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The Trials And Tribulations Of Teenage Superheroes

By Robert Rodgers, author of The Last Skull

Jun 7, 2010: I hadn’t intended to read Legion of Nothing, nevermind write a review for it; I have notions for my own teenage superhero story and didn’t want to risk absorbing someone else’s ideas. Nevertheless, here I am, and here it is:

The Legion of Nothing deals with a group of high-schoolers dealing with their family’s costumed pasts and their own desire to form a super-squad of their own. The narrative focuses on Nick, grandson of the Rocket, a tech-inspired superhero in a retro Art Deco Iron Man suit that uses sonic-based attacks and a giant rocket strapped to its back.

Pretty much /all/ superhero fiction nowadays is more concerned about the people behind the masks than the masks themselves; what makes The Legion of Nothing stand out is that it focuses on the challenges high-schoolers face when they decide to team up as heroes and take on killers and sociopaths. Simple things like schedule conflicts and teenage romance take on a whole new dimension when lives hang in the balance.

There are some weak points in the narrative; a lot of times, it feels like the author isn’t taking enough chances—a lot of the prose plays it safe (although in his defense, this is a first person piece from the perspective of an engineering nerd—dry language makes sense). But the main character is compelling—awkward and insecure without being whiny and self-indulgent; confident and heroic without being overbearing and cocksure. He’s a very easy character to like, and this makes the reading incredibly smooth.

The setting is intriguing, too—and it’s set the story up for what seems to be a potential escalation of power (one of my favorite story types). While Nick and his friends are battling home-brewed conspiracies, there’s brief mention of teams of superheroes who rip through holes of reality and punch aliens in the face—but the author’s sensible enough to keep this sort of thing far off in the distance, building a very credible, solid base of realism before (so I assume) having his heroes fly off to fight against time-traveling Nazi zombies planning on destroying the universe.

I’m still working on my superhero story, and now I’ve got quite a bit to be self-conscious about while writing it; in the meanwhile, however, The Legion of Nothing remains an excellent piece of super-hero fiction. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys the genre.

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