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X-Men And Philosophy edited by Rebecca Housel and J. Jeremy Wisnewski

1/01/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy X-Men And Philosophy edited in the USA - or Buy X-Men And Philosophy edited in the UK

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pub: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 251 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $17.95 (US), $21.99 (CAN), 11.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-470-41340-1.

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'X-Men And Philosophy' has seventeen teacher philosophers on the subject looking at different aspects of the mutants in the Marvel Universe. Although it would be understandable that few of them would be privy to the entire forty-six year history, a few of them only focus on the events of the three films as their source material which in itself is only an interpretation of the source material, so they're only getting it second hand. Others take on events mostly from the 70s-90s run with only a couple focusing on anything further on. If anything, was on home territory with both periods.

The X-Men, collectively across the titles, examines the effects of prejudice against a minority, although few of the people here really make a study as to whether the humans are right or not in attacking them. After all, this particular minority are extremely powerful and take the law into their own hands, especially against their own kind as humans aren't that well equipped to take them on. Even the Sentinels haven't been that successful. Andrew Terjesen makes a strong point about how powerful Professor X is in 'Dirty Hands And Dirty Minds: The Ethics Of Mind Reading And Mindwriting' and he's one of the good guys. Even Xavier has his dark side as witnessed in a few stories, like X-Men # 106, which his researchers tend to overlook. Then again, it could be argued that the chapters here aren't supposed to be a history lesson but a look at ethical consideration. Greater power doesn't necessarily mean greater responsibility just the ability to fight back against prejudiced people.

If anything, my reading of this book tends to make me think that all the philosophers were rubbing their hands as to whom they should tackle, be it Xavier, Magneto, Phoenix or Wolverine than the broader issues from a human perspective who want to bring in their own control which comes in more from Stryker's POV in the films. There is barely a mention of the Sentinel policy for instance.

In his chapter, 'Mad Genetics: The Sinister Side Of Biological Mastery', Andrew Burnett focuses on Mr. Sinister and his manipulation of genetic code and neglects the fact that Magento had a similar agenda right back to the original X-Men # 18-19 and # 62-64 run. Joseph J. Darowski's chapter, 'When You Know You're Just A Comic Book Character: Deadpool' shows a certain lack of knowledge in that John Byrne's tenure with 'The Sensational She-Hulk' had her frequently breaking the fifth wall as well. It's hardly a new thing in comics as I have vague memories of other characters doing a similar thing.

If you're well-versed in the Marvel Universe, I have a feeling that you might find this book wanting. You might also find it giving you room to debate on things that they might have over-looked as it's easy to miss something here. Readers who are only just getting a grasp on the subject will probably have just enough to cope with here. An interesting book but it could have done with better help from their assistance. The fact that it allows me to argue contrary points shows such books will develop your debating ability on such topics which is the whole point of philosophy in the first place.

GF Willmetts

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