comic books, movies, and television series, superheroes sometimes
compete against each other when they are super angry or coerced
supernaturally. The competition is based on their strength,
endurance, and super powers. Superhero Ethics, however, pits
comic book heroes against similarly equipped opponents in
an intriguing challenge to determine who lives by the highest
ethical standards and strives for the highest moral code in
their efforts to save the world.
Five chapters contain two superheroes who compete in the semi-finals.
Chapter one features The Hulk vs. Wolverine in a battle to
overcome their beastly nature. Chapter two concerns the powers
of imagination for Iron Man vs. Green Lantern. Chapter three
focuses on crime and corruption in the big city and the retention
of peace in the small neighborhood in a showdown between Batman
and Spider-Man. Chapter four looks at ideals in action with
Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic. Chapter five examines the
god-like super powers of Thor and Superman. The last chapter
compares the five winners of round one, and declares the finalist
in the superhero ethics competition.
This well-organized and clearly written book provides an in-depth
analysis from an author who appreciates the beauty of the
English language and clearly loves comic book characters.
The writing is often elegant, with careful attention paid
to the nuances of words, and a touch of humor thrown in for
fun. This isn’t light beach-reading, however. The book
studies more than the costumes and super powers of these heroes.
Their moral and emotional struggles and the society in which
they live are dissected through various lenses, including
religious, philosophical, scientific, and cultural perspectives.
Determining the “winner” couldn’t have been
easy. Narrowing the multitude of superheroes into five groups
of two similarly powered protectors (for a total of 10 competitors)
must have been a daunting task. In addition, the author needed
to decide which version of the superhero was to be studied
– comic book, television, or film. In the case of Batman,
for instance, the character has appeared in comic books, the
campy television series, the animated television series, and
various movie franchises from different directors.
The obvious work that went into this ambitious project was
well-worth the effort because Travis Smith has created a masterful
study of superhero ethics that’s artfully presented,
fun to read, and a profound study of humanity.