Richard's Reviews > Masked

Masked by Lou Anders
Rate this book
Clear rating

M 50x66
's review
Mar 07, 2012

really liked it

This an anthology of short stories about superheroes.  Despite the huge numbers of comics and movies being published in this genre, prose stories like these are still very rare.  Each story begins with a biography of the author, so it feels rather a sampler for the authors to attract new readers for their other works.  Some of them are comics writers, some prose.  The editor, Lou Anders, is a ******** who opposes filesharing, according to his blog anyway.  Here is what I think of each story.
"Cleansed and Set in Gold" by Matthew Sturges
A really good story.  The 'mystery' of how the protagonist's powers work is not especially original, but it's well written.  In the short story there isn't really time to actually tell much of story, so you are really judging on writing style, how it makes you feel.  It's a bit like a single record compared to an album.  But within those limitations this is fine.
"Where Their Worm Dieth Not" by James Maxey
A good rumination on how it must feel to be a hero who outlives all his friends.  Again, not really original - it's the whole basis of 25 years of Hellblazer comics - but it's nicely done.  Also you realise here that each writer is creating their own universe and their own pantheon of heroes.  Obviously they draw on the same archetypes, but it's both odd and a nice change from comics where you know they will all share one of the few worlds created by the big publishers.
"Secret Identity" by Paul Cornell
This one is fine for what it is - a gay superhero protecting Manchester's gay community.  But it doesn't feel that the author takes the genre seriously.  The actual superheroics are very boring and take a back seat to the exploration of gay issues.  It's just a little one off "what if" type tale - the world presented isn't realistic enough for me to believe it has any existence outside of the story.  It is quite surprising how British this setting is though; American readers will likely be confused.
"The Non-Event" by Mike Carey
Enjoyable little story from the supervillian's point of view.  Except not the big supervillians.  This is the regular not very sucessesful basic criminal.  Not unseen before, but rare, and the realism is appealing.
"Avatar" by Mike Baron
This is just a retelling of Kick-Ass but not as good.  It's readable enough - the action speeds along and keeps you interested - but it doesn't have much beyond that.
"Message from the Bubblegum Factory" by Daryl Gregory
Good story, good writing, and it also deconstructs the genre by being very 'meta'.  I like this, and yet... it feels a bit wrong for an author who has never written comics to come in and start deconstructing them.  The result is a superficial deconstruction, not on a par with anything Alan Moore has done.  Still I would like to read his novels.
"Thug" by Gail Simone
Another sympathetic take on the lowly super henchman, but nicely done.  It's written in first person vernacular, which I thought would rapidly become annoying, but it doesn't.  So technically that's an amazing feat from Simone.  Also it has a slight 'twist' ending that I didn't manage to see coming, again very hard to do technically, but she does it.
"Vacuum Lad" by Stephen Baxter
Baxter can do science and only science.  His science is pretty amazing, and some of his books it's enough to make up for the poor characters, plot, etc.  But not here.  He can't do superheroes.
"A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" by Chris Roberson
The one story that was so boring I couldn't be bothered to finish it.  And it's not just me - there's a review on Amazon that said exactly the same thing.  Don't know why it wasn't dropped from the book.  Anders is a crap editor.
"Head Cases" by Peter David and Kathleen David
A fun technical exercise in writing a sit-com soap-opera type scene.  Good dialogue, but not really a story.
"Downfall" by Joseph Mallozzi
Not bad.
"By My Works You Shall Know Me" by Mark Chadbourn
The writing is not bad, but it is based around a 'twist' ending that is obvious from the beginning.
"Call Her Savage" by Marjorie M. Liu
I like parallel-history fiction, so I quite enjoyed this, but mostly for the period details and mood evoked.
"Tonight We Fly" by Ian McDonald
A nice take on the old "retired superheroes" theme.  This is another story that contains loads of details about the setting, and the setting is again British. (Northern Ireland to be exact.)  Again it's not really a complete story, but it's enjoyable enough that I would like to see what the author could do with a longer work.
"A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (and Villains Too)" by Bill Willingham
Willingham is a great (if idiosyncratic) comics writer but I've never liked his attempts at prose.  This one is fair enough, but the plot and characters are pretty generic and I have a suspicion that he was willing to sacrifice both to achieve the technical conceit of writing 26 characters featuring in segments in alphabetical order of their names.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Masked.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.