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Teenagers and Superpowers

By Syphax, author of Stone Burners

Jun 4, 2015: I remember being a snarky little shit when I was a teenager, not too long ago. I also remember everyone around me also being snarky little shits in between bouts of getting kicked in the teeth by hormones. This may explain the fact that, despite not doing anything groundbreaking, Less Than Heroic rather endeared itself to me.

The story follows two parties. The first we meet is Molly, a teenage girl with control over water. Unfortunately, as a side effect of coming into contact with lots of water, she gets aggressive and impulsive. As such, she and her father have been moving around as she keeps getting into fights with her power whenever it rains. Why? Because there are no powered people in this universe except for her, and she’d rather not become a pariah.

The town she moves to, Laurence Lake, is home to the other main POV character, Aaron. He, along with five of his friends, also have a variety of powers, from super strength to time manipulation. They’re juggling the idea of maybe doing something more with their powers besides just dicking around, especially when Aaron has visions of an impending disaster that they might be able to avert. Soon enough, they meet a newly moved in Molly and the plot kicks off.

The characters, which in my view are one of the most important parts of any story, were engaging. The story occasionally drifted close to squeeing "OMG Molly is so amazing!" but other than that the characters had senses of humor I appreciated, in addition to being generally well rounded. Their interactions were fun to read and believable.

I did enjoy the fact that their powers came with a cost. One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever read was from a man named Robert Brockway: "You just never know the measure of a woman until you’ve seen how she takes an atomic suplex on her wedding day." To that end, the downsides of their powers help define the characters, be they seizures, constantly reading the emotions of all nearby people, and so on.

Other than that, well, it’s a very standard high school affair. There’s a popular clique, the moody outcasts, a popular older brother, an annoying younger sister, and so on and so forth. Molly, as the new girl, is almost caught up in the popular clique and sees them for who they really are. Again, not groundbreaking, but if that’s my only real complaint the writer is doing something right.

The art sprinkled throughout was a non-entity for me. It wasn’t the best I’ve seen, but miles ahead of the crude stick figures I could manage. You could argue that they help imagine the scene, but that’s the same reason children read picture books. As well, there’s a big banner at the top of the home page the author probably put a good amount of time into making, but the bottom portion of it is cut off so you can’t read any of the words written there. I’d take the time to resize that.

As I said before, Less Than Heroic doesn’t really do anything new, but what’s there is very well put together. The moment a character mentioned a big important government lab in town my first thought was "Oh, so that’s where they got their powers," and five chapters later the story seemed to confirm this. ‘Seemed to’ is the important phrase there, it’s not set in stone.

There’s only 10 or so chapters so far, so there’s plenty of opportunity for the story to develop further and pull out surprises. But for now, if you’re looking for a well written, if standard teenage superhero work, you could do a lot worse.

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