“Biff!” “Bang!” “Whap!” “Pow!”
Welcome, gentle reader, to this review of Al Ewing’s Gods of Manhattan, a glorious, violent and action-packed Steam-Punk tribute to superhero fiction! Superhumans, masked swordsman, secret cults, Lady Ga-Ga tributes, sidekicks, fast cars, ancient goddesses and more can be found in this storming little tome.
The book follows on from the events of “El Sombra”, with the arrival of that books titular hero sword-wielding hero arriving in a Manhattan as part of his relentless quest to destroy the Nazis wherever they may run and hide. Arriving in the city, he discovers that he’s not the only shadowy hero at work.
With an almost god-like status, and physique to match Doc Thunder is an idle of the American people and the city of Manhattan, casting down the evil-doers with the aides of his super intelligent friend doc and his beautiful and deadly partner Maya, an ancient Jaguar Goddess. Doc is a hero in the classical sense of the term, defeating the villains but not taking lives, unwilling to fall into the darkness that mars his creation.
Lacking the same moral compulsion is the Blood-Spider, an altogether more sinister figure who draws the shadows like Doc draws light. Killing with excellent precision, riding in a fast car driven by a beautiful woman this vigilante stalks the city gaining approval with those who think the criminals should face a bullet rather than jail.
The lives of all three heroes collide spectacularly when a man who is already dead dies, drawing them together to aid and abet each other as they try to unravel the mysteries that the death throws up and the secrets it might bring to light for all of them and the world to see.
Whilst I’m not a big reader of hero fiction, I know enough to see the characters who have inspired the three mentioned above and I’m sure that a true fan of Marvel or DC would appreciate it even more. The book is a glowing tribute to all classic superhero fiction but, at the same time, an inventive and original story the brings together staples of comic-books and casting them through a dark mirror into a grim world that still makes you smile with dark humour from time to time. Al’s writing style ads to the ambience, styled to deliver the maximum amount of world detail (to the point you can practically smell the steam or feel the wall under the Spiders gloves) whilst not breaking narrative or the driving action.
To anyone wanting a thrilling read where the plot twists and turns with the pace of a roller-coaster, this book is for you!
Until next time!