First, old business. The winners from yesterday's trivia contest are:
Grand Prize for answering the question correctly: Andrew Leon, who knew Deadpool was the "Merc With a Mouth"
And the participation award of $1 to Amazon goes to Tony Laplume, Scouring Monk.
In case you're wondering how I determine the participant award, I counted that besides Andrew and I (both disqualified from winning the $1) there were 7 other commenters. Tony was #1, as he was the first commenter after Andrew. That just happened to be the number Random.org chose. In part I'm mentioning this to say that the number of times you comment has no bearing on your chances of winning. I think it's more fair that way because otherwise someone could comment 100 times to increase their chances.
OK, now on to new business.
It's a little ironic that I wrote a superhero story and yet know almost nothing about comic books. I didn't grow up reading them, except for the Transformers comic in the 80s-early 90s. Which is probably just as well because by the 1980s I guess most comics had become too adult for kids. Most of my knowledge about comics comes from watching the History Channel's documentary "Superheroes Unmasked" from 2003, which is to date the only History Channel show I ever bought on DVD. That taught me a little about the Golden Age, the post-war Silver Age, the reinvention of comics starting in the 70s, and so forth.
Not mentioned in that special was a 4-part series from the early 90s called Flex Mentallo. I had never heard of this character until I opened my Amazon Vine newsletter and they had the newly-released hardcover reprint of those comics. Since it was free and there was nothing else that week I wanted, I decided to get it. What the hell.
I rarely ever do any homework on something before I read it so I didn't do any research on this until after I'd read it and wrote my review. I'm just lazy like that. It was only later I read a couple of more knowledgeable reviews, one of which declared this to be the "Citizen Kane of Comics."
So that's all the backstory I knew nothing about when I wrote my review for Amazon Vine:
I had no idea who Flex Mentallo was. I mean he doesn't have any big
budget movies of him starring someone you've never heard of or some
washed-up actor. I guess he's some muscle guy in a leopard print
loincloth who flexes his muscles and something happens. It's not really
important to know what his powers are because he doesn't really DO much
except walk around with a trench coat over his loincloth most of the
Most of the story is more of a meditation on how comics
have changed since the 1930s or "Golden Age" when perhaps the original
Flex was invented. (Or not. I'm not looking it up on Wikipedia to find
out. Call me lazy.) Flex gets looking for someone known as "the Fact"
while it seems the world is ending. In a parallel story there's a rock
star (or is he?) who has taken lots of pills and is on the verge of
death. Apparently he created Flex as a child in a homemade comic and
somehow Flex came to life. Just the look of the guy not to mention his
occupation made me think of Neil Gaiman. Maybe that was intentional.
of it then is pretty much a fever dream with all sorts of crazy stuff
happening. It would take too long to go through it all. One
particularly interesting part involves Flex visiting an "adult" club for
superheroes and a school for sidekicks.
I suspect this would be
more interesting for real comic geeks who would get all the references.
I found it an interesting look at creation and the relationship between
creator and creation. I also tend to agree with the dying Neil
Gaiman-looking guy that a lot of comic book heroes probably originated
from nerds who wanted to feel powerful.
The artwork seemed fine
to me. Better than some I've seen, though I'm no expert. Anyway, I
read this in less than an hour, so it doesn't involve tons of effort and
if you're a big comic book fan it could be fun.
That is all.
This just goes to show the importance of doing your research before sounding off on something, which few Amazon reviewers ever do. As I said in the review, I thought this was a pretty interesting book even if I didn't GET all the references. If you're a writer, even if you don't read comics and never did, it might be taking a look at now that you can without paying hundreds of dollars to some sleaze on EBay.
That will have to tide you over until the next Two-Fer Tuesday!