Do you remember 1985? Coca-Cola introduced “new” Coke, and The Breakfast Club helped define a new generation of moviegoers. It was also the year superheroes crawled out from under a rock. “All of us who possess unique abilities are from this day forward sovereign individuals,” a spokesman declared. “We are sovereign and we are separate.” It’s like the heroes from comic books came to life and kicked Ronald Reagan in the butt.
Meanwhile, a fifteen-year-old kid from Orange County is struggling to figure out his place in the universe. Nate Charters has manga facial features and a “wacky metabolism.” He was born with fur and a tail, and he’s got the hypersensitive powers of a cat. Before the Donner Declaration, he was just a high school nerd (with a tail). Now he’s a newly minted superhero with a hot girlfriend who thinks she’s Mary Jane Watson. “Damn right I’m special,” he says. “And tough luck on the rest of you.”
Brave Men Run is a slim but ambitious novel. It captures the nervous anxiety of Watchmen and combines it with a kick-y John Hughes auteurism. It even ends with a little bit of poetry. A tip of the hat to author Matthew Selznick for making it work so well.
If Brave Men Run has a problem, however, it’s this: characters are often defined by the clothes they wear and the music they listen to. These are cheap social signifiers used by lazy writers. For example: cool kids listen to Bauhaus, but really cool kids listen to the Germs. As a reader, you need to possess the cultural wherewithal to discern the difference. If you listened to speed metal or rap in the ’80s, you might not pick up on the author’s intentions.
[Brave Men Run / By Matthew Wayne Selznick / First Swarm Press Printing: June 2008 / ISBN: 9781934861097]