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_A God Somewhere_, by Arcudi and Snejbjerg
Bar Harbor
So close, and yet, so far.

The writer and artist of this graphic novel are both industry veterans, with considerable mastery of craft. Their skills at pacing and characterization are ample. The weave a tale around the classic theme of "How can God allow evil to exist?", or, phrased more secularly, "Why do bad thiongs happen?" All the ingredients are present for an excellent graphic novel. Sadly, the one element that probably made it 'saleable' quite ruins the rest.

If this book had *actually* been about 9/11 and its aftermath, instead of metaphorically, it would have been much better. Unfortunately, the event which fills the world with both horror and hope is... a superhero. He's an ordinary schlub, who gets his powers for no obvious reason (though he thinks they come from God). At first, he uses his powers for good, but gradually becomes a jerk, then a rapist, then a mass-murderer. Said murders are depicted with a loving ferocity that makes me think that Alan Moore and John Totleben's infamous "Kid Marvelman destroys London" story was remarkably sophisticated and restrained by comparison.

The superhuman's best friend (the viewpoint character, keeps asking him "WHYYYYY!!!", but never receives anything like a coherent answer. This makes a certain kind of literary sense, as the superhuman is standing in for the arbitrariness of the universe. But by so fully becoming a metaphor, he ceases to be a *character*. He does what he does for no other reason than that the theme demands it of him.

All this leaves a gaping void in what (to my mind) should be the emotional center of the book. Perhaps the author even intended that effect. But it ruined the book for me. Not recommended.

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How did a superhero turning into a rapist and mass-murderer become a cliche, anyway?

Some possible, partial answers:
* Many people like ultraviolent entertainment, even if they won't say so in public, so it sells well.
* Superheroes are a power fantasy. Being able to do those things and not pay consequences is in some sense a natural extension of that fantasy.
* Sour grapes. "Any *real* person with superpowers would end up abusing them, so it's just as well I don't have any."

Conceivable. I ask because I recently read a book called Irredeemable which basically has the same plot. It is definitely in the "any real person with superpowers" camp.

It just seems like it's been done before, and done by masters of the craft, and not even that long ago. But I suppose that's true of everything.

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