It’s a Family Affair

Spoiler alert: there are a lot of masks in this book—Ku Klux Klan conical hoods, superhero cowls, lucha libre máscaras, and knit pullover ski caps worn by arsonists.

But that’s not what The Masked Family is all about. It’s about the people behind the masks—the former Klansman who devotes his life to helping the oppressed, the loony luchador who wants one last chance at cosmic retribution, and the steadfast and earnest tiny tots of the Nuclear Family. None of these people possess magical lassoes or hammers from Asgard, but they are all superheroes in one way or another.

Cary Beacon, in particular, has been obsessed with superheroes his entire life. As a kid he was a member of the Nuclear Family. With his brothers and sisters he was able to bring justice to their backyard. As an adult he’s nothing but a taxi driver who earns extra income at birthday parties by dressing up like a comic book character. In his head he’s still a hero, and to him, his wild journey from West Virginia to Mexico is superheroic.

The author gives us a lot of interesting back-story, but the novel doesn’t really catch fire (!!) until Grogan Salt enters the picture. To paraphrase James Brown, this kid’s got no soul and he’s super bad. He fights the Nuclear Family to a near standstill, and each of them (heroes and villain alike) carries unresolved battle scares into adulthood. Their reunion thirty years later is bittersweet, to say the least.

From the early days of the Ku Klux Klan all the way up to Cary Beacon’s final adventure in Puerto Peñasco, there’s a lot of sadness in The Masked Family. But one character (in particular) does his best to lighten the mood. Introducing El Yucatango, a real-life superhero and disgraced luchador. He is an “unpredictable, delusional powerhouse.” Try to imagine Ignatius J. Reilly in a mask and tights. That’s what you get with this Mexican hero for hire. He helps Cary achieve his most heartfelt wish, and (later) he brings peace to the fractured Nuclear Family. He may be crazy, but he understands how important family is—masked or otherwise.

[The Masked Family / By Robert T. Jeschonek  / First Printing: November 2010 / ISBN: 9781452315775]

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