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on 30 March 2017
The superhero genre transcended the comic book world some time ago and can now feast upon itself. The idea of flying men and invisible women is so matter of fact to a modern audience that the need for an origins story is moot. Media has moved away from traditional good versus evil storylines to explore many different aspects of humanity. The latest ‘Wolverine’ may not be an all-out action film, but an exploration of age; or a film could have a normal person thinking that they are superhuman. ‘Watchmen’ explored what it was to be a person behind the mask and ‘Soon I Will Be Invincible’ does the same, but with perhaps a slightly more irreverent stance.

During the opening moments ‘Invincible’ promises to be a fantastic book for superhero fans. It opens with Doctor Impossible and is told from his point of view. He is a supervillain whose intelligence is so high that he cannot consider not being evil. Stuck in prison after his latest botched attempt to take over the world, we follow him as he attempts his escape. The opening moments are brilliant, Austin Grossman is able to voice how Dr Impossible is thinking and you get a real sense of how the villain must feel in a comic book.

Unfortunately, the truly great stuff is short lived as you introduced to Fatale, a Cyborg who hopes to become a superhero. Now the book flips between hero and villain. We are not only inundated with Dr Impossible’s inner monologues, but those of Fatale as well. If it was just one character you could forgive the incessant internal machinations, but Grossman spinning so many plates that the action gets lost. By introducing Fatale’s POV as well you have twice the amount of navel gazing and the book’s pacing really suffers.

Grossman has essentially set out to show the fallible side of superhumans and explore the moments that would usually land on the cutting room floor of a movie or comic. A novel gives you far more time to explore a character, but Grossman goes too far. Every superhero in the book is a little annoying as we learn too much about them. Why stop at two characters when you can jump into the past of another three or four? The plot as it is, is swamped under the weight of characterisation.

Released in 2008, ‘Invincible’ was one of the earlier attempts to dissect the burgeoning superhero movie market, but any fan of superheroes; film, book, or especially comic book, would have seen something similar to this before. This does not mean that Grossman’s exploration of the humanity behind the inhuman is not valid, just that it feels a little vapid. The book is worth reading for the Dr Impossible elements alone. Here the monologues shine as Impossible is a character who you feel has a slightly different voice than you are used to hearing. In a world that can now produce ‘Despicable Me’, we see the viewpoint of the bad guy elsewhere, but at least Dr Impossible is a charismatic and flawed anti-hero that you can get behind.
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VINE VOICEon 22 March 2013
The superhero genre has been one of the most colourful in all history. The idea of superpowers, extra-ordinary individuals & their worlds has generated some of the greatest fiction of all time. Obviously, when we think of this, we look to Marvel & DC Comics. In recent years, we've also been treated to some refreshing, original and innovative takes on the superhero concept; for example, Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles and Mur Lafferty's Playing For Keeps.

Soon I Will Be Invincible naturally appealed to me right away. Not just because of its subject-matter, but also because of Bryan Hitch's GORGEOUS artwork for the cover. This hardback version is a thing of beauty in my hands. The dust-jacket is immediately eye-catching, what with Hitch's illustrations and the foil-stamped title. The book itself is all-the-more of a masterwork with the binding, paper-quality, font variations and more of Bryan's colour illustrations/sketches in the back of the book, some presented as actual comic-book covers! It's a true work of art, with the story to match.

Speaking of story, Austin Grossman has written a typical cliché of a comic-book plot. Supervillain wants to take over the world, and the heroes must stop him. That's the POINT of these kind of adventures, and while it NEVER gets old, Grossman wisely presents a twist for his novel to stop the whole thing from being redundant.

The twist is the EXPERT first-person narrative that Austin writes, alternating between two central characters; Doctor Impossible - a supervillain who's continually defeated/yet obsessed with ruling the world - and Fatale - a cyborg super-heroine and rookie who's been drafted to join the almighty team of heroes, the Champions. Neither character has anything to do with each other (apart from being on opposing sides!), but this is why Soon I Will Be Invincible succeeds. Great variety and contrast of insight.

