A comic book blogger and a philosopher walk into a bar—actually they shared a college copier—and Superhero Thought Experiments was born. They have got to stop meeting like this…
What is the difference between philosophers’ thought experiments and comic book plots? Surprisingly little. Take this short quiz and select the real comic book plots.
- “What if lightning struck a dead tree in a swamp and transformed it into The Swampman?”
- “What if trying to travel to the past transported you to a different universe instead?”
- “What if a time traveler returned to his childhood and told his past self about the future?”
- “What if a mad scientist removed your brain and is keeping it alive in a vat?”
- “What if you and all the universe were just the thoughts of a small child?”
Not as easy to distinguish as you thought, right?
The comic book plots are item number three and five (from 1975’s The Defenders and 1997’s Heroes Reborn: The Return, respectively). The rest were thought up by philosophers. The book’s “goal is to use superhero comics to illustrate philosophy, and in turn use philosophy to analyze superhero comics.” It does that by using the What If questions from above plus five more.
First up, for those of you partial just to DC or only to Marvel, both are used to illustrate the authors’ points.
It is hard to explain why I liked this book but let me try. I’ve only taken an introductory class in philosophy. My favorite philosopher is Kant, who basically believed if your intention is good, you are morally good regardless of any unintended consequences. According to this book, that is also the attitude of my favorite superhero, Batman. Coincidence or my subconscious mind looking for matching belief systems? Who knows but it is definitely thought-provoking.
I can totally see this book being a textbook for an introductory philosophy course. Conversely, if you liked your philosophy course and read comics, this is an engrossing book that will deepen your understanding of both. Finally, I believe any writer or fledgling writer of superhero comics must read Superhero Thought Experiments. It will encourage compelling plots that reflect enduring questions about the human condition. 4 stars!
Thanks to University of Iowa Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: comics, philosophical, Sep 15 2019
Upgrade Soul is a thought-provoking new graphic novel about the nature of humanity and the dangers of technology.
Hank and Molly are rich and elderly. They decide to do an experimental medical treatment that promises to make them young and healthy again. Problems occur. Ethical questions arise. What does it mean to be human? Is it the mind or the body that defines humanity? What is the impact of the changes brought on by aging? The unexpected turns of the plot are the best part of Upgrade Soul. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say more.
Wow, I adored this philosophical graphic novel! It makes the reader think about many profound issues that resonate long after the novel is finished. It also won a Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics. Upgrade Soul is highly recommended. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Lion Forge, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: ethics, philosophical, science, Sept 18 2018
Atypical, thought-provoking addition to the Detective Comics series. Perfect for DaVinci Code fans.
This ‘comic’ studies the nature of man and existence. It is truly philosophical and full of former religious beliefs like the gnostics. Would man be better off omniscient? The author’s answer appears to be no. Is an adversary that is completely robotic composed of AI worse than an android that still has a human component inside? Does the answer change if you are the android rather the hero fighting it?
Batman: Detective Comics: Vol 4: Deus Ex Machina asks many questions that will encourage much thought even after the book is done. Re-reading is recommended to catch some of the more subtle nuances. There are many Easter eggs referencing classic anime and manga that are fun to find.
The artwork is perfect especially some of the collages of different ideas captured in one pane. The hues move from brights to pastels depending on the mood of the scene. On a screen, it is sometimes difficult to see that panes continue across two pages so paper might be the better choice.
This is not a typical Batman story, or even comic. However for readers looking for something new with a science fiction/religious vibe, this book is highly recommended. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, DC Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: Dec 26 2017, philosophical, Plot-driven