With the success of such movies as SPIDER-MAN, BATMAN, and THE X-MEN, and television shows such as “Heroes” and “So You Want To Be a Superhero,” it’s no surprise that an influx of novels about superheroes has appeared, much to this comic book geek’s delight. The first of the genre that I have embraced is Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible. Grossman is clearly familiar with the superhero world in comics, and he uses that world as the setting for his novel. There are two points-of-view in Invincible, bouncing back and forth between the villainous Dr. Impossible, and the newest member of the crime-stopping Champions, Fatale.
Grossman does a great job getting into Dr. Impossible’s head. After coming so close to conquering the world so many times, sent to prison, escaping, and repeating the cycle again and again, it’s interesting to see what motivates this super-genius to keep going. It seems that super-villainy is just hard-wired into his head. He’s got one more idea up his sleeve, and when the opportunity presents itself, he does the expected: busts our of prison, rebuilds his weapons and tries to take over the world.
Having disbanded a few years ago, the Champions come together again due to the mysterious disappearance of the best and brightest of their members, CoreFire. He was the most powerful of them all, unbeatable and charismatic, so when he seems to be missing for real, the Champions, Blackwolf – the Ultimate Crimefighter; Damsel – First Lady of Power; Elphin – Warrior Princess; Feral – Savage Street Fighter; Mister Mystic – Man of Mystery; and Rainbow Triumph – Teen Idol with an Attitude, feel duty bound to reunite and solve the mystery. To their ranks, they add a couple of newcomers; Lily, a mysterious, superpowered outcast from the future, and Fatale – the Next Generation of Warfare. It’s understandable that Grossman choses Fatale to be the readers’ entry into the superhero world. She’s new to the game, having received her powers after a freak accident destroyed most of her body and being transformed by new technology into a cyborg agent. Fatale is thrust into the glamorous world of the superhero elite all the while feeling she must constantly prove herself just to stand among them.
While the book is an entertaining read, and I do recommend it, I think the problem with using Fatale as one of our narrators is that when the finale arrives, and she is not a part of it, the reader is left on the outside looking in, when it would have been nice to have our point of view in the midst of the action. It’s like being sidelined for the big finish, and it’s a little distracting. Still, Grossman’s world is certainly representative of our own if it were populated by men and women with extraordinary powers.