Every year we look forward to compiling our Top 5 list of superhero novels. It’s a great way to revisit all the books we’ve read during the past 12 months, and it helps put everything in perspective. Seeing how the genre changes year by year is endlessly fascinating. Better writers are coming to the genre, and readers are becoming more discriminating too. The future’s so bright we’ve got to wear Captain Cold-like shades when we sit down to read. Below is our list of the five best superhero prose novels of 2017.
1) A Little More Human by Fiona Maazel. The hero of Fiona Maazel’s quirky novel is a low level telepath. But just because he has the ability to read minds doesn’t mean he has any kind of mental acuity. Maazel takes her super inadequate hero on a journey that ends with a shit storm of bad luck and bad choices. Tragic and funny, A Little More Human is our favorite book of 2017.
2) Sputnik’s Children by Terri Favro. According to Albert Einstein, events that happen in the universe can be interpreted in many different ways. Little did he know that his theory of relativity would someday inspire Terri Favro to write a wild and crazy superhero novel. Like the ballad of Norin Radd and Shalla-Bal, Sputnik’s Children is a sad and cosmic love story that spans the space-time continuum.
3) The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente and Annie Wu. Valente takes aim at a regrettable genre trope that’s dogged superhero fiction for years. Her pointed attack, however, results in one of the best (and funniest) books of the year. The Refrigerator Monologues is a love letter to superhero comic books written with a poison ivy pen.
4) Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds. It’s doubtful that award-winning and best-selling author Jason Reynolds will ever pen another superhero novel. That’s too bad. We’d like to see him tackle a Virgil Hawkins (Static) novel, or something involving sisters Anissa and Jennifer Pierce (Thunder and Lightning). He’s a guy who writes intelligently and poetically about adolescence, and he brings his literary gifts to this amazing Spider-Man book.
5) Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. As alternative origin stories go, Bardugo’s retcon of Wonder Woman is pretty darn good. She fiddles around with the details of Diana’s backstory, but she nails her enduring charm in a highly compelling way. As we all know, 2017 was a big year for Wonder Woman. The movie was terrific and so is this novel. Congratulations to Bardugo for riding the wave.
Over all, 2017 was a great year for superhero prose fiction. Now let’s take a look at some of the novels forthcoming in 2018. Below is a partial list of books that have already been added to our “to read” list.
Archenemies by Marissa Meyer. Arrow: Fatal Legacies by James R. Tuck and Marc Guggenheim. Batman: The Court of Owls by Greg Cox. Batman: The Killing Joke by Christa Faust and Gary Phillips. Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu. Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith. Bone Music by Christopher Rice. Bug Girl: Fury on the Dance Floor by Benjamin Harper and Sarah Hines Stephens. Bumblebee at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee. Captain Superlative by J.S. Puller. Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas. Don’t Cosplay with My Heart by Cecil Castellucci. The Flash: Climate Changeling by Richard Knaak. The Flash: Johnny Quick by Barry Lyga. Good Guys by Steven Brust. Gotham: City of Monsters by Jason Starr. Harley Quinn: Mad Love by Pat Cadigan. Harley Quinn at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee. Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn. Kid Normal by Greg James, Chris Smith, and Erica Salcedo. Legacy of Light by Sarah Raughley. Low Chicago: A Wild Cards Novel edited by George R.R. Martin. My So-Called Superpowers by Heather Nuhfer and Simini Blocker. Nexus by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti. Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee. The Oracle Year by Charles Soule. The Point by John Dixon. The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone. Runaways: An Original Novel by Christopher Golden. Serpent in the Heather by Kay Kenyon. Shetani Zeru Bryan: New Praetorians 2 by R.K. Syrus. The Silver Hood by Justin Richman. Supergirl: Curse of the Ancients by Jo Whittemore. The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas. Texas Hold ‘Em: A Wild Cards Novel edited by George R.R. Martin. They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded by James Alan Gardner. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab.