‘Crimson Son:’ Book Review

“I might as well be lying in a coffin. I’ve seen them on TV before. The dead always looked so comfortable with their arms folded across their chest in those silky interiors. Peaceful, even though they’re alone.”
“Unless it was a show where the dead happened to be vampires. They’d probably be smothered in women. Hot, vampire chicks and metrosexual Nosferatus, getting busy while luring mere mortals into their blood-sucking orgies of doom.”
“I don’t need more of that kind of frustration . . .”


Spencer Harrington has all of the problems most guys his age have: too smart for his own good, wanting a girlfriend, fighting with his dad, straining against the rules, and trying to figure out what he wants in life. Unfortunately, Spencer is doing that from a hidden Arctic base he calls the Icehole, thousands of miles from the nearest living being. And, that’s because Spencer has one thing no other typical, 19-year-old boy has . . . his father is a super-being named the Crimson Mask. And, Spencer has no powers.

None. Nada. Zip . . .

And, since his mother’s abduction by the Crimson Mask’s nemesis, the Black Beetle, his father has kept Spencer locked away for his own safety. Imagine if Superman and Lois had a kid, and they raised him for a number of years before Lex Luthor came and kidnapped Lois for bait and scientific experiments. Now, imagine their kid is telling the story. Got it? Okay, you've got Crimson Son.

Writer Russ Linton has written a gripping and action-packed book here, a book that manages to straddle two worlds. He’s captured the feeling of a coming-of-age novel set against a traditional comic book narrative. By following Spencer’s POV, we get to see behind the scenes of the funny books, where a hero’s choices and actions have a weight on their family that we don’t usually see in mainstream books. Sure, you’ve got Franklin Richards growing up in Fantastic Four, but he’s got a loving family and a killer support system. (Who wouldn’t want the Human Torch as your uncle when it came time to learn how to pick up girls?) But, Spencer is alone, with mom gone and dad off trying to save the world from increasingly deadly attacks.

And, when the Icehole is attacked and infiltrated by one of the Black Beetle's probes, Spencer goes on the offensive, relying on the greatest strength he has . . . himself.

Linton manages to keep the action brisk and the story flowing with just the right amount of humor and sarcasm interspersed, reminding you that this guy is just 19, barely more than a teenager, thrust out on his own. He captures Spencer’s voice aptly, conveying the frustration and futile anger at his situation, with a surprising vulnerability that just reinforces how young and inexperienced he is.

Overall, Crimson Son is a strong, rite-of-passage piece, examining the bonds of father and son and the impact each can have on the other, set against the worlds of augmented super-beings and shadowy government conspiracies. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does. In spades.


VERDICT: FIVE Evil Armored Robot-Drones out of FIVE

Last modified on Monday, 07 July 2014 15:51

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