Heroes From the Shadows

Everybody is reinventing superheroes these days. But if authors are going to pull the mask off the Lone Ranger, they better have something interesting to say. After all, Spain Rodriguez, Robert Mayer, Frank Miller, and Alan Moore have already dismantled our heroes with great success. Heck, even Stan Lee and Jack Kirby tweaked the genre back in 1961 when they teamed up to create the fantastically flawed Fantastic Four.

The Darker Mask is a collection of superhero stories with a heavy dose of racial and sexual diversity. That’s cool. There’s already a black Green Lantern and a female Hulk, but the world is a big place and there’s room for everyone’s unique story. The heroes in this book are often confused by the extraordinary physical gifts they possess. And more often than not, they come from a disadvantaged background and don’t relate to Batman-like philanthropic gestures. They just want to pay child support or drive a nice car. Bringing peace to the Mexico/Arizona border is not on their agenda.

Spider-Man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The heroes of The Darker Mask don’t exactly see it that way. Some see their situation as a burden they didn’t ask for. “Sometimes responsibility feels like a disease.”  And sometimes, we now know, there’s more than one way to define a superhero.

[The Darker Mask / Edited by Gary Phillips and Christopher Chambers / First Printing: August 2008 / ISBN: 9780765318503]

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