From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain
Minister Faust
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Buy *From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain* by Minister Faust

From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain
Minister Faust
Del Rey
416 pages
January 2007
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The Fantastic Order of Justice (the FOOJ) is in trouble. Six of its core members are clearly suffering from numerous psychiatric disorders brought on by their status as super-powered people in a world that doesn’t really need them any more. The war against serious super-villains ended long ago; nowadays, superheroes are really just overrated police officers. Some, such as this line-up, are having trouble coping with it. So it is that they are sent to Dr. Eva Brain, a super-power specialist, to help them deal with issues such as Secret Identity Diffusion (SID), Mission-Identity Loss Disturbance (MILD), and Obsessive/Defensive Ideation and Compulsive Fight-or-Flight Behavior (ODI-CFFB).

Dr. Brain’s six new patients prove to be a handful. Omnipotent Man is the gentleman with a kind heart and an indestructible body, while the Flying Squirrel is the billionaire businessman with his accoutrements of toys and gadgets, making crime-fighting both stylish and successful. X-Man’s words are his power, along with his ability to seek out and find conspiracies in all that he does; Brotherfly is the motor-mouthed wise guy with the enhanced abilities of a fly. The Norse mythological demi-goddess Iron Lass is tough of heart and on the battlefield, while Power Grrrl proves herself to be the ultimate pop star with the ability to hypnotize her audiences. Together, these six represent the best and worst of what superheroes have to offer the world.

Though their therapy treks along slowly, Dr. Brain believes progress is being made - but all of it quickly unravels with the discovery that legendary superhero Hawk King is dead. Some suspect foul play, while others refuse to believe that darker forces are at work. As sides are chosen (and re-chosen), the entire superhuman community is dragged into this battle as morality and politics come head to head unlike anything regular politicians could imagine.

Initially, Minister Faust’s humor and mockery seem fairly transparent and blatant, but readers will find some surprising layers and depth to this book. It certainly has its humorous points, but as one gets past the initial single-dimensional introductions and dives deeper into what makes these characters tick, the reader is seduced. While Faust invokes the pre-existing superhuman mythological pantheon (Superman, Batman, Wonder-Woman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, etc), he also applies a post-modern twist to their actions and motivations. These six seemingly unconnected superheroes are interwoven into a great web of relations connected through lies, denials, and deceit.

The main drawback comes in the tangents the book takes. While it is named From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain, inside the book, it posits itself to be “Unmasked! When Being a Superhero Can’t Save You From Yourself; Self-Help for Today’s Hyper-Hominids.” This faux self-help book for superheroes strays from the main story with instructions to its readers on how to regain control of their life and other typical self-help clichés. Though it proves an interesting angle to present such a novel and is at times amusing, readers may find themselves rushing through the psycho-babble to get back to the plot.

Those familiar with comics will certainly get a kick out of this, but even those with only a basic understanding will appreciate how Faust unravels this tale. Some jokes require a larger knowledge of comics, but there are plenty of other amusing bits to keep readers entertained.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Lance Eaton, 2007
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