1 journaler for this copy...
The story was more intricate - and more violent - than I'd expected when I started it, with some very effective looks at the tricky relationships between parents and children, mentors and sidekicks, and newly-formed teams. There are some amusing bits, especially the many thinly-disguised superheroes - alien sent to Earth as a baby, glasses as a secret identity, school for special students, etc. - but the story's pretty intense, especially once we realize how lethal the fallout from superhero battles can be. True, in most cases it's the villains who start the battles, but there have been some really tragic situations in this world - not least, the episode that led to protagonist Thom's father losing his "hero" credentials and his reputation. As the non-powered Major Might (who sounds quite a bit like Batman), Thom's dad was one of the premier heroes for a long time, mentored by one of the great, and taking his own sidekick who became great as well. But when he managed to stop a potentially world-ending disaster at the cost of the vaporization of a skyscraper and thousands of people, he had to take the blame.
As if that weren't enough to mess up Thom's life, his mother left years ago, and his father won't talk about her. Turns out there's a lot more to that story than Thom knew, but he only discovers this after his fear of being outed to his dad - as both superpowered and gay - leads to him trying to run away from home.
There are lots of things going on here, from Thom's first superhero adventures to his indoctrination into the league - complete with his ragtag teammates, a hot-tempered young woman who delivers pizzas to pay the bills, an older woman with a cigarette habit and a psychic gift, and a schlubby fellow whose superpower is to make people sick (!). Thom's powers have to do with healing, of himself and of others, but it takes him most of the book to work out just how to use it and at what cost. And as it's not a combat-skill - at first - he finds himself on the sidelines, but turns out to have a knack for getting his fractious teammates to work together.
And then there's his non-existent love-life, which takes a halting step forward when he meets a familiar-looking stranger for his first same-sex kiss. The reader will undoubtedly guess who the guy is long before Thom figures it out, and I was rather pleased about it - but, alas, while the incident is an important plot-point, it doesn't lead to a relationship. Not to worry, though; if Thom makes it through the final battle, he may just have a chance with a very engaging fellow - who has secrets of his own...
The climax of the story includes a LOT of super-powered combat, with some very poignant losses. Even the Big Bad has a rather sad back-story - not that it excuses the deeds. (I did wonder at one subplot: the Big Bad has slain several superheroes in extremely cruel ways, but it wasn't clear to me why; the final battle showed that this wasn't necessary, and I didn't see any explanation, unless it was to make sure we didn't feel too sorry for the Big Bad after all.)
Very entertaining, suspenseful, and satisfying story!
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*** Released for the 2018 Allergic to A release challenge. ***