My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Southern Cross is the newest superhero (cape) to arrive in Heropa, only to find that things aren’t quite as expected – someone or something is killing off the capes, both heroes and villains, one by one.
Southern Cross must become familiar with the rules of Heropa, fit in with the Equalizers (a group of superheroes), try to find out who’s killing off the capes, and develop a relationship with Louise, who doesn’t seem to be like the other Blandos (non capes).
This was a fairly well written blending of an homage to the golden age of comics with a detective noir story. While I’m not a comics fan and probably missed many of the more esoteric references, there was enough there around the detective story and pop culture knowledge of superheroes to carry the story and keep me interested.
The characterisation was a bit one dimensional in places, but it’s difficult to tell if that was deliberate homage, or not, so I have to give it the benefit of the doubt.
The dialogue was quite good, in particular the banter between several of the characters brought an appropriate level of light comedy to an otherwise dark story, stopping it from becoming too depressing.
There were also quite a few sketches of superheroes in different poses, which may mean something to comics fans or artists, but were wasted on me.
All up, I found it a bit slow going at first, but the second half of the book picked up significantly, and I was quite satisfied with the ending.
If you’re a superhero and/or detective noir story fan, then this is definitely worth considering for the to-be-read pile.
Disclaimer: Whilst I read this as a judge for the 2013 Aurealis Awards, this review is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging co-ordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.
Mirrored from P.R. Kaye's Presence.