My very own gay superhero Michael recently read, and subsequently kind of harshed on, "Hero" by Perry Moore. I was intrigued. I hadn't heard anything about this book, but the teen gay superhero plot piqued my interest. Much like the movie "Mystery Men", the film is set in an alternate modern day where "heroes", people with superpowers of varying degress of effectiveness and eccentricity, are the norm (even if only a small percentage of the population).
I enjoyed it. It's not great, but it filled the bill for something entertaining and diverting. It definately falls into 'young adult fiction' territory, and it is true that the author does kind of broadcast the big reveal a bit (and very early). However, I like what Moore (who has previously been best known as executive producer of "Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe" and the upcoming "Prince Caspian" movies) has tried to do with creating a teen gay superhero.
According to an interview on his website, he was reacting in part to the poor treatment of gay and lesbian characters in comics, especially the murder of gay superhero Northstar by one of Marvel's other hero characters, Wolverine. As he says:
"In the very popular superhero team The X-Men, the first and most prominent gay hero in the Marvel Comics universe, Northstar, was viciously killed by Wolverine—the star of the team, the star of the film. You see Wolverine's image on kids' lunch boxes; you see children dress up as him for Halloween. And he slaughtered the X-Men's token gay hero. I found this to be disturbing, to say the least. In all my years of reading X-Men, I have never known Wolverine to kill another hero. And yet, there he was, skewering Marvel Comic's most prominent gay hero through the heart with his adamantium claws. I thought this revealed a very ugly side of the people and publishers who make comic books, and not necessarily what the fans want."
Moore also has chronicled, and given his opinions on, the history of poor treatment of gay and lesbian characters in comics here.
So, bravo for attempting to create an alternative. The novel is a bit campy in tone, similar in a way to "Mystery Men". The villians are certainy campy. Moore gets huge snaps from me for calling one of the female villians with laser beam eyesight Transvision Vamp! I do so love a good pop culture shout-out. The main character's coming out story is handled fairly well, with some sensitivity and more seriousness. I think it works fairly well, quibbles about the author broadcasting main plot points aside.
According to Moore's website a sequel to "Hero" is already in the works, and discussions are underway about a possible movie adaptation. He's also working on a young adult novel about werewolves, and has just written and a directed a feature film "Lake City". Busy boy.
Oh, and kind of cute too!