The Secret History of Comic Book HerosAuthor, artist, and comic-book fanboy Christopher Knowles knows a thing or two about the history of superheroes: their creators, their inspirations and the powerful draw they have on readers of all ages. Tying this information in with his knowledge of the occult and pagan religions, Knowles has created The Hero With a Thousand Faces… the comic-book version. In an almost Cambellian way, Knowles new book, Our Gods Wear Spandex, deconstructs our most revered superhero figures to reveal their basic roots and origins as pagan deities.

Though Knowles does stretch his (and readers’)  imagination a few times to make his points seem relevant, for the most part he maintains a straightforward, factual recounting of history. Starting with a brief breakdown of ancient myths in Egypt, Sumer, Rome and Greece, Knowles goes on to describe the occultic secret societies that serve as a backdrop for most of the theories expounded in the book, before diving into the creation of comic-books and their rise in popularity.

Readers familiar with the characters and authors he’s discussing will find more than a few eye-opening snippets of information, while those with less of a background in comics are more likely to be surprised at every turn, though perhaps less engaged. With short chapters, comic illustrations by Joseph Michael Linsner and a to-the-point writing style, Knowles knows how to hold an audience captive. Each chapter is divided into subheadings and most subheadings are no more than two pages.

While invoking The Last Supper on the cover may seem a bit heretical, it’s actually an astute encompassment of the novel in a single image, as Knowles’ main purpose with this publication is to argue, rather eloquently, that modern-day superheroes are more than just imaginary cartoons characters, they are our new gods and demi-gods. With a four-page bibliography and extensive references to specific comic-book storylines, this is the kind of book that was written to be dissected. Not everyone will agree with his theories, and some may not even really care, but for those who buy into the basic premise, Our Gods Wear Spandex reads like the philosophy text book you wish your college professors assigned.

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: An overview of comic-book history
Stay Away if: You’d rather just take your comic-books at face value

To purchase Our Gods Wear Spandex, visit Weiser Books

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