Comic Book Literature

If you liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, especially how it reads like a comic book in the form of a literary novel and how it deals with big questions, I have two other books that may appeal.

In Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, Doctor Impossible has gotten bored of imprisonment (again) and escapes in a bid to conquer the world (again).  At the same time, the New Champions are holding auditions for a new member and a woman named Fatale has been invited. Fatale is a cyborg, a victim of a terrible accident put back together with the latest bells and whistles, but no memory of her life before. The narration alternates between the two characters, and we get to know quite a bit about Doctor Impossible's origin (astoundingly intelligent, mercilessly bullied) and the backstory of the New Champions (as opposed to the Champions, Silver Age heroes who were getting a little long in the tooth). Like Michael Chabon's book, there's plenty of narrative to keep you turning the pages, and comic book in-jokes abound. Also, the characters make you feel for them. I found myself in sympathy with Doctor Impossible a great deal, both as the little kid who cried when his lunch tray was upturned and the adult who's not as physically tough as he used to be, but still remembers the one who got away.

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn centers around Celia West, the perfectly ordinary daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, heroes of Commerce City. Needless to say, there are some tense family dynamics as Celia tries to make it on her own as a forensic accountant while periodically being ineptly kidnapped. The Destructor is on trial, and it seems that someone is trying to take over his turf. Or is he somehow orchestrating the recent crime wave from deep inside the mental hospital where he's being kept? Celia gets pulled into the trial both as a professional and as a witness. She also gets involved with two men: Mark Paulson, the good-looking, loyal police detective and son of the mayor, and Dr. Mentis, the telepath of the Olympians. Once again, lots of incident, a good amount of humor, and some very touching meditations on love between parents and children as well as romantic. Probably the deeper of the two books, I highly recommend.