Graphic Novel Read-it-if Review: Super Ego (Family Matters)…

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Welcome super fiends   friends! Buckle on your cape, put your undies on the outside of your pants and adopt a slightly creepy and/or pathetic sidekick and let’s delve into the world of psychotherapy for superheroes.  Today’s offering is graphic novel Super Ego: Family Matters by Caio Oliveira which deals with …well…psychotherapy for superheroes. Let us begin our session!

Psychotherapist Eugene Goodman looks, for all intents and purposes, like a regular doctor, but once he enters his office he dons a reflective mask and becomes SuperEgo – a super therapist for some super clients.  As the city has nearly reached saturation point in terms of herodom, with every rich or slightly talented thrill seeker with a world-saving complex popping on the lycra, someone needs to be there to pick them up when they fall emotionally.  And when superheroes fall, they fall hard.  Take Lester, for instance, the son of The Savior and Venus and the most powerful entity on Earth.  Despite having the power to juggle planets, Lester is a complete failure with the ladies and his self-confidence could fit inside a gnat’s hat and still leave ample headroom for the gnat.  Or Javier Hernandez, ex-child star of Mexican soap operas and multibillionaire who causes havoc with his giant wrestling robots whenever he gets bored of the playboy lifestyle and wants to try ridding the city of crime.  Without SuperEgo’s help, the normals would really have a Super Problem on their hands.  But when Dr Goodman’s grandfather deals with an unscheduled housecall from one of Dr Goodman’s high profile clients, the supershit really hits the fan and SuperEgo must smooth over a problem of epic proportions before a returned supervillain undoes all SuperEgo’s good work.

superego

Read it if:

* you wish your psychotherapist would wear a reflective mask during sessions – superhero or not

* you would love to adopt a secret superhero identity, but are worried about the potential health insurance premiums for high quality Post-Traumatic Stress counselling

* you have ever been utterly embarrassed by a family member in an epic and public fashion

* your parents never understood (or supported) your choice of career

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I requested this title, but as regular readers of this blog will know, I find it hard to go past any book, but particularly fiction, in which mental health is mentioned, so mental health combined with a particularly unusual client group just tipped me over the edge. First let me say, in case you haven’t figured it out already, this is a graphic novel for adults, not children.  There’s sex, violence, angry grandpas, revealing bodysuits, more violence…so let’s be clear on that before we begin.

There was a lot to like in this graphic novel I thought, particularly for those who, like me, only dip into this genre occasionally.  The story was easy to follow, it was reasonably funny and the art resembled the traditional superhero comics that one might have read as a kid. There was also a nice bit of character development from both the superheroes, and from SuperEgo himself.  Best of all, there is a twist at the end that cluey readers could probably guess early on, (but I didn’t!) that turns the whole plot on its head and proves that the fears of scientologists about the manipulative nature of psychiatry could be well-founded…in this graphic world, at least.

The thing I least liked about this was having to read it on a computer.  I am of the opinion that graphic texts are always better in print – all the better to see the art without having to adjust your screen, zoom in, zoom out etc etc.  Overall, the book didn’t blow me away, but certainly provided a fun interlude between the novels that are my bread and butter.  I would be interested in seeing how the series pans out because I think this has been a promising beginning, but I’ll wait until the next instalment crosses my path, rather than rushing out to buy it.

Until next time, may all your mental health issues be looked after by someone with superhuman abilities!

Bruce

* I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review*

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Read-it-if Review: Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain…

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Howdy superfriends! Today I have a very different YA novel for you filled with action and gadgets and cool outfits.  It’s Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts, and I received a digital copy of the book for review from the publisher, Curiosity Quills, via Netgalley – thanks!

Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain is told from the point of view of Penelope, a young teen with superhero parents who is anxiously waiting for her own superpowers to appear.  Her friends, Claire and Ray, are similarly eager to come into their superpowers, and when Penelope unexpectedly builds an incredible machine that responds to her every command, without quite knowing how she did it, it appears the dream has become reality for at least one of the trio.  After some usual teenage unpleasantness involving another girl at her school, Penny and her friends seek revenge by using their newfound powers for evil, rather than good, and in doing so they inadvertently style themselves as supervillains rather than heroes when their antics (but not their identities) are caught on camera.  Working under the name The Inscrutable Machine, the trio venture out onto the town – but is it ever really too late to make a new name for yourself as a superhero? Or is it true that supervillains just have more fun?

please don't tell my parents

Read it if:

* you have a secret identity that you keep hidden at all costs…down the back of your undies drawer with your super-stretchy super-lycra superhero suit

* you’ve ever suspected that, if they found out the truth, your parents may be slightly disappointed in your chosen (or potential) career path

* you believe your teachers when they tell you that advanced mathematics has numerous practical applications in everyday life

* you believe that the ability to be cute and charming in order to get your own way is, in fact, a superpower

Now I first requested this title because (a) the cover is eye-poppingly awesome and (b) the title had me instantly interested.  Unfortunately, the book didn’t 100% live up to my high expectations.  Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of bits I enjoyed and I appreciated the unusual premise, but the execution didn’t get me that excited for some reason.  Let’s start with the positives though.

I suspect that this book is going to be a hit with discerning readers in their early teens who are looking to move on from the prolific middle grade market, but also want to read a book with ordinary teen problems played out with action and humour.  The thing that really stood out for me while reading the book was the fact that the premise is so different form anything else that’s out there at the moment.  The superhero content seems to be an area that isn’t really featured in a lot of books for this age group just now, and it should certainly be a drawcard for younger readers, as it was for me.  There’s also plenty (PLENTY!) of action in the book, with superhero-versus-supervillain clashes aplenty, as well as some great one-liners and comedy woven into the action.  So in that regard, I think this will be a book that appeals to both genders, as there’s something for everyone here.

I think the main reason this didn’t grab me in the way that I thought it would is that I suspect it’s a bit overly long.  It takes a reasonably long while for Penny to unleash her superpower and then after she gets a handle on her newfound talents, it takes another reasonably long time before the first showdown occurs.  For some people this may not be a problem, but I felt that there could have been a bit of judicious editing here and there to tighten up the flow of the story and keep it moving at a steady pace, particularly as this is a book aimed at the young adult bracket (read: those of us with shortish attention spans…ooh, a shiny thing!).  Also, I suspect that the book will require readers who don’t mind a bit of explanation – there’s a lot of jargony, computery, mathsy, type language in there (due to Penny and her father having superpowers relating to the field of mathematics and computation) and that may put off those who just want the guts of the story without having to wade through such specifics.

So overall, I don’t think this one is for me unfortunately, but I think that there will definitely be a fan base out there for whom this is exactly the type of quirky YA action-adventure they’ve been waiting for.  I’ve also had a look at some of Richard Roberts’ other works, and there are definitely some in there that I want to get my paws on despite not quite loving this effort.

Until next time,

Bruce

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