Erotic Lives of the Super Heroes Marco MangassolaComic book superheroes occupy a unique place in the adult geek psyche.  On the one hand, these are larger than life do-gooders that we fell in love with as young children– symbols of purity and honesty.  One the other, these are characters that are depicted in “porn parodies” (some of which seem to have impressive budgets), in adult cosplay (often in skimpier, over-sexualized versions of their already risque costumes) and who some people dress up as just to have kinky sex.

Certain mainstream books have even “gone there”.  Frank Miller explored Wonder Woman’s bondage roots in ‘The Dark Knight Strikes Back’.  Batman notoriously had fairly graphic (and fetishistic) sex with Black Canary in ‘All-Star Batman and Robin’ and with Catwoman in the first two issues of her New 52 books.  And in ‘Top 10’, Alan Moore revealed that a Justice League-like super team was a front for pedophiles, explaining their team of “sidekicks”. Let’s not even get into Mark Millar’s ‘The Boys’.

In Italian writer Marco Mancassola’s novel ‘Erotic Lives of the Superheroes’, he explores the kinkier side of aging heroes such as Superman, Mister Fantastic, Mystique (okay she’s a villain) and perhaps most glaringly Batman.  “It shouldn’t be a shock that my version of [Batman] indulges in weird forms of fetishism and extreme sex,” Mancassola explained referencing the character’s infamous dark side. “Narcissism is his inner abyss.  He let his only real love story miserably fail because he is in love with the mystery of youth – that inaccessible, fleeting kind of spirit that he sees in the eyes of his young male and female pick-ups.” And yes, that’s code for Robin and the other youthful Bat Family members.

Catwoman Batman
A decidedly heterosexual Batman from the pages of DC Comics’ ‘Catwoman’

Yes, once again, a writer refers back to the age-old charge that there is more than crime solving that goes on in the Batcave.  According to the UK’s The Independent, Mancassola’s take is described as, “Batman has been “outed” as an ageing homosexual who picks up young men for one-night stands and sits next to Sir Elton John at New York charity dinners.  Batman and Robin [are portrayed] as a  bickering gay couple whose sex life has gone flat.”

The author admits that there are fans who “can’t forgive me for what I’ve done to their beloved characters. This is true especially when it comes to Batman, who comes across as the least nice character of the book – egocentric, ridiculously vain, in some way ‘perverse’. But, actually, I depicted him that way because I love him. He is human. He embodies the tragedy into which contemporary society has transformed the fact of getting older.”

Batman catwomanIn his own defense, Mancassola explains “There was no intention to shock or offend anybody: ‘Erotic Lives of the Superheroes’ is just an attempt at exploring the complex humanity of a group of characters.”

This certainly isn’t the first time the crime fighter’s sexuality has been scrutinized, however, as it was most famously brought under attack by Dr. Fredric Wertham in 1954’s “Seduction of the Innocent” which brought the entire comic book industry before the Senate to face charges of corrupting children.  The industry adopted a self-censorship counsel the Comics Code Authority and toned down anything overly sexual or violent in their pages.  (The Authority has largely been abandoned today.)  Even comic professionals cop to the gay undertones of the character, though.  Batman writer Devin Grayson admits, “I certainly understand the gay readings.”  The character’s most recent scripter Grant Morrison even more brazenly expressed, “Gayness is built into Batman.”

Here is the book’s official synopsis:

New York, early twenty-first century. Once, they were famous and their bodies were powerful. They were Mister Fantastic, Batman, Mystique, Superman…Now they know the pains of aging and regret. And as an obscure conspiracy is threatening their lives, making them even more vulnerable, they live out one last, desperate love story. At once realistic and visionary, here is a novel that revives a pop imagination with a narrative of singular power. Beautifully written, playful and tragic, this is a story about the broken heart of not only a group of former superheroes, but of an entire civilization, an entire world.

You can order the book through Amazon. Be warned though.  If your mom loved ’50 Shades of Grey’ and suddenly starts drilling you for information on your favorite superheroes… just change the subject and walk away.

What do you think?  Will you be checking this book out?  Does the idea of your favorite heroes having kinky sex upset you or do you think “Well, we all have needs?”  Comment below!

Additional sources The Hollywood Reporter, The Daily Mail