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The Legion of Nothing by Jim Zoetewey

Not all superheroes are bigger than life 

The Legion of Nothing is the story of Nick Klein and what happens when he takes on the identity (and powered armor) of “The Rocket.”

Originally his grandfather’s superhero identity, the powered armor comes with a lot of baggage. Ranging from his grandfather’s service in World War II to connections with other heroes (and villains), the past has a way of intruding on Nick’s present.

Note: The Legion of Nothing contains some harsh language.


An ongoing series, with new episodes twice weekly

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Listed: Jul 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

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Superb

By Eli James, editor

Dec 6, 2008: Let me start off the bat by saying that I have a thing for superhero fiction. I watch Heroes, I read comics (or I used to, until I realized there was absolutely no way I could keep up with characters who never actually died), and I think superhero movies were the best thing to happen to cinema since Citizen Kane. Part of the draw of superhero stories is how fundamental they are: how simple the interplay of light and dark, how human the emotions behind the masks, how basic and powerful the themes you have on offer in the genre. Jim Zoetewey, the author behind The Legion of Nothing, knows this. He grew up with a love of the secret identity and the comic book, and he knows what’s been done in this genre before. You will find no cliches here, unless it’s been turned onto its head, cooked and served with a side order of sarcasm.

The Legion of Nothing is about Nick Klein, grandson of Joe Vander Sloot/The Rocket. Nick’s heritage is vast: his grandfather and a bunch of old timers built up the Heroes League shortly after World War Two. Legion concentrates on the grandchildren of that first League, and the consequences they face for taking up their grandparent’s old identities. Some of it is subtle: like a mental block one of the old League members placed on every single one of them; others are more up-front: Nick’s dad is a psychiatrist, and he doesn’t like the idea of a new Heroes League run by a bunch of kids. He has no idea Nick is the new Rocket.

Nick has no powers. He has, however, extensive karate training and an in-depth understanding of his grandfather’s technology. He also has the Rocket suit, or several versions of it – these suits are equipped with weaponized sonics, a jetpack and super strength. The Rocket’s chief weapon is sound, and Nick’s grandfather’s decision to use sonics instead of guns is indication of one of the main themes in this series.

I’ve a feeling that Zoetewey has had experience with martial arts. The use of appropriate force (and no more) to disarm and suppress threats is a constantly recurring theme throughout Legion. Nick constantly worries about the consequences of his actions. He worries if his punches kills, if a falling superhero has hurt civilians, and he worries about collateral damage in the midst of a fight. This is gritty superhero fiction, and these kids don’t fight without facing very real facts of life.

There is one scene where one of the original members of the League tells Nick and his friends: “One more thing, you may kill somebody today. We don’t want you to, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. We won’t think anything less of you for it.”

To which another hero replies: “No. It can always be avoided. Always. And it should be. Whatever we might think, in the public’s opinion you’ll have killed an innocent man.”

This clash is powerful. It highlights, in so many sentences, what it’s like to be teenaged and stuck in an evil, often unforgiving superpowered world. It’s also worth noting that Joe, Nick’s grandad, used to wake up from nightmares as a result of the people he had killed during the war. The new League consists of kids, and it’s mostly been non-violent so far, but you can’t help but wonder: what happens if one of them kills someone? These are teenagers, stuck in situations way over their heads. What will happen to them then?

The Legion of Nothing succeeds in almost every way: it is gripping, well written, and regularly updated. Above all, Zoetewey writes it with fantastic humour, poking fun at superhero cliches and often ending chapters with witty repartee. There’s something here for everyone. Zip up and ready your power armour. The Legion’s here to stay.

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Pow! Slam!

By Sonja Nitschke, editor

Jul 26, 2008: Caveat: the story is still being updated regularly, so review subject to change on future installments.

Legion of Nothing is about superheroes – both kinds: mutants and those that rely on technology and their own brains.

They even come in costumes.

There’s plenty of everything: humor, conflict, action sequences, a hint of romance, and even intrigue.

[more . . .]

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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The Consequences of Growing Up the Grandson of a Superhero

By M.C.A. Hogarth, author of Earthrise

Nov 30, 2012: So I’m not a fan of the superhero genre, and not really reading YA fiction either, and yet . . . I really liked this book. I liked it for being an examination of the consequences of growing up the grandson of a famous vigilante; I liked it for being honest about the implication of superheros actually -being- vigilantes (in contrast to the existing justice system). I liked the narrator’s reluctance about the whole thing, and his ambivalence about what it’s done to his parents and what his role is and should be. And [more . . .]

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They actually wind up breaking curfew quite a lot

By ubersoft, author of A Rake by Starlight

Aug 16, 2011: I suppose there are people out there who will dismiss "superhero fiction" as trivial, just like there are people who feel that way about space opera, or sword & sorcery, or high fantasy, or any other kind of genre fiction. I’m not one of those people, but I will admit that I’d never really been comfortable reading it. I’m used to reading about superheroes in comic books—the genre and the medium are so intertwined in my experience it’s difficult to imagine reading the genre in any other form. Maybe you’re [more . . .]

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Great Stuff

By GregBulmash, member

Mar 26, 2009: The main consideration for me in any story is if I want to read the next chapter. I can always give it one, but do I want to go on to the next? This story keeps me guessing, keeps me interested, and gives me characters I can both like and believe.

When you’re writing fiction in a setting where the impossible becomes possible, creating characters who are grounded in the everyday mundanities and foibles of being human really helps give the [more . . .]

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