Chris Fairborne (aka Crimsonstreak) breaks out of an insane asylum (more on that later) to discover the United States has been taken over by something called the New World Common Wealth. This skeevy group is attempting to unify everyone under one global government. But like all attempts at authoritarianism, the New World Common Wealth is quickly mutating into a fascist dictatorship. And believe us, they’re not kidding around. They’ve even banned pro football. “We have too much work to be preoccupied with sports,” explains a government tool.
Fairborne, a superhero imbued with Flash-like speed, is in a unique position to smash the new world dystopia. His father, Colonel Chaos, is the mastermind behind the whole damn thing. He’s conquered the U.S. and is one step away from bringing the rest of the world to its knees. “Dad’s finally taken over the world,” says Fairborne with dismay.
Part of Colonel Chaos’ evil plan involves locking up all the superheroes he can find—his son included. And that’s how Crimsonstreak ends up in a straightjacket 50 feet underground in the deepest, darkest level of the Clermont Institution for the Criminally Insane. It takes the speedster three years and 14 attempts before he is able to escape. But he finally succeeds.
Now, as part of a loose coterie of resistance fighters, Fairborne wants to save the world and knock some sense into his father. But it’s not going to be easy. Colonel Chaos employs a Swiss Army knife-like collection of superpowers. He can fly, he’s got super strength, he’s a super genius, he can unleash a barrage of energy blasts from his fingertips, and he can probably uncork a bottle of Chablis too. He’s also been using weird fringe science to press his advantage. “Clones, interdimensional portals, betrayal, redemption. It’s like something from a comic book,” says Fairborne when he finally figures it all out.
There’s a lot more going on as well. We haven’t even mentioned the Heroic Legion, Scarlet Dashboy, the Kiltechs, Mortimer P. Willoughby, Jaclyn Graves, Special Enforcer Jan Jenkins, Zeus Caesar (conceptually our favorite character), or Warren Kensington I, II, III, and IV. Many of these characters, while somewhat entertaining, are ultimately superfluous in this volume. But we fully expect a few of them to play important roles in future Crimsonstreak adventures. And we look forward to those adventures someday.
As mentioned earlier, I, Crimsonstreak is a satirical novel with some very funny moments. However, the author relies too heavily on pop culture signifiers for cheap laughs and transient insights. He’s obviously talking to his nerd tribe. But if you’re not into sports (football in particular) or Star Trek, you’ll probably miss out on a bunch of stuff. In addition, the book ends with a 112-page appendix. The extended coda doesn’t really add anything significant to the source material. But we’ll forgive the author for his writerly excess. The appendix allows readers to live in the moment a bit longer. And that’s a good thing.
[I, Crimsonstreak / By Matt Adams / First Printing: May 2012 / ISBN: 9781936460267]