After such a success with The Eyre Affair I found myself at the G’s. I have a surprising number of G authors that I actually enjoy rereading. I’d reread Parke Godwin’s Firelord (great take on the Arthurian legend, and if you haven’t read it, you really should. Arthur as he probably never was, but should have been) a couple of years ago and last time around I did Mira Grant’s Feed (another excellent book. I describe it as the zombie book for people that don’t normally read zombie books), my eyes lit on Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman. Austin Grossman is the twin brother of Lev ‘The Magicians’ Grossman, and I actually saw Soon I Will Be Invincible before I’d heard of Lev or seen The Magicians. Of the two brothers I prefer Austin’s books to Lev’s. I was taking a bit of a chance with Soon I Will Be Invincible, as I’d only read it once and that was a few years ago when it first came out, and while I could remember enjoying it, I’ve had my memory play me false (or my tastes have altered) a few times during this reread project.
Soon I Will Be Invincible is one of the earlier entries into the burgeoning super hero sub genre. I still think of the books I’ve read in that vein that it’s one of the best. It reads a little bit like a crossover between two eras of superherodom. There’s the Golden Age characters mixing with the more modern type ones. It’s a bit of a love letter to comics, which for a former hard core collector like me, is awesome.
It’s written in first person, from two different points of view, the chapters alternate between old style super villain Dr Impossible (and it’s really refreshing to see a book written from the view point of the villain) and rising new heroine Fatale. Like Austin Grossman’s other books (he’s written 2 since Soon I Will Be Invincible: YOU and Crooked, also both excellent, particularly Crooked) it’s a fake autobiography. It mostly centres around the disappearance of the world’s most powerful and most loved super hero; CoreFire, and he’s also Impossible’s greatest nemesis, and for that reason everyone suspects Impossible of being behind CoreFire’s disappearance/death, even though he was in custody at the time.
Impossible, in particular, spends a lot of his time in the book going back through time explaining his origin and the connection between he and CoreFire. Fatale’s relationship with the missing hero is different, she never met him, even after she had the implants that turned her into a cybernetic crime fighter, she was a fan and finds it hard to fit into the team he left behind and find her own place within it.
I don’t know how much Grossman based on known heroes, but I get a lot of the Superman Lex Luthor story from the struggle between Impossible and CoreFire. The main differences are that Impossible has super strength and seemingly some invulnerability to go with the big brain he never tires of telling people about and that he was ironically responsible for creating CoreFire, or rather turning him from a good looking jock to the world’s mightiest hero.
The first time I read Soon I Will Be Invincible I polished it off over a weekend, it’s that sort of book, you just keep on reading to find out what happens next. I didn’t read it quite that quick this time, but it had the same effect on me. I often read more than I intended just to read that little bit more. I didn’t remember many characters apart from Impossible, Fatale, CoreFire and Damsel, but this time the character of Elphin really fired my synapses. She was the last remaining elven or fairy warrior on Earth, possibly the only one of her kind anywhere. That was reminiscent of some of the characters I can remember Marvel using, like Hercules and Thor, they also had an actual elemental being in Meggan in Captain Britain (that was a majorly weird, but very good title in its day) and DC also dabbled in mythological heroes with Wonder Woman and her Amazonian background. I don’t think Austin Grossman does sequels (he hasn’t yet), but I’d definitely be up for some more stories about some of the more peripheral characters in Soon I Will Be Invincible, especially Elphin.
Let’s hope H can live up to F and G.