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Shadow7

Has anyone read any good or interesting superhero fiction novels?

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I read this in another forum about reading the latest Pulps, and it got me thinking about Superhero fiction.  Anyone read any good or interesting original superhero fiction prose novels?  Not really talking about comic books in general, but the superhero novels especially the ones that feature original characters and not just the DC or Marvel heroes in novel form.  

 

For myself I have found that the Vanguard Series by Percival Constantine is very interesting.  It reads very much like a role playing campaign, even breaking the stories into several episodes for each book.  The books are even numbered by season, with five of them being in the series.  I have also found the Ghost series by George Mann to be very unique.  It is a cross between dieselpunk and superhero fiction.   Finally if I were mention a comic book series it would have to be Kurt Busiek's Astro City.  The story reads like a novel, with so many different heroes (and villains) highlighted.  It even portrays a lot of the adventures from the everyman's perspective.  Good stuff!   Anyone have anything they would like to recommend or share?  Thanks!

 

Shadow7

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I always think of Philip Wylie's classic sci-fi novel Gladiator, widely considered a likely inspiration for the character of Superman. It isn't really a "superhero" story in that it predates all the later tropes of the genre, such as costumes, code names, secret identities, and colorful villains for the hero to oppose. Its real focus is the attempt by its protagonist, born immensely physically superior to everyone else in the world, to find a place to fit in and a constructive role to fill. In a way it foreshadows the deconstruction of the superhero concept that took place in comics toward the end of the 20th Century.

 

Published in 1930, it's definitely dated in some of its attitudes and social dynamics, with a noticeable misogynistic slant; but IMO it remains one of the most thoughtful explorations of a superhuman in a human world.

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I think the obvious book series to mention is Wildcards. A shared universe anthology series--in the same vein as the Thieve's World fantasy series that preceded it--it represents the largest, if not best overall example of superhero fiction in book form you're likely find. It too sometimes feels like an RPG campaign, which shouldn't be too surprising since many of its authors took inspiration from their own superhero RPG campaigns (yes, George R.R. Martin used to play superhero RPGs).

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10 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

"Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Grossman. Absolutely hilarious, but at the same time, completely honest portrayal of comic book characters and stories. Excellent novel.


 

It was decent.

 

K. M. Johnson-Weider has two books, West Pasific Supers and Victory At Any Cost, that are very good.  Well worth your time.

 

Jim Bernheimer has four books in the Confessions of a D-List Supervillan series.   They are very good

 

Marion Harmon has six or so books in the Wearing The Cape series that are good.  A tad juvenile & teen romance, but what are you gonna do?

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I read a pretty good book of short stories which had a short story about superheroes arising in WW2, with the Norse Gods being brought back by necromancy (the purpose of the death camps) and Loki helping the allies.  I based the background of a Golden Age campaign on it.  Can't remember what the name was but I think it was a Harlan Ellison story.

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13 hours ago, Shadow7 said:

I read this in another forum about reading the latest Pulps, and it got me thinking about Superhero fiction.  Anyone read any good or interesting original superhero fiction prose novels?  Not really talking about comic books in general, but the superhero novels especially the ones that feature original characters and not just the DC or Marvel heroes in novel form.  

 

For myself I have found that the Vanguard Series by Percival Constantine is very interesting.  It reads very much like a role playing campaign, even breaking the stories into several episodes for each book.  The books are even numbered by season, with five of them being in the series.  I have also found the Ghost series by George Mann to be very unique.  It is a cross between dieselpunk and superhero fiction.   Finally if I were mention a comic book series it would have to be Kurt Busiek's Astro City.  The story reads like a novel, with so many different heroes (and villains) highlighted.  It even portrays a lot of the adventures from the everyman's perspective.  Good stuff!   Anyone have anything they would like to recommend or share?  Thanks!

 

Shadow7

 

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The Wildcards series is actually being made into a tv series, so I would think that most of them will be reprinted if they haven't already.

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I recommend Elliot S! Maggin's Superman novels, Last Son Of Krypton and Miracle Monday.  Each was written for the first two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, although neither has anything to do with the movies beyond being about Superman.  I don't know how easy it will be to find them--they've been out of print for quite a while, and I don't know if they're available on electronic media.

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Wildcards is still on going, I believe the most recent one came out in 2016. 

I personally think the first 7 novels were the best (with books 6 & 7 being amazing), after that I felt it went downhill quickly. I think I stopped reading by book 9 and only glanced at the rest in the book stores every now and then, so it might have started getting better again later on. 

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10 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

I read a pretty good book of short stories which had a short story about superheroes arising in WW2, with the Norse Gods being brought back by necromancy (the purpose of the death camps) and Loki helping the allies.  I based the background of a Golden Age campaign on it.  Can't remember what the name was but I think it was a Harlan Ellison story.

 

You're thinking of Thor Meets Captain America by David Brin. The story was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in their July 1986 issue; it was later reprinted in the anthology, Hitler Victorious, as well as in a collection of Brin's short stories titled The River of Time.

 

Not actually superheroes as we think of them (and the titular characters are nothing like the Marvel ones), but I can see the potential for a Golden Age Campaign. Particularly the protagonist of the story musing on what necromantic creations the Americans could have spawned from their own folklore to match the Aesir if they resorted to the same tactics, such as Superman and Captain Marvel.

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The "Ex-Heroes" series by Peter Clines.  Superheroes protecting the last of humanity during the zombie apocalypse.  Epic!  Can't put it down.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Ex-Heroes-Novel-Peter-Clines/dp/0804136572

 

51Vl298LgQL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

"Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.
 
Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland. 
 
Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies—and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.
 
But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all."

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The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart, Firefight and Calamity. Superbeings, called Epics, some of tremendous power, have emerged throughout the world - and every one of them is a supervillain. The main character is seeking to join a secretive group called the Reckoners - normal humans who target, study and, if they can, kill Epics.

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I have a book of superhero short stories using original characters.

 

One has an alien scientist who believes his planet is doomed, and sends his son to Earth.  Turns out his planet doesn't explode, and the son lands in the Soviet Union.  Raised in the Soviet System he obeys all laws to the point he turns himself in to spend decades in a Siberian Prison.

 

In another a Crime Fighter is put on trial by his fellow heroes for getting a child across a state line during a divorce case.

 

And another story has a hero with amnesia told he must go into a hopeless fight, the what he is told isn't everything he should know.

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I have two books both called How to be a Superhero.

 

The first is by Mark Leigh and Mike Lepine, and has chapters on Financing a superhero career, building a secret lair, finding a boy wonder, and why supersets are never a good idea.

 

The other is by Doctor Metropolis, and gives detailed examinations of superhero archetypes (including the unofficial archetype of crime fighter), quizzes on how evil is your villain, and wear to met them.

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On 3/19/2018 at 6:32 PM, Cassandra said:

I have a book of superhero short stories using original characters.

 

One has an alien scientist who believes his planet is doomed, and sends his son to Earth.  Turns out his planet doesn't explode, and the son lands in the Soviet Union.  Raised in the Soviet System he obeys all laws to the point he turns himself in to spend decades in a Siberian Prison.

 

In another a Crime Fighter is put on trial by his fellow heroes for getting a child across a state line during a divorce case.

 

And another story has a hero with amnesia told he must go into a hopeless fight, the what he is told isn't everything he should know.

 

I know the anthology you mean. I used to have it and I enjoyed a lot o the stories. Unfortunately, I gave it away during a clear out. :(

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