After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

Can an accountant defeat a supervillain? Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life out from under the shadow of West Plaza and her rich and famous parents.

Then she is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, Celia is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper. Cut off from friends and family, Celia must come to terms with the fact that she might just be Commerce City’s only hope.

This all-new and moving story of love, family, and sacrifice is an homage to Golden Age comics that no fan will want to miss.

You can read an excerpt here.


If you have ever loved a superhero story – be it comics, live action, or animation – you will fall in love with this book. Vaughn not only delivers pure fun with this homage to classic comics, she also carefully builds a comic book world based on very human dimensions, as the core of her story revolves around gripping and conflicted family dynamics.

I think it’s safe to say we all are fascinated by the idea of heroes, and Vaughn cleverly takes us behind the scenes of the hero paradigm, showing us what life as a hero – or a hero’s kid – would be like, around and after those blazing moments of glory. This book plays on the human faults and foibles of the people who wear the masks, and delights in cracking those facades of infallibility. Vaughn brilliantly brings out the worst in her heroes through her main character, Celia, the disappointing daughter of the world’s favorite superheros, a woman who has no powers whatsoever.

Celia is impossible not to enjoy – the book opens with her dry, resigned inner commentary as she is kidnapped, yet again, by bad guys who want to use her against her super parents. It’s a brilliant entrée to the many ways Celia’s parents have domineered her life, and it gives us an immediate understanding of how hard Celia has had to struggle to make her own life away from it all – and it’s impossible not to like Celia for it. It’s also why Celia is less than thrilled when she finds herself unwillingly drawn back into superhero drama when her accounting firm takes on work for the prosecution as they bring one of the world’s greatest supervillains to trial. Celia’s past rears its ugly head in more ways than one throughout this story, and it all threatens to destroy her hard won life. Celia is a fun heroine, forthright and stubborn, and while there was a time or two in this story when she teetered on wallowing in self pity, the events of the story made it completely understandable why she was so low, and she came out of it quickly. Celia is undeniably a force to be reckoned with, even in her power-less state.

This book has it all – a supervillain plot, an unusual love triangle, plenty of super action, and homages to famous comic book characters left and right (the Hawk is hands down my favorite). It all adds up to pure unabashed fun. And while the central paradigms of this story may be familiar – you don’t need powers to be a hero, and superheroes are people too –  it is wonderfully executed and ridiculously enjoyable to read. Vaughn manages to pay tribute to superhero stories with a superhero story that is in many ways an anti-superhero story, and yet in the end, it is still exactly what a super hero story should be, especially when it comes to the grand finale.

So even though there is much about this book that is familiar, and even more that is tongue in cheek plays on superhero tropes, After the Golden Age still manages to be entirely its own a story, and a darn good one at that. This book is just sheer fun to read.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews says:

Vaughn uses the comic-book setting to take a serious look at the seemingly superhuman pressure exerted by parents’ expectations and how difficult it can be for children to create their own destiny. The more over-the-top elements of the plot are aptly balanced by the emotional validity of Celia, whose quest to find her own strengths feels real in spite of the fantasy trappings of her world. For readers who admire Lois Lane more than Superman.

Grasping for the Wind says:

Though the narrative follows a predictable plotline (readers of superhero comics will probably guess with decent accuracy it’s ending with little effort) it is still quite entertaining. The story is character-driven, and though Celia is a bit given to self-pity in the beginning of the novel, by the end she is a strong, self-willed, stubborn, and capable woman whose self-worth is taken on her own terms.

Dreams and Speculation says:

Sure, you’ve got superheroes and a supervillain and all kinds of questions about right and wrong and protecting the city, but at its heart, After the Golden Age is about family and loyalty, and it’s a memorable tale because of that.