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  • The Supergirls

  • Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines
  • By: Mike Madrid
  • Narrated by: Colby Elliott
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.00

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Publisher's Summary

Comic book superheroines 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. The Supergirls, a cultural history of comic book heroines, asks whether their world of fantasy is that different from our own. Are the stories of Wonder Woman’s search for an identity, 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?

©2009 Mike Madrid (P)2011 Last Word Audio

Critic Reviews

The Supergirls is a long overdue tribute to the fabulous fighting females whose beauty and bravery brighten the pages of your favorite comics.” (Stan Lee)
“Even as it delivers its clear-eyed critique of the way mainstream superhero comics have alternately eroticized or deified female characters, The Supergirls gleefully celebrates the medium itself, in all its goofy, glorious excess.” (NPR)
The Supergirls, Mike Madrid's book about the evolution of female comic-book characters, is sharp and lively — and just obsessive enough about women who wear capes and boots to be cool but not creepy. The guy clearly loves this stuff. And he's enough of a historian to be able to trace the ways in which the portrayal of sirens and supergirls has echoed society's ever-changing feelings about women and sex. ” ( Entertainment Weekly)

What listeners say about The Supergirls

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  • Trish
  • 25-09-2012

Some Supergirls to Save the World

Respectful, informative, but often repeating information. Take that into consideration, but all-in-all a great read for a comic book fan.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cheryl
  • 10-09-2012

kinda unexpected

Would you listen to The Supergirls again? Why?

So much cool info. and references to writers or books that it gave me more reading material...I'm not into comics at all by the way

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Philip B. Galbraith
  • 21-02-2018

Informational, But Predictably Feminist

First things first, the production quality of this AUDIO book is awful. Read in no less than three different locations, the audio quality jumps all over the place, shooting down the performance with all of the deftness of Wonder Woman shooting down a Mitsubishi Zero.
That aside, the wealth of knowledge in this book very impressive and well researched.
Before listening to this book, I predicted that there would be two overriding themes within it... and I was correct on both.
1. That the sexual qualities and sexuality of the female superheros on this book would be lauded as both Empowering and Liberating.
2. That the male readers would be shamed for noticing the sexual qualities and sexuality of the female superheros. If this book had been written in 2019 and not 2009, I suspect the author would recommend the male readers of comic books with sexy female characters turn themselves in to #MeToo for proper, global chastisement and ridicule.

2 people found this helpful

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  • James Hays
  • 12-07-2015

A story I never considered

Good story of a side of comic history I had not considered before. When I started reading comics I mostly read male superheroes as most of the female characters just did not seem interesting. Only in the past few years I have started reading comics again and Madrid's book really shows the sexism that drives these stories.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Troy
  • 31-08-2012

Love For the Heroines!

If you could sum up The Supergirls in three words, what would they be?

Much Love Here.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I don't know about laugh or cry, but as one who has always admired the supergirls who often take a backseat to their male counterparts, I couldn't help but be impressed by this book. Mike Madrid has a passion for these heroines. This book is written with all the passion of a fanboy and all the class of someone who respects the audience as much as he respects the material. There's so much lost history here, this book is a must for anyone who claims to be a comic book fan.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sonja Bradley
  • 15-05-2017

[...]Anonymous was a Woman -Virginia Wolfe

This was such a great read. I really appreciate the dedication of the author to showing the history of women in comics in an enlightening and amusing way. If ever someone asks me about female superheroes and their legacy, this is the book I'll recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric Kimball
  • 04-04-2016

Informative if occasionally moralistic

Where does The Supergirls rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I would rank it in the middle. It kept me engaged through out the book and I did learn a bit from it. However, there is a certain lack of love in the writing that prevents the book from being truly great. The author for the most part keeps themselves at arm length give a sort sort of cold stating of fact. When the authors voice does bleed through, like the chapters on the 90's, it's a voice of angry disapproval instead of that of a comic fan geeking out.

Would you be willing to try another book from Mike Madrid? Why or why not?

I am not sure. It was not a bad book but it lacked the heart that would make me want to rush out and get another book from the author.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Absolutely not. There was no real love to the book. Informative but cold for the most part.

Any additional comments?

For most of this book Mike give an interesting history of comic book heroines and how they were shaped by the culture at large. There is a slight scolding tone the writing as if the author is waggling his finger at editors of the past for not giving the females their fair due but it doesn't really rise to a level that distracts from the book... Until the 90s. Mike Madrid HATES 90s. He loath the sexualized images for super-heroines from. He detests editors, artists and comic readers from this period and he makes no qualms about saying so. The book basically becomes unlistenable at this point as the author's rage colors everything from this decade and his mission changes from education to proving that everyone involved in comics from this period was wrong. Still it's a 95% useful book. Just skip the last chapter.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathan Hoyle
  • 29-04-2014

Great Overview of Female Super-Heroes

Any additional comments?

Although a bit heavy handed at times, this is a marvelous overview of the history of female super-heroes. Particularly notable is how historically that writers tend to present them to their largely heterosexual male audiences as virginal “nice girls” or overly sexualized fantasy girls (and at times both simultaneously). I enjoyed the approach of the evolution of the various super-heroines over the decades. Well done!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kim
  • 16-12-2013

An exciting story, if you like supergirls

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Are you a fan of comics and its history, this is a book for you. I think Mike Madrid in a clear and exciting way brings out facts, not all geeks know.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Yorky1982
  • 23-09-2016

Spoil

i like it but Harley Quinn should be part of the book fail.F+ okay b




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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-12-2012

Enjoyed this book

I downloaded this book on a whim after browsing through a lot of titles as I thought the name and summary sounded interesting and unlike anything else I had read before. Turns out I was right about that. This book gives a very thorough history of women in comic books, covering a wide range of decades, aspects and themes. I am by no means an expert in comics, I haven't even read a great deal of them, but this inspired me to read more widely after finishing it. The only suggestion I have is maybe include more on female villains, as I'm sure they have had an equally interesting progression in comics. Well worth listening to overall.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Emily Valentine
  • 14-03-2021

A Closer Look at Female Superheroes

"The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines" gives a better look at the history of female comic book superheroes and is a refreshing read/listen. The book looks at superheroines from the early days of comic books and all the way up until the noughties. It offers a look at how society has shaped and responded to female superheroes and how their roles in comics has evolved to fit with the times. As you might expect, more attention is brought to the more popular comic book characters but other lesser known characters, such as Vampirella and characters from Image Comics, are discussed also. There are even analyses of characters such as Lois Lane and about their role in comic books as well.
Unlike other comic book history books, this book shows female superheroes in a powerful and more impactful way than perhaps a book that focused on superheroes as whole, where male heroes would take up more of the spotlight. Here, the superheroines get their full appreciation, beyond their good looks.

I was a bit disappointed by the audio quality and noticed changes in it throughout. I didn't have trouble with it being so bad that it was unlistenable and the worst it got was at the very end with the About The Author section of the book. The narration is a bit faster than what I'm used to and it took me a while to get used that as well. That said though I found the audiobook to be an engaging listen and I soaked it all up like a sponge.

Anyone who is looking for more information on female superheroes should give this book a chance. The chapters are just the right length and there is no self-indulgence with the analysis which makes it easy to follow and understand.

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