REVIEW SUMMARY: Comic book fiction mixed with some realistic personalities creates a fun read for superhero fans.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Corefire is missing and Doctor Impossible has escaped again. Was he responsible for Corefire’s disappearance? Well, the New Champions are on the case.
PROS: Interesting narrative style; Fantastic characters.
CONS: Some of the transitions into and out of the flashbacks are a little abrupt; Some characters could use a bit more development.
BOTTOM LINE: A great book with some minor flaws that gives yet another view on superheros.
Before I get into the review of the contents of the book, I have to talk about the cover and jacket for this book. The hardcover edition of the book has a dust jacket that is shown in the image at the top of the review. The front shows a helmet being held by two gloved hands, and the rear of the jacket shows gloves being pulled on by blue hands. This is pretty much stating this is a book about costumed meta-humans. Under the dust jacket, one normally expects a rather plain cover, but that is not the case for this book. Its a full color image showing a set of costumes in a stack. It really is a nice touch and makes it pretty clear what you are reading for all to see. All the images of the hardcover can be found over at Amazon.
With that out of the way, I can move on to the actual contents of the book which is probably why folks are reading these things. The book is really told from two main perspectives. One is the perspective of Doctor Impossible, and he is a major super villain. The other is from the viewpoint of Fatale, and she is a cyborg who has been recruited by the Champions during the current crisis (Corefire being missing). I am not going to spend a lot of time on the plot since there are a few twists that should be experienced. The book is broken down into the three main parts with the story switching every chapter for a change of viewpoint. I really enjoyed this aspect of the storytelling and it was accented by a specific font or image at the beginning of the chapter to help reinforce the change of perspective. The Doctor Impossible sections have a number of flashbacks to flesh out the characters in the book. These are a great tool, but might be slightly over used and the transitions back are not always that smooth. There were a couple times I felt that they returned rather abruptly.
Mr. Grossman does understand what makes comic book heroes work and he does a fine job of weaving these characters together. I really felt that his Doctor Impossible was a fantastic villain who I found myself liking more than the heroes in the story, and it is the characters that really work in this book. They each feel distinct and at one point you start to realize that most superhero stories don’t have to deal with things like retirement or the loss of one’s powers. I do wish he gave a little more attention to some of the minor characters, but that is a minor nitpick. It might also be something that is rectified in a future book.
In the end, I felt the book was a fun read. It is not making political commentary or a social statement, but instead tells a story about meta humans. It does a great job with the main characters and presents one of my new favorite villains. Furthermore, I now have new names for my villains in the the next superhero game – oh yes, look out for Count Smackula 🙂 This book is something that can be read by non-superhero fans and fans of those types of stories are well served by the story.