The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

Balzer and Bray  2011

 
With the look and flair of a classic Marvel Comic, this is a book sure to delight young superhero fans. Awesome Man has everything one expects from a comic book hero: a snazzy form-fitting outfit with a huge letter A on the front, a red cape, a black mask, a loyal sidekick (Moskowitz the Awesome Dog) and, best of all, a secret identity. Awesome Man also has a few especially awesome superpowers like positronic rays that shoot out of his eyeballs and his trademark Awesome Power Grip. These come in handy when confronting various forces of evil like the Flaming Eyeball and the Red Shark. Utilizing narrative and visual clues, the secret identity of our superhero slowly comes to light, revealing that Awesome Man is really a young boy. While high-power lingo like “thermovulcanized protein-delivery orb” delivers a comic book punch, more contemporary phrases such as “stylin’” and “ginormous” bring the text into the present. Boldly colored illustrations include some half-tone backgrounds that give them an authentic retro feel.

The Jewish sensibility for which Chabon has been noted in his adult offerings, although unspoken, permeates this story in a subtle yet definite way. Although this is not a Jewish book, per se, this feels like part of Chabon’s Jewish canon, particularly in light of his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which explored the Jewish roots of the comic book industry in all its colorful glory. It is highly recommended for children of all ages and adults who once loved comic books and perhaps still do.


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