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X-Men and Philosophy

William Irwin, Rebecca Housel and J. Jeremy Wisnewski

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
X-Men and Philosophy by  William Irwin, Rebecca Housel and J. Jeremy Wisnewski
Cover concept by Lorenzo Princi, 1st October 2013

One of the most popular franchising in comic book history, re-incarnated in various medium through the years including movies and animated television shows; the X-Men were always ripe for philosophical debate. Even as a young boy watching the animated series, I could sense that there was more going on under the surface than the good guys versus bad guys weekly plots.

Though technically part of the greater Marvel universe, X-Men works in it's own contained world perfectly and over the decades has told stories of racism, control and conflict with a rich array of male and female characters based on the simple premise - what if a new, "evolved" human race were to emerge on Earth. This is a unique premise in comic book lore, the simplicity of being born different means the protagonists, "homo-superiors" as opposed to homo-sapiens is very different to the standard, man-made, accidental and alien characters in comic books. Though still outsiders - they are beings created through natural evolution and therefore we can relate to their problems even more so than the super men or billionaire playboy despite their "next phase" abilities.

In X-Men and Philosophy, various writers, through essays, discuss with both learned skill and fan knowledge key philosophical questions regarding the key elements of X-Men. Identity, Race, Power and Existentialism are just some of the topics tackled in this entertaining yet informative and serious look at a pop culture franchise. The interesting thing here, is that of all the pop culture and philosophy books I've read, I'd deem this is the one that can be enjoyed by the broadest audience. Interestingly enough, as pointed out in the book, X-Men is perhaps the first mainstream comic franchise to feature truly strong female characters rather than Amazonian archetypes and this is perhaps most telling in their wide appeal. Top marks.