Super Hero Fiction
With the rise of super heroes in pop culture, movies doing billions of dollars and the like, it is no surprise that super hero fiction has also been taking off. Its still a small nitch field of fiction, but growing every day it seems.
I have been reading a lot of this sort of fiction over the last year, almost all of it being self-published work for sale on Amazon in e-book format, but some are also in full print. The majority of it is geared toward young readers, for obvious reasons, but even so they take on some adult themes at times and are filled with action.
Here is a short list of what I have read so far and my thoughts on each series. I will not get into too much detail as I don’t want to give any plots away and create spoilers, but I will try to give an honest assessment of the stories and the writing.
Wearing the Cape by Marion C. Harmon
This series is composed of seven books so far, one of which are a sort of side story featuring one of the characters from the main series. The main character is a young female hero named Hope, while her super hero name is Astra. She gains super powers in the first book and is invited to join the super hero team of the Sentinels, which are based in Chicago. She has several adventures throughout the series, grows in power and experience and even falls in love (I sort of hate the insta-love part of the first book, but its YA so you almost have to expect it.)
There is heartbreak, danger and some fun as we watch the young heroine grow into her place in the super group.
As the series grows Astra travels about the world, does some amazing things and battles super villains, giant lizard monsters and Japanese gods.
Over all this was a great series and I have enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of it as the author produces them. Currently he is working on an RPG based on the super hero world he has created, so that’s kind of cool.
Things I did not like about this series. Well this seems to be a problem with almost all of these types of books, the problem with a climax. We are taken on a journey thought the book, building to the big boss fight at the end and then when it’s over, that’s sort of it, all done. The ending is often abrupt and too soon after the big brawl.
While other characters are present in the book, most are sort of shallow and not well developed beyond supporting Astra, all save her best super hero friend, a vampire named Artimis. (Who has a solo book of her own that deals with the supernatural elements of the work. I did not like this one as much; it just didn’t fell like the other books in the series, although it was well writing.) This does change a bit with later books in the series, as we get to know a few of the support characters, but even then they are shallow at best.
All in all I would recommend this series for anyone looking to jump into the genre, they all are well written, and easy to ready.
Just Cause by Ian Thomas Healy
This is a large series, having 13 books. The series follows a young super heroine named Mustang Sally. She is real fast, the fastest person alive it seems. Sally is a third generation super hero, her grandmother and mother both having super speed as well, but neither as fast as Sally has become.
We watch as Sally graduates from the super hero academy, and joins a super hero group called Just Cause, the premier super group in the world. There she learns the ropes of being a professional superhero, finds romance and encounters her ultimate foe, the man that killed her father and who will try to kill her several times.
The series continues with Sally gaining more experience and becoming a leader in the super hero community. She is a great character to read, the books are fun and the action is well writing and easy to follow. Unlike most of the other books, the secondary characters take up a lot of the action as well, and are developed over time.
The series takes a few right turns here and there, focusing on other places and characters in the world, where Sally takes a back seat. One focuses on some comedy. (The only one on the series I did not like, as I generally don’t like comedy fiction) One takes place in the super prison and a jailbreak, and the last one showcases some young heroes still in middle school. (I did not think I would like that one but it turned out to be fun)
Three of the books are short stories that fill in the backstory of the world, which while not needed, are a good read anyways.
Healy seems to put out two of these every year so you can keep the action going with little delay between books.
Of all the series, I like these the best.
Velveteen by Seaman McGuire
This is a large series and comedy based, so I did not get too far into the first book before I stopped. Just not my bag of tea. It is well written and has an odd ball since of fun. If you are into weird stuff then this is a good choice for you.
Good Intensions by Michael Cider
This is a single book, which focuses on a super villain that does not want to be a super villain. He sort of gets extorted into the job. I liked the book over all with the action being fun and seeing a large villain organization for the inside was cool, but the main character’s reason for becoming a super villain sort of falls short. I just did not buy it and thought it was forced and not believable. His motivation is just off. Once he does the deed though, he finds he is roped into more and more bad things which he is forced to do, and while he tires hard to avoid killing anyone, it becomes more difficult all the time.
All in all I like the book, it is well written and fun, if a little off on the character’s main reason for starting up as a super villain.
Strikeforce by Colleen Vanderlinder
Ok so not all super hero series are as good as other. This one left me cold and by the end of the third and final book I was done with it and the main character.
I did not have a problem with the writing over all, it is well done and the action was well developed. What I ended up not liking about the series is the main character is the best at everything. She is the strongest person, the fastest, and it seems the smartest as all the main problems solved are her ideas. It’s just like all the other heroes in the book are there to seem dumb so she can come up with all the good solutions to the problem. They even wait around for her to do it, when a bad villain shows up, they all hang back and wait until she shows up to capture them. It almost gets to be a comedy at times as she does everything and all the other super heroes just sort of watch.
While well written I would not recommend this series, not unless you have read all the good ones first and just need a super hero fix to get by.
Vandguard by Percival Constantine
This is a six book series that will continue I am sure. The series deals with a group of young heroes led by an unpowered soldier that wears a super exo-suit. The series watches as they grow into a super team, deal with bad super terrorists, mad scientists, aliens invasions and time travel. All in all it’s a good series, the characters are well developed over time and the action is fun.
There are a lot of super people in the book, but it seems only the heroes in the super group are the heroes in the whole world, no one else seems to be around. That and a few other miss steps drop the over all effect of the series, but over all it was a good read.
I did not find myself as invested in this series and these characters as much as I was with Just Cause or Wearing the Cape, but overall the Vandguard series is a good read.
The Indestrutbles by Mathew Phillion
A series of five books and two short stories, this is a great series about young heroes. We watch as an older hero takes in several young super people and trains them to be a force of good. Over the course of the series we get to know all of the characters well, watch as they grow in power, experience and depth.
The series takes us through battles with super organizations of terrorists, alien invasions, time travel, magical adventures and all sorts of fun thing. All of the characters are well writing and the action fun and fast as the stories seem to just cook along at the right pace.
I liked this series a lot, and am looking forward to a lot more in the future.
In conclusion, all of these series can be found on Amazon and available on Kindle. As they are cheep, you can get into a series for only a few bucks.
I am looking forward to more books in several of these series and even new series to pop up. If you like super heroes and comic books, then these are some great additional to your fandom.