LEAGUE OF SUPERHEROES
By Stephen Leon Rice
ISBN-13: 9781934284056 (Trade Paperback)
Pub. Date: October 2008
Publisher: The Writers’ Cafe Press
Imagine four high school friends, geeks who are still into comic books, getting the chance to become super-powered heroes themselves. When one of the boy’s little sister contacts another little girl named Genie on the internet, that is exactly what happens.
The boys at first worry that “Genie” may be some internet predator. It turns out that Genie is not simply a little girl, but much more — and less. But she does have the ability to create some high-tech suits for each of the boys which gives him the super-abilities of his particular comic book hero.
The author could not appropriate comic book characters from DC or Marvel, of course, so he makes up his own publishing company and heroes, although they share some of their powers with actual publishing counterparts. But the story is less about what the boys do with their super-powers as about their inner struggles with what they should do, whether to keep their new secret from their parents, and also about who or what the heck this Genie character really is.
The Writers’ Cafe Press is about highlighting Christian values in the books it publishes, and the author does it here by having the four boys be of four Christian denominations, but each dedicated to his religion. At times they can become so pious that it is a little hard to believe them as teenage geeks. But it is their religious values that are at the core of the story, and direct their actions.
One of the boys narrates the story and, in the course of it, explains how he came to do so. He is perhaps the most fully-realized of the super-heroes, because the reader gets to see his thinking up close and personal. The villains are less fully realized, but exude evil nonetheless. The story hits home when it is suggested that the families of the boys may find themselves in danger if the boys continue to pursue their superhero itineraries. It is truly a different and more realistic view of what it would be like to have the privilege, and responsibility, of some super-power.
The book is open-ended enough for sequels and, judging by the note on the author, they will be forthcoming. It will be interesting to see what lies ahead for this league of superheroes.–Paul Dellinger, Y-30 Staff