Sha-ZOOM! The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon
HI! I'M A SUPERHERO. MY NAME IS AWESOME MAN.
I CAN FLY AS HIGH AS A SATELLITE.
AND STRAIGHT AS AN ARROW.
OR THROUGH THE TIME BARRIER AND NOT GET DIZZY. OR FEEL NAUSEOUS. OR SMASH INTO THINGS.
EXCEPT ON PURPOSE.
What kid doesn't have a secret alter-ego, someone with awesome powers? When crunch time comes in real life, this kid has the aptly-named Awesome Man (because "I'm just basically awesome," he explains modestly) and a wonderdog sidekick, the Awesome Moskowitz. He has a megacool outfit, buff and brash in his black unitard, red-as-a-rocket swoopy cape and boots, and "a stylin' A" on his chest, his hair in a patent-leather pompadour with an emphatic cowlick. And he can shoot positron rays from his eyes.
CAN I TELL YOU SOMETHING? GIANT KILLER ROBOT JUST HATE THAT STUFF.
BUT MAYBE THE MOST AWESOME THING ABOUT ME IS MY SECRET IDENTITY. LISTEN CLOSELY, BECAUSE I'M GOING TO WHISPER IT. REAL LOW.
IN REAL LIFE I'M--UH, OH!
It's not easy being a superhero. There's not much time for self-revelation, because Professor Von Evil and the Flaming Eyeball are at it again and must be defeated by our indefatigable caped crusader, even if it takes a trip to the interior of the sun, where the Eyeball feels right at home. Then there's the Antimatter Slimebot to quash with a SKA-RUNCH in our hero's Ginormous Awesome Power Grip! It's a hard role to live up to. Even Awesome Man needs some down time!
THEN I MAKE A QUICK GETAWAY BACK TO THE FORTRESS OF AWESOME.
MY SECRET IDENTITY MOM IS WAITING FOR ME WITH A PLATE OF PLAIN OLD CHEDDAR CHEESE AND CRACKERS AND CHOCOLATE MILK. I'M SO HAPPY TO SEE HER, I THROW A POWER GRIP AROUND HER, TOO.
SHE SAYS IT FEELS AWESOME.
With Jake Parker on his team, providing the slick comic book-style cartoon illustrations, Michael Chabon's The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man (Balzer & Bray, 2011) offers a kind of sublimation here, giving kids a story which plays out their fantasies of awesome power and awesome self control. Awesome Man is on top of things at all times, and who wouldn't want that power? But Chabon brings it home, as we see the little Clark Kent inside this superhero, repairing to his cozy bedroom inside his picket-fenced home to recharge his powers.
School Library Journal gives this one a super-duper thumbs up: “The depiction of a showdown between Awesome Man and his nemesis—the Flaming Eyeball—is priceless. Readers may notice that there’s a moral peeking out from Awesome Man’s cape, but they’ll still grab this story in their ‘ginormous Awesome Power Grip’ and not let go.” (starred review)