Grossman pours a lot of qualities into both Impossible & Fatale to make them appealing. It's more than just a case of one being villain, the other being hero that makes this joint narrative a real winner. Both are as human as you & I, and because of their contrasting backgrounds, attitudes, situations, personalities & motivations, it makes the whole experience so refreshing. Not only can you RELATE to Dr. Impossible & Fatale (in some regards), this also helps advance the intelligent plot along.

But a key thing about Grossman's writing is that he keeps it all completely coherent. You won't get lost reading into the proceedings, and as much focus as Dr. Impossible and Fatale receive, the author manages to provide sufficient examination on the rest of the colourful supporting cast. The influence of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Avengers etc is blatant throughout, but again, it's so refreshing because of the human environments/domestic situations which grounds it all. A special appendix of all the players and timeline for this universe (provided by Austin) helps clarify certain details and makes the read even more of a fun, intelligent read.

Soon I Will Be Invincible is a work of excellence. It's well-paced, utterly engaging, breathes originality into a classic concept, has tonnes of character, and is bound to appeal to not only comic lovers, but sci-fi fans as well. Austin Grossman has produced a simply terrific novel here, one of the most outstanding in recent memory. Well worth a look.
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on 13 February 2012
Soon I will be Invincible is the story of a a supervillain Doctor Impossible and his ongoing quest to become well, invincible. Actually his quest is to win out over his various nemeses and enemies - trouble is, he's the kind of guy that not only needs to win, everyone else has to lose.

The story is actually split being the evil genius himself and Fatale the newest member of a team of superheroes that represent his main rivals. The chapters are alternately narrated by the Doctor and Fatale (a cyborg whose powers and origin are a mystery even to herself). But whilst this is the case it's definitely still Doctor Impossible's story.

The idea of a different spin on superheroes is not new - from Watchmen to Mystery Men, from The Specials to Doctor Horrible's Singalong Blog this is territory that's been covered before. Here it's neither straight out spoof nor serious deconstruction. It's fairly light and fun though I did tire a little that every person with powers (and all the characters we meet, major and minor, have powers) seemed to get the space for their own origin story. It made the story not convoluted but a little dense with excess detail. I also felt that there was a better female character in the book to be the counterpoint to Impossible's pov. However I understand how making her the other narrator would have robbed her of some necessary mystery. It did feel though that Fatale, whose story (and back-story) is clearly intertwined with Doctor Impossible's was a little further from the true centre of gravity of the book.

What I did like about the book was the characters. In particular I liked the sense of melancholy and longing for things to just work out. The sense of being an outsider and the feeling of ambivalence about powers. But in a world where pretty much anyone you meet is another superhero/villain then the story of an attempt to take over the world is like a drama about a bad day at the office - which is both a good and bad thing.
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on 23 December 2012
I picked up "Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Grossman with a hopeful mind as I always loved superhero stories but just never found comics to be something that I enjoyed reading. I wasn't disappointed, I am sure for people who read comics there is nothing new here, but for me I was happy that I got to read something that gave me the comic book styled story in a form that I enjoy.

The plot itself follows two intermingling stories, the first is that of a super villain named Dr. Impossible with the second following a rookie super hero named Fatale. We get to see the lives of these two characters and gain a little insight into their thought processes as their stories run parallel to each other with Dr. Impossible trying to implement a new plan for world domination whilst Fatale joins a team of super heroes who are intent on stopping him.

I have to admit there was a less satire than I had been expecting when I picked up the novel. I mean there are aspects of satire throughout but they are more hidden within the standard super hero story that Grossman is telling. The chapters around Dr. Impossible are definitely the most satirical and I found them to be the most enjoyable. This was helped by the fact that I think Grossman spent time developing him into a character that the reader could actually want to succeed in his aims.

