Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Soon I Will Be Invincible

Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman
$10.17 in the Hansisgreat Gift Shop
ISBN: 0375424865
Funny, exciting, and above all, incredibly weird; Soon I Will Be Invincible is a superhero story in non-comic book format. It's a terrific summer blockbuster that surprised me with the depth of its characters, and its unexpected twists and turns.
Doctor Impossible is an evil genius who has been imprisoned no less than twelve times for trying to take over the world. After his most recent jailbreak, he hatches one last scheme for world domination by knocking the Earth out of its orbit. He's a tragic, lonely character; past his prime and with a grudge against the entire world for not appreciating his brilliance.
Fatale is a young woman who was in a horrible accident she can't even remember. Threatened with spending the rest of her life in a vegetative state, she's offered a chance to be rebuilt as a cyborg under the condition that she join the superhero team, the Champions. She accepts the offer, but when the Champions' leader disappears, she's forced into a crash course in super-heroism that culminates in a showdown with Doctor Impossible himself.
The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Impossible and Fatale. Both seem reasonable to the reader, and at times it's hard to understand who are the villains and who the heroes.
Our villain is a pitiful and empathetic character: changing into his 
caped costume in the bushes outside a super-villain cabal, only to be laughed at and attacked by the people he was counting on for help. He even takes the Greyhound bus to the sites of his criminal schemes. Poor guy,should've become a hero.
Although the plot is filled with absurd, comic book style scenarios which stretch willing suspension of disbelief to its extreme, the story is fun and interesting, and the author has a knack for keeping it grounded in the real world. Superhero teams are a special division of the US Army, for example. Special security clearances, secret headquarters, the whole nine yards. It all seems strangely believable.
Doctor Impossible has an older, villainous mentor; and Fatale a superhero girlfriend with whom she watches movies over Ben & Jerry's ice cream. There's always a well developed person with feelings and insecurities underneath the costume.
There's an entire legion of supporting cast, heroes and villains with their own weaknesses and triumphs. Among them is Doctor Impossible's ex-girlfriend, now a member of the Champions, sworn to hunt him down. An appendix is included, in case you get them mixed up.
It's impossible to fault this book as leisure reading. It's highly recommended for comic book fans who like to read text novels now and then. The story is captivating from the first page, and comes with all the highs and lows you'd expect from a meta-human showdown.
First rate work from an outstanding new author.

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