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Wonder City Stories by Jude McLaughlin

Superpowers are the least of their problems... 

Wonder City Stories is an ongoing serial that explores gender, race, and sexuality in a richly-populated superhero comic book universe, actively deconstructing the persistent themes of the genre through the eyes of a group of compelling characters who are unusual in that context: women, elderly people, POCs, LGBTQI people, and more.

It’s a universe where the equivalent of Superman is a short, round, middle-aged black woman, and its version of Captain America is a homeless, elderly veteran living out of her van. Where superpowers don’t guarantee special treatment, money, or success, and where time continues to flow forward so that most people age and have to live with consequences, with no reboots or retcons.

Note: Wonder City Stories contains some harsh language.

A series

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Listed: Oct 20, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

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Life in Wonder City

By Palladian, editor, author of Super

Jan 6, 2013: I knew I was going to like Wonder City Stories when it started off with an account of one of our heroines trying to find somewhere to sleep for the night and thwarting someone trying to mug her in the process. One of the things I loved about these stories in general is the way we follow people, many of them with super powers (but not all), and see them in their real, ordinary lives.

Some of the people we follow are younger and starting off their careers, like Nereid, the daughter of two retired third-line superheroes who’s trying to become a superhero in her own right. Also, Megan Amazon, another superhero’s daughter, who’s not at all interested in getting into the game and is simply looking for a good job so she can make a living. Some of the people we follow are older, retired superheroes and the regular people involved with them, and the author does an excellent job of making all of these people interesting and bringing them to life in a way that made me excited to read about any of them as the tale progressed and we followed one story or another more closely.

One of the things I found myself enjoying the most is the fact that Wonder City Stories focuses on the day-to-day lives of the people in them, not simply one fight after another that gets tedious because you always know what to expect. Not that huge battles don’t take place in this story, but when they do, we’re treated to the run up and aftermath as well as the fight itself. I liked very much the fact that the fight wasn’t just the end of the story and that we got to follow up with the people who ended up in the hospital and the ones who helped to clean up the mess afterwards, and so fully see the impact of the events on the lives of all of the people involved.

The writing in these stories is done in a very easy, naturalistic style that I find inviting to simply dive in and read dozens of chapters at a sitting, but it’s also polished at the same time. The one thing I had some difficulty with at first was the landing page; I had a bit of trouble figuring out where to begin reading. Once I did, however, each chapter has forward and back buttons, so if you either use the Table of Contents or a link to your most current chapter, that issue should be solved.

At any rate, I’ve been having a lot of fun reading this series and plan to continue to do so. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in superhero fiction, especially anyone tired of the stereotypical heroes and superhero story track, and interested in finding out more about the people behind the masks, as it were.

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Visit Wonder City

By Jim Zoetewey, editor, author of The Legion of Nothing

Oct 25, 2009: If you read comics, the title of Wonder City Stories gets your attention by itself. That’s largely because there’s a comic by Kurt Busiek called "Astro City."

What Busiek does there is focus on normal people living in a superpowered world and sometimes on how superpowers impact the ordinary lives of those people who have them.

Jude McLaughlin does something similar in this serial, but not the same.

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Editor’s First Impression

By Linda Schoales, editor

Oct 20, 2009: The first few entries look fun. The style is light and breezy. A different riff on the super hero genre.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Wonderful City

By Asmora, member

Jan 20, 2013: First, Wonder City is NOT a soap opera. Some of the early chapters might have that feel, and I suppose the rotating PoV is similar, but Wonder City doesn’t let itself get buried under the romances and intrigues of its characters. The romance and intrigue is there, but the story is driven by a plot that is sometimes subtle and sometimes insistent. The multiple points of view start out apparently unconnected, but they are gradually drawn together for a powerful climax at the end of each volume.

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Super Hero, Super Serial

By intergal, member

Sep 27, 2010: I first came across Wonder City Stories last week during a cursory check of WFG, and managed to read the entire back catalogue inside of 2 or 3 days. Given that my job involves a lot of between-site travel and a lot of planning, that’s pretty stupendous and should say a lot.

It’s a serial of vignettes following several characters who have intertwining story strands, who all live in Wonder City, home to many a great hero and inter-dimensional hiccup.

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Multicultural Superhero Drama

By Ysabetwordsmith, member

Sep 21, 2010: "Wonder City Stories" is a slipstream story that blends a number of genres. First, there is the superhero aspect. You need at least a reasonable grasp of superhero tropes, because the author plays against those to create the dramatic tension and irony in the storylines. That’s the foundation—our collective imagination of that colorful superhero world—on which a gritty, messy, engrossing story is built. If you like movies such as "Sky High" and "The Incredibles" that warp those expectations, you’ll enjoy this too.

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