Even though Thom Creed’s a basketball star, his high school classmates keep their distance. They’ve picked up on something different about Thom. Plus, his father, Hal Creed, was one of the greatest and most beloved superheroes of his time until a catastrophic event left him disfigured and an outcast. The last thing in the world Thom wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And he’s been asked to join the League — the very organization of superheroes that disowned Hal. But joining the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes:
* Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger
* Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch
* Ruth, a wise old woman who can see the future
Together these unlikely heroes become friends and begin to uncover a plot to kill the superheroes.
I’d seen this book on many recommended wish lists and top ten lists for many years and the cover was so striking that I bought it and it had sat on my bookshelf, unread, for over a year. I have a habit of doing that. So, with the Christmas break afoot, I picked a selection of books I’d always wanted to read but never seemed to get to and gave them a go.
Hero is a classic superhero story with a twist. It gives you all the mythology and traditions of fighting bad guys, colourful costumes and origin myths but the real tale for me was about the characters and their relationships. The superhero stuff was fun and well done but that wasn’t the true heart of this book. Thom is a shiny star at school on the basketball team and friendly but it’s soon made clear to us that he has a few big secret. Thom is gay and has super powers. Both, he believes, would destroy his life if they become public knowledge. His father is an ex-superhero that was shamed into leaving his hero days behind him and bans all mention of them in his household. Thom leads his secret life but the balancing act becomes very tangled and dangerous as his sexuality and superpowers become harder to ignore, and he doesn’t want to live a lie anymore.
Hero is an utterly compelling read that challenges many stereotypes and ideas about what you might expect about a superhero story. I loved the fact that the MC was gay and how he deals with the idea of coming out and facing society and his father as a gay man. It was handled in such a believable manner and I adored having a bit of different angle on a traditional origin tale of boy to superhero.
Fantastic supporting cast of characters that had a range of issues themselves that made the misfit team all the more interesting to read. A truly brilliant read that I think would make a fantastic film and gave the genre a real shot in the arm.