Editor’s Note: We consider every issue of Foreword Reviews to be its own piece of art. From the page layouts and the art within, to the reviews themselves, and of course the actual books, we want everything about Foreword to be beautiful. And that starts with each issue’s cover. In our new #CoverReveal series, get the story behind the cover art—starting with the first of our two March/April covers (stay tuned for part two).
Whether you know them as comic books, graphic novels, or the funny pages, images paired with thought- and dialogue-bubbles have been around for a long time. You know all the usual suspects: BatMAN and SuperMAN and Spider-MAN and the X-MEN and more. But how many non-MAN superheroes do you know? In her new book, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen author Hope Nicholson gives nearly a century’s worth of history of fantastic women in comics—women who have been fighting crime, sticking up for the underdog, and marching through a man’s world as powerful, spectacular superwomen.
We loved the book (read our review here) and all the art within. With women’s issues at the forefront of the political conversation, featuring a female superhero on the cover of Foreword seemed like a great statement to make. After combing through The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen we settled on this adventurous image of Starr Flagg, A.K.A Undercover Girl. We caught up with Nicholson to get her word on what makes Starr Flagg—and this particular image—super.
The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen proves that there are a lot of female superheroes we don’t know about. So for the uninitiated, who is Starr Flagg?
Starr Flagg is also known as Undercover Girl, and is a foreign spy for the US government. She’s a comic heroine who first premiered in the late 1940s, as part of a comic collection called “Manhunt”. Eventually her adventures proved popular enough that she graduated to her own series, Undercover Girl, but it was short-lived. In each of her adventures she used her wits and superior physical skills to outwit saboteurs and save the day. She was brusque, no-nonsense, and completely dedicated to her job, while of course being effortlessly beautiful!
She’s also vaguely known on the Internet for this panel where the letterer appeared to take directions too literally (but judging by the sometimes silly tone of the series, I suspect this was not an accidental mistake!)
Is there anything iconic or special about the image included in the book, and on the cover of Foreword Reviews?
This image is from the cover of her second solo book and like a lot of cover images, especially from the golden age, doesn’t correspond to any story in the interior pages! In fact, Starr Flagg doesn’t ride a motorcycle in a single one of her adventures, let alone while robbers are shooting at her as she foils their heist. But maybe it can inspire future creators to pick up this forgotten storyline!
In your opinion, what makes a superhero super?
Well, superheroes are traditionally known for having superpowers. Usually this is supernatural, other-wordly, or mechanical in nature. But by and large that definition’s disappeared, and any hero that is dedicated to making things better for humanity, regardless of having powers greater than the normal person, is considered a superhero.
Does the current political climate add any significance to The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen?
Oh well there’s definitely some sections that are prescient! Notably I think for the section on [the 1970s character] Prez about a president who was previously a reality TV star in a world gone corrupt. Hmm. Though, in that case, she was a working class minimum wage restaurant worker with a strong moral code who hires people for her cabinet based on their experience. Comics are so optimistic sometimes!
Seth Dellon is the Associate Publisher of Foreword Reviews. You can meet him or hear him speak at most of the events Foreword attends, and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.