Ordinary Superheroes is an adventure story that fits well in the young adult category, but really is for anyone who's ever dreamed of going on a quest to save the world. It doesn't have sex scenes or excessive cursing, because there are more interesting things to read (and write) about.
Millenia ago Martian superheroes defeated an ancient evil, who was imprisoned on a moon of Jupiter. Neglected for centuries, the prison is about to fail, giving the ancient evil a second chance to wipe out all life in the solar system. Unfortunately, the Martians have gone extinct so it's up to earth's superheroes to save the day. Worse, there's only one man who even knows of the threat, and he's not a superhero. On the plus side, training teams of superheroes to save the world is what he does.
Mr Macho, Mockingbird, and the Mega Ninja were just ordinary college student/superheroes doing ordinary student things like attending class and ordinary superhero things like foiling bank robberies and catching drug dealers until one night when they returned to their apartment and found a strange old man with a mystical amulet sitting on their couch. Unfortunately, while he can teach them how to teleport to other planets, he has no idea how to repair the prison. Did the amulet pick correctly this time, and will they figure out what they need to do before it's too late?
(The first chapter is available online.)
If you love superhero self-discovery – the moment Spider-Man learns to use his web, Batman’s first ride in the Bat mobile, Iron Man’s first suit of armor - you’ll love this book. With action-packed fight sequences, true suspense, brainy jokes sprinkled throughout, thought-provoking analogies, and a dash of romance on the side, this is a most enjoyable read.
When a book defies easy categorization, that can mean either it is a meandering effort, or it straddles several genres triumphantly. Fortunately, this book accomplishes the latter. Read more...
On the surface, it is a science fiction novel with fantasy elements aplenty, but it's much more than that. While it has enough high-tech gadgets to keep avid sci-fi buffs happy ( mystic energy shields and laser-firing eyeballs, for example) it flows well beyond those fields. It is, in the end, an unabashedly moral tale, but one in which the author allows the reader to fully absorb that element after the eventful conclusion; he allows that aspect to emerge through character conversation, not through authorial intrusion. It reflects a subtle touch respectful of the reader.
While it is an exciting tale of good versus evil, the reader is kept entertained by a synergistic whole that combines fast-moving plot lines with humor and the deft use of language. There is even a touching dollop of romance that both surprises and satisfies. The evil force is named "The Bureaucrat;" I particularly found this both amusing and appropriate. There are apocalyptic dimensions to the story and apart from the plot it triggers the question - at least in me - of what is the more ominous, the evil mind behind nefarious philosophies or the willing bureaucrats who execute (often literally) these wicked schemes. One also detects the pleasant whiff of Orwellian and Bradbury-like tones as the pages go by here. The "Bureaucrat" passes muster as a formidable and fearsome bad guy here!
The scientific and technological elements of the work seem appropriate but do not overwhelm the reader (such as this reviewer) who is largely unfamiliar with such matters and does not regularly drink deeply from the wellspring of science fiction, but sips only occasionally.
The very title conveys a Chestertonian paradox and the story doesn't disappoint. Ordinary collegians facing the eternal questions of youth are endowed - or perhaps in a sense, burdened - with extraordinary power. These young folks sense, however, and soon it is confirmed to them, that wisdom does not flow simply from the congruence of formal education and technology. This team of heroes is a threesome on a journey that includes self-awareness along with playing integral roles in the triumph of good.
The story romps through the planets of our galaxy - Venus, Mars and Jupiter assume prominence - and lovers of space travel, and certainly those of us weaned on Star Trek as grade-schoolers, will enjoy the interplanetary "travel." Also, any reader familiar with the Doc Savage adventure novels of earlier decades, featuring Doc and his cohorts, might also appreciate both the interplay between these three superheroes and the essential need for cooperation among them.
Overall a pleasant and rewarding reading experience!
Christopher Lansdown is a novelist, computer programmer, and the father of two very energetic children.
The cover art was painted by Mihael Ellinsworth.