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Superfolks Paperback – February 10, 2005
The Amazon Book Review
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“What if you were a superhero going through a mid-life crisis? Your tights are in a bunch. You've lost your hair. Your powers have a mind of their own... You'll never look at superheroes the same way again!” ―Stan Lee, comic legend and creator of Spiderman, X-Men, and The Fantastic Four
“What Robert Mayer has done, and done with real aplomb, is carry off a smart satire and a very funny novel while at the same time caring enough about his characters that the reader's investment is respected and paid dividends. Without being derivative, it reminds me of early Vonnegut--Vonnegut through Cat's Cradle--as well as the first couple of the Hitchhiker's Guide. It's always satisfying when an influential but neglected work--in any genre, in any field--is "rediscovered" and given its proper credit.” ―Tom de Haven, author of Funny Papers, Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies, and Dugan Under Ground
“Superfolks is an irreverent look behind the mask of superheroes wrapped up in a cutting lampoon of late 70's attitudes.” ―Paul Dini, writer and producer of Batman: The Animated Series
“Superfolks was the book that showed me you could do more with superheroes than adolescent power fantasies. Without Superfolks I doubt there'd have been an Astro City.” ―Kurt Busiek, Multiple Eisner Award-Winning Creator of Astro City
“...sharp, funny, and ultimately moving, with a plot that could be the R-rated version of the current hit movie The Incredibles... a cult novel that inspired a generation of comic book writers and anticipated books like The Fortress of Solitude and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. ” ―Kirkus
“Infectiously funny.” ―Los Angeles Magazine
“It is gorgeous. It is splendid. It is funny as hell... He writes like an angel.” ―Newsday
About the Author
Robert Mayer is a former, award-winning journalist. He lives in New Mexico. During a mid-life crisis, he got in touch with his inner superhero and created Superfolks, his first novel, which was originally published in 1977.
Top Customer Reviews
The only reason I'm not giving it five stars is that the book is filled with 1970's pop-culture references that haven't aged terribly well. Bella Abzug jokes were probably funnier in 1977 than they are now. On the other hand, some of the political satire still feels dead on. In the book, the people who really run the country are based out of Dallas and steer the country via the vice-president, while the president is left out of the loop on many of the nasty schemes being cooked up by his administration.
As Busiek correctly notes, this novel takes the superhero story and places it against the backdrop of a mid-life crisis. You're surely familiar with this story by now: a superhero has retired to spend more time with his family but he's finding it stultifying. He gradually finds himself drifting back into the game he left behind when an unknown menace seems to be doing more harm to the city he once protected. One could argue that Frank Miller practically cribbed most of the plot highlights for "The Dark Knight Returns", though that is a bit unfair to say.
I can honestly say that this IS a good book, probing all the assumptions anyone ever made about a Superman story along with a little dissection of the Captain Marvel cycle. However, that statement comes with a couple of caveats. First, it's helpful to have a working knowledge of late 1970s pop culture to get most of the jokes (which range from Candice Bergen to Kolchak). Second, if you're easily offended by racial epithets and sibling incest, you might want to skip this one. Both will pop up in due course.
Copywrited in 1977 the author, Robert Mayer, deconstructs the super hero mythos that in many ways paved the path for such books as Watchmen and Miracleman. Sometimes the book can be serious and at other times comes close to Kurtzman's Mad Magazine.
Superman, Batman and the Mavel Family are dead (the last killed by a lighting strike. A man named Brinkley (last survivor of the planet Cronk, parents Archie and Edith, told you there was some Madesque satire) was once the world's most powerful hero, now he wanders around, middle-aged, his dreams unfufilled, ala Moore's Miracleman.
Civil unrest in the streets and a super-powered menace show up, gradually he gains back his god like powers, only to be forced to make a choice that may destroy him and his family.
Don't let the sometimes silly tone distract you from one of the great superhero novels. As with all great stories you will find this to be equal parts tragedy and comedy.
The book focuses on a retired Superman type hero who has hung up his cape. All the other heroes have also done the same. (Sounds a bit like Kingdom Come). Now all of the sudden there is a crime wave and he gets the urge to get out there and fight crime again... but in this case the crime wave is just a ruse to get him to go back to work as a hero so that he can be killed by his enemies (very similar story lines to Watchmen). This is the first time I can tell where superhero characters were portrayed as broken human beings, with regular vices like alcohol (Demon In the Bottle), drugs, and even inappropriate sexual actions. This is not the cookie cutter super hero stories that we were used to back in the 70s...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superfolks was one of my favorite sleaze ball reads this year; it's a must for people that enjoy Christopher Moore's satire and the odd ball approach to Superheroes that writers... Read morePublished on July 5, 2012 by Creepbox
I was lured into reading this book because I saw an article that said it was a precursor to "Kingdom Come" and also Alan Moore's unproduced "Twilight of The Superheroes". Read morePublished on August 14, 2009 by Mr. Tammany Hall
I found the book to be cute at first, but it just keeps on piling up the fiction references. Imagine a world where everything fiction in our world existed, that's what this book... Read morePublished on March 24, 2009 by Amazon Customer
Superhero comics have created their own mythology. Actually, like the Greeks and the Norse, there are actually two mythologies, that of Marvel and DC (any other publishers have... Read morePublished on August 31, 2008 by mrliteral
Yes, Watchmen and the Incredibles have similar stories, and the author of this book has staked a claim to being the originator of this idea. Read morePublished on August 9, 2008 by Jeremy E. Schultz
I'll try not to repeat too much of what everyone else here has said. Yes, this is a wonderful and groundbreaking book. It's also a very quick read. Read morePublished on December 7, 2007 by R. MCRACKAN
A satire that is the story of an aging Superman analogue. The various major dc heroes perhaps do exist in his world, but analogous versions abound, as well, particularly a warped... Read morePublished on August 29, 2007 by average