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by Robert Rodi

Pub Date: May 16th, 1994
ISBN: 0-525-93772-2
Publisher: Dutton

Rodi (Closet Case, 1993), the '90s answer to Armistead Maupin and his Tales of the City, provides more frothy entertainment, but his formula is wearing thin. Brian Parrish is a comic-book artist and writer who eagerly accepts the chance to work for Bang, a company that is revitalizing its old superheroes through controversy. His choice to remake Princess Paragon—a wondrous woman who originally came to earth from another planet to battle the evil forces of Hitler and Mussolini—into a lesbian irks many fans, but also draws the attention that chain-smoking Bang publisher Heloise Freitag needs to keep her company afloat. When rabid comic-book aficionado Jerome T. Kornacker, who has considered Princess Paragon his quasi- girlfriend for years, hears of Parrish's plans for his sweetheart, he first writes angry letters, then attends a comic-book convention in order to confront Parrish and force him to change direction. As usual, plot organization is Rodi's strongest skill: Even minor characters have specific problems, and the outcome of those affects the struggle between Parrish and Kornacker. On the repetitive side, this is the third of Rodi's three novels to involve an unforced kidnapping. Characterization is weak, and many attempts at satire fall closer to stereotyping. Kornacker is an overweight loser who lives with his shrewish mother and wears polyester pants; he is such a nonentity that a machine is about to replace him in his job as warehouse night watchman. Perpetrial Cotton, an African-American feminist lesbian hired to edit Parrish's work, is drowning in her own exaggerated attempts at political correctness and urges Parrish to redraw Princess Paragon so that she looks less like Heather Locklear and more like ``a young Vanessa Redgrave.'' A competent and often funny storyteller in need of fresh material.