The Supergirls: A Review

Though Steampunk is alive and well within the Victorious RPG, the main focus on the game is superheroes. In this regard I’d like to chat about the book The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid (2009).

This book attempts to cover the role of the superheroine from the emergence of comics in the late 1930s to around the year 2008. While doing this, Madrid also slips into the pulps of the 1920s-30s as well as other medias. I learned quite a bit about the evolution of heroines such as Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl; though rather less about the variety of heroines that emerged during the dark gritty 90’s. He does cover the 40’s quite well, and provides a rich source of data on quite a number of these female costumed crimefighters. 1930s superheroines are ideal to be imported into a Victorious pre-1900s world with little to no modifications. A possible exception is The Black Angel, a British woman who flies her private fighter plane to shoot down Germans during WWII. She would probably be the hardest to import, but a shift to a dirigible or steam-aircraft would still do the job.

If I have a gripe about the book, it’s the gap in coverage of the second and third tier supergals in the 1960-2000s. Granted the big 3 noted above are the main superheroines most noticed by non-comic book readers, and of course he’s trying to sell his book to the larger market, but it’s still disappointing. Especially considering the wealth of detail he provides about bit characters from the 40’s such as Phantom Lady, Nightwitch, and Lady Satan.

So, I’d give it a cautiously good rating. If you’re looking for heroines in the Golden Age of comics this is first rate. If you’re concerned more about the changes to Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl/Oracle; this is good as well. As noted earlier, third tier heroines from the Silver Age get less coverage, though an honorable mention must be given to the details of Batwoman in the 60’s and 70’s.

You can find the book at various places, but here is the link on

Genteel Magistrate

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