Some people make New Year's resolutions to lose weight or quit smoking. But if you've resolved to become costumed crimefighter this year, we're here to help, with twelve books that will mentally and physically prepare you for the superheroic life.
The Government Manual for New Superheroes by Matthew David Brozik and Jacob Sager Weinstein: When you decide to become a superhero, there are some basics that you need to attend to. What should your superhero name be? How do you go about making a costume? Where can you find your very own Fortress of Solitude? Should you start out as a sidekick, or try joining a super team? This manual covers all those important topics in the life of a neophyte superhero, and ensures that you won't suffer too much embarrassment in your early days of fighting crime.
Batman/Superman/Spider-Man Training Manuals: From the folks who brought us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the Ultimate Training Manuals help you tailor your superhero training by modeling it on a particular costumed crimefighter. The Batman Handbook teaches you such all-important skills as throwing a grappling hook, disarming a gunman, withstanding hypnosis, and surviving a poisonous gas attack. The Superman Handbook helps you leap tall structures in a single bound (by pole vaulting, not flying), how to rescue victims from anything from a runaway car to a burning building to quicksand, and how to treat victims of electrocution and radiation. The Spider-Man Handbook teaches you to develop your spider sense, build your own webslingers, survive a fall from a tall building, and live off a superhero's meager income.
The Action Hero's/Heroine's Handbook: Joe Borgenicht co-wrote these indispensable guides for any aspiring action star — with David Borgenicht for action heroes and with Jennifer Worick for action heroines. Despite the titles, their advice isn't entirely gender-specific. The Action Hero's Handbook explains how to take a bullet, wrangle a great white shark, and perform the Vulcan nerve pinch. The Action Heroine's Handbook has some female-specific advice — how to win a high-speed chase in high heels and a bustier, how to give birth under pressure — but also offers tips on fending off the undead, profiling serial killers, and outrunning fireballs.
The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook: Extreme Edition by Joshua Piven: Like other Worst-Case Scenario books, this volume is more focused on the emergencies and disasters you'll encounter in your life as a superhero. Thwart animal and vampire attacks, free your leg from a bear trap, and survive pandemics, all with this handy guide.
Don't Try This at Home by Hunter S. Fulghum: If you need advice on something a bit more ambitious — say, breaking into Area 51, sinking a submarine, forming an independent nation, or capturing the Loch Ness Monster — Fulgham has your back. He lays out the supplies and the steps you'll need to accomplish even the most bizarre and over-the-top super tasks.
How to Be a Superhero by Barry Neville: If, instead of going the Batman route, you've suddenly awaken to find you have superpowers, this might be the book for you. It aims to help you understand your new power — be it flight, magical abilities, or super-strength — as well as choosing an archenemy and polishing you superhero resume. Think you might actually be evil? There's a chapter on that, too.
Wisdom from the Batcave: How to Live a Super, Heroic Life by Cary A. Friedman: Sort of a self-help guide for superheroes and the people who want to emulate them, this book focuses more on the internal life of costumed hero. Written by a rabbi, it explores the values of self-esteem, willpower, hard work, and anticipating consequences that have made Batman such a successful crimefighter — and can help you on your superheroic quest as well.
Supervillains and Philosophy by Ben Dyer: Sure, you could opt for the similar book on superheroes and philosophy, but it's always good to understand your enemy. These essays will help you understand what drives your supervillainous foes — and why people sometimes root for them.
Kick-Ass by Mark Millar: Obviously this is a work of fiction rather than an actual guide, but Kick-Ass does provide some object lessons on what not to do when starting out as a superhero. For example, do not go after a pair of carjackers when you have no plan and no physical training. And it's probably not a good idea to waltz into a gangbanger's den and tell him off. After all, you won't always have a foul-mouthed preteen swooping in to save your ass.