If you’re at all a fan of comic books or Saturday morning cartoons, Austin Grossman’s novel Soon I Will Be Invincible should be high on your reading list.
Grossman’s approach to a subject that has been explored countless times is different and engaging. He chooses to focus much of his attention on two different individuals: the supervillain Dr. Impossible and the cyborg hero, Fatale. In my mind, Dr. Impossible is the star of the book. His bottomless desire to take over the world is true to form, but the trials and travails that he follows on his most recent attempt are interesting. More fascinating are his views on the world of villains and heroes as seen from the villain’s perspective. Grossman even manages to get across the idea that perhaps superhero groups and supervillains are simply yet another example of the cool kids from high school picking (superheroes) picking on the nerdy kids (supervillains).
Fatale is also interesting for her perspectives on superheroes from one who has only recently reached that plateau. Particularly revealing are scenes away from the public eye like the one of the New Champions meeting in their clubhouse kitchen late at night.
Through these characters Grossman really plumbs the depths of the genre in new and refreshing ways. When Dr. Impossible is forced to change out of his costume behind an Applebees dumpter so that he can catch the bus we get a totally different perspective on what supervillains might go through before they get back on their feet after being out of circulation (i.e., in jail) for a while. Fatale’s hero worship (even though she is now a hero herself) is an interesting rumination on what it might be like to suddenly find yourself in the daily company of those who you once idolized and perhaps still do.
Soon I Will Be Invincible is a great book and you will do yourself a disservice to skip it if you’re at all familiar with superheroes and supervillains.