Superhero Literature

The place to talk about your favorite novels, comic books and web comics.
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CTPhipps
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Superhero Literature

Post by CTPhipps » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:51 am

This is a thread for talking about your favorite superhero novels. These can be audiobook, ebook, paperback, or otherwise but are those which aren't in comic book or television or movie form. We've all found some great books about capes and criminals so let's talk about them. Some off the cuff recommendations for those who love the subject are this:

Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman: The story of a Lex Luthor/Doctor Doom-esque villain who is trapped in a cycle of villainy by his mental condition. The story is a one-shot but extremely good, IMHO. It's also rather depressing as you realize that change and rising above one's flaws may not be possible for ANYONE in a superhero world.

Wearing the Cape by Marion G. Harmon: The story of Astra, a Supergirl-esque figure who gains her powers in a world full of them and decides to become the best heroine she can. Unfortunately, she's faced against a ticking clock as an agent from the future reveals the world is becoming more and more chaotic with anarchy as the final possibility.

Don't Tell my Parents I'm a Supervillain by Richard Roberts: A funny Young Adult series about the child of two superheroes who accidentally falls into villainy. They're a little too twee, I'll be honest, but they're still something I pick up copies of whenever they come out.

The Rules of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps: Oh hush, I'm entitled to toot my own horn. Gary Karkofsky has always wanted to be a supervillain and lucks out when he acquires a magic cape which gives him the power of the late hero, the Nightwalker. Unfortunately, he's not quite evil enough to pull off the mantle and ends up dragging his loving wife into a world of capes and crusaders.
Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Rules of Supervillainy
Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/

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Ares
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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by Ares » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:32 am

The Avengers / Thunderbolts by Pierce Askegren. A very fun crossover that actually is very faithful to the Marvel Continuity of the time. In fact, it really feels like it was a novelization of a comic storyline from that era, rather than just a novel set at that time. There's a lot of characters, but most of them get a chance to shine, are given just enough quirks to make them individuals, and the action is handled very well. A good find if you like old school superheroics the Marvel way.

Superman: The Never Ending Battle by Roger Stern. Stern does a really good job of showing why a married Superman is more fun than a single one, as well as giving the Justice League their due, and using lower tier villains like Kobra, the Weather Wizard and a one-shot villain named Dr. Stratos to great effect. My favorite scenes actually involve the Martian Manhunter, who gets a lot of humanity injected into him. There's a couple of scenes that are very heartwarming with J'onn, to the point that I kind of wish Stern had done more work with the character. While Superman is the title character, it's very much a Justice League story, and is a lot of fun.

Superman and Batman: Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson. This book sets Superman and Batman's first appearances during the 1950s as the Cold War swings into high gear. Distrust plays a big theme in the book, and at first Superman and Batman are clearly not on each others side. It's a fun little period piece, a different take on the first meeting between these two icons, and WAY more fun that Batman v. Superman. But then I've had lung infections more fun than Batman v. Superman.

Justice League: Exterminators by Christopher Golden. This story is even more JLA focused, and deals with a different type of alien invasion. We get a new POV character, new metahumans, and a lot of cameos from a time when the DCU was probably at its best. It's probably my least favorite of the books mentioned here, but still fun and still worth picking up.

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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by Voltron64 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:07 am

Ares wrote: Superman and Batman: Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson. This book sets Superman and Batman's first appearances during the 1950s as the Cold War swings into high gear. Distrust plays a big theme in the book, and at first Superman and Batman are clearly not on each others side. It's a fun little period piece, a different take on the first meeting between these two icons, and WAY more fun that Batman v. Superman. But then I've had lung infections more fun than Batman v. Superman.
Just read the plot summary on Wikipedia, feel if we updated the setting by 60 years, we would've had ourselves a perfect Superman/Batman movie.

FuzzyBoots
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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by FuzzyBoots » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:52 pm

I'm going to re-plug Two Percent Power: Delivering Justice by Brian Manning. It's one of the better depictions of a street-level superhero team I've found, and unusually good also at the fight scenes, where most of the heroes are using actual recognizable martial arts techniques, and have to work hard at being overwhelmed by groups.

I'm about a quarter of the way through the sequel, Spilled Milk and I'm slightly less impressed, albeit largely on the grounds of formatting and grammar. I don't know if the ebook was rushed to market, but there are some weird tense shifts in the first part, and there are more spelling errors in the book. That said, the plotline is still good. There's a bit more worldbuilding, as we learn that yes, superpowers have been around for at least a few years, with the main antagonists being two former members of the World Wrestling Organization, first in their regular, then in their super-powered, division. We're also starting to get hints that the authorities are trying to catch up on how to deal with superpowered criminals, although their efforts seem pretty anemic so far. Once I finish the book, I'll write a more in-depth review.

