And, since his mother’s abduction by the Crimson Mask’s nemesis, the Black Beetle, his father has kept Spencer locked away for his own safety. Imagine if Superman and Lois had a kid, and they raised him for a number of years before Lex Luthor came and kidnapped Lois for bait and scientific experiments. Now, imagine their kid is telling the story. Got it? Okay, you've got Crimson Son.
Writer Russ Linton has written a gripping and action-packed book here, a book that manages to straddle two worlds. He’s captured the feeling of a coming-of-age novel set against a traditional comic book narrative. By following Spencer’s POV, we get to see behind the scenes of the funny books, where a hero’s choices and actions have a weight on their family that we don’t usually see in mainstream books. Sure, you’ve got Franklin Richards growing up in Fantastic Four, but he’s got a loving family and a killer support system. (Who wouldn’t want the Human Torch as your uncle when it came time to learn how to pick up girls?) But, Spencer is alone, with mom gone and dad off trying to save the world from increasingly deadly attacks.
And, when the Icehole is attacked and infiltrated by one of the Black Beetle's probes, Spencer goes on the offensive, relying on the greatest strength he has . . . himself.
Linton manages to keep the action brisk and the story flowing with just the right amount of humor and sarcasm interspersed, reminding you that this guy is just 19, barely more than a teenager, thrust out on his own. He captures Spencer’s voice aptly, conveying the frustration and futile anger at his situation, with a surprising vulnerability that just reinforces how young and inexperienced he is.
Overall, Crimson Son is a strong, rite-of-passage piece, examining the bonds of father and son and the impact each can have on the other, set against the worlds of augmented super-beings and shadowy government conspiracies. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does. In spades.
VERDICT: FIVE Evil Armored Robot-Drones out of FIVE