Book Review - The Science of Supervillains (may contain spoilers)

Ok , I was planning something more groundbreaking for my 20th post (another quest completed - yay!) but I figured that if I let the companion to my earlier post from today slide (which I actually wrote yesterday) I might never get around to it.  So the first book looks at a myriad of heroic characters and debunks some of their powers and origins or offers possible explanations for other, and the sequel basically does the same.  Of course villains are substituted for the heroes, and so we get Doctor Octopus, Sinestro, Lex Luthor and Venom among others (the Joker is a villain that I hope to touch on in the future when I review Batman and Philosophy.)  The Silver Surfer sneaks his way in here too, almost to satiate comic fans though at one point he was definitely a villain.  Crisis on Infinite Earths also gets a treatment though technically not a bad guy (Science of Comic Book Story Arcs would be interesting.)   This book is again full of a lot of hypothetical science, the stuff that supervillains can do is equally strange is the stuff that the heroes do, but the chapters surprisingly deal with a lot of more modern issues.  Among topics covered are robotics, principles of flight (not so extraordinary), pheromones, cell regeneration, smart textiles, and animal intelligence.  Still a very interesting read but what was missing was at the end.  The revelatory chapter on the most realistic hero is here replaced by the least realistic villains  - Bat Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk (I didnt write that out from memory by the way).  So in a sense the book ends on a bit of a low note, but for the fans out there who like their comics as realistic as possible this is another must-read.

4 Comments
4 Comments
Posted by MTHarman

In what ways would you define villainy? 
 Through means of physical abilities, or relating to reality and society?
Most of them display behaviors that are mostly overseen and does open a new outlook on them once discovered.

Posted by RazzaTazz

Well inherently it is is not to me to define villain when I am writing about a book which defines them.  But I would say villains are those that break societal rules and norms (and commit mostly what we consider felonies).  Physical abilities don;t really factor in, the Joker is one of the worst villains and can't do anything out of the ordinary.  You could make the case that Bat Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk are not villains, rather pests, but villain is often used to encompass any major antagonists, just like J Jonah Jameson could be cosnidered to be a villain of Spider-Man, though he doesnt break any laws. 

Posted by SC
@RazzaTazz: I sense a Blog post coming... 
Moderator
Posted by RazzaTazz
@SC:
Just because I write a short paragraph on something doesnt mean I am going to blog about it :P.  It would be an interesting topic though, considering how many villains really are just antagonists, and how villains are quite often looking for redemption.