Friday, July 31, 2009

Superfogeys, Chapter 3

As I continue my chapter-by-chapter reviews, Brock Heasley's Superfogeys advances well ahead of me. Currently it's looking into the earliest exploits of its now-retired super-protagonists with "Superfogeys: Origins," and I'm still getting caught up on the present. Today we'll see what develops back at the rest home in Chapter 3: "The Techno Shuffle."

What Goes Down in Chapter 3

Chapter 3's plotline centers around a new face in Valhalla: Dictator Tot. Sentenced to community service at Valhalla, the child-prodigy supervillain must introduce the Fogeys to the world of internet technology, and by "introduce" I mean "drag kicking and screaming into." There is a brief, amusing sideplot in which Spy Gal comes on strong to the rest home's Director, and we are introduced to Captain Spectacular's senile ex-wife, Star Maiden. In the end, though, the major events of the chapter are shown to be the machinations of the shadowy and seldom-seen Third Man, as a plot against Captain Spectacular. The Third Man himself is not who he seems to be, and at the end of the chapter the Fogeys continue oblivious even to his existence.

Is It Good Today?

In my estimation, this is the funniest chapter so far. The old-vs.-new generational dichotomy, introduced with the healer in the previous chapter, is played to extremes with Dictator Tot. It's utterly humiliating for the elderly superheroes to take instructions from the most childish of children, to the point where Captain Spectacular refuses to even turn on his computer (until he is called upon to stop a Dr. Rocket's viral-networking world conquest plot through his Webspace page). Dictator Tot herself is absolute money: a bratty supergenius toddler, dressed in a fur-lined cape, tiara, and military commander's uniform, makes for a ridiculous visual image, and her lines are loaded with comic irony.

The humor here is all about contrasts. We have such preposterous, surreal moments as a fearsome megalomaniac supervillain snuggling with her big-person friend and a warden who still suffers from her psychological torture. One note: a few characters' Webspace pages play a role in the chapter's plotline, and at the end of the chapter, there are more Webspace pages for various super-figures. Some of them are laughworthy, notably those for Swifty and Jerry, but the gag gets drawn out well after its humor has been depleted. Fortunately, though, the pages come at the end of the chapter, so a reader who finds herself bored can skip ahead to the next chapter with no real loss.

Although it's largely plot-driven, the characterization becomes stronger in this chapter. In previous chapters, the Fogeys largely manifested their character by having different ways of being old. Captain Spectacular's memories and stories from his super-past are fitting for a retired hero, but this chapter further differentiates the cast in ways that transcend their age. You get the impression that Spy Gal has always been savvy and competent, and Jerry has always been overeager and a bit of a dork.


At this point, I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter of Superfogeys--to the point where part of me feels like reviewing it chapter-by-chapter is slowing me down. The bottom line is: if you're looking for a humorous twist on the superhero genre, or if you just like good character-driven humor in general, Superfogeys is well worth your time.

1 comment:

Brock said...

Well worth the wait, Jackson! So far it seems that you've like each chapter of SF better than the one previous. I'm anxious to see if that holds true as the series morphs and changes.

Spot on with your comments about the WebSpace pages. When they were getting tedious for me to make, I knew I may have gone too far. I had actually been planning to do many, many more of them with tons of characters you'd never heard of but that I could follow up on later. Thankfully, I backed down from that idea.

Looking forward to Chapter 4 review, whenever it shows up!