Friday, August 27, 2010
Soon I Will Be Invincible
Some time ago, a friend recommended I read Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, which is both homage to and a send-up of the conventions of super-hero stories from the comics. Typically, it took me three years to get around to it, but I’ve been trying to whittle down the mounds of unread books and unwatched movies recently, so I finally got around to it.
Soon I Will Be Invincible is set in a world where superheroes and super villains exist, just like in the comics. It is told in alternating voices, with chapters presented from the point of view of Doctor Impossible, who is suffering from Malign Hypercognition Disorder (he is an evil genius) and Fatale, a cyborg who is the newest hero. Doctor Impossible sees himself as misunderstood, and is unable to control his own impulses (whenever he is confronted by a hero, he starts spouting clichéd dialogue. Fatale acts as a fresh observer of the group dynamics of the team of superheroes she joins; all the while wondering about her own past (the operations that made her a cyborg removed the part of her brain that stored memories).
The book is wildly funny, especially if you grew up with – and who didn’t – the whole comic book hero thing. Doctor Impossible pauses in the dispassionate recital of the failures of his world-domination schemes to mutter “Henchmen. Don’t get me started on henchmen.” Fatale talks to Regina, a retired hero, and can’t decide if she truly had super powers, now faded, or was just mentally ill. The New Champions, the organization of superheroes that represents the JLA or Avengers from comics, seethes with resentment and jealousy.
For those who don’t like comics, Soon I Will Be Invincible will probably work well as a send-up of the genre. Those who do like them will be entertained by the all-too familiar antics of Good Guys and Bad Guys, shown in a slightly more realistic light.