Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories edited by Owen King and John McNally (Illustrations by Chris Burnham)

This generous helping of superhero soup will quickly sate the appetites of those of you who continue to crave tales of men (or women) in tights outside of comic books. Going way beyond Superman or Wonder Woman, these superheroes range from the bizarre to the merely banal, each one unique in his or her own quirky way. The opener, “Girl Reporter,” tells how one famous superhero’s initial rough edges were smoothed by his unsung journalist girlfriend, creating the classy crime fighter we know and love today. In “The Quick Stop 5,” several slacker convenience story employees discover they have been granted powers by a particularly aromatic batch of diesel fuel, and become a national brand faster than you can say “Hannah Montana.” I also quite enjoyed the stories of America’s most disgusting superhero, The Silverfish (“Remains of the Night”) and it’s most unusual (“The Meerkat”—I know, I’m still scratching my head over that one, too. But trust me, it works).  And then there’s “The Pentecostal Home for Flying Children,” where one womanizing superhero has left behind all his red-headed airborne offspring to be raised by a forgiving woman of God. In the darker themed “Roe #5,” a woman discovers that her past has come back to haunt her in not-quite human form, and in “Man Oh Man, –It’s Manna Man,” one man uses his powers of persuasion to make crooked television evangelists donate to the needy instead of themselves. But my favorite stories may have been in the last section, “Super Ordinary.” There, David Yoo relates the tale of “The Somewhat Super,” those who have the dubious ability of not having to go to the bathroom (EVER), or the less than impressive power of…static electricity. Kelly Braffet explores what it feels like to have the power of bad luck in “Bad Karma Girl Wins at Bingo,” while Jennifer Weiner tells of the story of a down-and-out writer who suddenly discovers she can speak to dead people—and find missing children. Finally, David Haynes ends the collection with “The Lives of Ordinary Superheroes,” which explains what happens to old superheroes—do they retire, or just fade away? Awesomely illustrated by Chris Burnham, this super-sized collection (22 stories in all) should keep you busy at least until the sequel to Ironman comes out!

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