They are only women…or not?


Has Wonder Woman hit the comic book glass ceiling? Is that the one opposition that even her Amazonian strength can’t defeat? Entertaining and informative,’ The Supergirls’ by Mike Madrid is a cultural history comic book that explores iconic super heroines who bend steel, travel across time and space, and wield the awesome forces of nature. These mighty females do everything that male superheroes do. But they have to work their wonders in skirts and high heels. 

This critical essay asks whether their world of fantasy is that different from our own and it chronicles the super heroine’s influential role in pop culture and her impact on society’s perception of women. Are the stories of Wonder Woman’s search for an identity or Batwoman and Power Girl’s battle for equality and Manhunter’s juggling of a crime fighting career and motherhood also an alternative saga of modern American women?

Well researched and entertaining to read, the book takes a historical approach to the super heroine’s image from the early 1900s to present day. Super heroines have been repressed, empowered, protected and exploited over the course of time and have reflected the morals and spirit of the era.

For example, in the 1940’s, when the world was at War, the super heroine fought the Japanese and the Nazi’s as patriotic soldiers and fighter pilots. At the war’s end she retired her guns and became a more passive and romantic partner for her superhero counterpart in the 1950s. When the Comic Authority Board later relaxed the rules for the depiction of women in comics, she became an increasingly sexualized character. The women’s movement and the sexual revolution gave the super heroine an independent and sexually progressive viewpoint. And the 1980’s reflected a hedonistic party time.

Today, the super heroine calls her own shots, addresses global problems, in addition to defeating the bad guy for world harmony. She’s no longer an appendage for the superhero but a fighting force in her own right. If you ever wondered about She-Hulk, Supergirl, Batwoman, Catwoman or Wonder Woman then this is the book for you. Educational and interesting, the author does an excellent job in conveying the curious relationship between women, culture and the comic super heroines.


Mercedes Corbelli



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