Friday, January 28, 2011

In Hero Years...I'm Dead

In Hero Years... I'm Dead by Michael A. Stackpole

One of the latest out by Stackpole, available from amazon or his own Stormwolf store through the link above. There are two ways to look at this, as a Stackpole book, or as a Superhero book. Now don't get me wrong, I usually quite enjoy his work, but as I've mentioned before, similar themes tend to resurface. In this one we have a Revenant, a warrior who has been away for years only to find everything has changed on him, twisted genealogies, and quick witted protagonists. I kept on comparing the book to Once a Hero or Talion or the Chaos series in my head while I was reading it. But if you enjoyed those books, then it'll deliver as expected, stunning fight scenes, witty dialogue, and cunning heroes.

Now, to look at it as a Superhero book, well that's where it tends to shine. If you've ever read Kingdom Come and wished for less of a biblical feel and more of a street view, then this is for you. It delves into the mentality of being a superhero versus being a real hero, of the obsessions and problems that they face, and what the various iconic heroes represent. It's also about legacies, can a hero or villain pass the mantle on to their heirs, and if so, is that really a good thing? It is an interesting world, but not as dark as it could have been. How can someone who still believes that to be a hero is to help people-live in a world where heroics have morphed into a mix of entertainment and sports betting.

It's a unique and entertaining take on the superhero genre, the themes may not be totally new, for people who are familiar with Kingdom Come, Watchmen, or even Soon I Will Be Invincible, but the action is crisp and characters are well fleshed out, while still embodying recognizable superhero archetypes. In the end, even with all the little gripes, I can make one great piece of praise that trumps them was a one sitting book. I sat down and started reading, it wasn't until about 4 or 5am that I looked up from the ending words. I'm definitely happy to have picked it up.

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