I never had a thing for superheroes, maybe except Spiderman, but I’ll get to that point. During my childhood days, under the strict censorship of the Communist regime, comic books were a rarity. A few issues of “Spiff and Hercules” or “Rahan” were inestimable treasures and those who possessed them the stars of the neighborhood. Not much place for superheroes. The only two who got some coverage were Superman and Spiderman through the movies screened at the local cinema, but with such brief appearances they were never the heroes to look up at. I only dreamed of being Spiderman for a week or two after I saw that 1977 movie, but no more than that. The 1989 Revolution brought with it the access to all the popular comic books, but although reading plenty of them, the superheroes never got the hold of me as they would have done if met at a younger age. They didn’t seem substantial enough.
Even today, I mostly avoid movies, books or comics with heroes in possession of superpowers, but when done right I do give them sufficient attention. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy were the only such movies that I had the patience to watch until the end. And I enjoyed them quite a lot too. Hellboy and Spawn are the only comics that attract me, but I must admit that I do not read them very often. But above all, my most intense and rewarding interaction with this type of characters remains Deborah Biancotti’s collection of stories, “Bad Power”, a proper approach of superheroes and superpowers and one that was entirely on my liking.
There is another book on the horizon that might make superheroes appealing for me once more. Not because the few movies, comics and books I mentioned made me look at them in a different light, but because the author of the novel is one that I enjoyed a lot before. Andrez Bergen’s “The Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” and “100 Years of Vicissitude” are the kind of books I love to read. Engaging and stepping outside the beaten path they are also sensible and have emotional impact. And it’s because of them that I am curious to see how Andrez Bergen treats superheroes in his upcoming novel, “Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?” With a promise of detective noir and science fiction that Andrez Bergen executed so well in “The Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”, but also with something entirely new thrown into the mix – “futuristic-retro superhero romp” and “gung-ho Soviet formalist propaganda style” among them, as it is stated on Lori Holuta’s early review on A License to Quill – I must admit that superheroes look more attractive than ever. Topped with a gorgeous book cover, “Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?”, due to be released on September 27th by Perfect Edge Books, is yet another of my most anticipated novels of 2013. But if the release date of the novel seems a bit too distant we can enjoy Andrez Bergen’s short story collection, “The Condimental Op”, due to be published by the same Perfect Edge Books next month.
Heropa: A vast, homogenized city patrolled by heroes and populated by adoring masses. A pulp fiction fortress of solitude for crime-fighting team the Equalizers, led by new recruit Southern Cross - a lifetime away from the rain-drenched, dystopic metropolis of Melbourne.
Who, then, is killing the great Capes of Heropa?
In this paired homage to detective noir from the 1940s and the '60s Marvel age of trail-blazing comic books, Andrez Bergen gloriously redefines the mild-mannered superhero novel.