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Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (November 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801890632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801890635
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What are the odds that an ordinary billionaire like Bruce Wayne could acquire the physique and hand-to-hand fighting skills to defeat supervillains? Zehr, a Canadian neuroscientist and martial arts black belt, looks at the science of the body's capability to respond and adapt to... extremes. The author draws on Batman comics and movies to glean clues on how Wayne chiseled his body into a fighting machine. As a study of human physiology, this detailed and accessible discussion could appeal to Batman fans and those interested in intensive physical training who are prepared for serious science rather than fantasy. But Batman is only the scaffolding on which Zehr hangs his detailed look at the role of genetic makeup, diet, strength training and development of motor skills in attaining the outer limits of physical performance. Surprisingly, the discussion barely mentions the training of real-life people who need many of the same skills as Batman: special ops forces. Despite the book's strengths, readers may get the impression from the many exclamatory asides of an author still running around the house with a bedspread trailing behind him. 55 b&w illus. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

As a kid, I wanted to be Batman but always ended up more like the Joker. I only wish I could have read Dr. Zehr's fascinating book then, so that I would have known exactly what it takes to become a real superhero.

(Bradford W. Wright, author of Comic Book Nation www.denofgeek.)

Zehr applies his specialised knowledge to quantify how an ordinary person could turn themselves into Batman.

(Flipside)

As a study of human physiology, this detailed and accessible discussion could appeal to Batman fans and those interested in intensive physical training who are prepared for serious science rather than fantasy. But Batman is only the scaffolding on which Zehr hands his detailed look at the role of genetic makeup, diet, strength training and development of motor skills in attaining the 'outer limits' of physical performance.

(Publishers Weekly)

Zehr is a scientist, martial arts expert and comic book fan, so he's ideally qualified to write this book... Becoming Batman is an interesting discussion on the science of superheroes.

(Dr JV Chamary BBC Focus Magazine)

Charming book... There is really nothing more awesome than reading a book that cites obscure neuroscience journals in the same sentence with citations to obscure Batman comics.

(Annalee Newitz io9.com)

Zehr evaluates what it would take—physically, psychologically, and scientifically—to replicate Batman's actions and become a self-made superhero. His conclusions are sometimes surprising, and often fascinating.

(John Lewis Baltimore Magazine)

A wonderful book that looks at what it would really take to become Batman in today's world.

(The Surfman thesurfman.blogspot.com)

This is a thoughtfully imagined work that uses escapism to make solid scientific points that can benefit almost anyone. And for those who aspire to don a cape and cowl, it's essential reading.

(Richard Sherbaniuk Edmonton Journal)

Two black-gloved thumbs way up!

(whatistechnoagain.wordpress.com)

The author maintains a humorous and enjoyable tone throughout this book while providing general audiences with proven scientific methods and useful facts about the resilience and limitations of the human body.

(Book News)

A highly researched, very fairly reasoned and considerably factually-supported tome that not only discusses the potential for the most human of super heroes, also educates us in quite some depth about the limit of human existence and physical and mental prowess. That Dr. Zehr manages to add any style to his efforts (and let's be fair, scientists aren't known for their 'suave'), is a credit to the man and a credit to his obvious enthusiasm for his work and interests.

(Kevin Pocock www.denofgeek.com)

Terrifying mastery of the entire Batman mythohistoriography.

(Steven Poole Guardian)

Becoming Batman is your next step to supercool.

(Rosemary Counter Toronto Globe and Mail)

The author knows whereof he writes... written in an accessible and appealing manner.

(Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky Centre Daily Times)

Not only is it enjoyable as a popular science book for those with even the smallest Batman obsession, it could be an entertaining way to introduce human movement science to potential students.

(M. T. G. Pain Journal of Sports Sciences)

Becoming Batman takes the escapism of the Caped Crusader and puts it in real-world, grounded, scientific terms that is extremely entertaining and interesting. If you’re not careful, you might learn something.

