This fits in with a long held view of mine about parodies that the best of them are things that are also excellent examples of a work in question. It's why Blazing Saddles is the best Western parody of all time along with other genre-defining works of Mel Brooks. Superheroes Anonymous takes place in a superhero world where the humor comes from the fact its protagonist is a snarky genre-savvy woman who just wants to live her life but is constantly caught up in the drama of superhumans.
The premise is a send up of the traditional Superman and Lois Lane dynamic. Gail Godwin is a fashion editor who is constantly kidnapped by the various supervillains of her city. They believe, erroneously according to Gail, that she is the girlfriend of the superhero Blaze. The supervillains don't want to kill her, at least not immediately, but use her as bait. They've done it so many times that Gail has become jaded to kidnapping and living in constant peril. Indeed, waking up tied to a laboratory table, her first reaction is to ask how much time has passed since she doesn't want to miss time from work.
Unfortunately, Gail's boyfriend has broken up with her and is moving to Florida. Coincidentally, Blaze has also disappeared from Chicago and now Gail has no one to save her. After becoming the unwitting subject of a supervillain's mad experiment, Gail has to deal with not only an unwanted set of superpowers but also the dramatic revelation about Blaze's true identity! Much to my surprise, there is a big twist there.
This isn't the deepest of superhero novels and the world building is pretty basic but it is consistent in its rules as well as characterization. Too many superhero novels go off the rails and throw everything at the wall in hopes something will stick. This grounded approach makes Gail's struggles feel like a lighter and softer Jessica Jones and that's a good thing.
The best part of the novel is definitely Gail Godwin herself a.k.a Hostage Girl. She manages to capture the snarkiness of the best Lois Lane incarnations while also being entertaining in her own right. You can believe someone who has been a damsel in distress more times than anyone alive is a tough and unintimidable pint-sized powerhouse. I definitely wanted to read more of her adventures and picked up the sequel as soon as I finished this one. The ending practically insisted on it.
I really like this novel and would have given it a 5 out of 5 if not for the fact that it ended on a cliffhanger. That isn't necessarily a bad thing but I feel like the book didn't quite tell a full story. We get Gail introduced to the world of superhumans, how their equivalent to the Justice League functions, and a lot of humor but we don't get any insight into the origins of her archenemy. Indeed, I could have spent a lot more time with Gail learning the ropes of superheroism as it's quite entertaining.
In conclusion, I found this to be a good "popcorn" novel that is good to sit down and read when you want to relax. It's not something that will blow you away but it's also something that will entertain you throughout. I ended up reading the entire four book series in a week's time. That's pretty high praise from me as it takes a lot to sell me on series now.