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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Infinity: Volume 1 by Jonathan Hickman Review

In honor of the upcoming blockbuster event of the year, (Avengers: Infinity War), it’s time to check out one of the influences for the film, Infinity by writer Jonathan Hickman. The story explores a major Marvel event, where Thanos begins a galactic war as the Avengers fight both in space and on Earth. Here’s the synopsis:

The year’s most anticipated blockbuster cosmic event is here, as the Marvel Universe marches towards Infinity! The mad titan Thanos makes his world-shattering return, and his armies fire the opening shots of a galactic war that will be fought both on Earth and in deep space – with our heroes caught between both battles! As Thanos’ secrets are revealed, the Inhumans’ city of Attilan falls, and the Illuminati find themselves on the front line! And as every Origin Site on Earth goes active, the Builders enter the Marvel Universe. But can the Avengers return to Earth in ti me to save it, when betrayal in the Galactic Council has left them prisoners of war? Galactic empires will fall as Thanos’ crazed plans come to fruition!

Collecting Infinity #1-3, Avengers #18-20, New Avengers 9-10.

The graphic novel does an excellent job of bringing the larger than life scale of the threat of Thanos to life. The story of Thanos and his Black Order is a unique addition to the Infinity saga, adding new threats and a much more powerful army to Thanos that the Avengers must face. The artwork is beautiful, integrating the various factions of the Marvel Universe. We see the beginning of the fall of Attilan, the Inhumans Kingdom after Thanos begins his conquest of Earth. We get a taste of the influences for the upcoming film in the MCU, and got to witness the ruthlessness and villainy of Thanos.

Overall I loved this comic book. The maturity and graphic nature of this particular story kind of helped establish the stakes of the fight between the Avengers and Thanos. A story of manipulation, power and hope, this was an amazing story to read. If you guys haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Infinity: Volume 1 by Jonathan Hickman today!

Rating: 10/10

 

Jessica Jones Vol 1: Uncaged by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer) Review

A gritty graphic novel showing the darker side of the Marvel Universe, writer Brian Michael Bendis brings to life one of the world’s most beloved characters in recent years, Jessica Jones. The story of a woman with a haunted past and a dark secret comes to life in this amazing noir style graphic novel. Here is the synopsis:

After a decade, Jessica Jones is back in her own solo series! A lot has changed in the Marvel Universe and there are many secrets hiding in the shadows – secrets only a special woman like Jessica Jones can hope to uncover. Alias Investigations is open for business, and of all the many mysteries to discover, her new case may be the most dangerous one! This blistering new series is filled with haunting revelations from Jessica’s past, and answers to some of the biggest questions about the new Marvel NOW! universe! From Jessica Jones’ original creators comes an all-new chapter in the world-famous private eye’s ongoing adventures!

COLLECTING: JESSICA JONES 1-6

I loved this graphic novel. The series brings the gritty nature so many fans have fallen in love with over the course of two seasons on the Netflix series of the same name, while also incorporating the larger Marvel Universe in new and unexpected ways. Twists and turns take Jessica on a lonely journey, alienating not only her friends and allies, but the man she loves as well. Filled with humor, action and a budding mystery within the Marvel Universe, this comic brings the story like only Jessica Jones could. Arguably one of the most complex and strong female characters in the Marvel Comics Universe, the artists and writers did a fantastic job of breathing life into the hero. Exploring a multiversal mystery uncovered by Jessica and a complicated family dispute all while working on her latest case, Jessica is shown in a very real, volatile and emotional state that readers will instantly fall in love with.

Overall this was a wonderful story, filled with passion, superhero goodness and a powerful character you can really invest in. If you guys haven’t pick up this incredible graphic novel Jessica Jones Vol 1: Uncaged by Brian Michael Bendis today!

Rating: 10/10

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Michael Gaydos (Artist), Matt Hollingsworth (Colourist), Cory Petit (Letterer), David W. Mack (Cover Artist)

 

Deadpool Vol 1 : Dead Presidents (Marvel NOW!) Vol. 1: 1-6) by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan Review:

It’s an undead history lesson as dead US Presidents find themselves brought back to the land of the living, and there’s only one hero who has
the skills to take them on. Unfortunately, Captain America was busy, so they got Deadpool instead. That’s right, the Merc with a Mouth stars in
this six issue volume in the Marvel NOW! series, after S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits Wade Wilson to take out the undead Presidents, from George Washington
and Abraham Lincoln to Gerald Ford. With these monstrous National Icons running loose and destroying everything in site, it’s up to the smart-ass
merc to use his charm and bullets to take them out and put them back into the ground.

The artwork is beautiful in this collection, and the writing is both hilarious and action-fueled. Getting to see history used in humorous
dialogue and having it twisted in this dark tale is awesome, and fans will also enjoy the tie in to the larger Marvel universe as a whole. This
is a classic Deadpool story arc and is not to be missed, so be sure to read your copies of this book today!

Best of 2015!

