Solaris Books, out April 10
The world needs heroes – and even a comic book artist may have something within him which can be fine-tuned…
There are a lot of good ideas inside James Lovegrove’s latest Pantheon novel – as well as some truly appalling puns which he can get away with (just) thanks to the rather annoying narrative voice of Zak Bramwell he’s created. This time his subject is the Hindu pantheon, onto which he superimposes the idea of superheroes, which, given the back stories of the deities involved, doesn’t take that much suspension of credibility.
Some of the great precepts of superhero comic books inform the story, leading to an interesting dilemma at the end. Comic lore seeps from the pores of this tale with references to key events in Watchmen, Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run on The Uncanny X-Men, and many origin stories making an appearance.
The idea of superheroes being taken seriously, though, has become almost a cliché in recent times (with few stories achieving the heights of Alex Ross’s Marvels), but Lovegrove’s tack allows him to quite a few potshots at such tales. And of course where there are superheroes, there are supervillains, and Lovegrove deconstructs some of the logic behind them along the way too. Why do you always get both?
As ever, there are some well-written and exciting action sequences, and more than a few places where the plot doesn’t go where you’d expect.
Verdict: The gods should smile on this. 8/10