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Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat?: Pop Psychology for Superheroes    by Chelsea Cain & Marc Mohan order for
Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat?
by Chelsea Cain
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away ... someone drew a man in tights, and sent him out to save the world. It didn't take long before people everywhere became enamored of the idea of superheroes, and these spectacular saviors were flying, leaping and webbing their way into people's homes and hearts.

In Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat?, Cain and Mohan do a spectacular job of reminding us why superheroes are so appealing in the first place. A caveat before we go any further: if you're looking for an in-depth discussion of the psychological appeal of superheroes to the public, you won't find it here. Instead, what this book provides is a lighthearted and absolutely hysterical look at the psychology of the superheroes themselves.

Done in comic book style, the book will appeal to anyone who has ever thrown on a cape (or their mother's best red tablecloth) and gone flying through the back yard. From the first page, the authors make it clear that theirs is a book for superheroes, about superheroes. 'If you are reading this book,' they tell us, 'then you have already confronted the biggest hurdle on the path to self-actualization: admitting to yourself that you need help. Perhaps your teammates held an intervention. Perhaps an errant duplication ray created an exact copy of you, with the opposite personality, and you were stunned to discover that your friends liked the copy more than they liked you.'

Chapter One gets right to the heart of things by analyzing What's In A Name. To make the right impression, you must have the right name, of course. What would Superman or Spiderman have been without their perfect monikers? But beware of names that sound evil. How can you tell if your name is intimidating? 'It has a scary word in it (e.g. Massacre, Fang, Napalm)' or 'You keep getting mail from an evil organization trying to recruit you.' Once you have the name problem figured out, you'll of course need a sidekick. Chapter Two, 'Getting Along With Your Sidekick', provides helpful tips for doing just that. But what if you are a sidekick? Don't despair! In Chapter Three, 'Advice for Sidekicks', the authors tell us that the sidekick role 'can lead to super opportunities.'

Other chapters offer advice on Thriving in a Team Environment, Sexism: Is It Still a Problem? How Does it Affect You?, Understanding Your Nemesis, Costumes and Body Image and many other issues critical to a superhero's well-being. With its wealth of beautiful, lighthearted illustrations and abundance of self-help guidance for the struggling superhero, this book is truly a one of a kind. Pick up a copy for a comic book fan, or keep it for yourself. Your inner child will thank you.

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