Fatale and the super heroes however were much more straight laced and the real life issues they were facing almost seemed banal when you compared it to everything else. I understand, Grossman was trying to show the reader how both heroes and villains have things they need to deal with in their life. But whilst I found Dr. Impossible's inner monologue to be interesting and enjoyable to follow, the super heroes just came across as being a little bit more un-original and boring.

Overall, this was an enjoyable story and following Dr. Impossible's rise and fall in particular was highly entertaining and this alone was worth reading the book for. Just don't expect anything that original in regards to the super hero genre and you should be more than happy if you pick up this book.
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on 23 February 2017
Last year I read 'You' by Austin Grossman - a great book about game development that really resonated with me. I may have only done hobbyist game development, but a lot of what he describes matched my own feelings perfectly. This evening I finished 'Soon I Will be Invincible' by the same author. It's a complete shift in terms of tone, nuance and writing confidence, but it's also an early contender for 'most fun book of the year'.

The plot is so (intentionally) cliche that it's not worth recounting, but it's basically the story of a few own-brand Lidl versions of famous super-heroes and the battle they have with an Aldi version of Doctor Doom. What's interesting about it is that it tells the story as a pair of interleaved narratives, one from Dr Impossible (the supervillain) and one from the newly recruited superhero Fatale. In doing this, the book manages to delve a little into the purported psychology of villainy, as well as the social interplay of personalities available in a Justice-League style supergroup. In doing *that* it emphasises just how incredibly weird comic book conventions are, and the impact on the real world that such personalities would have - how society is changed by their mere presence, regardless of their actions.

Fundamentally a very simple book with some really clunky writing in parts, but really enjoyable and well worth checking out.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 19 March 2015
This is not a superhero adventure story in any normal sense. It is not a graphic novel and it is not a prose fiction version of a comic book. It is a great deal more, or at least it is greatly different.

This is Dr. Impossible's book. A second character, Cyborg, is a new recruit on the Champions hero team, and she suffers through newbie crises and self-doubt, but her story is just there to balance Dr. Impossible and to provide a little dramatic tension. The heart and soul of the effort is Dr. Impossible.

Newly sprung from a maximum security prison, (because no jail can hold the smartest man in the world), Impossible has to start from scratch rebuilding his awesome criminal empire. We follow his hopes and dreams, self-doubt and dark musings, as he gets himself back on his feet. At one point he revisits a hideout where failed super-villains, most in costume, hang out talking about their past glory days. It is like the high school reunion from hell and is brutally funny, sad, touching and bizarre. There is gentle humor in this book, lacerating humor, bile, regret and a moving combination of hope and melancholy that make Dr. Impossible closer to a failed everyman than any bright and sparkling superhero could ever be.

This book is about ambition, celebrity, ego and power and our villain's rueful reflections on those subjects will amuse and provoke thought. It's deadpan approach, sly inside jokes, and the earnest humanity of Dr. Impossible make him one of the great memorable villains. Just a marvelous find.
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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2008
'Soon I will be Invincible' is the product of an admirable idea, the graphic novel in prose format. But does it work? The extra descriptive power given to Grossman allows him to flesh out his characters , adding a third dimension to what is literally a two-dimensional genre. The reader is treated to an insight into the motivations and interior thought processes of Dr Impossible, 'Soon I Will be Invincible's' Supervillian, and one of the 'Champions', the superhero team who are trying to stop his dastardly plans. Although interesting, this humanising of the super-strong, takes away some of the genre's gloss; the point of comic book characters, is that they are larger than life. Their motivations are generally simple or even irrelevant to the story.

Grossman clearly knows his comic book mythology very well; there are some excellent 'Genesis' stories; essential for all self-respecting superheroes, which he feeds to the reader in bite size morsels, throughout the book. There are also some delightful touches, such as the megalomaniac Dr Impossible, repeatedly comic back for more, despite knowing, that he is bound to be captured. This is one of many nods of the head to the rules of the genre.

