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Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save The World; Which One Do We Need Most Now? By Travis Smith | REVIEW

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Superheroes are one of the biggest money grabbers of the twenty-first century. Fans around the world love flocking to the world’s of Marvel, DC and other comic book publishers who make the most popular comic books, films, television programs and more. Yet there has been one question that has always been on fans minds since the comic book industry began: who is the best of all the heroes? While this has always been a matter of popularity, but author Travis Smith has done something truly spectacular by focusing not on their popularity, but the ethics of each character and comparing it to our society today and what we truly need in a hero. That’s what makes Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save The World; Which One Do We Need Most Now? such an incredible read. Here’s the synopsis:

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.

How, then, shall we live?

How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)

How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)

What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)

Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)

Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over. 

This is truly one of the most unique books I’ve read this year. The deep analysis of each of these well known heroes and the complexities of each character’s heroic actions and their motivations is something that’s always fascinated me. Yet never before has someone so articulately brought these issues to the forefront of the comic book industry and given audiences a deeper connection to these heroes as Travis Smith has done.

The book allows audiences to really analyze the motivations these characters have for taking on the mantle of hero, and whether or not their actions are completely selfless or not. It also compares these heroes and their ethics to our current political climate and gives historical context to these hero’s actions as well. It’s a really interesting and wonderfully different perspective that allows a wider audience as well as die hard comic book fans an opportunity to really understand the heroes they love in a whole new way.

Overall I loved this book. It was entertaining yet educational all at once, delving into political, intellectual, philosophical and of course ethical questions no one usually bothers to ask about the superhero community. Yet the author does a superb job of bringing these issues to light and giving us a chance to look deep within ourselves and determine which hero represents our best, brightest and most ethical hero in the twenty-first century. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author:

Smith_Travis

Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of political science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine. For more information, please visit https://www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero-ethics

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FOX’s Gotham Pilot Preview

One of falls most anticipated new shows has definitely got to be FOX’s Gotham. Having recently been given a special screening of the show’s highly anticipated pilot, we were delighted to see the great story that unfolded and showcased the direction the show would take fans. Exploring the formative years before Batman started saving lives in Gotham, the show follows new police detective James Gordon, played by the incredibly talented Ben Mackenzie, and his journey into exploring the dark underbelly of the corrupt city of Gotham. After the tragic murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Gordon and his partner, Harvey Bullock, played by Donal Logue, begin traversing the crime ridden city, uncovering clues to the killer’s identity and turning over stones that may be better left unturned. Organized mobsters, corrupt police and city officials, and a city where the corrupt thrive and the innocent submit or die, Gotham is a gritty crime drama that is a mixture of old school noir and true to form comic book storytelling. The drama also does a fantastic job of introducing some of Gotham’s most notorious villains and vigilantes before they became said villains and vigilantes. Gotham premieres Monday, September 22nd, 2014 on FOX!

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On Request Magazine Comic-Con 2014 Highlights

Each year, we here at On Request Magazine like to highlight the best to come out of the annual Comic Con convention out of San Diego, CA. This year is no different, and we have quite a few great tidbits to talk about this year.

1) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice revealed a small teaser for fans at the Warner Bros panel at Comic Con this year, showcasing Ben Affleck as Batman, wearing some sort of power armor and standing atop a rooftop in Gotham on a stormy night. Batman switches on the bat signal, and as he does, the light reflects off of a floating Superman, glaring at Batman with his eyes glowing red. Batman’s eyes glow white, and the two stare one another down, until the footage cuts to black. The scene is very reminiscent of the classic story, The Dark Knight Returns, and is sure to promise one of the biggest moments in both Comic Book and Film history. Also on display for the convention, panel, and the public was the first look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and while director Zach Snyder has confirmed he has yet to film any scenes of Gadot as Wonder Woman and that she is still working out to build her muscle tone, the picture shown gave fans a great glimpse at the Amazon warrior we are sure to see in the film, and although the color scheme is a bit darker in tone than expected, don’t be surprised if either during the course of the film or towards the time Justice League comes out, the costume gets  bit more color to match the more classic blue and red costume from the comics.

2) Marvel’s annual Hall H panel produced quite a few tidbits. While footage is yet to be revealed to the public and won’t be for quite some time, fans were given a glimpse at Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was announced that Evangeline Lilly would be playing Hope Van Dyne and Corey Stoll would be playing Yellowjacket, the main antagonist in the film Ant-Man. The cast was at hand to reassure fans and give a short glimpse into the films future, which showcased Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang using the Ant-Man suit to break into Pym’s company on behalf of Pym, in order to retrieve the suit designs taken from Yellowjacket during a hostile takeover of his company.

The biggest reveals came during the Avengers panel, where everyone except Scarlett Johansson was in attendance to showcase some new footage from the film. The footage showed the common humor that goes into a Marvel film, with a group of Avengers trying to lift Thor’s hammer, before Ultron arrives in one of Iron Man’s broken down suits, claiming that the only way to save humanity was to wipe it out completely. The footage showed a haunting scene that seemed to depict Iron Man, kneeling by Captain America’s broken shield and the rest of the Avengers lying dead all around him. The scene was haunting, and seems like death is coming for some of our favorite heroes.

Two big announcements came from the panel as well. The first was confirmation that Josh Brolin would indeed be playing the master villain behind the scenes, Thanos. The actor showed up wearing Thano’s Infinity Gauntlet and playing to the crowd with the Avengers in front of him. The second announcement came afterwards, when it was announced that Guardians of the Galaxy would be getting a sequel before it even opened in theaters, with the second film set for 2017. Not surprising given the amazing numbers coming in for it’s opening weekend.

3) The big winners from Comic Con TV came from DC, who not only announced that Arrow’s third season would feature heroes Ray Palmer, a.k.a. The Atom, Katana, and Wildcat, but that the main villain of the season would be none other than ancient master assassin Rha’s Al Ghul, the leader of the League of Assassins. Also shown was new DC shows Gotham, which will focus on the years before Bruce Wayne became Batman, with a young Jim Gordon navigating Gotham as a homicide detective and the cities future villains paving their own origins. Also included was The Flash, which will showcased on of DC’s biggest superheroes and a Justice League founding member, and Constantine, DC’s first foray into their supernatural storyline and characters.

4) Also in attendance were the last panels and showings of shows like True Blood and Sons of Anarchy, which are currently or going to air their final seasons this year. True Blood previewed a bloody path towards their finale, while Sons of Anarchy promised a bloody path of vengeance for lead character Jax. For those of you who haven’t seen the last season’s finale, go watch it and see why he’s out for revenge, but know that the final season is sure to include the death of most of our favorite characters, and no one is safe, not even Jax himself.

Comic con was full of amazing trailers, pictures, previews, reviews, cosplay, hello’s and goodbyes. For more on the annual event, check out our website and this blog to see everything we covered during the event!