Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes & Superheroes Review

“Bringing together over 130 entries authored by over 80 researchers and scholars, this work is the first in the Critical Survey of Graphic Novels series. Organized alphabetically, the work covers heroes and superheroes of seminal classics in the graphic novel and comic genre from the Silver Age of Comics through today. Each entry summarizes the plots of the works in which the characters appear, including literary devices, themes and styles, and discusses the works in terms of literary integrity and overall contribution to the graphic novel landscape. The entries are all organized the same, with the primary author(s), illustrators and/or artists, the first serial and book publication, a publication history, plot, volumes, characters, artistic style, themes, impact, films and series based on the work, a bibliography, cross-references, and suggested further readings. The set ends with a compiled bibliography, a guide to online resources, a timeline, major awards, and indexes by artist, author, and publisher, as well as a comprehensive index. This set is good for readers' advisory for those who enjoy graphic novels and comics as well as a starting point for research on individual graphic novels and comics as works of literature. It will fit with the reference collection of any public, high school, or college library.”

“This 2-volume reference presents entries on over 130 graphic novels, arranged alphabetically by title. The entries feature a lengthy essay (3-4 pages) with a plot summary, publication history, list of characters, list of the volumes published with brief plot summary of each, description of the artistic style, central themes of the story, impact on the genre, list of further readings, and a bibliography. Adaptation into other genres, including television and movies, is cited and discussed. Each entry gives the names of the author(s), artists, publisher, and date published. One or more b&w illustrations and inset boxes with additional information are also part of the entries. Vol. 2 contains several appendices and an extensive index. Beaty is at the U. of Calgary, Canada; Weiner is at the Maynard Public Library in Massachusetts. (Annotation ©2012 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)”
-Book News

“… Beaty (English, Univ. of Calgary, Alta.; Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books) and library director Weiner (Maynard P.L.; The Will Eisner Companion) have created an encyclopedia of comics that were bound in graphic novel format at some point, as opposed to presented comic style. Some, it should be noted, were initially published comic style and later collected, while others came out in a bound format. Also, the editors’ definition of “heroes and superheroes” is broader than some might expect—the graphic novels included feature action, science fiction, fantasy, and superhero tales that go beyond iconic Batman and Superman story lines. The entries offer very useful plot synopses, a character list, a short biography of the writer or artist, and critical examinations of the title’s themes, artistic style, and impact on other works. Each entry also includes a bibliography and recommendations for further reading.

VERDICT: This impeccable reference work will prove useful to librarians and fans wanting to know what to buy as well as for scholars studying the medium. Realistically, though, its price means it is best suited to academics writing about comic books and graphic novels...”
-Library Journal