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The Philosopher’s Dystopia.

By Rhythm, author of Touch

Apr 15, 2018: I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I am examining a new superhero story, I always have one question in the forefront of my mind, and that is the following:

"What’s new here?"

Ever since ‘He Who Shall Remain Nameless’ wrote ‘That One Story With All The Contentious Reviews’, there seems to have been something of an up swell in the number of people intent on making their own interpretation of the genre, meaning, to my mind, that any given example within the genre needs to have something individual and unique in order to stand out. In the case of Not All Heroes, that unique thing is an exploration of the hero itself, and of sociological philosophy.

Not All Heroes has three protagonists, and the funny thing is, I don’t think any individual one of them would be able to carry the story on their own. We have Sabra, the young idealist, we have Leopard, the troubled antihero, and we have Pavel, the man who failed. Each of them is unique in their own ways, and certainly shows enough dimension to be interesting, but it’s the contrasts they create with one another that allow the story to show its colors. Sabra, presented on her own, would likely strike a reader as a standard hero, all great potential and bright futures and a narratively assured path to victory. But contrasted against Pavel, a man who has tried to follow the same path, and encountered nothing but regret, she is able to be seen as far more visibly naive. That’s just one example, and I don’t want to waste all of your time wittering over character contrasts, but I hope you get my point. Needless to say, I think the character writing here is quite skilled, and the story is interesting enough to see you through.

Now, onto some of the more technical aspects of writing, both in general and in the superhero medium.

Number one, spelling, grammar and syntax. I give this one four and a half stars. The grammar is good, same with the spelling, but there is the occasional issue with words that shouldn’t be there or instances of the spell checker correcting a misspelling into the wrong word for a given sentence. The writer clearly does his editing, and it’s better than most, but there are still one or two problems there that hold me back from awarding five stars.

Number two, Character and story writing. Well, as shown above, I think they’re rather high quality. I would award Rhodeworks a solid four stars on this aspect, and I would have marked him higher if I thought that each individual character was just a tad more interesting on their own. That said, I’m trying to mark a little more harshly than I usually do, because it’s been pointed out to me that I’m normally a little soft. Suffice to say that this story has the second best character writing I have encountered on a WFG listed story. I find it superior to Worm in this respect, which is no small achievement.

Number three, game mechanics. Now, some of you might be slightly confused. I find it very important in a superhero story that the powers be balanced enough that almost any character could conceivably beat any other character in a fight. I find this allows situations to be a lot more dynamic and conflicts more engaging (Plus it means characters have to think their way around problems instead of just punching them . . . Looking at you, Goku). I think the author has done pretty well in this respect. There certainly are OP figures out there, but a lot of the mechanics are structured in such a way that almost no one is just flat out immune to someone else, and even a regular person with a gun is still able to effect the flow of conflict. Again, here I award four stars. Pretty well designed, but there are a few things that feel a tad unbalanced.

Number four, theme and unique aspects. Now, here, I award four stars once more, but it’s a slightly conflicted one. I find the explorations of morality and philosophy to be quite in depth, and the author tends to leave things open enough to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions rather than forcing a viewpoint, which on it’s own, I respect enough to award a solid four point five, but it’s dragged down a bit by the fairly boilerplate "The world’s gone to crap because some people were dicks" setting. It’s still well explored, and the story doesn’t particularly suffer for it, but it does drag down my rating just a tad.

So, in conclusion. A good story. Unique enough to stand out among the relatively flooded beast that is the superhero genre, and interesting enough that the characters are able to hold my attention. Not exactly my cup of tea, but if you’re looking for an introspective action thriller, then this might be exactly what you want.

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