(Louis Fowler www.bookgasm.com)

witty and informative, striking an appropriate balance between a pure scientific discourse and ample explanations to keep lesser trained readers intrigued.

(biblebodynbrains.blogspot.com)

If there's one thing that has influenced the new stuff, the 'Batman, Inc.' stuff, it's a book called Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, which is written by E. Paul Zehr. It's a guy who is a doctor, and looking into the actual possibility of Batman and what it would take to be that person in real life: What it would do to your muscles and what it would do to your head, and how long it would take to learn the martial arts. And it's really quite fascinating, this idea of the real facts behind it.

(Grant Morrison www.comicsalliance.com)

When I walk, every once in a while someone notices they can't hear my footsteps. Do you know why? Dr. E. Paul Zehr knows. I'm training to become Batman. Most of the population wouldn't understand this... but beneath and entwined in the soul of many men is a hero-in-the-making. Training for that moment that will, thankfully, never come. The moment when he must be a hero. The moment he trained for. They'll never hear me coming. In this book Dr. Zehr knows exactly what our giddy souls are doing. Here he tells our secret.

(Neal Adams, Batman Illustrator)

If you really want to become Batman, having a billion dollars in start-up funds and a subterranean lair is just the beginning. Dr. Zehr's thoroughly researched and thoughtfully imagined exploration into the real-life rigors of costumed crime-fighting shows just how DC Comics' Dark Knight—the original self-made hero—could realistically transform a mere human body into something no less than superhuman. Consider it required reading for anyone seriously contemplating donning cape and cowl.

(Scott Beatty, author of The Batman Handbook)

More About the Author

E. PAUL ZEHR, PhD, is professor, author, & martial artist at the University of Victoria. He uses superheroes as foils for exploring science, human achievement and ability. His recent pop-sci books include BECOMING BATMAN: THE POSSIBILITY OF A SUPERHERO (2008), INVENTING IRON MAN: THE POSSIBILITY OF A HUMAN MACHINE (2011), and the forthcoming hybrid novel PROJECT SUPERHERO (2014). Paul won the 2012 Craigdarroch Award for Research Communications at UVIC. He is a regular speaker at conferences and comic book conventions including San-Diego International Comic Con and New York Comic Con and has presented to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on the science of superheroes. Paul blogs at Psychology Today "Black Belt Brain" and guest blogs at Scientific American.

Customer Reviews

Read a few chapters and then lost the book.
Rastilin
Even more, Zehr's writing demonstrates his joy and curiosity with the subject matter while he thoroughly educates his audience in a fun and engaging manner.
mdk
If you are interested in the details of science, you will like this book.
Robert Frost

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By rick33 on January 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
...a whole lot you don't! I almost gave this book three stars due to it being (slightly) disappointingly dry, but added the extra one just for the sheer AMOUNT of detail in the book.

Really, it is too much, though. Admittedly, I haven't read it from cover to cover yet, but then again, I don't think I've ever read a text book from cover to cover. And that's what a lot of this is. Granted, the device of using the idea of "becoming Batman" is a great hook and one that I think can keep true fans (of Batman AND biology) on the line. And even though the focus of the book is on the effect of extensive training and the consequences of living the life of The Bat, Zehr does touch on TYPES of training Batman would most likely be realistically engaged in.

The book contains five Parts and a total of 16 Chapters. Since there is no "Look Inside" for this book yet, I've listed these below:

Part 1 - Bat-Building Blocks
Chapter 1 - The "Before" Batman: How Buff was Bruce?
Chapter 2 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Bruce's Twin Brother, and the Human Genome
Chapter 3 - The Stress of Life: Holy Hormones, Batman!

Part 2 - Basic Batbody Training
Chapter 4 - Gaining Strength and Power: Does the Bat That Flies the
Fastest or the Highest Get the Worm?
Chapter 5 - Building the Batbones: Brittle is Bad, But is Bigger Better?
Chapter 6 - Batmetabolism: What's for Dinner on the Dark Knight Diet?

