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The Science of Superheroes Hardcover – Sep 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (Sept. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471024600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471024606
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #891,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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First Sentence
The success of Superman in Action Comics #1 propelled comic books from minor amusements to a mainstay of American entertainment. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Gallant on July 15 2005
Format: Paperback
Less than half the book discuss the science behind the superheroes they talk about. Rather they go into lengthy history lessons about the origins of the characters when two sentences saying these are this person's powers, this is how they got them, would be enough. Then you could go into an indepth treatment saying whether or not the powers have at least some grounding in reality then compare them with some current technology that may be close to duplicating some of these powers.
They talk about the Fantastic Four only in the contect of how they got their powers, say they are too silly to even discuss, and move on to re-write the Hulk's origin in a more realistic way. Why not talk about invisibility? What are the links with current technology? There was a guy on Guiness book of world records that can stretch his skin A LOT so why not mention something like that and try to make a link about how you could control it. For example, recent studies with Octopi have shown that they actually walk on the sea floor using two of their tentacles. They fill these with water making them more rigid and thats how they can support some of their weight without the need for a skelatal structure.
I thought the X-men chapter would be good, but instead I got a lecture on Creationism and Evolution. I expected examining Superman's powers in depth and all I got was 10 pages of discussing whether aliens could exist. Not to mention the fact that having Krypton's gravity stronger DOES NOT explain super-strength. He was not born on Krypton, therefore never experienced higher gravity. Being able to withstand a higher gravitational field would NOT be a genetic trait either. Even if he was used to the higher gravitational field, you would eventually become used to the lower one and the super abilities would go away.
Not a very good book in my opinion and the sequal "The Science of Super Villains" looks equally as bad.
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By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 7 2004
Format: Paperback
In "The Science of Superheroes" authors Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg put together a full out assault on the willing suspension of disbelief that allows us to enjoy comic book superheroes from Superman to the X-Men. You probably knew in the back of your mind that the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and Aquaman could never exist in the real world. Well you were right. But Gresh and Weinberg are here to explain to you in terms of science, which means that when it comes to proving that Henry Pym turning into Goliath would be a bad thing or that the Flash could not possibly run that fast, they actually do the math (at which point I nod my head and move on, because if you think I am going to double-check their calculations you are sadly mistaken).
After a preface that looks at how superhero comic books came about, an introduction by Dean Koontz entitled "Men of Steel, Feathers of Fury," Gresh and Weinberg devote chapters to the cream of the superhero crop. First up, of course, is Superman, which spends a lot of time examining the math on alien visitors before disproving the idea that the difference in the gravity on Krypton and Earth accounts for Superman's powers (I wonder what they make of the current living solar battery idea). Chapters are then devoted to the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, Batman, Aquaman and Sub-Mariner, Spider-Man, the Green Lanterns, Ant Man and the Atom, the Flash, the X-Men, science fiction superheroes, and Donald Duck. The last chapter is actually an encomium to Carl Barks, who used science and technology during the golden age of Disney comics.
I picked up this book because I teach Spider-Man in my Popular Culture class and so that chapter alone justified the price of the book for me.
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Format: Hardcover
I had very high hopes for this book, sadly I was very disappointed.
The only reason I finished the book was to give it as thorough and un-biased review as possible. The first couple of chapters were quite enjoyable, but the rest of the book just kept me wishing that it was going to get better.
What bothered me the most about this book was the frequent use of the word "impossible". The closed minded approach to the science they addressed is reminiscent of somebody saying the world is flat, that the earth is the center of the universe, that submarines were works of only inventive writers or that the sound barrier can not be broken. The book states that traveling past the speed of light is impossible (the chapter about the Flash), but in a later chapter it goes on to say that time travel is possible. Combine this with the book contradicting itself in the same chapter (the chapter about Spider-Man) and you end up wanting to throttle the authors for their inconsistency.
Then there is the completely irrelevant discussion of creationism in the chapter that was supposed to be about the X-men and evolution. The discussion took up most of the chapter and had nothing to do with mutation.
It is obvious by the end of the book that the authors have done little to zero research on any comic book written since the 80's. Their belief seems to be that Donald Duck was the best comic book ever and that there are no strong super heroines.
Do not waste your time or hard earned money on this book. It has a few (very few) shinning moments of good writing. But they do not offset the obvious dislike of comic books and those who work in the comic book industry.
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