Who Can Save Us Now?

By Bill Kohlhaase

Posted November 6, 2008 in Arts & Culture

Had your fill of superheroes? Not, we’ll guess, the kind that crowd that pages of this high flying collection. These superheroes are conflicted, confused and, like the rest of us, limited in what they can do. In these unlikely tales written by 22 mostly young and twisted authors, we find supers who drink too much, womanize and don’t exactly know what to do with their gifts—if indeed they have them at all. In a crowded field, some leave Metropolis to populate suburbs and small towns. Standouts in the collection include Noria Jablonski’s odd-sibling out in a family of human sea monkeys, Sean Doolittle’s “Mr. Big Deal” whose powers surface only when he’s facing a similarly endowed villain (leaving him vulnerable to plain old folks) and Kelly Braffet’s Bad Karma Girl who knows too well the price of consequence. While the comedy of being gifted results in some redundancy, the stories see personality as if with x-ray vision. The serious stuff—Scott Snyder’s revenge fable “Thirteenth Egg” and Owen King’s sexually challenged “The Meekrat”—leaves us wondering if having a secret identity is worth it. As one hero says, “Crime doesn’t pay but neither does saving the world.”

–Bill Kohlhaase

Free Press, paperback 417 pages, $16


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