Look Behind the Comics in "Superheroes and Philosophy"
- Chuck Pope Infuze Magazine
- 2006 6 Jul
Authors: Edited by Tom Morris & Matt Morris
Title: "Superheroes and Philosophy"
Publisher: Open Court Publishing
Most people who run in academic circles don't really consider comic books to be scholastic resources. In "Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice and the Socratic Way," editors Tom Morris and Matt Morris explore the deeper themes and ideas that are instilled into the heroes and villains that have graced the pages of comic books since their inception. This book gives much recognition to the depth that creators have put into these books over the years. With the help of some of the most talented creators in the comic book industry as well as some very gifted philosophers, Morris and Morris inspect the finer points of these characters and their actions.
The book is broken up into four parts. The first, titled "The Image of the Superhero," focuses mostly on individual characters and some of the more obvious ideas that that make up these heroes. "The Existential World of the Superhero," part two, looks at issues related to morality and religion and in part three, "Superheroes and Moral Duty," the reader is guided through a strong series of conversations which specifically deals with the moral actions of superheroes and their rational behind it. Part four, "Identity and Superhero Metaphysics," addresses more abstract concepts such as time travel, multiple personalities, and not to mention a mind boggling conversation on the concept of DC's multi-verse, a great nod to a legendary storyline, one that has very recently been brought back into the spotlight.
Having a variety of authors works more for the book than it does against it. Hearing from veteran creators such as Mark Waid, Joseph "Jeph" Loeb, and Dennis O'Neil, adds a very experiential touch to the book. The handful of other authors coming from both the comic book industry and philosophical circles only add depth to the discussion. Mark Waid takes a rather rudimentary approach to looking at Superman, while co-editor Matt Morris delivers an insightful discussion on Batman and his relationships.
One of my favorite chapters comes from co-editor Tom Morris. In "God, the devil and Matt Murdock," Morris explores the more religious side of the man without fear and how such fear can be really be a source of great faith. From a Christian perspective, I found it surprisingly fascinating.
Overall, the total examination is nothing short of intriguing and enlightening. Many of these characters have been analyzed and reanalyzed in books similar to this. However, these examinations here offer a bit more validity to the arguments as well as adding a philosophical history and context that greatly complements the subject material. The book can do this both because of those performing the analysis and the knowledge behind the content that each author puts onto each page.
This book is brought to you by minds that regularly walk the halls of Ivy League universities and carry on debates that deserve full attention. As far as philosophy books go, this makes for a great survey of the different areas of philosophy and its more basic issues. For readers who enjoy asking questions and searching for the deeper meaning of things, this is a great introduction into the discipline.
If your want to flex more than a few brain muscles the next time you pick up your favorite comic book, make your way down to the local book store, try not to get sidetracked at the graphic novels and trade paperbacks and pick this one up in the philosophy section.
© 2006 Infuze Magazine. All rights reserved. Used with permission.