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New Novel Offers Glimpses of Superheroes' 'Extreme' Sex Lives

Italian author Marco Mancassola delivers Batman's "weird forms of fetishism" in the critically acclaimed "Erotic Lives of the Superheroes."

Dark Knight Batman Film Still - H 2013
Warner Bros.

For decades now, the sex life of the Dark Knight has held an absurd fascination for those around him, from Fredric Wertham's famous argument that Batman and Robin were in a gay relationship to DC Comics' 2011 attempt to assert Batman's heterosexuality on-panel once and for all. Some people, however, just weren't convinced by that latter suggestion -- including author Marco Mancassola.

Mancassola is behind Erotic Lives of the Superheroes, a novel that he describes as "an attempt at exploring the complex humanity of a group of characters" -- if, by "complex humanity," you mean "what goes on when the capes come off."

According to Mancassola, "it shouldn’t be a shock that my version of [Batman] indulges in weird forms of fetishism and extreme sex," because the character has historically always been portrayed as having a dark side. "Narcissism is his inner abyss," Mancassola explained. "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 pickups." Yes, that is code for the various Robins with whom he's shared the night.

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Despite receiving plaudits from European critics for its original release in Italy -- one review even described it as "the great, long-awaited novel of post 9/11 America" -- the author says that some fans "can't forgive him" for what he's done to characters such as Batman, Superman and the Fantastic Four's elastic Mr. Fantastic, but his book comes from a place of affection. "I depicted [Batman] that way because I love him," he said. "He embodies the tragedy into which contemporary society has transformed the fact of getting older."

I wonder if copyright attorneys for Marvel Entertainment and DC Entertainment will buy the "I love your characters, really, I'm using them as metaphors for society" defense once the book -- which was released in the U.S. by Salammbo Press earlier this year -- starts getting more attention on this side of the Atlantic?