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One of the best takes on the whole dynamic superhero/villain mythology!
on 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.