Friday, February 12, 2010
Be a Super-hero . . . Until You Grow Up.
Graphic novels and comic books aren't the only place to find super-heroes these days. Just have a look in Noble's Green, a town where kids can fly, have super-strength, can turn invisible. But in the novel Powerless (by Cody), the super-kids know there are four laws which guide their lives: 1. Use your powers to help. Never hurt. 2. The North Face and the Old Quarry are off-limits. Danger waits there. 3. It ends at thirteen. 4. Never, ever let grown ups know. From this great high concept, Cody tells the story of the new kid, the one who doesn't have the powers, but nevertheless finds himself in charge of unraveling the mystery behind these rules. And new kid Daniel can imagine, like any reader, what a remarkable gift it would be to have such extraordinary powers, just as he can imagine how horrible it must be to see your thirteenth birthday closing in and know it's all about to end. Worse yet, when your powers go, so does your memory of them, your memory of your friends; an entire part of your life simply disappears. Powerless is not only an exciting adventure that remembers the magic of old comic books, but a great mystery with surprises that keep coming. Most importantly, it's also a powerful statement on being a kid and being a hero (even without the powers).
And speaking of kids and super-heroes, what about the Marvel Adventures titles? All the big guys (and gals) in fast, fresh stories without the burden of continuity slowing them down. Just because they're labeled "All Ages" shouldn't give you pause either. Of all the comics out there, these comics most passionately and cleverly reflect the sense of fun and character-driven action that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko pioneered back in the day -- and believe me, I do not say that lightly. There's a lot of collections out there already, but if you're interested in investigating, check out Marvel Adventures Thor Featuring Captain America, Dr. Strange & Ant-Man Digest (by Tobin, Van Lente and Simonson), which includes a hilarious re-telling of Ant-Man's origin and also stars Spider-Man (even though they don't tell you). Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Volume 14: Thwip! Digest (by Tobin and Lolli) is also an excellent jumping-on point, filled with great fights, but also the human drama that Spidey is famous for.
Super-heroes aren't just for kids any . . . wait a second, maybe they are.