Thursday, May 17, 2007

Soon I Will Be Invincible

I have to say, my expectations going in to Soon I Will Be Invincible were pretty high. As a comic collector of 18 years, I know what I like, and more importantly, what I don’t about the genre. Austin Grossman fulfilled and then exceeded my expectations, much to my surprise and enjoyment. The pitch-perfect evocation of time-tested comic book archetypes in a novel setting was feat enough to win my praise, but Grossman took the opportunity to explore the concepts further, fleshing out what most would see as stereotypes on first glance. In letting the villainous Dr. Impossible tell his own story to the reader, Soon I Will Be Invincible portrays the character as the underdog (albeit a maniacally fiendish and amazingly intelligent one) who just won’t quit. Sure, most comic heroes have that quality in spades (it seems to come with the spandex); but when was the last time you got the sense that the villain worked harder to prevail?

This book knocks some conventional comic book ideas on their ears, while preserving the spirit of the four-color adventures that only the bravest will admit to reading. For those still in the dark about just what comic books can be, this novel should be a wake-up call that there is a new mythology for those who care to study it, and it’s been around for close to seventy years. Austin Grossman joins the ranks of Alan Moore, Kurt Busiek and Grant Morrison as explorers, preservers (and when needed, challengers) of the traditions of the comic story. If Soon I Will Be Invincible is the vanguard of superhero fiction, I think the genre is off to a great start.

Comic book novel? Yes. Full of strange people, strange powers, strange ideas? Yes. The treatment that some of fiction’s most-underrated concepts and creators sorely deserve? By all means.


Post a Comment