Part 3 - Training the Batbrain
Chapter 7 - From Bruce Wayne to Bruce Lee: Mastering Martial Moves in the Batcave
Chapter 8 - Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: But What Was Batman Doing?
Chapter 9 - The Caped Crusader in Combat: Can You Kayo Without Killing?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert Frost on January 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I love books that take topics that interest me and examine the science in them. This book is not, as I assumed, a prescriptive on how to become Batman but more a treatise on the feasibility of becoming Batman. Could a man really train and then operate in the way Batman is depicted in the comics and movies?

Dr. Zehr comes to the topic with suitable expertise. Not only is he a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology, but he has multiple blackbelts and more than 25 years of experience in the martial arts. If you are interested in the details of science, you will like this book. If a chapter on how metabolism works isn't your thing, you should probably give this book a miss.

The initial chapters look at the building blocks, for example, what kind of genes would Bruce Wayne have needed to inherit to feasibly become Batman? From there it moves into the training. Would Batman be more interested in strength or power? and what kind of training would be suitable for each? What kind of martial arts should he study? How much training is necessary to become an expert?

The last part of the book looks at the realities of operating as Batman, specifically the impact or repeated stress and injury to the body. How long could Batman operate?

I expected the book to spend more time on the types of things Batman does (i.e. swinging from buildings) - but that is a topic that is well covered in James Kakalios' Physics of Superheroes.

Although I felt that the narrative needed more energy, I did enjoy this book. Dr. Zehr did his research. He knows the science and he knows the character. If you've ever been curious about the possibilities of being a superhero, give this book a try.

Interestingly, there was material in the book that is directly applicable to my job. I can't wait to use this title as a reference, when the subject comes up!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By mdk on January 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Becoming Batman is an excellent case study in the limits of human performance and will. This book is Great!, it is exactly what you would expect from an expert in science and martial arts. Even more, Zehr's writing demonstrates his joy and curiosity with the subject matter while he thoroughly educates his audience in a fun and engaging manner. This book is truly a journey of scientific discovery to understand what it takes to be a real superhero without superpowers. The depth is impressive; genetics, anatomy, biomechanics...too many to list and all which play a role in becoming Batman. This book challenged me to go beyond a basic view of my comic book superhero and now more than ever I appreciate what it takes to be Batman. Dr. E Paul Zehr attempts to give an educated answer to the question that any fan of Batman has wondered; Can someone actually become Batman? The answer is....???.well get the book I highly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven King on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Every child who has donned a cape and ran around the backyard has been asking the question, "Could I be a superhero?" Dr. Zehr answers this question with his detailed analysis of the possibility of becoming a superhero in Becoming Batman.

One of my earliest memories involving Batman occurred when I transformed into the Dark Knight for a kindergarten Halloween party. As I ran around in that "Adam West" style costume, one of the teachers remarked that my eyes were "perfect" for the mask. That level of authentication began a lifelong fascination with everything related to the Dark Knight.

Becoming Batman, however, requires more than simply donning the right type of suit.

Zehr, whose academic credentials trace from an undergraduate emphasis in kinesiology through a PhD in Neuroscience, brilliantly discusses the potential for someone to actually become a superhero. His writing is witty and informative, striking an appropriate balance between a pure scientific discourse and ample explanations to keep lesser trained readers intrigued. In addition to the neuroscientific development, Zehr infuses the text with historical reference to Batman by comic book and year. Such references are sure to satiate any collector of Batman memorabilia.

The narrative includes salient points about the requisite genetics, training, and realities which would accompany the life of one aspiring to be Batman. Zehr's development of the appropriateness of martial arts training stems from his own lifelong fascination with the martial arts and is a compelling analysis of the rigors which Bruce Wayne would have necessarily been exposed to perform as the Batman.
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