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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by Ken » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:40 pm

Ares wrote:Superman: The Never Ending Battle by Roger Stern. Stern does a really good job of showing why a married Superman is more fun than a single one, as well as giving the Justice League their due, and using lower tier villains like Kobra, the Weather Wizard and a one-shot villain named Dr. Stratos to great effect. My favorite scenes actually involve the Martian Manhunter, who gets a lot of humanity injected into him. There's a couple of scenes that are very heartwarming with J'onn, to the point that I kind of wish Stern had done more work with the character. While Superman is the title character, it's very much a Justice League story, and is a lot of fun.

Superman and Batman: Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson. This book sets Superman and Batman's first appearances during the 1950s as the Cold War swings into high gear. Distrust plays a big theme in the book, and at first Superman and Batman are clearly not on each others side. It's a fun little period piece, a different take on the first meeting between these two icons, and WAY more fun that Batman v. Superman. But then I've had lung infections more fun than Batman v. Superman.

Justice League: Exterminators by Christopher Golden. This story is even more JLA focused, and deals with a different type of alien invasion. We get a new POV character, new metahumans, and a lot of cameos from a time when the DCU was probably at its best. It's probably my least favorite of the books mentioned here, but still fun and still worth picking up.
Never Ending Battle is one of my favourites. I like to take it off the shelf and re-read every few years.

I read Exterminators, I know, but it was a decade or so ago, and I barely remember it.

Superman and Batman: Enemies and Allies sound like it might be pretty good. However, seeing how it's author was the man who convinced me to give up on the "Star Wars" Extend Universe books... Maybe I'll check various libraries, to minimise the financial risk. KJA... *shudder*
Zack Snyder in the 1940s: Hope vs Crosby, Road to Justice

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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by Ken » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:45 pm

The two Superman novels by Elliot S. Maggin, Superman: Last Son of Krypton and Superman: Miracle Monday from the late 1970s/early 1980s are both really good Superman stories that I can easily recommend. I have no idea how easy it is to find copies of them (I still have mine), though.

My friend Jim borrowed my copies not that long ago. He pointed out a hysterical-in-hindsight part of Superman: Miracle Monday where Perry White is descibed as what a famous celbrity of the time would grow-up into.

Superman: Miracle Monday also introduces the character who DC would actually use as "Superwoman" a handful of times in the early-to-mid 1980s.
Zack Snyder in the 1940s: Hope vs Crosby, Road to Justice

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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by FuzzyBoots » Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:32 pm

Spilled Milk: Two Percent Power - Book 2

I loved the first book in the series, and I was so jazzed about the second one coming out that I put it on pre-order. And eh... as often happens with sequels, it's not quite as good, but still good.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it follows Patrick Akiyama, a young man with the superpower to control milk, using it for everything from projectiles to armor to ziplines and slides. He teams up with a number of other young heroes in the area in an effort to make a difference. In the first book, the group barely eked out a victory over the crime lord, Sight, and his "Visionaries". Well, in this second book, it all goes to hell, as former WWO tag team duo, Armageddon, comes to town with super-powers and a vague mission involving breaking down the social hierarchy. The team rallies to fight this new threat, but they rapidly find that they may have been made overly confident by their prior victory. Making things more difficult, the local police are pushing to have their own special force to deal with supers and they're less than happy that vigilante kids are putting themselves and others into harm's way.

Things that went really well in this book include the solid fight scenes -- Manning handles them in a way such that they feel "real" and solid. Most of the characters use very practical tactics, and it's not difficult to pick out legit martial arts moves in the action. And, unusually, he also acknowledges the physical toll of fighting, both the effort exerted and also the damage caused by hits and misses. The characters also still feel very real with their own motivations for fighting justice, and how they fight, and they interact well. Less good, there are more typos in this entry, and there's a bizarre choice to switch from past to present tense when describing established characters in the first chapter or two. Also, the cast keeps growing, so it starts to become evident that certain members of the team are getting less focus.

Under plot details, it rolls along nicely with the heroes alternately finding ways to be proactive and reactive in turns. The new characters, Ringmaster and Recurve, are interesting, and their powers complement the rest of the team (with Ringmaster having probably one of the more useful powers of the group but less confidence and Recurve being closer to a Badass Normal, but with plenty of braggadocio, not to mention a willingness to use his less-than-lethal bow skills to help the team. I was honestly surprised at the end, pleasantly surprised really, as it does not end all that well for the heroes. That's nice. It gives something for the team to strive for.

If I were nitpicking, it's slightly jarring that the stories acknowledge physical realities such as wear and strain of fighting, but no one ever seems to suffer the consequences of having to hold on a job to finance their crimefighting, or of lost sleep from nighttime patrols. But really, that's nitpicking. Slightly less nitpicky, this book establishes that superpowers have been around for at least ten years, and yet the world still seems to treat this group of heroes as something special, and no one outside of town seems to bat an eye when Armageddon takes everything over.

