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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Soon I Will be Invincible

Soon I Will be Invincible is Austin Grossman's superhero novel. It is told from two perspectives: Fatale, who is the Next Generation of Warfare, a rookie superhero joining the New Champions a superhero team roughly analogous to the Justice league of America. The other narrator is Dr. Impossible, The Smartest Man in the World, the supreme villain who has fought with CoreFire, the Superman analogue all through his career. The chapters alternate between the two perspectives.

Being a novel, the book gets into the minds of the characters as they muse about their various predicaments. Unfortunately, Austin Grossman is studying for a PhD in English at Berkeley which means that it's very hard for him to make Dr. Impossible come off as a really smart person --- a novel that tries to get into the mind of a character has to pull off quite a bit more than a comic book that only shows the Villanous dialogue rather than quiet reflection. In fact, Dr. Impossible comes across as a self-pitying person who never quite gets the hang of villainy.

The plot behind the novel was extremely simple Dr. Impossible escaped from jail and a superheroes once again have to stop him before he conquers the world. All the cliches you can find in comic books are here, as Grossman doesn't find that he has anything to add to the genre except some meta-musings: for instance, Dr. Impossible is said to have malign hyper-cognition syndrome --- the politically correct term for evil scientist.

Unfortunately all the plot twists are telegraphed way in advance by the author, as if he was afraid that you weren't smart enough to figure out what was going to happen next. Even the ending isn't at all interesting because Dr. impossible doesn't seem to even know what to do when he has conquered the world. Oh wait, it is only implied that he might have known what to do if he did succeed. The novel isn't even courageous enough to take that step. All in all, although the novel is short and could be a fun read on an airplane or on a bus, I can't really recommend it over going to the source material, and hunting down a copy of Alan Moore's Miracleman (the paper books run on ebay for hundreds of dollars each, but I'm sure you can find electronic copies if you look)

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