Book 2 – The Arsenal of Wonders
By Dwight R. Decker
In 2019, writer Dwight Decker delivered “Astroman Book One – The Secret Citadel,” the first part of his rollicking homage to all the great comic book heroes including the Man of Steel himself, Superman. In that volume, Matt Dawson, a young physicist from our world is hurled into an alternate Earth where villainy and injustice are battled by a super-being from another world named Astroman. As if that wasn’t spectacular enough, Dawson then discovers he possesses those self-same superpowers as some kind of reaction of his being transported to this “other” Earth. Eventually, he meets Astrogirl, the beautiful cousin Astroman. She confides in him that she and Astroman actually came not from an alien world, but the future where mankind has colonized another planet in a distant galaxy.
If that was shock enough, she confesses that Astroman is dead, a fact she has been keeping secret from the public. He was murdered by a genius evil scientist named Garth Bolton. By now astute readers translate that to Lex Luthor. Bolton has invented a weapon that can kill super being and if Astrogirl and Dawson have any hope of defeating him, they must travel back to the future to obtain an even more powerful weapon. Thus ended book one.
With book two, “The Arsenal of Wonders,” Dawson and Astrogirl arrive back at her homeworld and there experience several adventures. It’s all too clear Decker is giving us a grand tour of all the alien worlds that were prevalent in sci-fi paperbacks of the sixties and tips his hats to such authors as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gardner Fox and Edmond Hamilton, among others. Eventually our heroic couple get the Super Neutralizer and return to Astro-Earth in time to stop Bolton from taking over America. Battles ensue and when Bolton commandeers an orbiting space station, things truly look bleak for our heroes.
If, like this reviewer, you grew up reading sci-fi paperbacks and comics in the 50s and 60s, “The Arsenal of Wonders” is going to be a truly pleasurable trip down memory lane. Yes, it is overly long in some places and could have been trimmed, but one can’t fault Decker for truly loving his subject and not wanting to leave anything out. In the end, we’re only too happy to give this a jolly thumbs up. Again, not for everyone, but if you know who Ka-El really is, go grab a copy and enjoy.