Sunday, May 24, 2009

Super-Powered Prose: Devil's Cape by Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers’s Devil’s Cape came out of left field for me. Having never been familiar with him (not surprising as this is his first novel) or aware that the Wizards of the Coast Discoveries line existed, I was happy when the folks over at A Thousand Faces pointed out this work.

I have mixed feelings about the novel as it stands. As a single novel it seems to have some serious weak spots, but at the same time it seems to establish itself as the first book in a potential series. Nonetheless, I think it could have been a little more substantial. Despite a page count over four hundred, Devil’s Cape seems to serve as little more than an origin story for its characters. It does nothing to solve the conflict of the novel. The heroes do little more than win a battle, albeit it a harrowing one. The war has barely begun.

The characters are well developed though, as is the city itself. The first eleven chapters, nearly a fourth of the book, is all flashbacks across the history of both the city and the characters’ backgrounds. While a little long winded, I actually enjoyed this part of the book more than the rest. We really get a feel for both the legacy aspects of the novel and the city of Devil’s Cape itself in these first hundred pages. Each chapter begins with a quote or a snippet from some in-story media event (a device I really enjoyed in Brian Daley’s Robotech novels) which also fleshes out the world. Devils’s Cape really feels like a living, breathing city, and even when the characters fall in to typical comic tropes, the realness of their surroundings keeps the novel moving.

All in all, I really enjoyed Devil’s Cape. I think if Rob Rogers continues with the series we could be looking at the potential premiere name in super-powered fiction. I only hope he gets the chance to do so.

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