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The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters From Comic Book History Book Review

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by Catherine Van Bergen (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer who lives on the Bellarine Peninsula. I enjoy finding new things to see and do in the beautiful area that I live in. I'm also a booklover- see my reviews at acomfychair.com/profile/52/
Published August 10th 2019


Although it is a predominantly male-oriented occupation, you may be surprised to learn that women have made a dent within the comic book world for over 80 years. Admittedly, this has not been without its challenges, and there is still a long way to go. But with more and more women becoming involved in the production, creation and readership of comic book literature, this looks set to change. The fact that an entire book can be dedicated to a list of strong, influential, raunchy, memorable, over-sexualised and sometimes quirky female characters (over a period of time from the 1930s until now), is a good indication that women are making some sort of an impact, particularly when many of these characters don't even have their own series.

With Marvel and DC dominating the mainstream, and a host of smaller, more independent companies producing their own work, female characters have always had to fight to get page time- particularly against popular characters like Superman, Batman and their superhero brethren. Often pushed to the sidelines, or created as sidekicks or love interests, many women characters end up being the femme fatale or the victim, and if they do get the chance at stardom, they are often portrayed in a different light to their equally-flawed yet strong male counterparts.

That's not to say that there haven't been exceptions to this rule, as comic-book aficionado, fangirl and author Hope Nicholson details within this book. She has compiled a list of women characters who have stood out over the years and provided entertainment to comic book readers worldwide (although she puts a particular focus on the comics of her native Canada and Northern America). With an introduction to the comic book industry at the start of each chapter (which follows each decade from the 1930s onward), she then highlights the female characters of that decade who made an impact. Each profile contains an image of the character (or a strip from their comic), the name of the creator(s) and where the character first appeared. There is also a quote that best represents the type of comic, a summary of the storyline and a short history on how that character has shaped the comic book world and, in turn, our society. The author has also injected some of her own humour and observations within the pages to make the proffered facts more accessible and interesting to readers.

This is an interesting collection of female characters (not all superheroes), who have shaped the comic book world. Like me, you will likely recognise some of the more well-known characters like Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Little Lulu, but unless you have a strong knowledge of comic books, you probably won't know a lot of the others. That said, this presents a good opportunity to get introduced to new material, and learn about some important pop cultural characters that you may not otherwise see again.

3.5/5 stars
Published: May 2017
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