Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another Superpower that Time Forgot?

Mark Engblom had a lot of fun with these a few years back but here's one he missed.  Apparently Superman can shrink or expand his muscles at will:

In the story, Superman is supposedly out of town and so Lois hits on the bright idea of having Clark dress up in a suit to foil some gangsters.   Incidentally, it is often mentioned that DC took Siegel & Shuster off the comics when they filed their copyright claim in 1947; this (April 1948) issue appears to be the first without their credits on the title page, and the artwork is definitely sub-standard.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? Review

What do you do when someone offers to let you review their novel, as Andrez Bergen did, with Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?

1. Just say yes, in the hopes it will just go away.
2. Just say yes, and sweat it out thinking it won't go away.
3. Just say yes and hope that it won't be as awful as you think and maybe you can get away with talking about some good points.
4. Just say yes and be completely blown away by how terrific the novel is and only worry if you can come up with enough words to praise it.

Um, I'm going to go with #4.  Seriously, this is a terrific novel for anybody who loves comic books. And probably anybody in general, although it is harder for me to judge that because I was so wrapped up in the comic book goodness,

This is a great, entertaining book. I described it (based on the first two chapters)  for a blurb as Sam Spade meets the Justice League.  My bad.  It's Sam Spade meets the Justice League meets the Holodeck meets the Watchmen meets... well, I don't know.

It's just so cool a plot that I don't want to spoil it, but this only gives away about a third of the story:

The main character, Jack, is a 15-year-old lad from a post-apocalyptic Melbourne, Australia.  He joins a virtual reality universe where he can become a superhero, a member of a team called the Equalizers, who do constant battle with the Unmitigated Rotters.  While there he finds love, and must unravel a mystery.  The virtual reality universe is breaking down, and the rules (Comics Code Authority rules, no less) are being broken.  Heroes and villains are being killed, and worse, a death in the virtual world has similar consequences in the real world of Melbourne.

That is the plot, basically, but oh, man, the writing blows that out of the water.  There are Easter Eggs galore, to the point where the Easter Bunny union is probably writing up a grievance that they cannot carry all of them.  Some are obvious, but others definitely will take some Googling; in a way that is a huge advantage today compared to yesteryear.

I won't go into more detail about the plot.  It moves forward briskly, with frequent surprises, to a very satisfactory conclusion.

I do have two criticisms, one major and one minor.  The major problem with the book is that it was too short; couldn't Andrez have squeezed another thousand pages out? ;)

The minor criticism is that Jack seems just a little too savvy and sophisticated for a 15-year-old.  Perhaps this is because his virtual reality character is an adult?

However, that's a quibble in the bigger picture. This is a terrific novel, and I look forward to reading more by Andrez.