered where Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were in all of this, in 1947 they had the shape-shifting Ultra Violet.
For the 1960s, Nicholson says there were few new super-heroines beyond Marvel’s Wasp, Invisible Woman and Marvel Girl. So what about the Scarlet Witch, Lorna Dane and the two Inhumans, Medusa and Crystal, at Marvel and over at DC Comics, a third of the Legion Of Super-Heroes, Black Canary, Rita Farr from ‘Doom Patrol’ and ‘Rose And Thorn’? Although Dumb Bunny of the Inferior 5 is acknowledged as DC Comics’ Angel O’Day’s half-sister, she also barely gets lip service. She might not be smart but her heart was in the right place. Marvel’s ‘Night Nurse’ only gets a mention in her ‘Linda Carter, Student Nurse’ stories. It’s a shame the only art samples for Vampirella are of her earliest appearances when she was a lot more sassy later on. It’s all very well describing Trina Robbins’ costume make-over but a picture showing her in it would have been better. With Batgirl, it might have been better to mention it was actress Yvonne Craig who said she was paid less than Burt Ward/Robin in the 1960s series than the role she was playing.
It’s also a shame that the Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel is shown only in her original costume rather than the stunning number that Dave Cockrum gave her that covered her mid-drift.
Although I’m less familiar with female comicbook characters from the past couple decades and Nicolson does point out that a lot more female creators are expressing themselves on-line than on paper these days. Even so, I did have a think and wondered why there was no mention of Hit Girl (Mindy McCready) from ‘Kick-Ass’ or even the ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ comics, as neither of them are blips on the landscape.
It’s more surprising as to what criteria Nicolson is using to select her choices. If you’re looking for information about female characters that only had a couple issues appearance then OK. This doesn’t mean this book should be about super-heroines just the esoteric choices and odd absences. You will still learn a lot from this book but don’t expect the usual suspects.
(pub: Quirk Books. 240 page medium hardback. Price: $24.95 (US), $26.95 (CAN), £19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-59474-948-3)
check out website: www.quirkbooks.com