Is The Golden Age Dead? Or Is It Simply Forgotten?

By Hejin57, author of Music Masters

Jun 3, 2018: Heroes.

It’s a word that defines an era of movies, of comic books, and of writing. Some of these so-called heroes are dark avengers, others are teenagers with everything to prove, and others still are lost orphans from the beyond that is space.

But as superhero stories are told time and time again, we often look to see what is done differently and how the mold is broken. We tire of the same old story, of the same heroes saving the same damsels under the same frame of four-color love or dark ’90s edge.

On some level, Not All Heroes fits into many superhero tropes. But on another level, it defies them, and in the process, creates something engaging and expansive in the process.

Our story takes place in a future where the world has suffered great cataclysm and strife, and it is clear that the empowered are both a gift and a curse to the world. Entire cities are gone, thousands are dead, and the world has shifted to monitor super-powered activity in the best way possible. As the story often states, the Golden Age is long gone, with heroes such as Miss Millennium, The Sentinel and others only a reminder of sordid and overplayed heroics that never really could fix the world in the first place.

Enter our main three characters. Leopard, a mercenary in the self-titled group called the Animals, who believes that by upsetting the balance of the world order they might somehow make the world a better place in the process. Then there’s Sabra, a young girl with dreams of making a change on the streets with the help of a cobbled together power-armor. And finally, Fisher, a former hero who lost his hands, and who wallows in his somber past and the idea that heroes are truly dead.

One of this story’s greatest strengths is most certainly its narrative. Much like a show in the line of Heroes, it seamlessly weaves through three distinct narratives covering its main three protagonists. You find yourself caught up in their struggles, their colorful supporting cast, and you smile with satisfaction when story arcs cross over with careful detail and consideration. The author is excellent at describing action with simplicity, and the characters are able to keep you interested as developments happen and the world is solidly built in the process. More than anything, Not All Heroes embraces the ideas of traditional superheroes, but also puts that same idea under a strict microscope. It isn’t afraid to eschew traditional heroics, but it still remembers itself to be a superhero story through and through, and those initial values still shine brightly.

It can get quite political at times too, and if I had to pick a weakness, this might be the only one I can think of. With the introduction of the empowered policing force later on, the red tape really begins to pile on for all three of our characters, and this is where some of its cons lie.

Sometimes, characters spend long discussions and the exposition can sometimes come off as somewhat preachy, but it is a rare occurrence considering the length of the story. It works in the end, but it can sometimes affect the pacing to the point where the story uncomfortably slows to a crawl.

On the plus side, a great deal of the characters outside of the main three are extremely well-developed, with the best examples being the domineering Aegis, the scheming Monkey, the enigmatic Gate, the violent Taurine, and the ever-inspiring Miss Millennium herself. As another slight con, I do feel some characters lack enough physical description to make them stick in your mind, but I wonder if that’s a purposeful move on the author’s part to make us forge our own image of those characters in our heads.

Without spoiling anything further, Not All Heroes is a fantastically written tale of somewhat dystopian superheroics that plays with expectations and heartstrings alike.

The narrative often reminds out how the Golden Age is dead, and with it, those heroes that so represented the best and brightest that the humanity has to offer.

But from what this story has to offer up to its most recent point of publishing, I have to respectfully disagree.

The Golden Age survives, and though its light is somewhat dimmed, I sense that it only takes a few to keep the flame burning.

Perhaps the fire of true heroes will be seen again one day, even it it takes three to keep it bright enough for the whole world to see.

Final score: 4/5

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