Foreword Reviews

So You Want to Be a Superhero

Superhero

Have you ever wished you could throw on a cape and suddenly be gifted with superpowers? Or maybe you already have a cape, and you like to wear it while you read your comics.

Yeah, uh, we don’t do that either. That would be weird.

There are heroes galore nowadays, but you won’t find any quite like the six indie ones in this list. We have reviewed everything from a how-to guide to a list of the heroes that never quite made it big. These heroes are weird and different with awesome adventures to boot. So get your cape, you’ve got some books to read!

How to Be a Superhero

Book Cover
Mark Edlitz
BearManor Media
Softcover $32.95 (572pp)
978-1-59393-789-8
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Interviews with actors contribute to the insight into the superhero guise in this comprehensive book.

Mark Edlitz presents a compendium of his fascinating interviews with actors and actresses who have played the parts of superheroes in television and movie roles, in How to Be a Superhero.

Edlitz spans the history of superhero portrayals, from TV’s Adventures of Superman to Iron Man and its sequels. The big names are here, like Adam West of the 1960s television show Batman, and Lou Ferrigno, who played the Incredible Hulk. But perhaps more interesting are interviews with lesser-known players, like John Newton, who played Superboy for one season on the eponymous television show, or Kevin Conroy, who has made a career as the voice of the animated Batman.

Edlitz probes to the heart of the matter with these performers, getting their take on the philosophy of their particular superhero, and the dangers of being typecast versus the privilege and responsibility of being, in the words of Christopher Reeve, “a temporary custodian” of these larger-than-one-life characters. Edlitz asks Tim Daly, the voice of Superman from the successful animated series, “What makes Clark [Kent] tick?” As he answers the question, Daly considers the alter ego of Superman, and his romantic relationship with Lois Lane, in a new light:

Now that I’m talking to you about it, it sounds more interesting and psychologically complex than I had originally considered. [Laughing] It taps into an adolescent idea of loving someone and being misunderstood and being afraid to reveal yourself because you’re afraid to get hurt.

With a full slate of interviews, Edlitz charts the influence of the culture of the times on the portrayals of superheroes, as well as the evolution of women’s roles from Julie Newmar’s Catwoman to Michelle Pfeiffer’s, and from Helen Slater’s Supergirl to Laura Vandervoort’s.

Even while a few too many typos mar the text—week shows up as weak, exciting becomes exiting, Nick Fury is presented as Nick Furry—this excellent compilation of interviews brings a new light to the shows and films that have proven so popular over time.

PETER DABBENE (May 27, 2015)

The Superyogi Scenario

Book Cover
James Connor
Sky Grove
Hardcover $25.99 (426pp)
978-0-9861469-0-9
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

With this fun book, both yogis and comic-book lovers will be inspired.

When the US is threatened by the forces of ignorance, who will step forward to defend us all? Superpowered yogis, that’s who! Deriving their powers from meditation, the mission of these new heroes is to lessen suffering for everybody … by kicking ass.

After a mysterious yoga practitioner crashes a passenger plane with nothing but her fists, disgraced FBI agent Kevin Kirby must assemble a team of heroes capable of facing the new threat. What he finds are practitioners of yoga so dedicated that they have begun to manifest their own superpowers. But can they harness their abilities in time to save the world from a terrifying attack?

Fans of comic books will revel in the many nods to their corner of pop culture. Not only does the superyogi team organizer bear the name of one of the most beloved creators in comics history, but the book celebrates the ethos behind the superhero sincerely, equating it with the Buddhist desire to end suffering for all humanity.

For the most part, The Superyogi Scenario focuses on Eric Adams, aka Diamond Mind, who functions as the teacher and spiritual guide for the team. Eric’s focus on redemption and empathy provides a much-needed balance to the team’s initial formulation as a strike force. He also borrows much from Professor X of The X-Men, having largely mental powers and originally using a wheelchair.

The story is extremely well developed, so much so that it seems nearly ready for the silver screen. Though philosophical ponderings do make up much of the book, they never slow the pace or detract from the action. In fact, giving the team a purpose higher than “truth, justice, and the American way” is one of the smartest things the book does for itself. Expect conflict with the team’s backers in the American government in future installations.

Entertaining, engaging, and thought provoking, The Superyogi Scenario has something for everyone. Practitioners of yoga will find themselves looking up comics; comic-books fans will be inspired to book a yoga session. Everyone will look for the next installment in this series.

ANNA CALL (May 27, 2015)

The League of Regrettable Superheroes

Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History!

Book Cover
Jon Morris
Quirk Books
Hardcover $24.95 (256pp)
978-1-59474-763-2
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Superman debuted in 1938 and suddenly superheroes were all the rage for comic-book publishers seeking to capitalize on the Man of Steel’s supersonic sales. We shouldn’t be surprised that a great many of the newly created crime fighters were fabulously absurd. One hundred of these superweirdoes, led by the likes of Rainbow Boy, Lady Satan, Kangaroo Man, and Doctor Hormone, are profiled in this superlative book—replete with backstories, colorful vintage art, and delightful commentary.

MATT SUTHERLAND (August 24, 2015)

The Great and Mighty Nikko!

Book Cover
Xavier Garza
Cinco Puntos Press
Hardcover $16.95 (32pp)
978-1-935955-82-5
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Uno! Dos! Tres! Learn to count with this bilingual picture book featuring wrestling luchadores and the rambunctious boy who defeats them all. The brightly colored masks and speech bubbles give the book a comic-book style as, from page to page, each of Nikko’s toys comes to life. It’s bold and imaginative, great for kids with too much energy at bedtime. Ages three and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (May 27, 2015)

Heroes R Us Vol 1

Book Cover
David Clarke
Joanne Kwan, illustrator
Off Shoot Comics
Softcover $18.00 (80pp)
978-1-4997-6511-3
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Superman, take a step back; the kids in Heroes R Us have totally got this. This imaginative new series sets up the kids of a small town for the summer of their lives after the items they buy from the general store grant them super powers. The characterization is spot on, with realistic, humorous dialogue and believable, flawed protagonists. The themes of teamwork and brains over brawn are prominent, making for a refreshing change from the standard hero trope of punching problems away solo. With a cliffhanger ending, young readers will eagerly await the next installment in this series.

ALLYCE AMIDON (August 27, 2014)

How to Deal with Bullies Superhero Style

Book Cover
Wiley Blevins
Debbie Palen, illustrator
Red Chair Press
Softcover $4.99 (24pp)
978-1-63440-010-7
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Vigilante Zach brings bullies to justice by showing how to behave peacefully, stand up for yourself, and gain self-confidence in a noncombative way. His mantras may be cheesy, but they’re riotously fun and affirming for those experiencing bullying. By portraying diverse children both as the taunters and the taunted (and as the heroes, of course!), the authors demonstrate that ruffians, victims, and conquerors can come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Ages five and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)


Hannah Hohman
Hannah Hohman is an editorial assistant at Foreword Reviews. You can contact her at hannah@forewordreviews.com.

Hannah Hohman

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