In her debut essay collection...fandom is an expansive, transformative source of self-enlightenment ... As a fan and a professional critic, Phillips sees the value in pop culture’s ability to speak deeper truths, however uncomfortable, about society. Navigating pop culture as a Black fan can be a frustrating exercise in otherness, she writes, but fandom can also be a conscious act of reclamation ... Nerd spans decades of pop culture, smoothly weaving multiple interconnected webs. Phillips indulges in her obsessions, but she’s never afraid to critique and deconstruct. In this engaging compendium of cultural criticism, Phillips successfully proves that the complex discipline of fandom is a valuable piece of humanity’s flawed but hopeful history.
She draws parallels between her own personal development and that of fandom culture at large, encompassing media from comics and books to movies and television. Her loose chronological organization is interwoven with themes that emerge as she has evolved to use a more critical lens on her cultural consumption. She dives into the power of superhero stories ... The conclusion looks at pejorative attitudes toward fandoms and how fandoms capture what makes the narratives truly great parts of human culture, creating a book that will satisfy both scholars and casual readers.