Book Reviews:

How To Read Superhero Comics and Why

(Geoff Klock, Continuum, 250pgs)

How To Read... cover I laughed out loud when I first saw this book. It just seemed such a pointless volume. But the title made me smile, and it sounded good fun anyway. After just a few pages, I realised it wasn't going to be fun - or even enjoyable. Author Geoff Klock is a former PHD student and current night watchman. He certainly know his stuff - his comics history is spot on. But do we really need this sort of book at all?

Analysis and 'the superhero narrative' are king here. For example, when Superman and Batman meet in anger, it's no punch-up as you and I night know it to be. In Geoff Klock's complex world it is "The rebel threatening a new hegemony against the keepers of the old hegemony", while "The status quo represent the facing off of the dialectical aspects of comic book tradition". Batman's arch enemy, The Joker (who is insane because "his mirror reflects not only his image but also his over-determination and influence") as "the emblem of destabilized continuity" suggests that "no superhero narrative can possibly carry the weight of it's tradition". Uh.... right.

I could go on but, hopefully, you get the idea? How To Read Superhero Comics and Why is basically 200 pages plus of psychoanalytical babble and a waste of most people's hard earned cash. If, like me, you love comics, don't throw away your time on this book. Life is too short.

Matt Sewell

A-Z of Book & Comic Reviews