If I hadn’t known better I wouldn’t have thought this new prose offering by Stuart Moore was a tie-in to a strategy tabletop game. For me, as a long-in-the-tooth comic book reader it had all the hallmarks of a classic Marvel summer comic book event series with various superheroes and the teams they are affiliate with crossing over with one another to unite against a common foe. But with plenty of misunderstandings along the way that result in wonderfully realised battles that never seem dull when relayed through prose rather than comic books. But then Moore is something of an old-hand at writing for various comic book companies in the past, including Marvel. And these decades of experience serve him well in writing an action-packed, oft-times funny (hey, it has Rocket Raccoon in it, so what do you expect?) novel that should appeal to a number of various readerships. The language is nowhere near as complex and dense enough to put off Young Adult readers, and there’s the Marvel Crisis Protocol gaming fans to consider too, but with it’s line in socio-political commentary, it should appeal to older readers as well. It certainly grabbed my attention.
The novel is divided into a number of parts, with the first part throwing the readers straight into the action, like a great Marvel Studios’ blockbuster movie. The Guardians of the Galaxy are on a rescue mission to the doomed planet of Praeterus, with valuable time slipping by and a mission that doesn’t go quite as they had hoped.
In losing one of their own, the tension already ramped up goes into the red as the action then shifts to Earth some six months later. An Earth that has taken on the Kree refugees of this planet but who haven’t necessarily been treated fairly. And it’s in the treatment of these survivors – embodied by brother and sister, Halla-ar and Kir-ra – that the clear commentary on America’s own recent treatment of refugees and migrants is introduced. As an immigrant family new to the world and the country, it’s no surprised they have to start at the very bottom in terms of both habitation and employment, which leads to its own problems. Problems that involve an unsuspecting Tony Stark.
As an industrialist and oft-times the friendly face of Corporate America, it’s not too far of a stretch to recast Stark as something of villain. A Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos for the 616. A man who’s business empire is so gargantuan even he can’t know what is going on all the time and on every level his company operates upon. And so he comes into contact with Jennifer Walters, the sensational She-Hulk, looking to bring a lawsuit against him as an exploiter of the poor, and in particular the Kree refugees.
Throw in the Avengers, Kamala Khan – aka Ms Marvel – and a good few other familiar Marvel characters, turning up throughout the novel and they offering plenty of surprised for readers, and you have a great new novel that weaves several plots together in a fun summer blockbuster kind of way. A novel that offers plenty of comic book fisticuff son a large scale, with the destruction to match, but also a novel that offer up some sobering and relevant social commentary too.
An entertains, page-turner of a novel that offers up plenty of huge super heroic moments worthy of the big screen – or the table top – as well as a sensibility that you don’t often get in this kind of book. And a great summer read.
Target: Kree is out today from Aconyte Books and available on September 2nd in the UK.
You can read up more about this new book in my spoiler-free interview with Stuart Moore here.