cover image Seduction of the Innocent

Seduction of the Innocent

Max Allan Collins. Hard Case Crime, $9.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-85768-748-7

Those who like their parody broad will best appreciate Collins’s third entry in his history of comic books trilogy (after 2008’s Strip for Murder). In 1954, psychiatrist Werner Frederick (the fictional alter ego of Fredric Wertham, author of the original Seduction of the Innocent) launches a crusade against comic books for their supposed glorification of violence and corrupting sexual imagery. In so doing, he rains on the parade of New York City’s Starr Syndicate, responsible for such comics as Wonder Guy, Batwing, and Amazonia. Despite efforts to derail Frederick in advance of congressional hearings on the future of comic strips, the threat to the syndicate remains, and leads to a murder that PI Jack Starr, its chief troubleshooter, must sort out. The gathering of suspects at the end for the reveal will please golden age mystery fans, but the total package falls short of Collins’s best. New illustrations in the classic EC style by Terry Beatty are a plus. (Feb.)