The Science of Supervillains by Lois H. Gresh , Robert Weinberg
The authors of The Science of Superheroes turn their attention to the heroes’ spectacular foes in order to uncover just how worried we need to be that some day a Magneto, Dr. Octopus or Lex Luthor may arise to threaten world domination. Considering the science reality underlying the cartoon science fiction, the authors look at Luthor’s youthful harnessing of solar energy and the basis for Brainiac as a form of artificial intelligence. While the idea behind this investigation is undeniably appealing, the authors are unclear about who their audience is. Several chapters, such as the one on Lex Luthor, employ an overly simplistic sentence structure or seem otherwise aimed at middle-schoolers: "be a hero to your class by correcting your science teacher." Other topics are aimed at adults without a science background or "those who have forgotten their high school biology." While this inconsistency may serve to stimulate young readers, it will likely turn off adults—especially since the first chapter is particularly simplistic and underdeveloped. However, later chapters grow in complexity and provide a solid base of information about their topics. Taken as a whole, this primer is a fun way to introduce young adults to a vast range of subjects—from the solar system to the mechanics of flight, bioengineering and beyond—but it may seem patronizing to adults.