Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 119

Reviews Anglo-American Comics: Three Books from University Press of Mississippi Focus on the Origins of WWII and Post-War Superheroes By Jarret Keene The 10 Cent War: Comic Books, Propaganda, and World War II, edited by Trischa Goodnow and James J. Kimble ($65, 260 pages) The British Superhero, by Chris Murray ($65, 306 pages) Bending Steel: Modernity and the American Superhero, by Aldo J. Regaldo ($30, 290 pages) Abstract: In this review, the author assesses the merits of three books of comics scholarship published by University Press of Mississippi in 2017. Subjects discussed include the propagandistic qualities of World War II-era superheroes, the rise and fall of the British comics industry, and the notion that American superheroes reflect a struggle with modernization, industrialization, and urbanization. The author suggests that these books are ideal for comics historians and for undergraduate classes in 20 th -century American literature and history devoted to popular culture and graphic narratives. Keywords: WWII-era superheroes, British comics industry, 20 th -century American literature, popular culture, graphic narratives. The political roots and dimensions of superhero comics—a once-thriving industry created by a need to entertain bored U.S. military personnel during the Second War—continue to enthrall and inspire academics. The foremost publisher of comic-book scholarship at the moment is the University Press of Mississippi, with three new titles confirming the fresh insight of today’s pop- culture critics, suggesting there is much left to unearth in the yellowing four-color yarns of yesteryear. The Ten Cent War, edited by communication professors Trischa Goodnow and James Kimble, presents a formidable collection of essays exploring comics production as a source of relentless propaganda. Goodnow and Kimble’s introduction is arguably the most succinct and digestible summary of WWII-era American comics published to date, complete with a helpful overview of each essay. The general direction of these analyses (comics as wartime propaganda) is indebted to William Savage’s landmark book, Comic Books and America, 1945- 1954 (University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). Overall, though, nearly every academic 114