Vixens, Vamps, & Vipers: Lost Villainesses of Golden Age Comics
“Between the covers of Vixens, Vamps & Vipers, fans will rediscover the original bad girls of comics—as fierce and full of surprises as they were when the comic book industry was born. From murderous Madame Doom to He-She, dubbed by io9 as “the most unsung comic book villain ever,” Mike Madrid resurrects twenty-two glorious evildoers in fully reproduced comics and explores the ways they both transcend and become ensnared in a web of cultural stereotypes.
Among the deadly femme fatales, ruthless jungle queens, devious secret agents, double-dealing criminal masterminds, and gender-bending con artists are some of the very first women of color in comics. These women may have been overlooked in the annals of history, but—like their superheroine counterparts in Divas, Dames & Daredevils—their influence, on popular culture and the archenemies that thrill us today, is unmistakable.” — Publisher’s Description
Women have not often been portrayed in comics in the most positive light, if even at all. It is only in recent years that we have seen the emergence of strong female characters who were not spilling out of every stitch of skintight leotard they put on. Many times, they are shows as assistants, secretaries, or the damsels that need our hero’s saving. Not so, in Vixens, Vamps, and Vipers!
Looking at comics published before the implementation of the Comics Code in 1954, Mike Mardid’s Vixens, Vamps, & Vipers shows us that while these Golden Age comics in no way promoted sexual equality, they did give us many strong characters, especially the baddies! These women were cunning, ruthless, smart, seductive, independent, diverse, and very outspoken. Everything we think women of the 1940s were not! Mike Madrid’s brilliant and thoroughly researched commentary makes these characters come alive in the context of their times, but also how they relate to and helped influence today’s female villains and heroines. In addition, stories referenced for each character are reproduced in full, giving the reader a wonderful insight into early comics, the 1940s, and brilliant stories they may have never seen otherwise.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in comics history, women’s studies, or mid 20th century history and culture.
Five out of five stars.
Many thanks to Exterminating Angel Press, Edelweiss, and Mike Madrid for the opportunity to read and review In Real Life early in exchange for an honest review. The final version was released on October 7, 2014.
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