Tuesday, February 10, 2009
You've got super strength, superhuman reflexes, blistering flight, weather forecasting ability par excellence and a devastating eye towards fashion. You are globally known and celebrated, have a smoking-hot villainess girlfriend and have a secret headquarters requiring Segway use to traverse comfortably. Never mind that you can't connect meaningfully with an archenemy or kick this pesky cocaine habit; you're still on top.
Until you're not.
You've hit the bottom of the barrel, picked up the barrel, and chucked it into the engine of your corporate jet. It's tailspin time, and not even your talk radio-powered sidekick can help you now. What's a super powered narcissist to do? How can you see your name in lights again? Where's the exit to easy street?
Captain Freedom, he of the repressed childhood and urge for a good Q rating, begins this first-time novel from G. Xavier Robillard at a crossroads. What better way to find where you're going than by examining where you've been? In this clever satire, our (quasi-)hero is heavily invested in a life coach's instruction to explore his origin story. We're brought along on the ride through spot-on characterizations of callous celebrity mentality and image-conscious heroics to quest for the acclaim that's eluded the Captain.
For fans who can appreciate the absurdity of superhero comics and the dangers of living a life unexamined, Captain Freedom is a worthy addition to the growing canon of meta-comic novels. With a background in writing for McSweeney's and Comedy Central, Robillard comes well-equiped to dish out the snark, sarcasm and ridiculousness that his protagonist traffics in to great effect. While exploring the behind-the-scenes of superheroics isn't a new concept, Robillard's marriage of that start point and the behemoth industry of celebrity is a fresh twist of the knife that rewards us all for the inanity we've unwittingly absorbed through cultural osmosis.
Captain Freedom is a hilarious critique of what our heroes are, what they need to be, and what they are driven to do to stay on top. Remember; it's not how many people you saved from the volcano, it's how long you can wait until the news crews get there before going into action.