Review & Reading: Super Stories of Heroes & Villains edited by Claude Lalumiere

October 14, 2013 4.5 stars, Book Review 14 ★★★★½

Super Stories of Heroes & Villains

George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards rampage through unrecorded history! Mike Mignola’s Hellboy battles the fiendish Nuckelavee! Can Camille Alexa’s Pinktastic prevent the end of the world? Will Jonathan Lethem’s Dystopianist cause the end of the world?

In these pages, you’ll find the exploits, machinations, and epic mêlées of these superpowered aliens, undead crusaders, costumed crime fighters, unholy cabals, Amazon warriors, demon hunters, cyberpunk luchadores, nefarious megalomaniacs, daredevil sidekicks, atavistic avatars, adventuring aviators, gunslinging outlaws, love-struck adversaries, and supernatural detectives.

In these twenty-eight astounding Super Stories, join larger-than-life heroes and villains in the never-ending battle of good versus evil!

Have a listen to me reading an excerpt from two of the stories in the anthology – THEY FIGHT CRIME! by Leah Bobet and FACES OF GEMINI by A.M. Dellamonica! Permission for the reading granted by the Publisher/Authors.

Super Stories of Heroes & Villains was one helluva ride to read! From origin stories, romance gone wrong, to aliens from outer space and lets not forget philandering ‘heroes’ – there is a little bit of something of everything to turn your head. I’m quite happy to say I’ve found a handful of new authors to add to my ‘must read soon’ list. Hats off to the editor for compiling a really great collection that any fiction fan would greatly enjoy! Read it and Kick Ass my friends!

UBERMENSCH! by Kim Newman
5/5
I’m not a huge history buff but imagine if “Superman” was instead raised by the Nazis this might be how things turned out. He let himself be locked up in prison after everything and someone is paying him a visit. It’s so hard to explain really – But the line between villain and hero at this point seems so fuzzed. It was so very somber perhaps even a tad bit depressing, but it felt so real and that made it excellent.

A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS by Chris Roberson
5/5
You may not need any other reason to read this fantastic story than the quote below which is the opener. But I must say I felt like it has an old world noir feel to it. Wrath by night and fiction writer by day, he is out to avenge those murdered in our world by the evils of the Otherworld. Though this is definitely a super hero story it felt very much like urban fantasy to me which I love.

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As the chimes of midnight rang out from the tolling bells above, a hail of argent death rained from the twin silver-plated Colt .45s onto the macabre invaders from the Otherworld, and the cathedral echoed with the eerie laughter of that silver-skulled avenger of the night–THE WRAITH.

TRICKSTER by Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due​
5/5
It took awhile for me to figure out how the super hero element was going to come into play here, but once it did I thought it was superbly done. I didn’t expect it to end up that way. It was a peculiar tale of two friends from completely different social and ethnic backgrounds as well as countries.

THEY FIGHT CRIME by Leah Bobet
5/5
Now this is what I’m talking about! Classic Super Heroes but made real by their own fallacies. Two people “fight crime,” then end up in a situation where they actually do start fighting crime. This is an awesome story of how we often get in our own way of doing whats right.

THE REMEMBERER by J. Robert Lennon
4/5
All I could think when it was done was, where the hell was it really going? It was the sad life story of an extraordinary yet lonely woman. It was extremely dry, which I understand given the character’s dry personality and it not being told from her perspective but instead being told about her. Ultimately, I wasn’t enthused by this one at all.

THE NUCKELAVEE: A HELLBOY STORY by Christopher Golden & Mike Mignola
5/5
No one fears their own end quite as keenly as them that deserves it! If you haven’t seen the movie Hellboy well then you’re out of the loop go watch a movie! =P

FACES OF GEMINI by A.M. Dominica
5/5
Exactly what a super hero fan would want to read! Awesome super powers, dastardly villains, a tortured family, an evil villain, a spurned love and a nasty double cross! It packs a punch! Gemini and her twin sister Leela share a super power between the two of them, if one of them has it, the other does not. But Gemini it’s the super hero and almost always has it. This is the day that she doesn’t.