Best of 2015:

Hello there citizens! It’s the end of 2015, and that means that as the year closes, we are all reflecting on what this year brought us. For
me, there were a lot of great things in the world of entertainment, my career and personally that made 2015 a great year, so I am going to share
with you all now some of my favorite things from 2015!

Movies:

Jurassic World: 2015 was the year big blockbusters returned from their long slumbers in limbo and gave audiences the world over a new, fresh
adventure into the massive worlds they created. The first one was this past summer’s Jurassic World, an incredible thrill ride in which we found
out what would happen if the park were to actually be opened to the public. Years after the Jurassic Park incident, the island has become a
tourist destination that mirrors a lot of similarities to the real world antics of places such as Sea World. With shareholders seeking a rise in
sales, the park’s scientists have created a genetically altered, gene spliced Dino that has a desire to kill anything and everything. When it get’s
loose, it’s up to a few survivors to get off the island and prevent the creature from escaping.

Star Wars The Force Awakens: The long awaited seventh episode of the most popular space saga in cinema history arrived at the close of 2015.
The film beautifully captured the magic of the first film, while bringing about some incredible new characters, great special effects, and
brought the original cast into the new story in a logical and fun way. In all honesty, I thought this film deserves to be included as a nominee
in some awards this year, and not just for special effects and costume stuff, but for musical score, supporting actor, best actress and best
film. It is the best film I saw in all of 2015!

Television:

Marvel and Netflix=Awesomeness: 2015 was the year television got even better, and eclipsed the movie theater industry overall. Netflix was a
pioneer for television, having introduced some great shows that defied the standards set by network television. Yet two series stood out this
year, and those were Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Both shows introduced the dark, gritty side of the Marvel Cinematic
Universe, and gave us two richly complex, badass heroes. With these new heroes came some great supporting characters the gave depth and
heart to the universe, and two villains that redefined what evil can look like. Bloody, action-packed and an emotional roller-coaster, not since
Breaking Bad have I been so obsessed and captivated by a television show. If you haven’t yet, watch these shows and be prepared to be amazed!

A Breathtaking Year in Horror: Horror took a predominant step in shows like The Walking Dead, it’s companion series Fear The Walking Dead, and
the final chapter of NBC’s Hannibal. The performances of the actors in these shows was emotional, chilling and rich to devour, marking a breakout
year for horror television. As an author/writer who loves the horror genre, this year inspired me and my writing with the groundbreaking
character development and plots introduced in the horror genre.

Music:

PMJ Brings Retro Back: One of the great things about music for me this year was the way the group Postmodern Jukebox brought a sense of retro
style music back to the modern age. Singers such as Casey Abrams, Haley Reinhart, Maiya Sykes and more brought some flare to current hits with
20’s, 30’s, 40’s and more amazing retro styles. Personally, I (and everyone else who loves PMJ) loved Haley Reinhart’s “Creep” and “Seven Nation
Army” covers. These songs were eloquent, theatrical and powerful, and brought some of the style and iconic music of past generations back into
the spotlight.

Ten Second Songs: Another great artist from YouTube, rocker and singer Anthony Vincent brought his incredible range and style to an original
idea for a channel called Ten Second Songs, in which he takes a popular song, and sings in 10-20 different styles of singers, from Frank Sinatra
to Skrillex. The creative force of each performance really inspired me to take risks and go for my own creative niche, and I’m excited to see
where he takes the channel in 2016!

Games:

Fallout 4: Welcome to Post Apocalyptia today! That’s right, I along with the rest of the world found myself back into the fabled world of Fallout,
with the epic release of Fallout 4. Taking us into the shoes of another Vault dweller who must go on a journey into the wasteland, there were
some great improvements to the new engine and system. I love the customization factor, whether it’s the facial features, the fact that people
address you by your custom name in the game, that your character talks finally, and that you can create settlements and strongholds in the game.
There are multiple radio stations, and the seamless integration of systems like VATS and dialogue choices is easy to use. It’s a strong game
I cannot wait to play more of.

Star Wars Battlefront: After nearly a decade, it was time to travel to a galaxy far, far away…

That’s right guys. Star Wars gained even more attention with the highly anticipate release of Star Wars Battlefront. The fun of taking part in
famous Star Wars battles was felt as it was in the original two games, yet the graphics and FPS aspect of the game made for welcome improvements,
and of course who could pass up an opportunity to fight Darth Vader as Luke in a game? That spells fun right there. Actually, it doesn’t, but
anyways…

Assassins Creed Syndicate: I’m a history buff, so I’ve always enjoyed the historical aspect of the Assassin’s Creed series, even though a lot of
historical figures and events were altered for the games story. I love the setting and being able to see the ways people lived throughout human
history. So when AC Syndicate was released, I fell in love with the industrial, Victorian era London that was brought to life before my eyes.
Getting to see the start of technological advancements, as well as getting a sense of wonder and excitement that surely helped inspire a lot of
steam-punk style projects over the years. It’s such a fun game that I cannot wait to delve into more in 2016.

