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Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? by [Bergen, Andrez]
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Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Length: 474 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product description

About the Author

Andrez Bergen is an expatriate Australian author, journalist, DJ, photographer and musician, based in Tokyo, Japan, over the past eleven years.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6880 KB
  • Print Length: 474 pages
  • Publisher: Perfect Edge (27 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EPQ7YQ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #573,103 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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All the while I was reading this, I was thinking about Watchmen, and Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa rather suffers from that comparison. It covers very similar territory, just with a bit more 40s influence (the hardboiled noir elements). As much as I liked the premise, the characters were too shallowly drawn for me to start caring about them, and by half way through, my attention was starting to flag.
This isn't a bad book, just not anywhere near as good as it could have been.
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Format: Paperback
When author Andrez Bergen undertook the Herculean task of describing to me the premise of his upcoming book, I was, quite frankly, amazed when he didn't pass out from sheer exhaustion.

"It's a futuristic-retro superhero romp that mixes and matches 1930s Art Deco architectural lines with the gung-ho Soviet formalist propaganda style, twisted into 1960s pop art sentiment and the huge influence of Jack Kirby. Think golden and silver age American comics channeled into a dystopian future--via Japanese manga--while heavily skewed by the '60s Marvel comic book baggage of Kirby, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Jim Steranko, Steve Ditko and their ilk. And then decant that concoction into the legacy of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett."

Now, I did say `book', not `comic book'. Andrez Bergen has stuffed all these comic book concepts into one hefty novel. But the visuals so dear to comic book aficionados have not been forgotten. Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? is illustrated by a variety of artists from the UK, Italy, the United States, Japan, Russia, Spain, Canada, Argentina, and the author's homeland of Australia.

"I wanted a more professional take on the visual concept and I also liked the idea of disparate visions of the same character--it's the way comic books, after all, work in the real world. Bryan Hitch's perception of Captain America in 2009 was far different from John Buscema's in 1969."
But the most challenging hurdle of all was his decision to let me read the book. I appreciate comic books for their rich history and contributions to our culture in the form of action movies, occasional fashion statements and a rich abundance of cultural references. However, my own interest in comics was short-lived, just a small dose of Superman back in grade school.
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Format: Paperback
One by one, the superheroes that protect the city of Heropa are falling. Assassinations, apparent accidents, sabotage, a myriad of incidents have one thing in common: a cape - a superhero - is dead. Trouble is, that's against the rules. Everybody knows heroes can't die.

Meanwhile, in the real world...

Andrez Bergen steers us carefully through the layered reality of an Australian dystopic future mixed into a fantasy comic book past. Equal parts Stan Lee and Raymond Chandler, with Gibsonesque twirlings, this story could easily get away from a writer. But, lacking the visual framework of the comic books that it draws on for its own legends, Bergen eschews the grandstanding and instead focuses on the characters. The novel is full of empathy and emotion. After all, when you're not sure how real your world or your fate is, what else have got to rely on except your own sense of self, of right and wrong, love and hate, friendship and enmity? And of course, your chosen superpower.

Not that you have to be into comic books to enjoy this. Comics have always been more incidental in my life than a mainstay, and yet I still got most of the references, or at least understood them. Superhero fans certainly will enjoy it, but there's as much mystery, intrigue, and romance as there is action. And Bergen does a great job in not only bringing the world to life, but also in toying with the conventions of pulp and comic book lore. When we do find ourselves out in the 'real world' it is insufferably grim and forbidding, neatly contrasted to the shiny newness of Heropa, where whole city blocks can be destroyed and repaired over night - in true comic book fashion, consequences never last longer than a story arc. At least, not when things are working right.
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Format: Paperback
Andrez Bergen is an interesting cat. His first three books, in many ways, are very different from one another. One's a classic detective fiction dystopia mash up; the next is an exploration into the nether regions of the afterlife; and his most recent, Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, is an homage to comic books and draws from the work of Philip K. Dick.

Actually, homage isn't really what's going on here--it's almost an investigation of the assumptions comic books are based on. You see, Heropa is a futuristic virtual reality set up with super heroes, villains, and blandos (all the people who super heroes save). The world has become such a terrible place that people have totally given up on it and they journey to Heropa mentally, if not physically. Heropa is a fundamentally (and mechanically) broken place, where the super heroes and the blandos resent each other and everything seems to be falling apart.

Bergen uses this premise as a vehicle to poke at a bunch of interesting questions: What does being a super hero mean? Would a world with super heroes be better or worse? What about all those people who the super heroes "save"? Are they real people or just objects? Can virtual reality be as important as reality?

And this is what I dig about Bergen's work in general--he takes entertaining plots and characters and uses them to explore deeper issues. Yet he's never didactic or navel-gazing; he walks the tight rope expertly.

After three books, it's clear that Bergen doesn't confine himself to one genre. In fact, he prefers to mix and blend genres with gleeful abandon. Yet there is consistency. He creates some of the most wildly imaginative places you will ever encounter in fiction. He has perfect pitch for witty dialog and cultural references.
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