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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by FuzzyBoots » Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:32 pm

Just finished Dire: Seed and Dire: Time over the last few days. It's not that they're short books, merely that they were so gripping that I could not put them down. Oof... how do I summarize the plots without spoiling? Dire: Seed has Dire learning that there's a good reason that her prior incarnation told her that her amnesia was intended to protect her from time travelers. While rescuing her friend Martin from an unjust trial, she encounters Timetripper, a stoner time manipulator who has a grudge against Dire for becoming a despot tyrant in the future and for killing him at some point in time. In the process of unraveling that, and tracking down some of the other people she knew from the camp, she winds up on time travel shenanigans of her own, foils a plot to spread a bio-engineered plague with the best intentions but lousy implementation, and meets the love of her life, although she doesn't realize that yet. Dire: Time has her thrown back to World War II, where she has to kill Hitler (of course something that never sticks) and meets up and fights with Tesla and past versions of at least three different heroes she's met and fought in her career. And, as the third book in the trilogy, we finally learn where she came from and why she gave herself amnesia, but too late.

I really enjoyed this trilogy of stories and I plan to follow the author as he releases more of his Teslaverse series. Much like Jim Bernheimer's D-Class Supervillain series, this is about the exploits of someone on the shady side of the law who is using slightly superhuman ingenuity to battle with people who can crap lightning bolts and take tanks to the face, complete with all of the requisite supply chain issues (got to keep rebuilding those battlesuits...) and the need to hastily jury-rig solutions and come up with one-off surprises to keep the edge. Unlike Cal, Dire is fairly principled and is much more of a natural leader. Dire also benefits much less by dumb luck than Cal in her victories.

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proditor
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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by proditor » Fri Nov 18, 2016 9:35 pm

Okay, my current favorite author: Peter Clines and his Superheroes in a Zombie Apocalypse world of Ex-Heroes.

From Amazon: Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.
 
Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland. 
 
Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies—and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.
 
But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.

https://smile.amazon.com/Ex-Heroes-Nove ... =ex-heroes

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CTPhipps
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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by CTPhipps » Thu Nov 24, 2016 5:17 pm

Just read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.

http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogsp ... eview.html

Going to read all the rest now.
Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Rules of Supervillainy
Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/

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CTPhipps
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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by CTPhipps » Fri Nov 25, 2016 8:57 am

THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY by me and TO BEAT THE DEVIL by Michael Gibson​ will be available for free from Friday, November 25th to Sunday, November 27th. If you enjoy dark superheroes, cyberpunk hellish fantasies, and lots and lots of black humor--either of these books will be for you.

https://www.amazon.com/Rules-Supervilla ... 514269392/

https://www.amazon.com/Beat-Devil-Techn ... 53073455X/
Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Rules of Supervillainy
Blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/

FuzzyBoots
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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by FuzzyBoots » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:20 pm

I Did NOT Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence! has dropped. I'm only four chapters in (still within the preview, pretty much), but it's a prequel novel to the Bad Penny books, following Bull's fae girlfriend (was she his wife during the Penny books? I get so confused) alongside two other tiny superpowered people: Psychopomp the eternal 10-year-old reaper and Mishmash the cyborg fox revenant. Seems pretty fun so far. They've already encountered the young (18ish) version of The Expert, who's just getting started. The title heavily suggests we'll be getting the backstory of our favorite crime boss in the Penny series.

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Arkrite
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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by Arkrite » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:20 am

Just finished the three Dire books.
I enjoyed the vast majority of them. Enough to read them back to back.

Riiiiight up until the last chapter on the last book, and now I'm banging my head against a wall. The big reveal was... disappointing. And confusing.
And depending on how they move forward I think I'm done with this series.
Which is funny because I enjoyed everything up to that point.

Kind of like watching a sprinter faceplant at the finish line. ;~)

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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by FuzzyBoots » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:52 pm

Arkrite wrote:Just finished the three Dire books.
I enjoyed the vast majority of them. Enough to read them back to back.

Riiiiight up until the last chapter on the last book, and now I'm banging my head against a wall. The big reveal was... disappointing. And confusing.
And depending on how they move forward I think I'm done with this series.
Which is funny because I enjoyed everything up to that point.

Kind of like watching a sprinter faceplant at the finish line. ;~)
I just felt it was terribly abrupt, particularly given the author has said that there are more than three books planned. "Ah, here's the love interest you've been developing... nope, you're dead... minor character, meet the future version... who's someone else entirely, but tied to you... and ignore that there have been multiple versions over the timelines and you have no idea if I'm the original..."

And honestly, I don't know if I buy the Twitch piloting bit. I can buy a single AI issuing commands, but the way they made it sound, it was more crowdsourced and that just didn't fit with what we saw.

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Re: Superhero Literature

Post by FuzzyBoots » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:35 pm

On a side note, I finished I Did NOT Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence! a few days ago. It's really good, probably as good as the first book in the series. I have not had time to sit down and write a proper review, but basically it takes a Silver Age hero who has returned after dealing with a particularly traumatic villain, has her realizing that the world is heading towards an Iron Age, and she does her best to move it into the Bronze Age. We do indeed get the origin of Spider, as well as Mourning Dove, who is indeed a key part of the Pact, going after Heroes and Villains alike who make battles personal and go after friends and family, or ignore truce. With a fairly silly character dealing with a more gritty world, and trying to keep it silly, there is a lot of mood whiplash, but it's all very enjoyable and it makes sense in context.

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