Critical Survey of Graphic Novels

Heroes & Superheroes
Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes & Superheroes. 2 vols. Salem. 2012. 1000p. ed. by Bart H. Beaty & . illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587658655. $295. Online: Salem Literature, eBooks on EBSCOhost, Follett, ebrary, GVRL, MyiLibrary, Overdrive REF
The subtitle of this set is a little misleading; rather than compiling a catalog of characters, 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. For them, the information provided regarding this large and sometimes ephemeral medium—the synopses, biographies, criticism—will be as useful as the best of similar references in other subjects.

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