The Unsinkable Dreadnought

SovereignWhen you think about it, superheroes are lousy agents of democracy. Equality? Political freedom? Access to the legislative process? Forget about it. In no way does a crimefighting vigilante with superpowers represent democratic ideology.

“We’re told to pretend that everyone is equal,” says the titular villain in April Daniels’ latest novel. “But excuse me. Some of us can fly! Excellence isn’t celebrated anymore, and it’s suffocating humanity.”

The United States is rotting, says Richard “Sovereign” Garrison. “There are too many problems going unaddressed in our country because of special interests and small-minded politicians. Flabby mediocrity is the order of the day. No civilization can thrive if it insists on strangling its best members.”

But if superheroes aren’t exemplars of U.S. politics, don’t worry about it too much. Supervillains are much, much worse. Garrison, for example, rails against democracy, but his solution is hereditary dictatorship (aka NeoReactionarism). He rejects egalitarianism and embraces monarchism. Freedom and democracy are no longer compatible in his view.

Garrison’s got a crazy plan to promote superhuman supremacy by combining science and magic. “Only people who’ve earned the right to have super powers will get them,” he says during a mid-novel monologue. The best people should have the best powers. No more supervillains, and no more slackers. “It’s not fascism,” says a member of Dreadnought’s entourage. “It’s just a different flavor of shit.”

Part of Garrison’s master plan is to kidnap Dreadnought and steal her powers for himself. She is, after all, the mightiest superhero in the world. Acquiring her super powers would be a major coup for Garrison’s nascent NRx movement.

Danny “Dreadnought” Tozer is a tough nut to crack, however. She’s fought the worst of the worst – metahumans, hyper-tech malware, wizards, and kaiju. She’s been shot with cannons and stabbed with vibroblades. In her debut adventure (read our review here), she hammered the world’s most notorious supervillain. And in the new book, she escapes the torture den of a TERF sorceress (look it up). She may be just a 15-year-old kid, but Dreadnought is undefeatable. “Nobody wins against me,” she says. “Nobody.”

That includes her mom and dad. At the beginning of Sovereign, Danny is going through the painful process of divorcing her parents. Both of them have been shockingly unsupportive of her status as a gay transgender superhero icon. But enough was enough. It was time for Danny to finally cut them loose. If Sovereign and his henchmen couldn’t bring her down, neither could her parents.

It’s not easy being Dreadnought, that’s for sure. Throughout the book she’s pummeled and tortured relentlessly. But after all the bullshit, she finally gets the happy ending she deserves. We won’t spoil the final scene. But we have to say – watching the sun come up over the horizon while floating in space sounds like an awesome first date.

[Sovereign / By April Daniels / First Printing: July 2017 / ISBN: 9781682308240]

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