JOE AVERAGE COVERDuncan MacMaster is the proprietor of The Furious D Show, one of the most interesting movie blogs in operation. His focus is not movie art or movie personalities, but movie business. In other words, his focus is a particular brand of insanity. And that’s always entertaining. 

He’s also written a novel which isn’t bad at all. Joe Average is a satire in the form of a superhero story. 

Ken Burton is pretty much Superman, but less romantic. Overweight and physically unimpressive, he was nevertheless struck by a meteor as a teenager, and acquired incredible strength and the ability to fly. (He lacks x-ray vision.) The only person who knows his secret is his girlfriend, Mina, who happens to be a brilliant scientist. She’s spent her life trying to figure out exactly what gave Ken his powers. 

After hiding his light under a bushel for years, Ken as an adult begins to intervene in situations where people need rescuing and bad guys have to be stopped. Mina happily provides him a suitable costume (no tights, thank you) and a base of operations. Through a misunderstanding, his chosen superhero name, “The Avenger,” ends up as “Joe Average.” 

All this does not escape the notice of powerful figures in government, who wish to hitch their political wagons to Joe’s popularity. And if he won’t play their game, they are more than willing to use innocent people to extort his cooperation, and even to attempt to produce their own custom-made superhero to displace him. 

I enjoyed Joe Average very much. The sympathetic characters were appealing, and the political satire—at times—delicious. The weakness of the story is that more time is spent with the evil people than with the good guys, resulting in what I think of as the That Hideous Strength Syndrome, named after one of my favorite novels, one which many people find hard to read because the time spent with the villains is so annoying. That in fact is one of the points of the story, but it can make it hard going for long stretches.

Cautions for language and adult situations (the young lovers fall into bed as soon as they declare their feelings. Waiting for marriage isn’t something that comes up). All in all, pretty good, though. I liked it.