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:

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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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Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Review (SPOILER FREE)

It’s all lead to this. Ten years in the making, Earth’s mightiest heroes have finally gathered together to face the MCU’s greatest villain, Thanos. The ultimate architect of the threats faced by the Avengers, the Mad Titan goes on a bloody warpath of destruction across the MCU in the recently released film, Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s the synopsis:

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Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

To say this film both amazed and stunned me would be a gross understatement. My first reaction of course was this:

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After my initial shock wore off, I realized I had just seen the best MCU film to date. While films like Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Captain America Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming all have blown me away with incredible storytelling over the years, this film did something truly unique, and that’s bring a huge, cosmic and company wide comic book event to the big screen. We’ve seen individual stories emerge beautifully over the years in the superhero film realm, but Infinity War took a massive story like Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity and combined both big events into the stuff comic books are made of.

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I have to tread carefully, as I promised not to spoil anything for you guys. I highly recommend you see this film, and if you guys want me to make a separate post talking about the film’s shocking moments and what my theories for the future of the MCU are, then leave a comment down below letting me know. However for the context of this review, I can say that the film was beautifully made. The visual effects of course were brilliant, and getting to see so many heroes and characters interact for the first time was amazing to see. The best scenes featured interactions between the likes of Dr. Strange and Iron Man, Thor and Rocket Raccon, and Scarlett Witch and Vision. These characters stole the show as far as I’m concerned, as did Gamora, who had the biggest connection to Thanos throughout this entire film.

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The performances given by these actors was incredible. Not only did we get the amazing humor we’ve come to expect from these films, but the MCU finally delved into darker storytelling and showed a very visceral, real comic book war unfold. The emotions were running high throughout the entire film, from the movie’s opening scene to the closing credits. Joe and Anthony Russo did a brilliant job directing and bringing this story together, proving they have a profound command on the MCU and it’s overall direction. The film did a great job of connecting to big Marvel Comics moments, left plenty of Easter eggs and theories running to keep fans guessing until the next film, and provided one of the biggest shocks in superhero film history. With only Ant Man & The Wasp and Captain Marvel set to premiere before the big Avengers 4 film, fans will be eagerly anticipating the untitled Avengers movie in hopes of seeing how the first book of the MCU franchise ends.

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I loved this movie. I look back at my time watching this movie, and I can’t find one flaw in it. The villain was fully flushed out, and Josh Brolin did an amazing job of providing an incredible performance as the MCU’s greatest villain to date. The acting and directing was superb, and the overall story was able to do something very few superhero films can do, and that’s shock the audience. If you guys haven’t yet, be sure to see Avengers: Infinity War today!

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