Book Review: 

Batman and Psychology

A Dark and Stormy Knight 

By Travis Langley

September 27, 2020

Details from Audible:

Batman and Psychology

A Dark and Stormy Knight
Written by: Travis Langley
Narrated by: Paul Bellantoni
Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins

Publisher's Summary

Batman is one of the most compelling and enduring characters to come from the Golden Age of Comics, and interest in his story has only increased through countless incarnations since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. 

Why does this superhero without superpowers fascinate us? What does that fascination say about us? 

Batman and Psychology explores these and other intriguing questions about the masked vigilante, including the following: Does Batman have PTSD? Why does he fight crime? Why as a vigilante? Why the mask, the bat, and the underage partner? Why are his most intimate relationships with bad girls he ought to lock up? And why won't he kill that homicidal green-haired clown? 

This book, which is written by a psychology professor and Superherologist (a scholar of superheroes), gives fresh insight into the complex inner world of Batman and Bruce Wayne (and the other characters of Gotham City), using this popular comic-book character as a lens to help explain psychological theory and concepts.

©2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC (P)2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC
 5.0 out of 5 stars5.0 (1 rating)

Initial Thoughts:

I love Batman, I have loved him dearly since I was 10 years old and I have been reading Batman comics (I'll admit off and on despite my love affair) for over 30 years. He's my favourite superhero and is the comic that got me off Archie comics and into more serious ones. Suffice it to say I was interested when I saw this book on Audible and this summer/fall I finally got a chance to listen to it.

Main Points:

Despite my love of Batman I really didn't love this book. I'll be clear, it's very well researched, well put together, good narrator and it presents a lot of ideas which are interesting but mainly it's just way too technical and goes on much too long.

I've started with the negative, though, so I'll be more positive for a while. I do appreciate this academic study of Batman and many of the characters in his world. It brings light on what I feel is the most realistic (and interesting) comic book character. Batman/Bruce Wayne has been dealing with bizarre events for almost his whole life (starting of course when his parents were killed in front of him at a young age) and his ability to stay sane through everything is impressive.

I also agree with the author that while Adam West (60s Batman on TV) did his best, the campy, humour Batman was never the way the character was intended and I was very glad to grow up with Batman (mostly) as the dark knight (the way he was meant to be.)

He does a good job going through all of the movies (this was written before Ben Affleck's regrettable appearances as Batman in newer DC movies) and touches on a lot of highlights (and lowlights) of the comics going all the way back to 1939. It is incredible when you think about it that Batman has remained so popular for over 80 years. He correctly points out that the study of comic books is a valid academic pursuit. Children (myself included) often pretended to be a superhero and it is an important part of their childhood and teenage years. Superheros now more so than ever are a big part of popular culture and the fact that not one but two people have won Oscars playing the Joker (Batman's most well-known villain) shows just how great the material can be shown on screen.

I do have to return to the negative, I think the major issues I had with this book is that it spends WAY too long on other characters besides Batman, often repeats itself (hard to explain, you'll have to listen or read it), often gets bogged down in complicated psychological terms and conditions, is too long and even has glaring mistakes like the narrator reading out the wrong chapter number! Very unprofessional, this really should have been fixed in editing.

Final Thoughts:

Despite what I said I did enjoy this book. In truth it would be hard for me not to enjoy a book about Batman, it's like a stroll down memory lane and it reminds me how much I still love him today and look forward to new stories and people to play him on the screen (yes I'll give Robert Pattinson a chance). So I do give it 7 out of 10 and would recommend it to a hardcore comic book/Batman fan. Just be prepared to zone out for a lot of it but I have to say the last 2-3 chapters do get back on track and are quite well done. While this book would be fine for children, I really don't think (most) would get anything out of it, I'd say just for a level of material ages 17+ unless you have some understanding of psychology/sociology you just won't enjoy it as much. I'd love to see a book really just about Batman, exploring all of the great (and not so great) stories he's had and what he could do in the future.