Here we have another fiction review – one for the first book in a series and a shared universe. Along with several other writers, author Morgon Newquist is working to bring you a fully developed world of superhero fun. The opening entry in this universe, Heroes Unleashed: Heroes Fall,* was written by Mrs. Newquist herself.
Victoria doesn’t need a cape and a name to be a hero.
Living and working in the slums of Serenity City, she has become its faceless and nameless defender. She turned her back on the glittering world of professional superheroes years ago. If she has her way, she’ll never go back.
But the young and forgotten teens she helps are disappearing from the street, and nobody seems to care. As Victoria unravels this mystery, she is lead back to her old life in the star-studded glamourous superhero circles. No matter how much she hates it, she can’t abandon the helpless when they need her the most.
All clues point back to The Rampage, the terrible day when their mightiest champion Achilles fell to darkness. Will Victoria uncover the truth of what actually happened twenty years ago in time to help her lost boys and girls?
And what will happen when the fallen hero Achilles escapes, and Victoria is the only one who can stop him?
Can Victoria solve the twenty year mystery of Achilles’ fall from grace in time to save Serenity City? Or is there another, more sinister player who will destroy the very idea of superheroes?
The worldbuilding in this novel is excellent, and while the plot is a touch convoluted, it does hold a reader to the edge of their seat. Mrs. Newquist demonstrates considerable skill in characterizing her heroes and villains, as well as the politics inherent in a world filled with superpowered men and women. In many ways, Heroes Fall looks like the offspring of My Hero Academia* and DC Comics*.
Just like MHA, heroism is an actual profession in Serenity City. If one plays the game right he can acquire sponsorships that enable him to become a crimefighting star, who receives adoration (and cash) from the public. The trouble is that people expect superheroes to fight crime constantly, leading some “heroes” to deal with first time or minor offenders the same way they would deadly criminals with long rap sheets. Chasing fame and fortune means that more than a few “villains” aren’t booked into the police station by superheroes; instead, they go straight to the morgue.
This is treated with a shrug and an “oops” by the upper crust of Serenity City society. Most of the superheroes appear to have the same reaction to these blunders. Although not all the heroes in Serenity are heartless glory hounds, there’s only so much apologizing one can do over a dead body. All the grief and guilt in the world will not bring the deceased back to life.
Victoria’s experiences with this and an even darker side of professional superheroism soured her attitude toward the sensational version of the job. But she still wants to use her powers to help and protect innocent people. So she spends her nights fighting crime, supporting herself by working at a local gas station/convenience store for a certain set of hours every night.
Her dual job makes it easy for her to find and recruit the countless super-powered runaways on the streets. Abandoned because of their powers, abused due to their inability to immediately handle their gifts, or otherwise unwelcome in both normal and superhero society, she takes the kids to a halfway house where they can shelter from the cruel world for a while. Along with the other counselors, she tries to lead these lost boys and girls to follow an honest path rather than become criminals. Because if you can’t make it as a hero, there’s only one other way to make a prestigious living with superpowers: become a villain.
But now the kids she’s supposed to help are disappearing – or turning to crime and dying. Victoria has a new, young superhero wannabe trying to take over her turf, and the infamous Achilles is about to face trial for The Rampage. Twenty years ago, Achilles was the leader of a trio of heroes. Of this trio, one was his best friend, a man named Pendragon. The other was his wife, the Banshee.
On that day twenty years ago, Achilles lost his mind. He attacked Pendragon, wrecking large sections of Serenity City and killing innocent bystanders in the process. During the commotion Banshee was killed, and her secret identity was revealed to the world. It didn’t take long to unmask the grieving husband as Achilles, and he was swiftly sent to prison. The superhero couple’s infant daughter was adopted and raised by Pendragon.
Something is going on in Serenity City, something that ties back to that fateful Rampage. In order to find the solution to her dilemma, Victoria has to re-enter the glittering world she escaped years ago. She must also confront both her former mentor – and Achilles. Otherwise, an old nemesis of both heroes may finally be able to achieve his goal: the destruction of heroism itself.
Though the writing is a bit rough in places, Heroes Fall is a good story. Mrs. Newquist has created a vibrant world full of interesting characters that are on par with those from Marvel and DC. I recommend giving the novel a try, and purchasing the other books in this universe as well. Reading one of them alone will certainly not be enough, as the world is simply too entertaining to leave for long.
*These are Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through it, this author receives a commission from Amazon at no extra charge to you, the buyer. If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com. Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth, while her poetry has appeared in Organic Ink, Vol. 2. She has also had stories published in Planetary Anthologies Luna and Uranus. Her latest story is available in Cirsova Magazine’s recently released Summer Issue. Order them today!