Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carrie Vaughn's salute to superhero storytelling long After The Golden Age

Like many children of celebrity parents,Celia West never felt that she could live up to the expectations set before her by both her family and the outside world. Her burden,however,is heavier than most due to Mom and Dad being the top superheroes in Commerce City,aka Captain Olympus and Spark, and Celia's lack of inheriting any extraordinary abilities.

Her most direct connection with crime fighting has been as kidnapping victim. Snatched up by numerous experienced and wannabe Big Bads over the years,Celia has grown used to being held captive until her parents,along with their own superhero squad known as the Olympiad,come crashing into whatever secret lair she's currently kept prisoner in to save the day.

Despite her best efforts to keep her adult life as far from the orbit of her super parents' world as possible,Celia is still the number one pick on the super villain hostage list:

That's not the only front on which Celia is drawn into battle. As one of the top forensic accountants in her firm, The DA requests Celia to help mount the tax fraud case being launched against The Destructor,the most diabolical enemy that Commerce City and the Olympiad has ever faced.

Her reluctance to get involved is more than just a desire to stay out of the superhero spotlight. During a bout of rebellious youth,Celia briefly joined forces with the Destructor who kept her around merely to annoy Captain Olympus and Spark.

Her past flirtation with evil was legally smoothed over and kept secret from the public,until now as she's also called as a witness for the defense. Not only are those old skeletons dragged out in the open,a few old wounds between Celia and her father are opened up as well:

While all of this family drama is up for grabs,other sinister elements are at work in the city as a rash of strange robberies tied into a higher than usual number of kidnapping attempts against Celia cause her to sit up and take notice.

Despite the growing amount of mistrust placed against her,Celia gradually chooses to use her strongest assets-her intelligence and inside knowledge of superheroes-to embrace the true family legacy that's been waiting for her all along.

After The Golden Age is a stand alone novel from the author of the Kitty Norville series Carrie Vaughn and even if you're not familiar with those books,this engaging story will draw you in faster than a speeding bullet. I received this book as one of my birthday gifts on Monday and finished it last night,riveted to the pages as eagerly as any die hard comic book fan.

This novel has a good amount of depth to it,particularly with the ever present tension standing in the way of Celia and her dad,whose disappointment in his daughter's lack of super powers(plus her involvement with The Destructor) has never been well concealed.

The emotional dynamics between these two are as compelling as any of the action sequences within the narrative are and they enhance the reality of the fantasy setting for the characters and the reader alike. It may sound like an odd recommendation as a Father's Day present but I think it fits the bill nicely on that score,especially if you have a dad into the old school comics scene:

While I wish that the book was a little bit longer,After the Golden Age does justice to the literary superhero genre. It's more than a celebration of superhero lore although the story accomplishes that as well-this story showcases the power that anyone can use to right that which is wrong and that you don't need to have super strength or fly to be a real wonder of a woman:

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