Is it possible to get hooked on a book from reading only one page? Because I think that’s exactly what happened. The initial panel in this graphic novel was just perfect, moody reds and blues and exquisitely rendered people and a one-sentence narrative box that tied it all together.
So I turned the page and was reminded of Fight Club, both the book and the film. And then I turned the page again and was reminded of American Psycho, both the book and the film, and anyway by that point I knew I’d found a winner.
Wesley Gibson is a harmless loser. His boss yells at him each day at his boring office job; his girlfriend is having an affair with his best friend; his idea of excitement is choosing the wasabi mayonnaise over the plain.
Then one day a woman introduces herself to Wesley while he’s standing in line at a deli. She pulls a gun from her jacket, shoots a bunch of innocent bystanders, and informs Wesley that he’s heir apparent to a vacancy in a sinister global cabal of supervillains. Oh, and he’s really rich now.
Back in the 1980s, all of the world’s supervillains had banded together to fight against the superheroes. They succeeded. Now Wesley, after a bit of intensive training to desensitize himself to violence, is poised to become the world’s most talented assassin. There are no more superheroes to kill off, but there are plenty of supervillains to keep in line, and there’s no shortage of ordinary human beings to attack.
To state the excessively obvious, this is a violent book. Sex and nudity are relatively modest, but the physical action is extremely violent (though not as violent as the general worldview). Ethics and morality don’t enter the picture, not even in an “honor among thieves” sort of way. There is not a single admirable character in the book. The depraved sensibilities of the supervillains serve to illustrate some very ugly truths about humanity, but still, most readers enjoy a bit of moral growth or social responsibility in their fiction. This isn’t a book for everyone, but for those willing to engage in a bleak and barren dystopia, the story is electrifying, with tumultuous action, witty dialogue, and great character anti-development.
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