Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman

At first glance, Austin Grossman’s debut novel Soon I Will Be Invincible has a lot in common with Ben Edlund’s The Tick. Both are witty stories about superheroes and their villainous counterparts attempting to make a name for themselves in cities that are overrun with muscle-bound do-gooders. But while The Tick gallops along with gleefully goofy energy, Grossman’s novel is much more subdued, with a surprisingly grown-up sense of humor.

Soon I Will Be Invincible is told from alternating points of view. The first belongs to Doctor Impossible, an evil genius stuck a federal detention facility, hard at work on yet another plan to take over the world (hey, thirteenth time’s the charm). The second belongs to Fatale, a lonely robot/woman hybrid who has recently become the newest member of the Champions, the world's greatest Superteam. As both sides prepare for their inevitable battle over the fate of the planet, Fatale and Doctor Impossible spend an awful lot of time musing about the nature of power, the sacrifices it takes to make it to the top, and if being a superhuman is really all it’s cracked up to be.

There isn’t much plot to speak of in Soon I Will Be Invincible. Doctor Impossible’s diabolical scheme is only referred to in passing (something about knocking the planet out of orbit), and the Champions’ plan to stop him is equally hazy. Grossman is more interested in exploring his characters’ existential selves than he is in creating a thrilling adventure. Luckily for his readers, reading about a self-obsessed nerd’s sense of ennui is a lot more fun when the nerd in question is an evil genius.

Soon I Will Be Invincible frequently seems a little too impressed by its own cleverness. Its measured pace is thrown off by a conclusion that feels hastily cobbled together. One wonders if non-comic-book-fans will catch much of the humor. (You have to have at least a nodding familiarity with comics to understand the genius of a description like “H. R. Giger’s dream of a schoolgirl”.) Still, this is an astonishingly assured debut with style and characterization to spare, guaranteed to be the most entertaining and thoughtful book about superhuman angst you’ll read this summer.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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