cover image Illuminations


Alan Moore. Bloomsbury, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-1-63557-880-5

Legendary graphic novelist Moore (Watchmen) further burnishes his reputation in his first prose collection, which features nine career-spanning tales. The stand-out short novel, “What We Can Know About Thunderman,” is a scathing take on the American comic book industry and its impact on popular culture and politics, and will undoubtedly attract the most attention, given Moore’s history with the genre. In it, Moore imagines a reality in which thinly disguised versions of characters like Superman have grown so grim that “everybody had decided that comics weren’t just for kids, then that they weren’t for kids at all”—and now their audience is on the verge of dying off. It gets so bad that comics writer Dan Wheems decides that unless he escapes the industry, he will be reduced to “a quickly understood cartoon, the way it did with everything and everybody.” Moore’s subversive talent is equally on display in the shorter tales: “Not Even Legend” follows a group of paranormal investigators who eschew ghost hunting to instead study “things that nobody had ever said existed in the first place,” while the cynical psychic protagonist of “Cold Reading” justifies his work as a “spiritual sugar pill.” The superhero genre’s loss is fantastic fiction’s gain. (Oct.)