ORIGIN STORY by Kelly Link
5/5
The dialogue in this one was full of snark and humor. While I couldn’t help having a constant smirk I also sympathized with the main character Bunnatine. This is what I would imagine it is really like being in love with a super hero! They may be good guys but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily the nicest guys! I. Freaking. Loved. This!

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The Wizard of Oz was a humbug. She said, “But he’s not great and powerful. He just pretends to be great and powerful. The Wicked Witch of the West is greater and more powerfuller. She’s got flying monkeys. She’s like a mad scientist. She even has a secret weakness. Water is like kryptonite to her.” – pg 109
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“But what do you think about her turning into a big witchy puddle when she gets a bucketful of water in the face? When it rains does she say, Oops, sorry, can’t fight crime today? Interesting sexual subtext here, by the way. Very girl on girl. Girl meets nemesis, gets her wet, she just melts. Screeches orgasmically while she does it, too.” – pg 109

BURNING SKY by Rachel Pollack
4/5
Discovering yourself is a difficult thing, for this particular lady it is definitely stranger than I would have thought. She uncovers a clandestine vigilante secret society made up of women dressed in blue that protect and avenge women. A very weird but cool read.

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“Did she show you her bayonet?” I nodded. “She kept it under the pillow in case the police broke in to arrest us for Goddessworship. That’s what she calls women screwing.” – pg 133

THE NIGHT CHICAGO DIED by James Lowder
5/5
Heroism and villainy that will put a smirk on your face. The hero of this story is called The Corpse. Why because he looks like one. But he’s out to put a stop to the crime in Chicago. You’ve got to love it when the good guy isn’t your classic “beautiful people.” This is one I think Batman lovers will enjoy.

NOVAHEADS by Ernest Hogan
4/5
A weird twisted tale of augmented fighters, neuro toxin junkies, and a thirst for revenge left unquenched. Sci-fi futuristic fans will dig this all villains and no heroes romp. Could you imagine being hooked on sucking a shot of something equivalent to hot chili sauce up your nose?

CLASH OF THE TITANS (A NEW YORK ROMANCE) by Kurt Busiek
5/5
A tourism campaign taken to extremes. Would you want to live in an exciting New York City? – one plagued by a sexy evil female mastermind and her ex lover now self styled hero? There is some ironic comedy in here that I really enjoyed because much of the villainy and heroism herein is all part of a tourism campaign. Oh yes, and anyone that has ever had a hard time finding a place to live will appreciate the the narrator’s position in this short.

THE SUPER MAN AND THE BUGOUT by Cory Doctorow
5/5
Not Superman, but A Super Man! It reads like a week in his life and the things he has to deal with, including an overbearing mother, a strange friend,  and overdue rent. Quite enjoyable!

GRANDMA by Carol Emshwiller
4/5
What happens when a super hero gets old? See the end story of a hero’s life told from the perspective of one of her grandchildren. This was well done and definitely enjoyable, tho I wish I could have seen what happens to the kid.

THE DYSTOPIANIST, THINKING OF HIS RIVAL, IS INTERRUPTED BY A KNOCK ON THE DOOR by Jonathan Lethem
3/5
The Dystopianist is a writer and here we get to see him at work, trying to work out his stories while he battles with who he believes to be his nemesis, a Utopian writer. There also might be some cabbage and sheep.

SEX DEVIL by Jack Pendarvis
2/5
A cheesy pitch of a new comic book hero and his origin story to would be published. I know this was meant to be silly and was only three pages, unfortunately I was not entertained by it at all.

THE DEATH TRAP OF DR. NEFARIO by Benjamin Rosenbaum
5/5
Super Heroes solve problems, but who solves a super hero’s problems? Why a psychiatrist of course! It’s late at night and a hero calls his drink for a therapy session while in the midst of escaping from Dr. Nefario’s death trap. Definitely a favorite and so freaking original! Read it and love it, and be warned you better come to bed when your lady says come to bed.

MAN OH MAN-IT’S MANNA MAN by George Singleton
5/5
Manna Man is helping save Charitable organizations by directing donations that would normally have gone to TV evangelists. This hero has an unusual power and one big grudge against those guys!

