In Wesley King’s first book (The Vindico), five young kids were abducted by a group of supervillains, given superpowers, and trained in the art of villainy. Ultimately, these “protégés” rebelled against their mentors and dropped out of supervillain school permanently. After all, it’s hard to be virtuous when you’re being graded in chaos and anarchy.
It’s been four months since the end of the first adventure, and the kids (James, Hayden, Lana, Emily, and Sam) have been patiently waiting for an official invitation to join the League of Heroes. But why is it taking so long they wonder? They’ve been given an amazing set of superpowers and they’re anxious to join the club. They’ve even come up with a jazzy name for themselves—the Feros!
Unbeknownst to James and his gang, the League of Heroes was in turmoil. Its leader was in exile, and an in-house insurgence was positioning itself to take over the group. Furthermore, a mysterious organization of rogue superhumans was lurking in the shadows and waiting for the right moment to pounce. To complicate matters even further, the Vindico (the bad guys from the first novel) had broken out of jail. The whole situation was getting a little messy.
As it turns out, the young Feros held the key to resolving the crisis. The way to save the League was clear: Find the group’s leader, squash the internal uprising, destroy the shadow organization, and recapture their former mentors. After months of waiting around and twiddling their thumbs, it was time for the kids to finally become official card-carrying superheroes.
It looks like the author is planning to turn this Vindico/Feros project into an ongoing series. If so, he needs to take a freshman-level class in serialized fiction right away. These kinds of endeavors are tricky business. You can’t simply recap the previous book in a measly 38-word blip (see page 60). It takes skill to rehash old storylines and relationships while providing required context. Case in point: The villain’s soliloquy in chapter 34 is complete gibberish. It’s 13 pages of data dump filled with head scratching non-sequiturs. Plus, the author deploys a hoary deus ex machina to help resolve the escalating conflict. Superhero comics are prone to these sorts of cheap stunts (heck, Neil Gaiman did it shamelessly in the early issues of Sandman). But lazy writing like this is unacceptable, especially in a book aimed at kids. Young readers deserve better.
In the end, after their mission has been completed, the Feros gang climbs into a rocketship and blasts off for further adventures. Good for them. After reading this book, however, it’s doubtful that we’ll tag along. To paraphrase the Silver Surfer: “Where soars the Feros…there they must soar alone.”
[The Feros / By Wesley King / First Printing: June 2013 / ISBN: 9780399256554]