Batman Arkham Knight: The most fun I’ve had playing the Batman games so far, Batman Arkham Knight was super dark, creepy and realistic. The
gameplay was enhanced by the addition of the Batmobile, plus the incredible voice cast of legends Kevin Conroy, John Noble, Jonathan Banks and
more made this one of the best experiences I’ve had stepping into the shoes of Batman. After the story that was told and the finality of the
game, it makes me excited to see what kind of games the studios develop with the Batman brand in the future. I hope to see some more interaction
with the broader DC universe since most of Batman’s story has been explored and told in these last few games. It’d be interesting to see Batman
take on Justice League level issues in an open world environment. This is a must play game from 2015 for sure!

Books:

Saint Odd: The final chapter of the incredible Odd Thomas series came this year. Everyone’s favorite fry cook and heroic medium returns to the
town he left behind, Pico Mundo. The evil cultists he helped stopped time and time again are ready to unleash a catastrophe that’ll eclipse the
one that claimed someone he loves years earlier, and after all his adventures, Odd is ready to face one final challenge, hoping to stop the
unspeakable evil at any cost, even his own life. I’m half way through this book right now, and the fast paced action of the story is rich and
compelling, and I cannot wait to see how this final story unfolds for one of my favorite Dean Koontz characters of all time. Let’s hope 2016 brings
some new info from Mr. Koontz on the third book in the Moonlight Bay/Christopher Snow books!

YouTube Memoirs: So many great memoirs came out from our favorite YouTube stars this year. I read quite a few, from Joey Graceffa’s “In Real Life”
to Shane Dawson’s I Hate Myselfie, (as well as Justine Ezarik’s I, Justine: An Analog Memoir, Joe Sugg’s Username: Evie and more). These were
amazing reads and not only great to get to see the personal journey of each of these stars, but I thought it was great to see these stars use
their connection with their young fans to encourage more reading and introduce them to the power of literature. I hope to read the hilarious
books Selp-Helf from Miranda Sings and Binge from Tyler Oakley in 2016, and look forward to more YouTuber books in the future!

YouTube:

The Year of Coming Out: It was a great year for the rights of LGBT members everywhere. As a supporter of equality for all, I was happy to see
things like marriage for everyone legalized, and it also warmed my heart to see stars taking a brave step forward to come out to their fans
and use their platform not only to take a personal step forward in their life, but to help encourage and inspire others to be themselves. Stars
like Joey Graceffa, Shane Dawson, Ingrid Nilsen and many more took that pivotal step, and I am so glad to see people able to be themselves in
what I hope is an evolving, caring and loving world.

Savvy Sexy Social: One of my favorite YouTube channels I began watching in 2015 was Amy Schmittauer’s Savvy Sexy Social. This channel has given
me hope and inspiration in 2015 to help me go for my dreams and helped me gain some ideas and insight into what goes into marketing in the
social media age. I’ve watched several videos of hers this year, learning about so many different aspects of marketing that I hope to put into
practice in 2016, and her podcast was also a huge help this year as well. If you are serious about not just YouTube, but any business or image
you want to convey and you want to know how to best market yourself or your business, go watch her channel and look for some great advice from
her.

Her Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/savvysexysocial

Vloggers Take Over: I have to say, I noticed a huge rise in popularity with vlogs. For a long time I enjoyed more scripted or structured videos
such as sketches or music videos, but this year I saw the official take over of the vlogger. Family vloggers, travel vloggers, young disabled
authors in their second year of daily vlogging (shameless self promotion, youtube.com/GunslingerPimp or Avina Vlogs!), 2015 was a great year for
viewers to connect with people who shared their lives, making for a more personal, intimate viewing experience.

Personal:

The 500 Sub Club: Thanks to you guys, I passed 500 subscribers on my YouTube channel, Avina Vlogs. I finally got a set schedule with my videos,
got my official podcast started and got more interactive with you guys, and now we’ve gotten to about 530 subscribers at the end of 2015. I hope
to continue with my progress and get to 1000 subs soon, and more by the end of 2016. You guys are great and have made me feel like I’m doing
something great with this channel, so thank you for all your support this year.

Local News: I put myself out there finally for my writing, and did a phone interview with my local paper, and was featured on the front page
of the paper itself. The article was written about my biggest release in 2015, VOID, my drama/contemporary romance novella available in paperback
and eBook formats now, (shameless self promotion #2). Not only that, but the news caught onto the local Spanish Newspaper as well, and I was on
the front page of that one as well. It was a great confidence boost that is inspiring me to go for my dreams more in 2016!

Reviews A Plenty: I had a lot of positive reviews come out this year, both for my short stories and my novella VOID. The positivity in my reviews
is showing me that my writing is improving and getting better as the years go on, and is giving me the confidence I need to go forward with my
work in 2016!

Thank you guys for reading this post. It was a breakout year for me in 2015, but I think it was but a stepping stone for 2016. So many great
projects inspired my own personal stuff, but I think we are on the precipice of a truly stellar year of creativity, personal growth and amazing
projects that will launch us into a whole new platform. What were your favorite things about 2015? Leave your comments below and also tell me
what you hope to see happen in the coming year.

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