Superhero Novels: The Best of 2011 and a Peek at 2012

PeterGwenWhen someone discovers for the first time, they inevitably ask the same question: Are there enough superhero books being written to support a blog? The truth is we struggle mightily to keep abreast of all the novels that are published throughout the year. Big publishing houses may be slow to embrace the genre, but small imprints, ebooks, and self-publishing ventures are picking up the slack with gusto.

Below is a list of the top-five superhero novels of the past year. We’re not particularly interested in producing a consumer guide, but we wholeheartedly recommend these books as the best of 2011.

1) After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn. It’s always interesting when a best-selling mainstream author dips into the superhero genre pool. The results are often awkward and slightly condescending. We’re happy to report, however, that Vaughn’s first superhero novel is a winner. It’s the story of a young woman who is struggling with her superhero pedigree. And it’s our pick for best novel of the year.

2) Chicks in Capes edited by Lori Gentile and Karen O’Brien. Superhero antics are mostly a game for boys. That’s why this collection of gender-specific short stories is such a breath of fresh air. It’s time to let the girls into the clubhouse. Congratulations to the editors, the writers, and everyone involved. Let’s hope a second volume is already in the works.

3) Empire State by Adam Christopher. Superheroes are only a small part of this wildly creative novel. Their influence, however, weighs heavily upon every plot twist leading up to the final resolution. Empire State is an impressive novel that successfully combines pulp fiction, crime fiction, science fiction, noir affectations, surrealism, and superheroes. We applaud the author for his generous nature.

4) Invasion: Book One of the Secret World Chronicle by Mercedes Lackey, Steve Libbey, Cody Martin and Dennis Lee. Lackey and her crew are clearly having a blast creating their delightfully knotty superhero universe. We especially like Steve Libbey’s stories featuring Natalya Shostakovich. She and her team of displaced Russian superheroes are like a shot of Stolichnaya Elit every time they show up.

5) The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes. Hughes is a quirky and witty writer, and much of this novel can be enjoyed simply by reading the sentences as they fly by. But Hughes is also a genre enthusiast who gleefully bends superhero tropes to his will. As a result, he’s produced a devilish superhero yarn about God and Satan and insurance company hubris. The end of the world was never so funny.

Now that we’ve successfully wrapped up 2011. It’s time to start looking ahead to next year. Below is a list of superhero novels we’re anticipating in 2012. It is a woefully incomplete list. So if you are an author or publisher and you don’t see your novel in the queue, please feel free to contact us. We’ll update this post faster than Kid Flash can tie his shoes.

2012  novels

Archvillain Book 2: The Mad Mask by Barry Lyga. Changeling by Kelly Meding. Civil War by Stuart Moore. The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis. Corrupts Absolutely edited by Lincoln Crisler. Costume Not Included by Matthew Hughes. Ex-Communication by Peter Clines. Fourteen Days of Asphalt by Blake M. Petit. Flying into Fire by Susan Jane Bigelow. Force and Deception by Jim Bernheimer. The Girl With the Granite Heart by A.J. Menden. The Green Lama: Crimson Circle by Adam Lance Garcia. Hell to Pay by Matthew Hughes. Heroes Without, Monsters Within by Sheryl Nantus. I, Crimsonstreak by Matt Adams. Mask of Anarchy by Jeff Pearce. The Monsters of Madame Atomos by André Caroff. No More Heroes edited by Wayne Goodchild and Bill Tucker. Nomorrow by Tommy Hancock. Only Superhuman by Christopher Bennett. Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin. The Red Rook by Fritz Freiheit. Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher. Shadow on the Wall by Pavarti Tyler. Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures by Joe Sergi. Soldiers of Legend: Collision by Danielle Kazemi. Stronger by Michael Carroll. The Super Evils by Carlton Mellick III. Tales of the Rook by Barry Reese and others. Villains Inc. by Marion G. Harmon. Warbound: Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia. Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman. World Divided: Book Two of the Secret World Chronicle by Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee and Veronica Giguere. H.I.V.E.: Zero Hour by Mark Walden.

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