Prose: Review of Who Can Save Us Now?, By Johnathan

Took advantage of being home sick to finish reading Who Can Save Us Now?, which I mentioned in my first review of prose way back when. I'm far, far too lazy to see if I mentioned this then, but the theme of the anthology is that it's made up of the stories of brand new superheroes, and it's pretty consistently great. The authors (all new to me, which is extra-terrific as it gives me a passel of new books to check out) approach the idea of superheroism in a fairly diverse set of ways, from looking at old-fashioned rock-'em sock-'em heroics to everyday, trying-to-make-a-difference stuff. I did raise one eyebrow when the first story in the book ("Girl Reporter" by Stephanie Harrell) turned out to be, essentially, about Lois Lane and Superman without any names named, but it was such a damned fine yarn that I ultimately didn't care.

There are a lot of fantastic tales in this collection, in fact. "Nate Pinckney-Alderson, Superhero"(fantastic characterization, especially of the titular youth) by Elizabeth Crane, "Bad Karma Girl Wins at Bingo" (possibly my favourite-as-a-person character in the collection) by Kelly Braffet, "Man Oh Man - It's Manna Man" by George Singleton (best title in the book, and one of the best hero concepts), "The Thirteenth Egg"(coolest costume or equivalent, in my head) by Scott Snyder, etc, etc. As I said, lots of different visions, and nobody took the theme off in a really jarring direction (you know - like there's a themed anthology about desks, and someone writes a stream-of-consciousness drug-inspired novella about a dying yak who spend half a page imagining that he is a desk. Whether or not it's a decent story, you find yourself skipping over it the next time you read the book and the whole thing holds together a lot more coherently without it. Or is that just me?).

Owen King and John McNally - the editors - also put in a good show on the writing front, McNally with "Remains of the Night", about the butler to the super-creepy, Batman-esque Silverfish, and King with "The Meerkat", which is probably my favourite of the stories in the collection. King has the Kurt Busiek-like ability to throw out a few references and imply a whole superhero-filled world. I would love to read actual comic books (preferably about the further adventures of The Meerkat) written by this guy - I do believe that they would be great.

Likewise, I would heartily enjoy hearing more from Jennifer Weiner on the adventures of the characters in "League of Justice (Philidelphia Division)". Though the story itself is open-ended in a way that doesn't strictly require resolution, I would read any followup stories or an expansion to novel-length so hard.

In short: great collection (oops, almost forgot - really nice-looking cover and neato interior illustration, the latter by Chris Burnham), JOHN APPROVED

Addendum: I just looked up a few other reviews of this book, just out of curiosity, and have to say: what the hell is up over at the New York Post? This review, which I implore you not to read unless you have already or never intend to read the book, is possibly the most heinous thing ever. Oh, it's positive, and obviously much more professionally-written than my own written-for-the-fun-of-it efforts, but good lord, sir (sir in this case being a Mr. Brian Doherty), what the hell were you thinking when you chose two quotes that ruined the impact of two of the more affecting stories in the book? It's like going back in time and recommending Star Wars on the basis of the bitchin' "Luke's father" reveal. NOT APPROVED, sir.