10 Superhero History Books

If you’re reading SuperheroYou, chances are you’ve read a comic book and seen your favorite superhero hit the big screen. But superheroes’ influence aren’t solely fictional – as the very existence of SuperheroYou proves. Here are 10 books that meld superheroes and real life, whether that’s how the creation of superheroes affected American culture or what the physics are behind Spiderman’s web slinging.

1. The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

Wonder Woman is the most popular female superhero, and the story of her creation is just as fascinating. Jill Lepore examines the life of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, and the strange secrets he kept and revealed in his comics. The Secret History of Wonder Woman also delves into the feminist history that made Wonder Woman possible.

2. The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History by Jon Morris.

Everybody knows about Spiderman and Batman, but have you heard about 711 or the Eye? The League of Regrettable Superheroes is an encyclopedia of all the superheroes that time forgot. Then again, Captain Marvel is in this book.  Read this book to learn about the wacky superheroes that have been created over the decades – you might just see one hit the big screen soon!

3. Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate by Richard Bowers.

Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan might be YA, but that shouldn’t turn you off of it. In 1947, Superman took on the KKK in his famous radio show. Richard Bowers’ book details the history of the iconic superhero, the racist organization and how their battle came to be – and the amazing consequences of it.

4. The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid.

Wonder Woman might be the most famous female superhero, but she’s far from the only one. The Supergirls examines the history of her fellow crime-fighters, examining their fashion and how they change as the culture does. Supergirls sadly doesn’t contain images (a common complaint), but it’s a great look at how comics’ portrayal of women has evolved in the past decades – and it goes into several superheroes you’ve probably never heard of, too.

5. Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight by Travis Langley.

Love Batman? Love psychology? You’ll love this book. Author Travis Langley psychoanalyzes both the troubled superhero and his many enemies, asking questions like why Batman fights crime.

6. The Physics of Superheroes: Spectacular Second Edition by James Kakalios.

Sure, part of the appeal of superheroes is in their impossible feats. But what if they weren’t all that impossible? In The Physics of Superheroes, James Kakalios uses physics to answer why Krypton exploded and why Kitty Pryde could actually walk through walls. It’s a must-read for anyone who likes science as much as they enjoy superheroes – or for anyone who wants a physics refresher without being ridiculously bored.

7. The Virtues of Captain America: Modern-Day Lessons on Character from a World War II Superhero by Mark D. White.

Captain America might have an old-fashioned moral code – but that’s exactly what we need! So argues Mark White in his book, which analyzes the ethics Captain America follows and their real-world application. It’s a story of virtue, ethics, and a fictional character as much as it is an argument that we need to behave better in the 21st century.

8. Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison.

Grant Morrison is a well-loved comic book writer. So it makes sense that his attempt at analyzing superheroes became a national bestseller. Supergods details the history of superheroes, analyzes several important comics and presents Grant’s own autobiography and his journey into this world. The book culminates in Grant’s theory–bringing it all together, explaining how we can tie these lessons from superheroes to our own lives.

9. The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson.

James Daily and Ryan Davidson are both lawyers with a passion for comics. After blogging about the potential real-world legal consequences of fictional events, they decided to write a book about it. The Law of Superheroes examines exactly that, asking questions like: Do mutants have civil rights? Or is the Joker legally insane? It’s a fascinating legal survey on its own, and doubly so if you’re into superheroes.

10. Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor.

If you want a comprehensive history of superheroes, this is your book. Based on the PBS series of the same name, Superheroes chronicles how superheroes and American culture have intertwined, complete with interviews of experts in the field and images.

Liked this? Check out these 9 American History Books!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

 

If you’re reading SuperheroYou, chances are you’ve read a comic book and seen your favorite superhero hit the big screen. But superheroes’ influence aren’t solely fictional – as the very existence of SuperheroYou proves. Here are 10 books that meld superheroes and real life, whether that’s how the creation of superheroes affected American culture or what the physics are behind Spiderman’s web slinging.

1. The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

Wonder Woman is the most popular female superhero, and the story of her creation is just as fascinating. Jill Lepore examines the life of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, and the strange secrets he kept and revealed in his comics. The Secret History of Wonder Woman also delves into the feminist history that made Wonder Woman possible.

2. The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History by Jon Morris.

Everybody knows about Spiderman and Batman, but have you heard about 711 or the Eye? The League of Regrettable Superheroes is an encyclopedia of all the superheroes that time forgot. Then again, Captain Marvel is in this book.  Read this book to learn about the wacky superheroes that have been created over the decades – you might just see one hit the big screen soon!

3. Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate by Richard Bowers.

Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan might be YA, but that shouldn’t turn you off of it. In 1947, Superman took on the KKK in his famous radio show. Richard Bowers’ book details the history of the iconic superhero, the racist organization and how their battle came to be – and the amazing consequences of it.

4. The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid.

Wonder Woman might be the most famous female superhero, but she’s far from the only one. The Supergirls examines the history of her fellow crime-fighters, examining their fashion and how they change as the culture does. Supergirls sadly doesn’t contain images (a common complaint), but it’s a great look at how comics’ portrayal of women has evolved in the past decades – and it goes into several superheroes you’ve probably never heard of, too.

5. Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight by Travis Langley.

Love Batman? Love psychology? You’ll love this book. Author Travis Langley psychoanalyzes both the troubled superhero and his many enemies, asking questions like why Batman fights crime.

6. The Physics of Superheroes: Spectacular Second Edition by James Kakalios.

Sure, part of the appeal of superheroes is in their impossible feats. But what if they weren’t all that impossible? In The Physics of Superheroes, James Kakalios uses physics to answer why Krypton exploded and why Kitty Pryde could actually walk through walls. It’s a must-read for anyone who likes science as much as they enjoy superheroes – or for anyone who wants a physics refresher without being ridiculously bored.

7. The Virtues of Captain America: Modern-Day Lessons on Character from a World War II Superhero by Mark D. White.

Captain America might have an old-fashioned moral code – but that’s exactly what we need! So argues Mark White in his book, which analyzes the ethics Captain America follows and their real-world application. It’s a story of virtue, ethics, and a fictional character as much as it is an argument that we need to behave better in the 21st century.

8. Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison.

Grant Morrison is a well-loved comic book writer. So it makes sense that his attempt at analyzing superheroes became a national bestseller. Supergods details the history of superheroes, analyzes several important comics and presents Grant’s own autobiography and his journey into this world. The book culminates in Grant’s theory–bringing it all together, explaining how we can tie these lessons from superheroes to our own lives.

9. The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson.

James Daily and Ryan Davidson are both lawyers with a passion for comics. After blogging about the potential real-world legal consequences of fictional events, they decided to write a book about it. The Law of Superheroes examines exactly that, asking questions like: Do mutants have civil rights? Or is the Joker legally insane? It’s a fascinating legal survey on its own, and doubly so if you’re into superheroes.

10. Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor.

If you want a comprehensive history of superheroes, this is your book. Based on the PBS series of the same name, Superheroes chronicles how superheroes and American culture have intertwined, complete with interviews of experts in the field and images.

Liked this? Check out these 9 American History Books!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

 

  • Comments