Friday, October 11, 2013

Microreview [book] I, Crimsonstreak and II Crimsonstreak by Matt Adams

Adams, Matt. I, Crimsonstreak / II Crimsonstreak [Candlemark & Gleam, 2012 and 2013]

The Meat

Two book reviews for the price of one! Written seemingly back-to-back, 'I, Crimsonstreak' and the wittily-titled 'II Crimsonstreak are a light-hearted duo of novels, that can be read at a pace and with a lack of gravitas that match the eponymous hero. A young son of superheroes, Crimsonstreak has the power to run. Very, very fast. And to quip. And banter. And mock. And generally Josh Abrams all over the shop. As our narrator, we whizz through events with a largely-jovial perspective, things treated with references (Star Wars, Batman, Tom Clancy(rip), etc) rather than reverence. This is superhero fiction more in the vein of The Incredibles than The Dark Knight.

For a while, though, the wonderful Brad Bird film cast a shadow over proceedings for me. This is a world familiar from so many other works; not to cast aspersions on Adams but he is walking over many old footsteps of those who have affectionately lampooned the comic book universe of capes and muscles already, and in some cases more successfully. Therefore once a reference or memory popped into my head, it hung around, watching and judging. And Mr Incredible and co stood in the wings the longest, with me wishing some more of that film's humour and excitement came into play.

We begin with Crimsonstreak breaking out of jail after being framed, and finding that whilst he's been behing bars the world has changed dramatically. His father, Colonel Chaos, has apparently gone insane after the death of Miss Lightspeed, his mother, and taken over the planet in a sort of camp facist Big Brother way. Teaming up with Crusading Comet (loving these names) and others, Crimsonstreak battles to bring order to the world and closure to his family problems. All whilst quipping and running. And telling us what has just happened. And what things in popular culture that events remind him of. And lots of references to American sports that left me more cold and confused than a penguin with amnesia.

Yet I slowly began losing my grey(not gray)-souled cynicism and just decided to relax and enjoy myself. With the end of the first novel and the start of the second (which follows neatly on from the plot of the first), I was becoming a fan of Adams and a fan of Crimonstreak. The second book nicely up's the ante while retaining the tone of the first. The aliens who invaded prior to the start of book one (don't ask; I'm British but I'm not Basil Exposition) return and take control of Earth in a fresh and imaginative way, and the roster of heroes and villains is expanded whilst retaining the affection of the core 'cast'. My favourite had to be Falcon Gray (not Grey), an alien birdman that brought fond memories of the ridiculous but proud Hawkman from Buck Rogers.

So if you want a fast and fun couple of reads between more deep and dark novels, I recommend this duo.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 for managing, after an awkward start, to breathe new life into a tired genre

Negatives: -1 for too much referencing; -1 for going over the plot again like a bad reality tv show

Nerd Coefficient : 7/10 A mostly enjoyable experience