Return of the Superkids

The last time we checked, the superkids of Noble’s Green, Pa., had discovered the truth about their superpowers. And they subsequently dispatched the evil scrooge who was trying to take those superpowers away from them. Case closed.

Or maybe not. It’s been a year since Herman Plunkett, aka the Shroud, was crushed under a mountain of rock and rubble at the Old Quarry. But as we know, evil never stays buried for too long. The Shroud has arisen and he’s looking for a little revenge. Time for a sequel.

Powerless, the first novel set in Noble’s Green, was an interesting story about how the lives of children could be turned upside down overnight. For example, a kid might be an awesome superboy one day. And the very next morning he could wake up as a sleepy paperboy. Nothing lasts forever, after all. Even Superman will one day float off into space wrapped in a cloak of despondency when he realizes that everyone he’s ever loved is dead and gone. That same type of ennui made Powerless something special.

Here in the sequel, however, the author is mostly interested in revisiting his characters and resurrecting the bad guy for another go-round. It’s an entertaining, but slightly disappointing, follow-up. Don’t get us wrong, there are some emotional hooks attached to Louisa (the transparent one) and Bud (the smelly one), but overall it’s not as ambitious as the first novel.

In this adventure the Scooby gang of Noble’s Green stumble a few times before they finally figure out the new mystery. Daniel, for one, thinks he’s inexplicably turning into a superhero. And then he realizes that he’s not. Later, he thinks he’s somehow become the Shroud incarnate. And that’s wrong too. For a kid who idolizes Sherlock Holmes, Daniel’s deductive reasoning is a little flabby. Even when he and his superfriends are escorted directly into the viper’s pit, they can’t figure out what the heck is going on.

Oh well, nobody said superheroes were a smart bunch. Inevitably they depend on X-ray vision and magic hammers to get the job done. But give credit where credit is due. When the situation becomes critical, Daniel and the Supers of Noble’s Green rise to the challenge and save their hometown again. No Mjollnir needed this time, just a regular ol’ sledgehammer.

[Super / By Matthew Cody / First Printing: September, 2012 / ISBN: 9780375868948]

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