Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine
by Suzana E. Flores
McFarland & Company, Inc.

"The combination of both developmental and torture-induced trauma has forever morphed him into the Wolverine we know today."

Flores begins with the origin story created for Wolverine—Canadian-born James Howlett, later known as Logan. His childhood friends were Rose O’Hara and Dog, the son of groundskeeper Thomas Logan. Hidden family intrigue explodes when Thomas Logan blasts James’ father. The son’s scream at his father’s death morphs into the birth cry of a new Marvel character. James experiences amnesia and is assured by Rose that he was not to blame even as puberty changes reveal the boy’s retractable wolverine claws.

The story continues with Logan/Wolverine’s capture and torture by scientists. They inject the hardening adamantium (Greek for “untamed”) into Logan’s body while he is submerged in a bath tank and connected by tubes. To create a team of weapons, they train all their human subjects to hate and kill. Wolverine escapes but always fights to win as do his avowed enemies.

What happens when a clinical psychologist analyzes a Marvel Comics’ mutant? The result is a “research paper” published in book format by a die-hard comics fan. Characters come alive, plot lines unfold and are analyzed, and all are taken fresh from pages that children, teens, and adults have devoured for decades. Authors and artists are introduced as well-meaning, dear friends, no matter the amount of danger and pain they subject on the heroes.

Flores knows her superheroes and antiheroes almost as well as she knows her professional field. She provides definitions throughout such as antihero, trauma, and antisocial behavior to assist the reader in following her logic as a clinical psychologist. Chapter Three, with its section defining various forms of torture, may not be appropriate for some younger readers. The author’s science background shows clearly with the helpful inclusion of chapter notes, a bibliography, and an index.

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