Michelle Faulkner, editor
Leeann Moreau, project manager
Rachael Cronin, cover designer
Anna D Puchalski, book designer
Steven Puchalski, design assitant
Robert Greenberger returns with his second DC Comics 100 Greatest Moments book in a series with DC’s history of female heroes as its focus. Finding the book in my mailbox a few days ago made for a very exciting surprise! Flipping through the pages I found it to be as big and beautiful as the first in this trilogy of themed books. his Justice League 100 Greatest Moments. The upcoming DC’s supervillains, scheduled for early 2019, will be the focus in the final installment.
Choosing one hundred greatest moments for superheroines is a daunting task as you might imagine though it’s a task I know a lot of queer nerds would be excited to take on! But the first challenge is which characters are chosen out of DC’s eighty year plus history. Opening to the contents pages I discovered over 50 entries from A to Z covering icons such as Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Catwoman, Black Canary, and Batgirl to much loved if less well known characters like Amethyst, Bumblebee, and even the Golden Age’s Ma Hunkel who predates Wonder Woman. More pages are given to these longer lived characters as can be expected. Wonder Woman seems to be the hands down favorite with over forty pages giving ample coverage to the Amazon Princess’ decades long journey in man’s world with several more for Hippolyta. The Justice Society story in All Star #15 in which Wonder Woman enlisted the aid of the girlfriends of several male JSA members to fight a villain with psychic powers is a welcome reminder since I’d long forgotten it. While I enjoy reading old copies of Silver Age Lois Lane comics I readily admit that Lois often didn’t receive the kindest treatment by her writers and editor Mort Weisinger who I occasionally wonder whether he played out any personal issues in the stories. Thankfully, Greenberger sidesteps much of that while giving readers three pages of Lois Lane matching wits with Catwoman’s in Selina’s first Silver Age appearance in Lois Lane #70! Mera’s overview showcases her moral strength and power level ahead of her film debut in December’s Aquaman movie.
Here’s a random list of other superheroines in the book that make me happy: Fire & Ice, Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Katma Tui, Mary Marvel, and Saturn Girl & Princess Projectra. I like the entire list even if my obscure Golden Age favorite, Merry, Girl of 1,000 Gimmicks, is missing. To be fair though, Greenberger does mention her in his introduction and that’s awesome too!
Greenberger talks matter of factly about the romantic relationships of Harley and Ivy, Kate and Renee and later Maggie, and comics’ first polyamorous marriage with Scandal Savage, Knockout, and Liane, courtesy of Secret Six writer Gail Simone. He also treats Speedy’s HIV positive status in similar fashion.
Of course DC has more than 50 plus some odd women, so to include even more favorites with an eye on keeping complicated history comprehensible Greenberger applied a trick or two. While badasses Renee Montoya and Maggie Sawyer don’t have separate entries you will find them discussed in relation to Batwoman. The Batgirl section mentions Barbara as the original though Greenberger concentrates mainly on Cassandra Cain who picked up the mantle while also adding info on Betty Kane who preceded Barbara Gordon by several years. Not that Greenberger ignores the Batgirl whose long comics career was inspired by actor Yvonne Craig’s dual role as Commissioner Gordon’s daughter and crimefighter by night on the 1960s Batman TV show. Greenberger devotes space to Barbara Gordon’s considerable history as both the most prominent to wear Batgirl’s cape and cowl and her Oracle identity. He just does so under her civilian identity as Barbara Gordon for the header. The same approach is taken with Wonder Girl which focuses on Cassie Sandsmark who inherited the name while the convoluted history of Donna Troy is concisely condensed in her own entry. Not referring to her as “Wonder Girl” may irritate some of her fans, but the onus to correct that matter lies squarely with DC. Carrie Kelley and Stephanie Brown share double duty as Robin.
The appearance of Poison Ivy on the cover will excite her devoted fans but, alas, Ivy is relegated to both the Gotham City Sirens and Harley Quinn listings rather than a solo one. Other aspects of her fifty year history beginning as a criminal to the Amy Chu scripted mini series to today is missing. Which is not to infer that Ivy is singled out for any sort of literary neglect. I simply find it worth mentioning as there appears to be anxiety over Ivy’s current status and possible fate because of the Heroes In Crisis mini series. The theme of the book is greatest moments and there will almost always be disappointment or disagreement with “best of” media.
The one complaint I do have would be a simple matter to have fixed. Artist credits are given for full page pieces, but not for most smaller ones. It would be nice to give credit for the smaller pieces of art. Ditto for the front cover illustration which I believe was commissioned for the book and the back cover which is the handiwork of Phil Jimenez.
The production quality of this book is of the same high caliber as with the previous 100 Greatest Moments Justice League book. The dust jacket illustrations are reproduced on sturdy hard covers and the same binding technique is used here to ensure both a long life and reading convenience with pages that lie flat when the book is opened on a flat surface. The same skill and care of color reproduction is used here to preserve the character of art from earlier decades while presenting contemporary samples in all their beauty. Matte finish paper is the best choice to highlight the beautiful art while keeping annoying glare at a minimum.
DC Comics Super Heroines 100 Greatest Moments is another beautiful book in this series and I’m enjoying it very much! With the holidays coming up soon, this will make for a nice gift either for yourself or another comic nerd you love.
Look for DC Comics Super Heroines 100 Greatest Moments at your local bookstore or comic shop (ISBN 978-0-7858-3618-6) or purchase it from Amazon.