Who Needs A Superhero? Finding Virtue, Vice, and What’s Holy in the Comics by H. Michael Brewer – Baker Books (2004)

Few books in Christendom are wrapped around as brilliant a concept as this one. Within the pages of Who Needs A Superhero?, author H. Michael Brewer takes his love and knowledge of comic book superheroes and explores some key doctrines of the faith. Surprisingly, this book is neither fluff nor boring.

Through Superman, he gives us a modern re-telling of the ultimate superhero, Jesus, noting how Superman was only a rescuer [p.71], and only became a savior when he laid down his life for his people [p. 77].

Through the Hulk, he explores our captivity to our monstrous sin nature. “As Bruce Banner discovered with the Hulk, sin separates us from ourselves… Ultimately, sin extinguishes any kind of healthy self-love and replaces it with loathing; worst of all, sin separates us from our Creator – rebelling against God and building a wall between us” [p. 34].

Through Batman, we see our total inability to save ourselves. “Behind the cowl, Batman is only a man, but he has made himself the absolute best that a man can be. Driving himself to the limits of human accomplishment, Batman has achieved the apex of physical and mental prowess. No one could work harder. No one could become more. Batman is the pinnacle of human potential. He is also a failure. Despite his valiant efforts, batman cannot save the world from violence and death” [p.39].

Through Iron Man, we see that technology and science cannot save us either, for they cannot save us from ourselves.

Through Wonder Woman, with her golden lasso of truth and earthy origins [Queen Hippolyte formed a baby out of clay and the Greek gods gave it life], we are reminded of Genesis 2:7, where God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. As Brewer notes, “Driving past a cemetery reminds us of our humble human stature. We came from the earth, and when our days are spent we will return to the earth. This is the truth about who we are. We are living clay. We did not make ourselves… We are not the Creator; we are merely God’s creatures. Unless we grasp this truth, we will inevitably live our lives either in fear or in rebellion” [pp.88-89]. Of course, the Creator’s will for us is the best path for us: “Why do we deceive ourselves that we know more about life than God does? God is in the best position to help us understand ourselves, including both our boundaries and our potential… This has been our problem since the garden of Eden, when the serpent convinced Eve that her personal fulfillment lay in disobeying God” [p. 90].

Through Thor, Brewer reminds us that Christianity is about transformation into the likeness of Christ and a restored state with God.

Through Spider-man, he reminds us that we are saved for service.

Through Daredevil, he calls us to discernment, emphasizing the point that “The surest defense against being led astray by phony gods is firsthand knowledge of the one-and-only true God. Faithful prayer and the study of Scripture are our best tools for reliable knowledge of God” [p. 131]. Commenting on Bible study, Brewer shed the following insight from his knowledge of comic books: “After reading comic books for so many years, I can often glance at a page and name the artist… If I know the artist well enough, I can recognize his work. The study of the Bible educates us in God’s “style.” The more familiar we become with God’s working in biblical times, the more likely we are to recognize God’s handiwork in our own times and lives. If I live through a whole day and never once discern the presence of God, does that mean God was entirely absent from my life that day? Or does it mean I haven’t gotten the hang of recognizing God’s style?” [p.129-130].

Through the X-Men, he explores what it means to be in the world, but not of it.

Through the Fantastic Four, he relates what it means to be a part of the family of God, and reminds us that church exists for a reason.

Contrasting the Punisher, Galactus, Uatu the Watcher, Odin All-Father, and the   Green Arrow, Brewer explores the question of what God is like.

Captain America and Wolverine are jointly invoked to open a discussion of God’s protection; while the Spirit is used to explore the Gospel itself.

This entertaining and thought-provoking read includes a lighthearted Superheo quiz to help you discern your own “secret superpowers,” and a study guide jam-packed with Scripture and probing questions for each chapter.

You can find out more about this book at the author’s website http://hmichaelbrewer.homestead.com/Books.html

-Tony Breeden, From the Bookwyrm’s Lair

About Tony Breeden

Tony Breeden is an author, creation speaker, Gospel preacher, vocalist and artist from West Virginia. He is also the founder of DefendingGenesis.org. Find out about his books at http://TonyBreedenBooks.com.

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