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Self-Help for Superheroes 

Feng shui your superhero headquarters (and other tips and tricks)

We know about the larger-than-life problems faced by superheroes: evil alien squid clone death squads, flaming ultra-anthracite asteroids, Germans. As graphic novels and the movies that tell their tales have matured, we have even come to know of the superheroes' titanically tortured souls -- their incinerated home worlds, their murdered parents, their secret longings to reveal their true feelings to their true loves. But what about the little stuff? The maudlin and melodramatic minutiae that never make the funny pages? What if you're Couch Kid, a sidekick to Superego Man, and you don't feel that your boss properly appreciates your contributions to the team? What if Impossi-Grrrl puts on a few more pounds than her three little scraps of high-test Lycra can slim? What should you do if your nemesis suddenly stops returning your calls?

Never fear, übermenschen: writers Chelsea Cain and Marc Mohan, and illustrator Lia Miternique, are here to save the day, or at least make the day a little less filled with crushing, solipsistic ennui. In Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? Pop Psychology for Superheroes, the authors offer self-help for the super set, illustrated in a training manual, clip-art style. Looking to optimize the feng shui of your superhero headquarters? This book will show you where to put your danger room, your antimatter chamber and your underwater entrance. Struggling with your body image? "Accept the fact that you will always weigh more than Air Girl." Feeling stress over your upcoming galactic court tribunal? "Don't hold yourself responsible for that race of aliens you accidentally annihilated. These things happen."

Deconstructing superhero-dom is a long way from original. "Mystery Men," "The Ambiguously Gay Duo," "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law," "Space Ghost Coast to Coast," "The Incredibles," and Steven T. Seagle's It's a Bird have already undone many a superhero's mythological mystique. Still, the conceit of this latest deconstruction is clever and the humor devilishly deadpan. If you've seen reruns of the "Super Friends" on a nostalgia trip, only to cringe at the junk science and ludicrous dialog, this is humor likely to send some super-snot shooting out your nose.

Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? Pop Psychology for Superheroes

Chelsea Cain & Marc Mohan, and Lia Miternique (illus.), (Chronicle Books, 144 pages, $12.95)

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