In the first Indestructibles novel readers were introduced to a team of young eclectic heroes — Solar, Straylight, Entropy Emily, Fury, and Dancer. Along with their mentor Doctor Silence, they were the new kids on the superhero block.
Now, in the follow-up novel, author Matthew Phillion has shaken things up a little bit. Most of the original charter members have been relegated to the sidelines and replaced by Alley Hawk, Coldwall, Bedlam, and Valkyrie. Forget the old Indestructibles. A new team of inextinguishable superheroes has assembled.
But that’s okay with us. After all, it’s been one year since the first book ended. Time inevitably marches forward. Doc Silence is lost in a Sandman-like alternative universe called the Dreamless Lands. Titus Talbot (the angst-y teen wolf) is on a personal quest to uncover his family history. And Solar, Straylight, and Entropy Emily are cooling their jets in a high-security prison made just for superhumans. The Indestructibles are still indestructible, but like everybody else they need a little help from their friends.
In Breakout, the team faces two seemingly unrelated crises. The first one involves a teenager who is maliciously spreading a lung infection that is more virulent than the bubonic plague. The second crisis comes from Agent Prevention and her Department of What minions.
Ms. Prevention’s mission is to clamp down on our young heroes. “We can’t have a bunch of hyper teenagers running around without some sort of checks and balances,” she says. “My job is to prevent problems and losses, to lock things down, to keep variables to a minimum, to stop things from getting disorganized — to prevent chaos.” She sees the Indestructibles as a bunch of yappy puppies that need to be housebroken.
As the novel tumbles toward its conclusion, the teenage plague bomb, the persnickety government agent, and the “new” Indestructibles find themselves inextricably entwined in events that reach beyond their control. But that’s the way it goes. The world we live in is indifferent to mortal concerns. All you can do is keep your chin up, says Alley Hawk. “Even if everything I do turns to dust,” he says, “I make this horrible place better for a little bit. It’s all that I’m capable of.”
Like the first novel, Breakout is smart and funny and delivers a satisfying emotional moment at the end. It is also packed with all sorts of surprising pop culture cookies. For example, we don’t know how old the author is (probably somewhere close to 100), but his musical taste seems to range from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to Bobby Fuller and to Robert Smith. And yet, despite being a centenarian, he’s still able to breathe life into a gaggle of sassy teens. That’s impressive for an old geezer.
We also have a feeling that Phillion is a big movie buff. One of our favorite scenes in the novel is the showdown between Alley Hawk and the Vermin King. It reminded us of the fight between Mr. Fox and his cider-drinking rat nemesis down in Mr. Bean’s cellar. In each case, the fantastic Mr. Fox and the fantastic Indestructibles are doing the exact same thing. They’re trying to kill a couple of rats and make the world a better place to live.
[The Indestructibles: Breakout / By Matthew Phillion / First Printing: October 2014 / ISBN: 9780991427550]