Xavier Thaxton is the arts editor of a great metropolitan newspaper, and is a man whose aesthetic values are of only the highest calibre. But after an accidental dip in a radioactive swimming hole, Xavier finds his life changing as he is forced, step by step, despite all he can do, to assume the mantle and manner of a comic book superhero, and to be a living icon of the pop culture he has spent his life detesting.
Xavier Thaxton, erudite fine arts editor at a great metropolitan newspaper, views himself as a ``superior'' man. Then he is exposed to radiation that endows him with powers far beyond those of mere mortals. Adopting the name and costume of a popular new comic-book superhero, he becomes Count Geiger; his exploits include saving women from muggings, stopping a particularly exploitative exercise at a local strip joint and generally inspiring all and sundry--until he starts to die of radiation poisoning. Nebula Award winner Bishop ( No Enemy but Time ) sets this amusing super-hero sendup in the fictional city of Salonika, capital of the southeastern state of Oconee (no doubt on the same map as the famed comic-book locales Gotham City, Metropolis and Central City). The plot is developed in leisurely fashion; Thaxton does not don the Geiger identity until the novel's midpoint. His efforts are dedicated to reforming criminals and bettering humanity's lot. Along the way Bishop finds time to criticize nuclear power plants, making his story politically correct as well as entertaining.