Batman & Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight
I think, therefore I AM BATMAN.
August 12, 2012 8:27 amStephen Harvey
Is Batman batty? Should The Dark Knight be shipped off in a white coat to the deepest, darkest bowels of Arkham Asylum? How sane can a man be who dresses as a flying rodent and prowls the roof tops and back alleys of Gotham City? And isn’t it a bit weird how he has a rotating cast of young boys in form fitting spandex? So surely Bruce Wayne’s mind broke when he watched his parents gunned down on that dark, dreary night, right? Actually, don’t be so quick to lock Batman in the padded cell just yet.
Travis Langley brings us, what I consider a strong contender to be my favorite book of 2012, Batman & Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Night. A professor of psychology at Handerson State University and a huge Bat Fan, Langley attempts to breakdown and analyze Batman/Bruce Wayne and several members of the ever-expanding Bat Family, as well as his infamous rogues gallery, and find out what makes them tick. Peeking inside the brain of Bruce Wayne is no easy matter, but Langley manages to accomplish this feat by using real word psychology and applying it to the Caped Crusader. Not wanting to limit himself to just one Batman (Wilson, West, Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Conroy, Bale, etc.), Langley analyzes sort of a combination of all the Batmen into one. Attempting to understand this Über-Batman is not an easy task, but Langley takes it on marvelously.
For starters, Langley establishes the ground work for Batman’s mental state, stating that, whereas he may show some signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Batman is actually not afflicted with it. In fact, Batman is just extremely motivated, even if he is haunted by that night in Crime Alley. Langley also goes on to offer psychological profiles on Catwoman, Riddler, King Tut (remember him?) and yes, even the Joker. But what makes these profiles so compelling is the actual psychological work that goes into each and every detail. This just isn’t your usual fan-speculation at the new releases rack at your local comic book store (or MidtownComics.com!) But rather, it’s a an actual attempt at taking years of data from various writers, actors, editors and more and attempting to solidify a solid profile.
To me, the Bat-verse has always been a complex series of moral quandaries that could keep even the most dedicated philosopher up to the wee hours of the morning in contemplation. Is Batman indirectly (or directly) responsible for the deaths caused by the Joker, if he knows Joker will simply escape from Arkham and kill again? Does he attract these flamboyant "super-criminals" to Gotham? Is he fighting a losing war on crime? Is he simply creating more problems than he solves? And yet, with all of these queries, Langley does a phenomenal job of offering his take on these questions and more (the references section alone is forty pages long, so he does his homework).
What really makes this book so compelling is that you don’t have to be a comic book fan to enjoy it. Characters are explained so you’re never left scratching your head wondering what character he’s talking about. Before Langley delves into an analysis for a character, he offers a quick bio on their comic debut, real name and any other basic information that may help the reader understand them a bit better. Of course, I understood and recognized all characters, but for those who are less comic-inclined, it’s a huge help. You also don’t need to know anything about psychology, as any terminology is quickly defined and explained in the simplest terms possible.
To say I’ve never read a book quite like this is an understatement. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, but was intrigued by the concept. When my copy finally arrived, I devoured the entire thing in about a week. I have never held an interest in psychology before, but this book has sparked in me a great interest that I just may explore further. All it took was an orphaned billionaire with an arsenal of gadgets and Fists of Justice to ignite the spark in me! Who knew?
Simply speaking, this is my pick for the best book of 2012. A fantastic look into the inner workings of one of comic book’s most compelling, dynamic characters; a masterfully written analysis/love note to The Dark Knight. If you share any interest in Batman, comic books or psychology, you’d be a fool not to give this a read. Trust me. Don’t let the fact it’s about psychology intimidate you, it’s easily accessible for anybody to read and enjoy.
|FIND YOUR GEEK RATING
out of 10