Thursday, December 5, 2013

Six Superhero Stories


Any time the word "postmodern" enters a conversation, it's likely that people have been reaching for bourbon, or are about to be reaching for aspirin.  So take your pick, and let's proceed.

For many genres of literature, you can spend an entire academic career arguing the precise moment that a postmodern reflection forever changed the landscape of the form.  For superhero comics, not so much:  it was 1986.  The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen exploded the entire concept of superhero fiction, and things have never been the same since.  Okay, that's settled.  I'm going on break.

Mmm, this bourbon aspirin is delicious.

The reality, however, is that ever since that watershed year, comic book writers and readers have been struggling to both stuff the genie back in the bottle, and allow it to wreak creative havoc in the form.  (To my mind, only Mark Millar's inaugural run on The Ultimates managed to have its cake and eat it too, but that's a discussion for another day).  Comic creators and comic consumers struggle with a balance between allowing these mythic characters to slowly evolve, while also keeping them the same.

So today, 27 years after The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, in the post-postmodern era (hang on... need more aspirin...) art is reflecting not only on the form itself, but also our modern reaction to its evolution.

Enter Robert T. Jeschonek's delightful Six Superhero Stories (available this week as an audiobook).

Jeschonek, who has written for DC Comics, writes with both a love of the superhero medium, and also a wryly critical eye of its form.  These stories, set in the fictional Isoceles City, offer a stunning collision of classical superhero concepts with postmodern sensibility.

Jeschonek pits his heroes against things they can't hit.  Alzheimers, global warming, superhero conspiracies, crazed fans, shrinking hero snuff porno, and marriages that have been ret-conned out of existence.

It's a good time.  Maybe even as good a time as 1986.



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