When one thinks of superhero media, you’ve pretty much got comic books, the little screen, and the big screen.
Comic books speak for themselves, but the little screen had George Reeves as Superman and Adam West as Batman, and the big screen had those old Batman serials or the Fleischer Superman cartoons (well, until the 70’s, anyway).
One generally doesn’t think of “books” when one thinks of superhero media. (I sure don’t.)
I did have a collection of Batman-themed short stories back in high school and I remember very little from it except for a short story about the guy whose job it was to make outfits for the bad guys… it had a conversation with The Riddler who wanted it perfectly clear that the suit needed *AT LEAST* one hundred question marks on it. He didn’t want some just here or there. And he didn’t want the guy to make a mistake because he came to the wrong conclusion based on not getting one of Riddler’s riddles wrong. ONE HUNDRED QUESTION MARKS. AT LEAST. The guy’s office was considered neutral ground. You don’t mess with the one freakin’ guy in Gotham who is capable of making a high quality business suit with the right half being bespoke and the left half looking gaudy and damaged but still capable of holding together, letting you breathe, and looking good even though you’ve got twin holsters underneath the arms. There is only one guy in Gotham who can make a purple suit with 18 hidden pockets and include a high quality lapel buttonhole that is capable of holding an industrial strength boutonniere.
Which strikes me as a medium that makes sense for that kind of story. If you want to see Batman punch Joker, you want to see the punch. If you want to explore “wait, where does Joker get a suit like that?”, well, devoting three pages of a 22-page comic to that sort of thing doesn’t work… but such a tale would make a *PERFECT* pictureless short story.
But, growing up, there weren’t *THAT* many books (like hardcover or trade paperbacks) simply devoted to the whole “superhero” thing. Books were for spy novels, or thrillers, or horror, or romance, or any number of genres… but not superheroes. Superheroes were for the funnybooks.
Which is kind of surprising, when you think about it. If you want to tell a story about a guy who can pick up a car and throw it at someone, being able to just write a sentence like “muscles straining, the Phoenician lifted the Saturn SL1 over his head and thought ‘this is the first time one of these will go a quarter mile in fewer than 10 seconds'” just requires one guy with one talent, rather than one guy who can write… and needing to be able to pencil, ink, color, and do thought bubbles (or get up to four other people who can do each one).
Which brings me to “Wearing the Cape“. A series of superhero books that offer light reading with deep world building and, yes, spandexed demigods running around and hitting each other in the face in an effort to try to save the world from other spandexed demigods.
Now, if you’re not one to take superheroes seriously, you can probably pass on these. If, however, you’re thinking that the problem with most superhero media out there is that it relies on spectacle rather than letting you, the viewer, do the heavy lifting with the mental images? Wearing the Cape is a good place to dip your feet into the whole “reading superheroes” thing.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?