reviews

Super (Superhero Novels for Adults #1) by Ernie Lindsey

Write on: Sat, 20 Nov 2021 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 300

4.5/5

There's a lot of superhero novels out there but only rarely as they any good. I say this as someone who writes superhero novels that are clearly the greatest thing ever written. Still, I absolutely love prose superhero fiction and I was recommended this novel by my good friend Steve Caldwell (The Bookwyrm Reads). He said that I would absolutely love this novel and, you know what, he was right. I guess I owe him a coke.

The premise is Leo Craft kills superheroes. Generally, the world he inhabits exists about halfway between The Boys and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The majority of superheroes are decent law-abiding people but a significant chunk are scumbags who realize they can make more money as well as gain virtual immunity from the law by pretending to be "heroes." Leo Craft is assigned to kill these individuals by the government and just took out Patriotman on their behalf.

The only problem is that Patriotman was the world's most beloved superhero, halfway between Superman and Captain America, with the reasoning behind his assassination questionable at best. Still Leo didn't hesitate to kill him and now must deal with the global fallout that has ensued: or so it seems. Super functions like a Tarantino movie where the story is presented in anachronic fashion so that events are not entirely clear until the very end. This is also a novel that has a big twist and while I can't spoil it, utterly changes the entirety of the book roughly midway through.

The general tone of the novel is cynical and gritty but it has just enough goofy superhero weirdness to make the story work well. Leo Craft believes some superheroes are good but he's also extremely judgemental and hypocritical. At one point, he condemns a superhero for being a habitual homewrecker and alcoholic but is generally blind to the fact he performs extrajudicial executions on behalf of people who probably don't have the authority to order them. One of the funniest subplots is his horror at a superheroine, his ex-wife, who turns out to smuggle oil to foreign countries for a big payday. A bit like the Punisher being appalled at insider trading.

Nevertheless, Leo is a deeply fun antihero and we understand the author is aware of his flaws. We also continue to find further levels to our assassin as so much about him is proven to be carefully constructed artifice. Some readers may believe certain revelations qualify as cheating from a first person narrative but I think that actually is capable of being pulled off this time around. Leo is so self-possessed and trained as a spy that I really do believe he could avoid thinking about some details until they happen.

This is basically a spy thriller combined with a superhero novel. A bit like Captain America: The Winter Soldier but with a much more cynical attitude toward famous crime fighters. The government is covertly working against superhumans and the superhumans are working to subvert the government to protect themselves. There's multiple factions working together and at cross purposes with all of them claiming to be fighting for the betterment of the country. However, there's a bunch of self-serving corruption behind the so-called patriots as well. The moral ambiguity is excellent and no one is just standing around and letting the other side walk over them.

In conclusion, Super is a fun story for those who want to enjoy a somewhat deeper look into politics as well as the darker side of capes. I think the big twist could have been handled better and the ending of the book is a bit abrupt but I feel like it still is a good story combining genres. Its not dark to the point of misanthropy but just enough to have a little edge.

Available here

C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/