There is however, a thin line between pastiche and copying; a line that Grossman meanders back and forth over during the course of the novel. One moment, it feels like you are reading a delicately subversive and lovingly crafted parody, and the next a cheap rip-off, repackaging comic book history's best ideas.

Don't be put off though, 'Soon I Will Be Invincible' is Grossman's debut novel, and should be considered in this light. Lovers of comic books, will enjoy this novel and I urge you to read it. Hopefully it will spur on the author to continue in the same vein, raise the bar and become the progenitor of the Incredible Supernovel.
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on 6 February 2012
If you haven't read this book as yet, and you are a fan of comic books/superhero ripping yarns, then run, don't walk, but run to your nearest purveyor of quality books because you do not want to miss this one.

Set in a world which is oddly not dissimilar to our own and yet quite naturally populated with a breed of superheroes and super villains who are out to save/destroy us according to their own particular whims, this is a witty and very comic (in more than one sense of the word!) novel. Told from the differing perspectives of Dr Impossible, ("Evil Genius, Mad Scientist, Diabolical Time Traveller and World Dominator in waiting") and Fatale, an insecure Cyborg (will her new superhero costume make her look fat?)this is a tale of superhero do-gooders (and do-badders) who are also strangely humanistic and possessing very recognisable worries about life. From the moment when we encounter Dr Impossible, in prison for the twelfth time, worrying about whether he's used his intelligence to the best possible use in becoming an evil genius, to the final page when Fatale finally accepts herself for the heroine she has become, I found this book utterly impossible to put down.

The story itself is brilliantly told with a really witty turn of phrase from the author and lots and lots of dry humour. Don't miss it.
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on 1 July 2008
This is a book that never quite recovers from its own terrific start:

"This morning on planet Earth, there are 1,686 enhanced, gifted, or otherwise superpowered persons. 678 use their powers to fight crime, while 441 use their powers to commit them. 44 are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals. Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or more -- eighteen to be exact. Including me. You really have to wonder why we all end up in jail."

It's a good enough start that Penguin print it on the cover, which also sports some natty Bryan Hitch art and the promise (from WIRED) that "every comic-book cliche in this witty, stunning debut is lovingly embraced, then turned inside out." And to begin with, as we meet the book's antihero Doctor Impossible, it looks like that is what we might get.

It just doesn't deliver. For example: Grossman includes in his cast of characters clearly identifiable pastiches of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman et al. But apart from a few mild spats and unthreatening closet-skeletons, none of these people are really 'turned inside out'. And the worst thing is that in the last fifteen years comics writers like Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison have brought the superhero narrative much further in terms of sophistication than Grossman manages here. He's a prose writer; the rationale for invading the territory of comics is that he's supposed to be able to bring a fresh and more subtle perspective. Sadly, none of his characters - or situations - really end up much more than the long-since surpassed cartoons they are supposed to be riffs on; it might be a biting satire, but just at the expense of SUPER FRIENDS.

It has its moments; I like the idea that the superintelligent often end up as evil geniuses, and that this syndrome is called "Malign Hypercognition Disorder." It's snappily told, and passes a train journey quite adequately.
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on 12 May 2012
The books starts off great. A super villain, Doctor Impossible, is in a high security prison, is thinking of his life, and what it takes to survive. The book then alternates from the view points of him, and a superheroine Fatale who has been just asked to join an elite group of superheroes.

The most powerful superhero (a Superman like figure) has vanished, and people suspect he may have been killed, which is scaring a lot of people, as he should have been invincible. Doctor Impossible , the main suspect, escapes from prison, and restarts his plan to take over the world.

Fatale, on the other hand, isn't sure who created her, or who she is, or if she is good enough. But she forced to fight Dr Impossible, and find out who killed superman.

Throughout the book, my sympathies were with Doctor Impossible, and I kept hoping he would win in the end. Alas, he doesn't, but it shows what a great job the writer did of creating great characters. Great book!
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