Jamie's Reviews > Soon I Will Be Invincible

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
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's review
Aug 01, 2008

liked it

I have to admit, I enjoyed this book by Austin Grossman. Yes, it's about superheroes, mostly about two of them in particular (one of whom is actually a supervillain) who take turns narrating intertwining stories. One is the self-proclaimed Dr. Impossible, who is your basic super magalomaniacal genius bent on world domination. The second is Fatale, a cyborg who's a rookie at the whole superhero business. The book basically follows the stories of these two characters, which run parallel to each other as the newly escaped Dr. Impossible enacts another bid for conquest and Fatale joins a legendary group of superheroes in the wake of its own personal tragedy.

To be honest, based on the cover and word of mouth, I expected more outright satire of the superhero genre than I got out of this book. There IS satire, don't get me wrong, but it's mixed in with an actual attempt to tell a story and flesh out characters while adhering to the tenants of the whole superhero thing --with a satirical edge. I particularly loved it when Dr. Impossible mentioned how one the charges that sent him to jail after his first attempt at world domination was for breaking zoning violations when he built his sinister underground lair. Actually most of the Dr. Impossible chapters are rife with subtle parody as the mad super genius carries on the kind of inner monologue that you always thought must be there when he's not bellowing "WHO DARES OPPOSE ME?" or "INSOLENT FOOLS!" at every caped crusader that walks in on him. It's pretty funny in a "what would a supervillain's life really be like?" kind of way and I was kind of rooting for the guy all along. He had a much harder time of it than you might think.

Fatale and the New Champion chapters, on the other hand, are written with more of a straight face and a lot less of the tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink kind of tone. Instead we get to see her wrestle with what it's like to be a newcomer to an established family of legendary heroes as they try to recapture Dr. Impossible (for the 12th time). Amusingly, Fatale seems to be taking the whole confrontation with our resident supervillain a lot more personally than he is taking her, since she broods and agonizes over their supposed animus while Dr. Impossible barely acknowledges her existence. This is most evident at the climax of the book when he pauses in his narrative to merely say "Then that cyborg chick punched me for some reason."

All in all, the story isn't that fantastic, even for a novel born of the superhero comic books scene. It's just standard take over the world kind of stuff. Neither are the supporting cast of characters particularly engaging, especially if you're halfway familiar with the comic culture touchstones upon which most of them are based. You've got your Batman-esque character, your Superman-like character, your Wolverine type, your Dr. Strange knockoff, and a few others. But still, I enjoyed it for the ride and the gentle mocking of the genre.

And perhaps best of all, at just under 300 pages Austin has the sense not to let it outstay its welcome and get bloated into something it has no business being. It's fun and easy to read, and it often offers amusing insights and parody of the whole scene that the author obviously loves.
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