May 16, 2011

"Other People's Heroes" by Blake M. Petit

(Disclosure: I received a copy of the e-book Other People's Heroes for review purposes.)

I admit, I'm 37 and I like superhero stories. I subscribe to a couple of superhero comics. I could pretend that it's just to share them with my sons, but ... well, ... that's serendipitous.

Other People's Heroes is a different kind of superhero story. The narrator begins the story as a reporter in Siegel City, working for a magazine called Powerlines, which focuses on the rather-large superhuman community of the city. He soon discovers, though, that he's one of them.

He then learns that the superhumans are all orchestrated, that their battles are staged, and that it's all about marketing. From there, the story moves through his decision to expose the racket, his acceptance of it, and then the big superhero-type ending.

The long-missing superhero Lionheart hangs over the story. His disappearance and mysterious death marked the end of the real heroes, and the beginning of the staged events. His memory haunts the more-noble characters, especially those who knew him.

I liked the story. It dealt with the issues in a mature, adult fashion while retaining the superhero feel. Clearly, Blake Petit knows the heroic world and wanted it to feel like more of the real world than you usually get from a comic. This, he did very well.

While the story takes a cynical turn, it delivers the moments that make comics worth reading: the dramatic appearance, the big ending, the moral triumph, and the optimistic finish. What's left of Lionheart's old team, most of whom retired after he died, come back for the big dramatic battle. It's a moment that makes you cheer. Even without the big, full-color, two-page pinup panel that it deserved, that moment comes across perfectly.

The book is also full of jokes about the genre -- comments about costumes and a snide reference to wearing just eyeglasses to disguise oneself, comments about returning from the dead, and being bitten by radioactive creatures, for example. For even a casual comic fan, or even one who has seen a few movie adaptations, I think that these jokes would come through.

This might be somewhat of a specific-niche book, but it's definitely worth the read. I enjoyed it tremendously. 4 stars.

1 comment:

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