Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this, the latest in Wiley's Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series (South Park and Philosophy, The Office and¿, Metallica and¿), editors White and Arp assert upfront, and without qualification (apparently, that's the contributors' job), their belief that Batman is "the most complex character ever to appear in comic books and graphic novels." Exploring certain works that have broadened the philosophical undercurrents of the Batman mythos (Frank Miller's Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are cited often, but rarely the new movies), a raft of professors, students and PhD candidates paint Bruce Wayne's choices as, most often, either utilitarian or deontological, with basic descriptions of these systems helpfully provided for the novice. A few contributions broaden the discussion beyond the well-worn (origin stories of Batman and foes, etc.); casting butler Alfred as Kierkegaard's "knight of faith" to Batman's "knight of infinite resignation," contributor Christopher M. Drohan actually gets close to the archetypal sources that keep the serialized exploits of Batman and other comic heroes from getting stale. Unfortunately, most of these essays get old fast. (July) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Review by Library Journal Review
White (political science, economics, & philosophy, Coll. of Staten Island/CUNY) and Arp (research associate, National Ctr. for Biomedical Ontology, Univ. at Buffalo; ed., South Park and Philosophy) use the story of a comic book figure--Batman--to deal with myriad philosophical questions. White contributes two of the 20 chapters, and the other 18 are written by various philosophy scholars. The writing in each chapter is engaging as the detailed story of Batman's fictional life and experiences unfold. The philosophical questions concern, e.g., the nature of personal identity; responsibility, or lack of it, for action, including the so-called insane act; free will vs. determinism; the nature of moral acts; social obligation; political commitment; and the ethics of right and wrong. Scattered throughout the chapters are pertinent insights from well-known philosophers of the past and present, including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Hobbes, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. There are extensive footnotes for each chapter so that readers can turn to original sources. This philosophical examination of Batman's actions through nearly 70 years of comic books, television shows, and movies is highly recommended for all libraries.--Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.