Friday, April 15, 2011

Tales of a Dim Knight

Title: Tales of a Dim Knight

Series: Stand-alone

Authors: Adam & Andrea Graham

Genre: Adult Superhero Spoof

Excerpt from “Origin,” Chapter 1 of Tales of a Dim Knight:

Superman fell from the sky, collided with a skyscraper, and bounced off as it toppled. The action figure crashed into a green stegosaurus grazing at the foot of the sky blue leather sofa.

Mild-mannered janitor Dave Johnson set the cardboard skyscraper upright again in the model city erected on his steel gray living room carpet.

He tugged down his Spider-Man pajama top and sent a scolding glance at his dimpled nine-year-old. “Derrick, you shouldn’t have dropped him like that.”

Derrick scratched his head. “But, Dad, you said Superman got hit with a missile.”

When would his son ever learn?

At least Derrick still cared, unlike Dave’s oldest. “A missile isn’t going to knock Superman out of the sky, son. He’s invulnerable. He might be fazed, but he’d pop right back up.”

Derrick nodded. “That makes sense.”

“All right, so get him back in the sky.”

A janitor gains superhero powers and becomes caught between who he is, what he could be, and what others expect of him.

Craft: Tales of a Dim Knight strikes me as having average craft. It will never be classified as great literature, but neither is this a novel destined for the trashcan either.

On one hand, I found the story very hard to get into. The title is a little disorienting and suggested elements to my mind that in no way fit with this story: Don’t look for any swordplay here; this spoofs old comic books all the way.

Attaching to the characters was also difficult for me, although they seem well constructed. Part, I’m sure, comes because I’m not overly familiar with the comic book world and no die-hard fan of them. But it’s hard to like and root for a character who frequently annoys, the positive traits failing to counterbalance the agitations in the beginning.

Such problems with the characters, combined with a slightly episodic plotline and confusion over why the superpowers seemed to randomly stop working, caused the story to loose momentum and tension.

That said, there was good stuff too. Tales of a Dim Knight does an excellent job spoofing the comic book world of superheroes (probably even better than I realize, as I’m not a regular reader/watcher of them) and provides some laugh-aloud moments. And when the plot does gain momentum somewhere past the halfway point, it rushes forward with a small adrenaline rush and satisfying conclusion.

Content: Tales of a Dim Knight does a nice job intertwining the faith elements with the main story. While most of those spiritual threads tie into the somewhat expected conversion story of much Christian fiction, the manner in which it was done felt natural to the flow of characters and story, not forced or concocted or manipulative. It was blunt, but not preachy. For that, I applaud the authors.

As for notes on other grey areas, there is no language and the violence is mainly restricted to comic book style. The protagonist goes through a dark period, which I understand is common for a many comic book heroes, but comes out of it and the darkness is rebuked. The superhero powers seem to be explained by either science or alien influence, neither of which I have a problem with. Though the plot deals with a husband-wife relationship, nothing stronger than kissing is shown on the page.

Summary: Tales of a Dim Knight was somewhat hard to get into (partially due to personal tastes in characters, I’m sure), but is a humorously touching story that draws to a satisfying conclusion. While not for everyone, it is accessible to a wide audience, including teens, and is highly recommended for those who love spoof and/or the world of comic-book superheroes.

Ratings: Craft—3, Content—4, Overall—3.7 out of 5 stars

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