… but damn that’s a beautiful cover. I mean look at it.
It’s so pretty. And that title! And it’s about comics and the nature of heroism with the loss of supernatural powers by someone who actually likes comics! (And writes them – I didn’t connect the dots that this is the same Tom King that wrote the truly excellent Vision for Marvel, but once I did it was really obvious, just as he uses Shakespeare as a through-line in that series, he uses Dante’s Paradise here). It should’ve been so good, you guys!
…it wasn’t. And dammit, I should’ve known. I have yet to read a single prose book about superheroes that’s worth a damn. I love comics and I even love some superhero comics; I even believe that there’s a way to describe a man in spandex fighting crime that’s not utterly ridiculous. But every book I’ve read comes off more Adam West than Christian Bale.
This is no exception, and falls prey to the same trap I’ve seen from other comics writers that move to prose – it tells and tells and tells where it should show. Sam and Max from Bill Willingham was the same; I suspect that when you’re used to pictures carrying some of the subtleties it’s hard to write them in. This was basically Watchmen minus the character shading and human touches that made that book great. All that’s left here is paper doll characters without dimension doing bad things for a questionable greater good. Oddly, this prose book exemplifies one of the unfair criticisms leveled against comics: that they are nothing more than stock characters punching each other.