21 October 2007

Hero by Perry Moore

Author Perry Moore says he wrote this book after being upset by a Marvel Comic. In X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #2, the gay superhero Northstar was killed by Wolverine. Moore believed that having one of Marvel’s biggest superheroes murder its most prominent gay character sent the wrong message to readers. Moore subsequently created a list of GLBTQ superheroes who have met with torture, rape, disembowelment, decapitation, had their genitalia disfigured or removed..His growing awareness of the poor treatment of GLBT superhero characters led him to write Hero to present a more positive image.

Thom Creed is a high school basketball star. His mother abandoned the family and his father is a former masked crimefighter who retired in disgrace following a national incident and now works as a lowly worker in a factory. Thom's own superpowers are beginning to manifest themselves, as is his homosexuality. But Thom must keep his powers a secret, for fear of further disgracing his father and risking his hometown's homophobic wrath.

Much like the Austin Grossman novel Soon I Will be Invincible that I read back in July, Hero takes on many of the same themes. But this novel decides to more serious and less, wink, wink, nudge nudge. It’s not as snarky, I guess, as Grossman’s book. The novel is well written, if overlong, and it does take time getting going, but I applaud Moore for expanding the superhero genre by adding a GLBT main character.

There are some inspired moments in here, including a scene of Thom masturbating to superhero internet porn. In many ways, while not perfect, it hits many good points. And, as a young adult novel, it will open the door to other books that can show a positive, non-outcast teen who accepts who he is.

At least one can hope.

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