Inventing Iron Man

Alright you nerds.

I would like to talk about another book from E. Paul Zehr. Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine continues on from Becoming Batman.

Once again, the book is not written to answer many of the logistical questions that may arise when discussing a superhero. It is mostly about the affects the human body. This was also a good read but will hold little value to those who wish they would skip to the part were somebody gets the crap beat out of them.

For those of us that like cyborgs, like yours truly, the book opens up new knowledge on the nervous system and how it can, or cannot, work with an outside attachment, like a prosthetic arm or suit of armor.

For instance, the book introduced me to neural plasticity, or the fact that nerves can adapt “to changes in the body” (90) and the nerves can and will grow at a rate of 1 mm per day to restore feeling in damaged areas (97). I was always told that nerves, once damaged, never repaired themselves.

The book talks a great deal about cyborgs, and I learned that prosthetic limbs are as old as ancient Egypt, but what I would call the first cyborg would be the case of the German Knight Götz von Berlichingen around AD 1500. After loosing a hand in battle he had another made out of iron that could hold a pen or a sword. He was then known as The Iron Knight (27). Who cool is that, cyborg friends?

Also, according to Zehr, the first superhero written in popular culture was a cyborg. The book is called The Assassination of the Nyctalope. It was published in 1933 by Frenchman Jean de la Hire (5). Several of de la Hire’s books are on Amazon for you to check out.

Of course the book goes through all the training, effects on the body. In movies and comics, there isn’t time for real life to set in. If we wanted that, all we have to do is look away. In the movie, Iron Man, Tony Stark invents the suit and just flies away, concussions be damned. We all know that wouldn’t happen.

Stark would need 10 years of flight training, another five years of combat training, then would finally prefect being Iron Man at about the age of 60, ten years after Batman would need to hang up the cape and cowl for health reasons (178,165).

In concussion, this book has a lot to teach for those interested in how heroes work in real life. It helped me go in a new direction for my work by learning new things. Some one told me once, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Now I know why he said that because of the new things I learned and the effect it will have on my work. It will be better.

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