Anointed with preternatural powers by a council of Pakistani spirits, Ahad Bhai is slowly learning more about his newfound responsibilities as Sergeant Pakistan (“Primeval” / By Syed Hamdani / First Printing: April 2014). First on his to-do list is to squash a reprobate named Ba’al Hadad who recently escaped from an antimatter prison in Antarctica. Young Bhai still has a lot to learn about being a superhero, but he needs to get to the South Pole right away before things get messy. Call this one Sergeant Pakistan: The Winter Soldier.
Most people go to the opera for a night of music and spectacle. Dinner afterward might be nice too. But Alice Gailsone has other plans (“Gailsone: A Night at the Opera” / By Casey Glanders / First Printing: January 2014). She’s not interested in La Cenerentola or anything else by Gioachino Rossini. She’s come to the Sydney Opera House with hopes of bagging a foppish billionaire and squeezing a little bit of ransom money out of him. It was, she figured, an easy way to boost her employer’s bank account. Unfortunately, the night doesn’t end the way she thought it would. Secret identities, secret agendas, covert operations, drunken shenanigans, and a scary techno-shifting monster conspire against her. One good thing happens, however. Gailsone is left with a one-of-a-kind memento from her night in Australia—a selfie of her hostage with his face buried deep in her cleavage. Good times!
When author Nicholas Ahlhelm announced (via Kickstarter) his intention to tackle a monthly publishing schedule for his latest project, we applauded him before a single word was written. Comic books have conquered episodic storytelling and it’s time superhero prose fiction did the same. “Dreams” (First Printing: December 2013) is the opening chapter of Ahlhelm’s ongoing Lightweight serial and it introduces readers to a high school senior named Kevin Mathis with burgeoning telekinetic powers. In concert with his best friend Andy Case, and his wannabe girlfriend Millicent Bryant, Kevin butts heads with a school bully and a giant killer robot. “This is the end. My life just changed forever,” says Kevin after embracing his metahuman legacy. What he actually means, however, is that this is just the beginning.
The Pen and Cape Society is a newly formed association of writers who share a passion for superhero fiction. According to charter member, Ian Thomas Healy, the site will eventually offer “exclusive content not available anywhere else on the Internet, articles penned by some of the greatest writers working in the superhero fiction field today, and contests with free stuff.” That’s cool. Also on the horizon, expect to see a Pen and Cape Society-endorsed anthology sometime later this year. Follow the gang on Twitter here.
Fans of superhero fiction should also check out Ka-BOOMers, the new fan group on Goodreads. The inclusive club welcomes readers, writers, and reviewers of all sorts of superhero genre fiction—including prose, comics, movies, and television.
“There are a lot of differences between comic books and superhero fiction, and it’s not just about the number of words and pictures,” says Ben Langdon, author of The Miranda Contract. He talks further about the joys of reading comic books and the expanding potential of superhero prose fiction here. More jibber-jabber: Adam Lance Garcia, author of The Green Lama: Scions and Ian Thomas Healy, author of Jackrabbit.
The School Library Journal reviews a handful of recent middle-grade novels featuring superheroes and supervillains, including The Ultra Violets #2: Power to the Purple! By Sophie Bell, Almost Super by Marion Jensen, Villains Rising by Jeramey Kraatz, Hero Worship by Christopher E. Long, and School for Villains by Bruno Vincent.
More reviews: V is for Villain by Peter Moore (here). Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts (here). The Bone Queen by Andrea Judy (here). Wild Cards (Book 1) edited by George R.R. Martin (here). Grimm: The Chopping Block by John Passarella (here). Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox by Christa Faust (here). Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas (here).
For your reading pleasure: Jackrabbit by Ian Thomas Healy. Lost in the Stars by Carol A. Strickland. The Other Eight by Joseph R. Lallo. H.E.R.O. – Augments by Kevin Rau. Sad Wings of Destiny by Thom Brannan. “Gailsone: Blackbird’s Song” by Casey Glanders. Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas. Lankyman – A World Without Heroes by Greg Jackson. Real Heroes Cry by Kieran Gould-Dowen. Cause and Effect by Christopher Francis. Sky Shatter by Michael John Olson. Heroic Abduction by Eve Langlais. Amy Allen: Superhero and Finding Amy both by Tim Ruggenberg.