Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

In the great hierarchy of book genres, the media tie-in novel occupies a tier decidedly close to the bottom: higher than coloring books or street maps, but lower than, say, Jesus, Life Coach. All the worse when the corporate property in question in DC Comics’ Batman, a character whose appeal (whether in the comic books of his origin or the movies and TV shows that followed) has always depended in no small measure on the striking imagery of visual media. Seen in the four-color panels of Detective Comics, a man leaping rooftops in a bat suit reaches heights of the sublime. Described in typeset prose, he seems merely ridiculous.

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The Twilight(ing) of the Superhero

The Twilight(ing) of the Superhero

The principle of sexual selection, wrote naturalist Charles Darwin, deals with “the advantage which certain individuals have over others of the same sex and species solely in respect of reproduction.” A peacock’s tail, its marvelous length and iridescence sculpted by female choice, is the iconic example. Beetle horns, the elaborate nests of bower birds, and even the human brain, engine of art, music and speech, further illustrate the power of a positive feedback loop. The more refined a trait, the better suited to attracting mates shall a specimen be. Life, when not about brute struggle, becomes both beauty pageant and talent show.

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No Strange Quirk of Fate

No Strange Quirk of Fate

Time-lapse photography is a miraculous thing. Like a superpower, it changes our relationship to the mundane, revealing life lived at a different pace. Desolate winter, for example, can become lush spring in seconds. Likewise, a teenager can age one day a second for four years (her hair tossing as if in a storm, the minutia of her life cascading across her bedroom walls).

When lovingly executed, time-lapse footage haunts and inspires. Details blur to give us impossible perspectives. Grander patterns and unconventional theories surface in the mind. No matter the subject, we see reflected the familiar elements of life. But what dances before us does so with a strange life of its own.

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