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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: Batman and Psychology - A Dark and Stormy Knight

There was an audible 2-for-1 promotion that included Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.If anyone's going to have psychological issues, it's gotta be Batman, so this sounded like a fun read (or in this case, listen).

In practice, it's pretty boring. No, Batman isn't insane (despite dressing up as a bat). Neither does he suffer from PTSD, multiple personality disorder, or any of the alphabet soup of problems he should have. Given what he is, what he does, and the world he lives in, he truly is the best possible person he could be. That's pretty boring.

The analysis of his rogue's gallery proves to be more interesting: what are the aspects of his personality that his villains reflect? What about his femme fatales? His relationship with the father figures in his life? And the relationships with the various Robins? How to reconcile all of the "what-if" stories that have been written over the years? How about the campy TV series, the Tim Burton movies and the Christopher Nolan movies?

The author, Travis Langley has an excellent command of the source material, and uses them to good effect (though I noticed that he quotes much more from the Chris Nolan movies than the other movie materials). He's conducted several interviews and/or been in comic book convention panels with various Batman writers. I certainly couldn't remember even half the Batman trivia the book provides, though I suspect Tom Galloway would probably be able to top it and correct any typos in the quotations.

Overall, the book does do a good job of dispensing with the various myths propagated by years of comic book stories. "No, the Joker would not get away with the insanity defense, nor would any of the other comic book villains." Multiple personality disorder cannot consistently recur with a blow to the head. The book even cursorily covers parenting styles!

But despite all that, the book never really captured me, despite what should be fascinating subject matter. Maybe because the psychology of a character that's been through multiple authors just can't be that consistent, or that I'm much more interested in Batman's role as a symbol and place in popular culture than in the psychology of what actually makes Bruce Wayne tick. I found myself switching between this and other audio books to give the grim subject matter a break.

Thus: not recommended even if you're a Batman fan.

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