THE JACKDAW’S LAST CASE by Paul Di Filippo
4/5
A masked vigilante works a day job as an advice columnist and his replies are really quite peculiar. His female co-worker has a sweet spot for him and just might know his secret. A good story even tho I didn’t like the style in which the hero speaks.

THE BIGGEST by James Patrick Kelly
4/5
A one trick pony wanna be super hero heads to New York hoping to be hired by the city to fight crime. He has a rather sad life and an even sadder end.

PHILIP JOSE FARMER’S TARZAN ALIVE: A DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKE by Win Scott Eckert
3/5
This was a lesson learned in, “You should read the mini intro.” This isn’t a story really more like an essay or article on how fiction can sometimes toe the line to non-fiction.

THE ZEPPELIN PULPS by Jess Nevins
1/5
Another article and not actually a story, four pages in the history on zeppelin stories.

​WILD CARDS: PROLOGUE & INTERLUDE by George R. R. Martin
4/5
An alien lands on Earth and he is the same genetic makeup as a human. He says his race has sent a virus to Earth that will possibly kill many people or change them such that they will have super powers. Witness the political and societal fall out once it happens.

WILD CARDS: JUST CAUSE by Carrie Vaughn
5/5
Aces are saving the world one little but at a time, but this is really more of a tortured love story and an excellent one at that! Honorable mention for the near concept of a show “America’s Hero.”

BLUEBEARD AND THE WHITE BUFFALO: A RANGERGIRL YARN by Tim Pratt
4/5
I’m not familiar with the tale of Bluebeard, so some of this might have been lost on me. This story centers around a man who was brought back from the dead hundreds of years ago, has a host of what could be ghost children haunting him, and serves the man that resurrected him. It was a very cool old west story with an interesting twist of magic, mechanical and heroes thrown into the mix.

THE PENTECOSTAL HOME FOR FLYING CHILDREN by Will Clarke
4/5
Such a freaking great concept! A super hero comes to Shreveport who’s only power is flying and philandering. Soon there are more redbird babies born in sin than all of religious residents can stomach. One childless couple takes it upon themselves to open their home to all of these flying babies. While I seriously enjoyed the idea of this one, I didn’t like where the story ended up going and leaving off. It had such a great start and build up only to flounder towards the end.

PINKTASTIC AND THE END OF THE WORLD by Camille Alexa
5/5
Gretchen otherwise known as Destructova used to be a super villain before her grip was disbanded. Now she spends her days moping around and her nights watering her arch nemesis’ crops. Why I dint know, but she is quite fixated on Pinktastic. Gretchen is drawn to action, so when impending doom is about to strike the earth, what will a former villain do?

THE DETECTIVE OF DREAMS by Gene Wolfe
4/4
A detective on a mission to catch a dream master. Enjoyable but I couldn’t help but be annoyed by how all of the names were cut off like “Baron H___.” When writers do weird things with names like that it always bugs me to no end.

Super Stories of Heroes & Villains

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• An advanced uncorrected copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Quotes come from an advanced uncorrected edition and are subject to change. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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14 Responses to “Review & Reading: Super Stories of Heroes & Villains edited by Claude Lalumiere”

  1. [email protected]

    I don’t think I’ve read a book about superheroes before! But wow, this looks very promising. I haven’t seen an anthology before where someone rated almost every story with 4 or 5! Ubermensch sounds fascinating. I think I’ll really like Wildcards, since it’s by George Martin and I have a weakness for stories with viruses. Pinktastic and the end of the world, I like stories with super villains as MC 😀 Great review(s)!
    [email protected] recently posted…Early Review 205. Julie Kagawa – The iron traitor.My Profile

    • pabkins

      Thanks! I know it was a rather long one. When I do anthology reviews I try to write a short little something about each one! Because when you think about it – other than the table of contents you aren’t going to know much about each other than the theme and title.
      pabkins recently posted…Review: The Creeps by John ConnollyMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Ah shucks thanks! I’m going to try to do more of them in the future! But I’m going to totally cut out all the chatter I did at the front end of the video!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      And oh yes – after reading Vicious and Steelheart you will get a crazy urge to read more super hero fiction! Heck Ex-Heroes was super heroes too I loved that as well. Now I plan to read Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher and The Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn. Awesome how many super hero fiction books are out that sound awesome.