No, not heroine, heroines, the female version of heroes. You’d think we could come up with a better name. Anyway, The Supergirls by Mike Madrid is all about those fabulous females that populate the super-hero world: their fashion, feminist leanings, and history throughout the industry. This was a fascinating read for me, as I have long been a fan of the super-women, having been infected at a young age by a brother addicted to comics. The book follows the history of the female hero in comics from their inception in the 30’s through today (well, 2009 when it was published, but it’s pretty damn close).
My favorite tid-bit of information? Wonder Woman was actually the brainchild of a psychologist who was in in an open polygamous relationship in the 40’s (the 40’s!) and who eventually laid the ground work for the polygraph lie detector test (Lasso of Truth anyone?). I am also now committed to going back and finding some of the Golden Age Heroines who sounded simply awesome. My main target is Phantom Lady. I have also determined that I really need to read She by Haggard.
But beyond the tidbits of fascination, this book is incredibly well researched and detailed. Madrid certainly spent a lot of time with the genre and its various components and then more trying to distill all of it down to a concise and interesting book. His organization was at times questionable (he tries to organize the book chronologically, by subject, AND by prominent characters all at once and that doesn’t necessarily flow well) but overall, his writing and presentation was engaging and thoughtful.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone who would like to delve into the feminine side of comics. It is fairly comprehensive and definitely engaging. The topic comes alive under Madrid’s pen and you can tell just how passionate he is about these women and the lack of representation they have had in the industry. That being said, it avoids being preachy, simply presenting the information for the reader so they can learn and enjoy the fantasy that is the super heroine.
Also, Madrid makes the most amazingly beautiful figurines of these women, one of which gets auctioned off for charity each year at the Women of Wonder Day. Go check it out…