Archive for Nobody Gets the Girl

So Who Gets the Girl?

Nobody Gets the Girl by James Maxey

It’s not a comic book! It’s a novel about superheroes! We’re seeing more and more of these lately, so here’s one I got to read a few months back.

This was written by a guy named James Maxey and published back in 2003. The main character is a guy named Richard Rogers who has a pretty normal life in a mostly normal world (except for the giant dome cities that’ve started to spring up and the terrorist attacks by a giant robot baby with a gun for a head). He is living with a wife he’s not sure he loves and spending his nights off doing stand-up in comedy clubs. And then one morning, he wakes up and finds out that new people are living in his house, no one can see or hear him, and his family doesn’t remember him anymore.

But wait — one person can see him — Dr. Knowbokov, a benevolent mad scientist who, while on a trip into the past to battle his archenemy Rex Monday, accidentally erased Richard from existence. To make up for that error, Knowbokov brings Richard to his HQ on a tropical island paradise, introduces him to his beautiful, superpowered daughters, dubs him “Nobody,” and sends him out to fight supervillains.

Well, you know Richard couldn’t have it that good, right? Sure, Rex Monday is a psychotic loon who employs other psychotic loons to casually murder thousands of innocent people. But Knowbokov is no angel either — he kidnaps death-row prisoners to use them as brain-drained biocomputers, and he’s completely indifferent to anything that doesn’t involve him killing Rex Monday, including ordering Richard to allow a school bus full of children to be killed rather than deviate from a mission.

And his daughters have plenty of problems, too. The Thrill is a world-famous celebrity who can fly and get anyone to do what she wants just by asking, but she’s an unapologetic thief — she can ask for anything, and the owner will just hand it over. And Rail Blade, a metal manipulator who can pull knives out of thin air and roller-skate anywhere she wants in a matter of minutes, has some serious mental stability issues.

And Richard is, frankly, over his head. Sure, he’s invisible, but because he’s been displaced in time, he basically doesn’t exist unless someone believes he’s there. That makes it hard for him to do very much to help out. What’s a see-through man to do in a shades-of-gray world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very well done characters — even when you don’t agree with what they’re doing, you understand why they’re doing it. I also dug the moral quandries Richard has to deal with — Knowbokov and Rex Monday are both ruthless authoritarian bastiches, so who does Richard choose to work with? Can he find a third way out of the situation?

And the superhero action is pretty darn good, too. The fights are frantic but well planned-out, and the violence is as terrifying as you’d expect from people who can do such outlandish things.

Really, my only complaint is that there aren’t enough superheroes and villains — just one group of each — and the ones we saw were enough fun that I wanted to see what other characters Maxey could create.

Not the best superhero prose novel out there, but it’s certainly worth reading. Go pick it up.

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