Book Review: Humans and Paragons: Essays on Super-Hero Justice

Justice in this world is never as simple as good guy gets bad guy. That would make life so easy, instead, it is a complex concept that no one rarely ever truly realizes, at least not in our lifetime. That is why comic books tend to provide so many different interpretations on how justice can be served, the interpretation initially in comics was as simple as I just explained but it became even more complex. In Ian Boucher and Sequart’s book, Humans and Paragons: Essays on Super-Hero Justice, he looks to explores what these concepts mean and how are enacted in comic books through superheroes.

In the first essay, “Four Color Mortality”, Paul Jaissle tackles what exactly shaped “good guys versus bad guys” trope and how it has affected the canon of the superhero overall and as he called brought “the simplistic moral framework of comics”. In “Keeping the Wolves at Bay”, Colby Pryor delves into the power of the uniform, and how government derives its power form the same concepts as it never fully realizes utopia while falling into dystopia, while referencing Alan Moore’s epic cautionary tale, Watchmen. In “Turtles on Trial”, John Loyd, goes about putting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on trial for murder, exposing the double standards comic book fans have for heroes vice villains, for committing the same acts. In “Those Blessed and Those Not Blessed”, Jaime Infante Ramirez, gets into the six positions of lawful behavior that all the characters within his books surrounding Batman.

In “Defenders of the Status Quo”, Paul Jaissle tackles “notion of super-heroes representing a “deeper” conception of justice is an intrinsic part of their appeal”, whereby examining how we got to high moral pedestal we hold these heroes to. In “Super-Heroes: Threat or Menace? Why Super-Hero Justice Only Exists in Fiction”, Ross May gets into the practical reality of heroes like Batman and the Punisher., and how we would perceive them in real life. In “Four Things You Always Wanted to Know about the Joker (but were too Afraid to Ask),” Michal Siromski, he does a deep dive in to the Joker, and actually does as one of the most thorough examinations ever written on the character. In “Is the Truth Good Enough? Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and the Noble Lie in Justice and Politics,” Daniel N. Gullotta gets into the many themes that have been looming over Batman’s canon and which have been brought more light by Christopher Nolan’s movies on the Dark Knight.

In “Must There Be Superman Movies?” Paul Jaissle does an interesting look on Superman’s unflappable moral code. In “Shadows Prove the Sunshine,” Rebecca Johnson gets into the moral core what makes a “dark hero”. In “Honing Our Senses: Remembering the Vibrancy of Super-Hero Justice,” Ian Boucher dives into the complex paradox of the character’s internal struggle, as they not fight cunning villains, they also must fight their inner selves, as in the example he used of Watchmen’s Rorschach. The last pieces of the book, is Boucher’s interview with Mark Waid and Gerard Jones, and where they discuss the concept of justice and its moral power over superheroes.

Overall, a commanding collection of essays that explores the human dichotomy of morals and justice, and how we expect superheroes to be better than us.

Essayists: Ian Boucher, Paul Jaissle, Colby Pryor, John Loyd, Jaime Infante Ramírez, Ross May, Michal Siromski, Daniel N. Gullotta, Rebecca Johnson
Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy