If, hypothetically, someone completely neglected to read comics in her childhood like she was supposed to, how would this person, now a grownup, become familiar with the superheroes?
I posed this entirely hypothetical question to a geek friend of mine, explaining that the reader, hypothetically, was intimidated by superhero books because she wasn’t familiar with the decades’ worth of backstory associated with each character. Where should the newbie begin?
“Uhm,” said my geek friend. “You should. Um. Start with… Er. Um.”
He was stumped, but rallied gamely a few days later by suggesting a graphic novel by Brad Meltzer. And though I (hypothetically) had never cared for Meltzer’s traditional thrillers, I found him to be quite engaging in Identity Crisis. (Which I read for no real reason; it’s not like there was a great big gaping hole in my knowledge, or anything like that.)
Identity Crisis features several superheroes of the DC variety. (This means that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are fair game, but not Spiderman, who is Marvel. To me this does not seem fair.) The spouse of one of the superheroes– I am not going to tell you which one– has been murdered. It’s a locked-room mystery, with no signs of entry or egress, no forensic evidence, and in fact no evidence of a crime at all, except for the bit about there being a dead body.
But the whodunnit bit was not the primary appeal. Instead I liked the story because I got to know and enjoy the characters. Meltzer draws them with depth, metaphorically, and artist Rags Morales draws them with grace, literally. Having read the book, I am proud to announce that I have formed my first tentative, independently-reached conclusion about a superhero, to wit: I think Green Arrow is kind of cool and funny, and if can recommend some other Green Arrow books, I’m listening.
There are some violent moments, but there’s nothing too awfully bloody, and the very worst parts are left to the reader’s imagination. Also, all of the women are busty and tall and gorgeous, which might make the female reader feel, in comparison, like a dumpy old cow– but even inexperienced readers of superhero books know to expect that, I suppose. Hrmph.
Check the WRL catalog for Identity Crisis