Monday, November 7, 2016

Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life

Reviewed by Ambrea

Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life is a book about a cultural obsession, specifically a collective adoration of superheroes and all manner of caped crusaders.  Liesa Mignongna, the editorial director at Simon Pulse, collected essays from some of the most prolific names in the writing community—including Neil Gaiman, Leigh Bardugo, Brad Meltzer, Jodi Picoult, and Joe R. Lansdale—and compiled them in a simultaneously heart-breaking and hilarious book about superheroes and why they matter.

I absolutely loved this book.  A collection of essays by today’s most popular novelists, journalists, and writers, Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life is a wonderful study on superheroes and the lasting impact they’ve had on readers and culture.  I know that makes it sound a bit dull, especially given the colorful and sometimes flamboyant nature of superheroes, but it’s not.  It’s heart-wrenching and humorous and introspective and bursting with bright neon spandex colors.

It’s a great book that’s not beholden to any one style or story.  Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life compiles the work from the best of today’s creative minds, drawing together exceptional stories, experiences, and illustrations to create a work equally poignant and funny.  It provokes an honest discussion about superheroes and their impact on gender, love, equality, relationships, and more.

Honestly, I loved these stories.  They were deeply personal and incredibly moving, beautiful for their candid commentary on the human experience—and how comic book superheroes helped to get them through the tough times, how comics helped to shape their lives.  There were a handful of essays that I absolutely adored:
·         “On the Hulk:  You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry” by Delilah S. Dawson
·         “Dented Hearts:  A Story of Iron Man” by Anthon Breznican
·         “Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Gambit and Rogue” by Karina Cooper
·         “We Are Not Amazons” by Leigh Bardugo
·         “Superman:  One Rad Dude” by Jim Di Bartolo
·         “Swashbuckle My Heart:  An Ode to Nightcrawler” by Jenn Reese

But, if I had to pick just one, it would probably be “Dented Hearts” by Anthony Breznican.  It’s a tough choice, especially since I loved Leigh Bardugo’s essay for her frank discussion of the female body image and cultural expectations, and Jim Di Bartolo’s illustrated discourse on the importance and impact of Superman; however, I was entirely smitten with Breznican’s essay.

“Dented Hearts” was like a kick in the chest.  It took me by surprise, it broke my heart, and yet it’s probably one of the most memorable essays—if not the most memorable essay—I read.  It’s an honest depiction of grief and turmoil, love and happiness and sibling relationships; it’s a candid account of loss tinted with memory, affection, and a mutual love of superheroes.  I enjoyed his beautiful writing, his obvious affection for his wife, and his candid retelling of grief that pulled at my heart.

I loved it.  Tears and all.

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