Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Holy Superheroes! by Greg Garrett

With Holy Superheroes!, Prof. Greg Garrett delivers an unpretentious exploration of Christian morality through favourite comic-book exemplars. 

The work is not particularly critical of the genre, nor is it exceptionally wide-reaching in its philosophical scope. Other books, such as the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, have deployed much more significant efforts in exposing lay audiences to ethical and metaphysical concepts through popular media. Prof. Garrett’s exposé deviates significantly from the tried-and-tested approach by focusing on moral lessons instead of philosophical questions. While the wealth of the author’s frame of reference leaves no doubt as to his erudition, sophisticates will likely sneer at the simplicity of Prof. Garrett’s interpretations and the way in which they betray his own biases. Holy Superheroes!, evidently, is intended more for the mythical Everyman than for the collegiate or post-collegiate reader.

It should not be thought that the kind of book which Prof. Garrett writes does not have its place in the forum of serious discussions on speculative fiction. Candour, and even a certain naïveté, can be refreshing, grounding us when we would get lost in technicalities. We must never forget that, at their core, stories are words exchanged between human beings; the complex interplay of overarching ideologies, while fascinating to academics, is of secondary interest to the majority of readers.

Prof. Garrett’s prose, while adequate, becomes something of an impediment to his message when he veers inexplicably into the realm of the colloquial, like an overenthusiastic preacher or a self-conscious teacher trying too hard to be cool. The book’s last few pages present some interesting recommendations grouped by theme; much to the author’s credit, some of these titles may surprise the non-religionist on account of their overt irreverence. 


  1. Good read. I'm ever in search of essays on law and chaos in superhero worlds. I want to read about why batman must stratle both to get the job done, like a rough and tumble cowboy of the wild west.

    Thanks for the review

  2. Then I rather recommend the Blackwell series (and *not* this book), although even the Blackwell series is a bit uneven. "Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul" is entirely decent, though it does feature one extremely silly essay espousing a kind of shaky nominalism. I won't pretend to understand metaphysics.