My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve had my eye on this for a while; this debut from David Solomons which is steadily racking up some very big award wins, and upon finding it in the library I leapt upon it with eager hands. I possibly shrieked a little, because this is a vibrant and deliciously packaged book, with a front cover that is a statement of intent if ever I saw one.
It’s a lovely story, this, one which recognises the key tropes of the superhero novel and respects them and understands them. There’s something to be said for trusting the tropes of the genre; a trope is a trope because it works. And whilst there is a space for novels to break these dominant themes, these recurrent motifs, I don’t think you can do so without understanding what it is that you’re breaking. To defy the limits of something means understanding what those limits are. I’m not sure I’m being particularly clear about this, so let me give you a quick example. The princess needing rescue by a prince That’s a trope. A tired one, but a trope nonetheless. The princess rescuing the princess, now that’s interesting.
My Brother Is A Superhero is a story of superpowers. Luke and Zach are brothers, and one day, when Luke needs to go for a wee, he manages to miss Zach being given superpowers. Zach is destined to save Earth from the mysterious Nemesis, whilst Luke is pretty much going to have to come to terms with the fact that his brother has ended up with the superpowers and not him. Luke knows his comics. He also knows that if Zach is going to be a superhero, he should pretty definitely have a cloak. It’s what they do.
It’s little moments like this that position My Brother Is A Superhero very firmly in its genre; it is a book about superheros and comics, and it gets that and it has fun with that. God, does this book has fun. It’s sparked throughout with injokes and witticisms and puns and it’s just an exuberant joy. Solomons handles his characters deftly, and smartly, and quickly. This is a book that revels in what it is and through that sense of fun and exuberances manages to bring something new to an oft-explored genre.
Now, just who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?