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Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories Paperback – July 15, 2008
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About the Author
John McNally is the author of two novels, The Book of Ralph and America's Report Card, and a short story collection, Troublemakers. His next book, Ghosts of Chicago, a collection of short stories, will be published this fall. A native of Chicago, he lives with his wife, Amy, in North Carolina, where he is associate professor of English at Wake Forest University. The first word he ever spoke was "Batman," who has remained, in his darker incarnations, his favorite superhero. John's first creative work, a play written in the fourth grade, featured an overweight superhero who gets stuck inside a phone booth while changing into his costume. He is happy to return to the genre, albeit thirty-four years later.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
In 1938 a gawky, bespectacled man walked through a door, and when it opened again, a benevolent giant in red and blue tights emerged, gave a wink, and lifted right off the pages of ACTION COMICS #1 and into the sky. As the years have gone by, countless other champions have joined this remarkable gentleman in the firmament of the popular imagination, and created a mythology for the twenty-first century.
However, in the sixty years since Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, our collective story has grown a good deal more complex. The black-and-white conflict of World War II is a speck in the rearview mirror, and the road ahead is a smashed causeway north of Baghdad. Racial and sexual politics have been radically transformed. Technology has made our planet miraculously and terrifyingly small. It's more apparent than ever that the worst of the bad guys don't wear spandex and live in underground ice palaces in Antarctica, but can generally be found in three-piece suits at the head of gleaming boardroom conference tables.
The raccoon-eyed purse-snatchers of the Golden Age comic books are the least of our problems. We have suicide bombers, dwindling oil reserves, global warming, and an international community in complete disrepair. Not even the biggest and broadest bulletproof chest could stop all these out-of-control locomotives.
To put it bluntly, Superman just wasn't built for times like these. The antidote? You're holding it in your hands!
Within these pages, you'll find twenty-two brand-new stories about men and women whose amazing abilities reflect and address our strange and confusing new conditions. These superheroes are different from the Technicolor do-gooders you remember from the rack at the drugstore. These heroes are conflicted, frustrated, freaked out, and desperate; they're brave and afraid and not sure; they're a little nuts. In other words, you're going to recognize these people -- they're a lot like us.
And the supervillains? We've got them, too. And maybe they're even more familiar, those carnival glass reflections of our murkiest compulsions.
Who Can Save Us Now? introduces a plethora of origin stories (How does a girl with bad luck come to shape the events around her? How did a band of Quick Stop drones become an unlikely team of superheroes?); stories of heroes whose powers derive from nature's most peculiar creatures (A flock of flying orphans, anyone?); stories of the sinister draw that unbelievable power has on all-too-believable men and women (Why is it that this little town never had any trouble until that band of superheroes showed up? What becomes of a man whose soul has been lit on fire?); and stories in which the extraordinary is used to help the ordinary and protect the innocent (What awesome power is capable of manipulating televangelists into assisting those truly in need? What vast strength empowers the hero of this city's disregarded streets, the defender of its disregarded people?).
You'll meet the Big Guy, the Rememberer, the Meerkat, Mr. Big Deal, the Silverfish, Bad Karma Girl, Ghetto Man, and, yes, even Bob Brown. You'll see submarine monstrosities, fiery conclusions, reporters searching for answers, and neighborhood taverns destroyed. Whether your own origin story includes an obsession for comic books and a penchant for the darker worlds of graphic novelists like Frank Miller and Alan Moore, or a love for superhero-inspired literary fare like The Fortress of Solitude and The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, we promise that within these pages you'll find stories that suspend your disbelief without insulting your intelligence.
How are we going to stay alive in this world of trouble?
Can anyone save us now?
We repeat: Read on!
What use is all this fancy in the face of so much real darkness?
If we're honest, we have to concede that it's probably no use at all. The sky is falling. And yet if we're courageous enough to see things as they aren't -- to believe that a flying man can catch a flaming satellite before it destroys the city -- then maybe we can summon enough heart to see things as they could be. This is just a book, a few hours' diversion, but we believe in heroes, and we need them now, like never before.
...And look! There's one now -- Copyright © 2008 by John McNally and Owen King --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are several very good stories that I enjoyed quite a bit - notably Tom Biessell's My Interview with the Avenger and Owen King's The Meerkat.
However, others were not up to par for me, with weak, obvious or missing plots (In Cretaceous Seas, Mr. Big Deal).
The good ones were worth getting through the not-so-good ones, none of them are overly long to feel your time was wasted. Four or five stars for the good ones, two or three for the others, average rating for the book of three stars.
Snyder's tale is set in 1946 and features Everett Batson (wink wink), a young man recently discharged from the Navy and returning to his small American town back to his sweetheart and his loving family. But something happened to Batson when he was stationed overseas. He was exposed to a massive atomic explosion and was somehow the sole survivor. And now he's back home, his skins burning all the time... and he's slowly changing.
Snyder's writing is fine, I just wanted a bit more action from his story which really isn't a superhero story. For most of it we find out about Everett and his girlfriend's relationship while Everett and his dad make a speed racer for a local derby. It's only in the last page that anything resembling a superhero story emerges, like a flare, but just as briefly it appears and then disappears and the story's over.
I was hoping to find a small gem in this short, a glimpse maybe of a character in utero or indications of the kind of stories he would go on to write in "Batman" and "American Vampire" but was disappointed with this somewhat dull slice of Americana. Reading other reviews of this collection, I'm not encouraged to take on the other stories which seem similarly written, that is they're also not really superhero stories and are more than a bit literary (read: pretentious).Read more ›
However, if what you're looking for are interesting writers taking on an interesting premise, then you won't be disappointed. I tend to measure anthologies by their ratio of stories I'm glad to have read vs. stories I'm not glad to have read, and that usually works out to roughly 1:2. In this case the ratio is reversed, and there are really only two or three stories I really didn't care for.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alternative superhero stories are fun stuff. They hit at the motivations and angst of these tortured do-gooders while freshly imagining super powers and backstories. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jeffrey Swystun
I love superheroes, and this anthology has just what I wanted. The stories range from tragic stories of abilities gone wrong, to heroic moments with people who do what they can... Read morePublished on August 21, 2013 by T. L. Barrett
Not much of a book. I was hoping for stories that were about superheroes that I could use with my students. I'm not sure what this is, but it's not well-written stories.Published on July 18, 2013 by W. Hellinger
I really liked most of the short stories in this book. If some of them had been any longer they would have fizzled out for me. The story I liked best is 'Meerkat' by Owen King. Read morePublished on June 17, 2013 by Vicki L. Risch
Compendiums usually include some real treats and some ho-hum writings. This collection has more of the former than the latter. Read morePublished on March 18, 2012 by Kenneth J. Haass
A lot of genre anthologies, in my experience, are like albums from a band you kinda like. (I mean, back when albums actually existed. Read morePublished on February 8, 2011 by Rodney Meek
I know that having superheroes in the written form isn't anything knew; the major comic companies have been fooling with the form over the years. Read morePublished on December 2, 2010 by Steven Warfield
Not so good. Out of the 22 short stories included only five were memorable and well written.Published on September 13, 2009 by Peter E. Medera
Who Can Save Us Now? is a great collection of short fiction exploring a wide-range of the effects superpowers can have on humanity in general, but also on heroes, villains,... Read morePublished on May 22, 2009 by Amazon Customer