Books: Biff! Boom!

A super novel about the Golden Age of comics

Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Random House; 639 pages; $26.95) is a serious but never solemn novel about the American comic book's Golden Age, from the late 1930s to (and this could cause a generational squabble) the early 1950s.

The period is not arbitrary. World War II and its aftermath provided fantasy heroes with real villains. Superman interceded at critical moments to pretzel the barrels of German 88s. Captain Marvel punched Japanese Zeroes out of the Pacific skies, and Wonder Woman not only deflected machine-gun slugs with her bracelets but also offered future feminists an early model...

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