Masked edited by Lou Anders

I loved this collection of superhero fiction. Some of the stories are flat out superhero versus evil villain, yes you know who’s going to win, but how does it all happen. Others are not so black and white, the moral line between hero and villain is not always that clear cut. Still other pieces are about people with super powers who are really still dealing with the same issues we all face.

In the intro Anders says:

The anthology you have before you is just that – an attempt to explore the superhero genre in prose form; not as a pastiche or a parody, or a bunch of writer slujmming it and having a lark at the genre’s expense,. but an honest exploration, with the integrity and level of storytelling that contemporary readers of comic books and graphic novesl, as well as fans of films like Iron Man and The Dark Knight, appreciate and demand. You know, “real” superheroes.

And they are real superheroes, with faults and dilemmas, loves and losses, friends and foes. There are fifteen stories in the collection, only two by authors I’ve read before, Mike Carey and Bill Willingham. I was going to tell a couple of my favorites, but as I look down the list I realize that I liked all of them, for different reasons.  Some stories are full of action, which seems appropriate, but others are about regular folks who happen to be extraordinary in some way, doing the best they can.

One of my favorite quotes:

Eventually, however, Marshall grew tired of playing second banana to megalomaniacs and Machiavells whose best laid schemes were, all too often, uncredited rehashes of old movie plots – hijacking a treasury plane, launching a solar-powered satellite weapon, threatening Silicon Valley with a massive double earthquake, perfecting a subspecies of flying piranha- so when the opportunity presented itself, he seized it, parlaying his deep-seated dissatisfaction and a modest poker win into a step up in the criminal underworld, adopting the Downfall persona and striking out on his own. To arguable success. (“Downfall” by Joseph Mallozzi pg. 245)

Here’s a list of stories and authors:

  • “Cleansed and Set in Gold” by Matthew Sturges (Most unusual way of getting a superpower ever.)
  • “Where Their Worm Dieth Not” by James Maxey (Is it ever really black and white?)
  • “Secret Identity” by Paul Cornell (What happens when your gay but your superhero identity is straight?)
  • “The Non-Event” by Mike Carey (Great crime confession)
  • “Avatar” by Mike Baron (A teenager decides to take justice into his own hands.)
  • “Message from the Bubblegum Factory” by Daryl Gregory (Wait ’til you meet Plex- creeped me out at first.)
  • “Thug” by Gail Simone (A man talks about how he became who he is.)
  • “Vacuum Lad” by Stephen Baxter (Apparently some people can live in space.)
  • “A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows” by Chris Roberson (Cool story about a protector who finds someone to eventually replace him.)
  • “Head Cases” by Peter David & Kathleen David (Just a talk in a bar.)
  • “Downfall” by Joseph Mallozzi (Can you ever truly get out of the game?)
  • “By My Works You Shall Know Me” by Mark Chadbourn (Okay, this one lost me a little. Sorry.)
  • “Call Her Savage” by Marjorie M. Liu (Can a woman live up to her legend?)
  • “Tonight We Fly” by Ian McDonald (Old men don their suits one last time.)
  • “A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)” by Bill Willingham ( a whole superhero/villain collection in one giant battle.)

Honestly, this a fun collection, perfect for summer reading. I’m passing my copy onto my husband, who I’m sure will enjoy it as much as I did.

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Published July 20, 2010 by Pocket
399 pages

Challenge: 100+

I received my copy from the publisher for review and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


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