Ever wondered what a superhero might do all day, if his day job wasn't being a millionaire playboy like Bruce Wayne?
Ever considered the implications behind all those wacky origin stories, where it seems like everyone gains their superpowers by being dunked in a vat of radioactive goo or bitten by a radioactive bug?
What would the world of superheroics look like if some regular guy - perhaps a guy like Steve Janson - took up the cape and underwear-as-outerwear?
Steve's closest superhero counterpart is most likely Spiderman, if only because of the Peter Parker good-guy angle, working at his local division of the Yellow Pages - the Metroburgh Green Pages.
Then again, Peter Parker never had a pregnant wife to support, nor did he have to tangle with the fact that in our digital age, phone books are increasingly unwelcome relics of the past.
Steve is a middle-class guy before his transformation to superhero - and that's yet another section of the American populace that's increasingly considered an unwelcome relic of the past. He's a guy who's just trying to scrape by, and when he makes the transformation from ordinary to extraordinary we might logically (at least by comic book standards) expect things to go from rough to smooth sailing for him.
Steve's story is the story of a grinder - someone doing his best to bust through to the next tax bracket to provide for his family and do the right thing. Steve may be a suburban white dude, but does that really give him any privileges? Yes and no. Even though the robbery scene that robs him of his ordinary life is scripted straight out of Pulp Fiction (and rightly so - comic books being, well, pulp fiction), Steve isn't exactly living the high life. Sure, he's got a decent existence carved out for him for now, but he's also got a mountain of debt threatening to tip over into an avalanche. And what then?
Like anyone living from paycheck to paycheck, Steve isn't exactly flush with cash in case of emergencies. And when a real emergency strikes, cash can't exactly save him.
Like any good hero, Steve's got plenty to wrestle with emotionally as well as morally. And that's what makes Super Steve interesting. But what makes it worth reading is the humor and the humanity that propels the story forward.
You can read a 30-page comic book, just as easily as you sling back a crappy chain "hamburger," but reading a superhero novel is another matter entirely. There's certainly an ass-kicking or two to keep things interesting, but what really hooks the reader of Super Steve is the way that the form lends itself to both filmic and novelistic qualities, painting pictures of heroic (and villainous) deeds, as well as diving deep into the mind of this reluctant superhero.
Spend a little time with Steve and see just how super you think he really is.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)