Cons: Dialogue can be a little slow or rushed in some places. Last three chapters seem kind of rushed.
Verdict: If you’re into Marvel or DC, then buy this book. Otherwise, you may want to borrow it from a friend.
Calling all comic book geeks! Prepare yourself for an amazing tale of intrigue with spectacular heroes, deadly villains, evil world domination plots, and a cheesy time travel experiment that could only have come straight out of a Stan Lee original. The catch? It’s all in novel format. Welcome to the world of “Super Human”. Excelsior!
Comics aren’t normally my thing, especially American superhero comics. It’s probably because I usually only hear about the old campy comics of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s more than anything else. I prefer a comic that has a much more solid story line akin to today’s modern works like “Blackest Night” or “House of M”. Plus, I’m more of a book reader than a comic enthusiast. Luckily, this book managed to satisfy my love of literature as well as my desire for costumed heroes and heroines duking it out with similarly clad villains and villainesses.
“Super Human” is the fourth volume, and first of the prequel trilogy, in the New Heroes series of books (known as the Quantum Prophecy series in the US) by former Judge Dredd writer Michael Carroll. It tells the story of four young super hero wannabes who find themselves as the world’s last hope against an ancient enemy that’s been lying in wait for over four millennia.
Set in an alternate version of earth where costumed and empowered beings known as super humans have become a modern main stay since olden times, the story opens on a battlefield, four thousand years in the past, where we witness the fall of Egypt at the hands of the first Super Human and immortal Scorpion King-like villain, Krodin. Throughout the story we are given glimpses of Krodin’s exploits as he becomes ruler of the known world, leading up to his eventual death by eruption into pillar of fire (show off). The story continues in the present with a hostage situation at a newly constructed nuclear power plant where our intrepid young heroes eventually converge. They soon discover that the taking of the power plant is only the beginning of a much bigger plot.
A radical secret cult called the Helotry has unleashed a modified virus across the globe that only targets people over eighteen, and as the adults grow deathly ill, the children are left to either turn civilization on its head or hide from the ensuing chaos. The world’s greatest heroes also become infected and incapable of doing anything to stop them. The Helotry, being descendants of those who served the long dead Krodin and worship him like a god, take advantage of this and prepare to open a hole in space-time to bring back their king, and it’s up to four kids, Lance, Roz, Abby, and Thunder, to stop them.
Lance McKendrick, a smart, wisecracking young con artist who never knows when to shut up (Seriously he never stops talking. He’s almost as bad as my mother.), is a powerless average Joe who ends up having the worst day of his life. First, he’s caught leaving a mall where he was running a three card Monty scam by a patrolling hero, Paragon, who is essentially a cross between Ironman and the Rocketeer with a grappling hook launcher. Then he has second encounter with Paragon when a high speed car chase ends on his front lawn just as he makes it home. He “finds” (note the sarcasm in those quotation marks) a suitcase at the scene that leads him to what he thinks is Paragon’s secret base and plans to sale the armored heroes toys for profit. Unfortunately it turns out to be the secret base of the Helotry and Lance gets chased down at gun point, leading to him doing 200 on the freeway via a malfunctioning jet pack. The only thing that saves him from being street pizza is Paragon, his new “best friend” (there’s that sarcasm again). Now a target of the Helotry, Lance is forced to use every last bit of his wit to help his super human allies.
Roz, a telekinetic, is the younger sister of telepath and young business mogul Max Dalton. Having lived a lonely life of training her abilities without a single friend and the early death of her famous hero parents, she becomes Max’s protégé and sidekick in the battle against evil. Roz has always had the feeling that her brother may be using his powers to manipulate her into accepting her life as it is and she knows she’s powerless to stop him, if that’s the case. Roz and Max arrive at the power plant first, along with a team of former marines and a white clad Flash rip-off named Quantum, only to be captured as the adults become infected and Roz attempts to save them. Meanwhile, across town, two young super humans, the incredibly strong Abby de Luyanado and Thunder, with the power to manipulate sound and hear really good (sounds lame but he has some neat tricks up his sleeve), hear about the Daltons’ predicament and rush off to save the day in homemade costumes.
Abby, an idealistic girl with a strong will and desire to help those in need, has been secretly skipping school and working a part time job. Her family is poor, having a mom in a wheelchair, no father, an older sister, the two sets of younger twin brothers (wasn’t that the plot of a seventies drama). Her abilities had only just begun to develop at the time, so she is still unsure as to the limitations of her powers except for the fact that it only seems to work on metal. Thunder, the oldest of the group, is also learning to control his abilities. He’s also the most secretive, choosing not to reveal his true name or any other facts about himself to the others, even after he considers them his friends.
Well to shorten things up, Lance crushes on Abby and gets on Thunder’s last nerve. Abby and Roz get in multiple chick fights with a hot-headed psycho babe named Slaughter (more than a title). The leader of the Helotry turns out to be an old crone who makes the Crypt Keeper look like Marilyn Monroe. And it’s all topped off with a random prison break added in just to introduce a few new characters, namely a fire guy and a twelve foot tall blue Hulk who (seriously) scares people with his smell.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, filled with action and plenty of sci-fi elements for any comic book geek to enjoy. It never failed to surprise and entertain as I hung onto every word until the very end. My only issue with the book was the rushed ending as the author tried to pack an epic fight scene and a butt load of drama, angst and plot twists into three quick chapters that could have easily filled a whole second book. Carroll could have at least drawn it out a bit and saved the shocking revelations for the next novel. (FYI: Max Dalton is a total sleaze ball. Just my personal opinion.)
Well, now it’s time to say goodbye. It’s been fun chatting with you, but I’ve got a burrito that’s calling out to me in the next room. If you’re interested in the “New Heroes” series, drop a comment and check out the book. I’ll be looking into the rest of the series when I get the chance. Until then, au revoir, my dear friends, and keep reading.