Monday 11 January 2016

Review! - Death, Disability, and the Superhero by Jose Alaniz

death disability and the superhero jose alaniz book coverTitle: Death, Disability, and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond

Author: Jose Alaniz

Genre: Non-fiction

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
As you will all be aware by now, I'm a total nerd. So a study of the representation of death and disability in superhero comics? Bring it on.


An academic study of the representation of the disabled, and the concept of death, in superhero comics.

Best bits:

I loved the exploration of ideas here - comics and graphic novels are a part of our culture, and so are just as worthy of study as film or literature. I was really interested by the various points raised, and the interpretation of various representations.

I was a little worried that this would go over my head - so was pleased that it turned out to be much more readable than I had feared. Unfortunately, many may still find it a difficult read.
Where the author is clearly engaged, the writing flows well and with little concern for being 'worthy,' or academic. These parts were, to me, by far the most enjoyable - the parts where there was pure exploration, rather than the weight of expectation.

Not so great bits:

The need to be considered intelligent and academic sometimes leads to over-analysing and a more stilted tone. As mentioned, this is going to make it a difficult read for some people.
Some of the points I felt could do with more moderation and balance: I know that Professor X doesn't need to be knocked out of his wheelchair so often, but at the same time I would've liked an acknowledgement that at some point, a villain is likely to do this.
Villains aren't known for their manners or political correctness, and are likely to take advantage of Prof X's paralysis. It's the over-use of this occurrence which should've been more clearly highlighted.
Also, where was Hawkeye? Brief mentions. That's all. Yet, to me, his deafness is a huge point when discussing disability in comics. Not least because the movies write his disability out entirely.


An interesting study of the depictions of death and disability in superhero comics. Not for people who want a light read, this is nevertheless worth reading if you want something thought-provoking and a bit more intellectually stimulating.

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