Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture

Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture

4.3 12
by Laurence Maslon
     
 

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Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, the Avengers, the X-Men, Watchmen, and more: the companion volume to the PBS documentary series of the same name that tells the story of the superhero in American popular culture.
 
Together again for the first time, here come the greatest comic book superheroes ever assembled between two

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Overview

Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, the Avengers, the X-Men, Watchmen, and more: the companion volume to the PBS documentary series of the same name that tells the story of the superhero in American popular culture.
 
Together again for the first time, here come the greatest comic book superheroes ever assembled between two covers:  down from the heavens—Superman and the Mighty Thor—or swinging over rooftops—the Batman and Spider-Man; star-spangled, like Captain America and Wonder Woman, or clad in darkness, like the Shadow and Spawn; facing down super-villains on their own, like the Flash and the Punisher or gathered together in a team of champions, like the Avengers and the X-Men!
 
Based on the three-part PBS documentary series Superheroes, this companion volume chronicles the never-ending battle of the comic book industry, its greatest creators, and its greatest creations.  Covering the effect of superheroes on American culture—in print, on film and television, and in digital media—and the effect of American culture on its superheroes, Superheroes: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture appeals to readers of all ages, from the casual observer of the phenomenon to the most exacting fan of the genre.
 
Drawing from more than 50 new interviews conducted expressly for Superheroes!—creators from Stan Lee to Grant Morrison, commentators from Michael Chabon to Jules Feiffer, actors from Adam West to Lynda Carter, and filmmakers such as Zach Snyder—this is an up-to-the-minute narrative history of the superhero, from the comic strip adventurers of the Great Depression, up to the blockbuster CGI movie superstars of the 21st Century.  Featuring more than 500 full-color comic book panels, covers, sketches, photographs of both essential and rare artwork, Superheroes is the definitive story of this powerful presence in pop culture.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Glen Weldon
The book is colorfully and copiously illustrated, and its prose lopes along like a jubilant puppy…If the television series represents an express ride through 75 years of comics history, its more comprehensive coffee-table iteration is ideally suited to those of us nerds who'd prefer to take the local.
From the Publisher
“From its roots in the pulp novels of the early 1900s to its contemporary ubiquity, Superheroes! provides intriguing fodder for those of us who wonder how this age of adolescence dawned, and why it’s stuck around so long. . . . colorfully and copiously illustrated . . . the companion volume to the three-part PBS documentary series Superheroes:  A Never-Ending Battle. If the television series represents an express ride through 75 years of comics history, its more comprehensive coffee-table iteration is ideally suited to those of us nerds who’d prefer to take the local."—The New York Times Book Review

“A deeply knowledgeable, engaging, and respectful history . . . will enlighten the casual fan and challenge lifelong fans.”—Mark Squirek, New York Journal of Books

“Exceptionally comprehensive”—ComicsGrinder.com

"A breezy, imaged-filled narrative perfect for someone who wants a single volume history of comic superheroes. . . . I enjoyed it. If you have someone who still can’t believe you read superhero comics, this is a nice volume to explain the power and history of the genre."—dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com 

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-03
A soup-to-nuts history of mostly male, mostly American superheroes of the 20th century. This slab of superhero history is a colorful companion to Maslon (Arts/NYU Graduate Acting Program; Broadway: The American Musical, 2010, etc.) and Kantor's (Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, 2009, etc.) upcoming PBS documentary. It's one of those strange amalgamations that arise from things like Ken Burns' documentaries: the comprehensive history that only skims the surface. But as an introduction to comics culture for novices, it does the trick. Starting in 1938, the authors chart the origins of the DC icons and delve into the awful history of Fredric Wertham's war on fun and the development of the Comics Code Authority. The most iconic characters get their own breakout sections, rendered in dazzling color illustrations. Better segments bring context, with the benefit of hindsight, to groundbreaking moments like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen. However, the authors sometimes diverge from the source texts to focus on TV and hundreds of movies ranging from Christopher Reeve's iconic performance to the wealth of modern adaptations. This is probably based on the documentary source, which needs that imagery to thrive. One hopes the film more deeply explores some of the more shameful events in the industry's history, like the bad blood between DC and Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Another aspect that makes the book feel generic is the clear focus on the big two: DC and Marvel, with only a slight deviation into the Image Comics rebellion. That shuts out a ton of indie publishers, effectively pushing eclectic characters ranging from The Rocketeer to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into the shadow of more recognizable caped crusaders. An academic recounting of a truly rich creative history, but it's territory covered with more fun and attitude by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey's The Comic Book History of Comics (2012).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385348584
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Laurence Maslon is an associate arts professor and associate chair at NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. He has written the companion volumes to Michael Kantor’s documentary series, Make ‘Em Laugh and Broadway: The American Musical, in addition to writing several other books about the theater and editing three volumes for the Library of America.  He is the host of “Broadway to Main Street,” a weekly radio show and lives in New York and Long Island with his wife and son.

Over the past twenty-five years of work in public television, Michael Kantor has established himself as one of the nation's leading independent documentary filmmakers.  As a writer, director, and producer, his works include Quincy Jones: In the PocketBroadway: The American Musical, and Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America.  He lives in a fortress of solitude 28 minutes north of New York City, inhabited by his family of superheroes.

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Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Says the guy who spells million and outrageous wrong
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That guy below don't know what he's talking about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite superhero is black widow. My superhero name is widow spiders. My superhero powers is to control any spider. If you need to contact me go on big hero six. #widow spiders
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yal are awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fav superheroe: DC : Batman. Marvel: Hawkeye, Black widow, Black panther. My name is Black Hawk, I am the daughter of Hawkeye & Black Widow, I have no powers, but I can handel anything you can dish out. I have short dark brown hair with red tips and black eyes. ( p.s I LOVE MARVEL!!!!!!!!!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fav superhero: Spiderman-----Superhero name: El'Nock-----Powers: Ki blasts,Flying,Instant,transmision,Superhuman strength great at hand to hand combat and the ability to transform into any type of form( super sayain,Fire,Ice etc. Apperance:Brown skined with a black hoodie that says Enoch and a red scarf. With red and black nikes. ---Thuggninja144
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes. U may be in the superhero club. But one thing: the girl or guy that just said hey yall: give your username and fav superhero. Also my fav superhero is either Batman or Robin. ~ SuperGal12 #superheroclub
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vmapire bat?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whatever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IF I COULD I WOULD RATE THIS THING NEGATIVE400,000 STARS, IT IS SO STUPID. DON'T READ THIS BOOK AT ALL. YOU'D HAVE TO BE STUPID TO READ THIS BOOK. IT IS SO OUTRAGEOS!!!!!!! THE AUTHOR MUST'VE HIT HIS HEAD BEFORE HE MADE THIS BOOK? LIKE, 50 MILLOIN TIMES. I THINK A BABY COULD'VE WRITTEN A BETTER BOOK!!!!!!!!!