Identifying with fictional characters from your favorite stories can make coping easier when real life goes awry or even inspire you to make hard choices. Comics, in particular, are a medium that allows not only widely differing fan interpretations, but highly individualized relationships to characters, parallel worlds, and more. In his new book, Heroes, Villains and Healing: Marvel Edition, author, speaker, teacher, and survivor of childhood sexual abuse Kenneth Rogers Jr. offers a toolkit for survivors to process their trauma through the lens of Marvel heroes and villains.

Written in five parts, Heroes, Villains, and Healing explores characters like Wolverine, Spider-Man, Kraven the Hunter, Iron Man, Daredevil, Captain America, and more as Rogers covers dissociation, masking, suicide, myths around male survivors of sexual assault, addiction, and more. Part memoir, part comics commentary, part research and reporting, the book is deeply rooted in fandom and the healing process.

Heroes Villains and Healing cover
(Urano World Publishing)

Per the description from the publisher, “While filled with fantastic radioactive mutations, arch-nemesis, and super soldiers, the realm of superheroes and villains provides survivors the ability to safely explore the theories and applications of cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and internal family systems therapy to heal their cognitive distortions and become complete individuals. Comics, while designed to be read through the lens of good vs. evil and hero vs. villain, can cause survivors to view their reality, their actions, and the actions of others in the same black-and-white terms. However, reality is more complex, containing contrasting colors and shades of grey.”

Rogers’s writing doesn’t position himself or any other real person as a hero or villain, but rather as individuals who can bear the burden of their trauma and still live a full life. In addition to volunteering to share his story as a member of the RAINN Speakers Bureau, Rogers has also written other Heroes, Villains, and Healing books about DC Comics characters, as well as How to Kill Your Inner Batman, How to Master Your Inner Superman, How to Slow Your Inner Flash, and How to Save Your Inner Wonder Woman, all of which focus on specific mental health struggles.

Heroes, Villains and Healing: Marvel Edition will be available everywhere books are sold on June 4.