Book: Super Human
Author: Michael Carroll
Why should a comic fan concern himself with a non DC or Marvel novel depicting teenagers with super powers? Aren’t comic books translated into novels a disaster? I asked myself that question and I was pleasantly surprised by Michael Carroll’s Super Human series.
The story starts with an ancient super powered warrior named Krodin who is revered as the strongest warrior on Earth. Now a secret society called the Helotry wants to resurrect him in the present day. Their secret plan is to infect all the adults with a virus that incapacitates all the professional super heroes. Now only a bunch of young rag tag heroes stand between the Helotry and their attempts at world domination.
Michael Carroll was inspired by the rareness of super heroes in novels so he challenged himself to make this book. The upside of books is that you can do much easier character development. Each hero comes with their own brand of sarcasm, self-righteousness, independence, or anger. The downside is that it is hard to orchestrate a fight scene. After reading Super Human I can honestly say that Michael created a story that flows like a graphic novel, but reads like a movie.
First aspect is the teenage heroes that must take the place of the adult ones. You have Lance, the no good “detective” type kid; Abbey, the super strength heroine whose power only works on metal; Thunder, the boy who can manipulate sound waves (it’s more impressive than it sounds), and Roz, the telekinesis user with a “Charles Xavier” type brother. All these powers sound lame at first, but this is where you can tell that Michael Carroll enjoyed himself trying to make them cool. He has a sense of pride for each hero he created and it results in a very creative use of super powers. Throughout the story you begin to root for these misfit kids as they face a problem that is way over their heads. While on the journey their personalities begin to deal with issues of manipulation, ethical behavior, self importance, and hope. It makes a satisfying blend of personality and action. Probably the most significant gem of the book is when you start caring about what happens to the characters and how they act as a team.
One thing you really can’t merge successfully is the use of fight scenes in prose. Some of the fight scenes seem like long laundry lists of who threw what punch. It seems completely commonplace that the author doesn’t spend more than a paragraph on scenery or surroundings, but his fight prose is chapters long. Some of the battle struggles feel unnecessary and repetitive, but each fight scene is crucial to prolonging the plot and seeing what happens next. I have to give a silent groan for some corny dialogue that sounds like it belongs in a 90’s after school special, but I think this is just to cater to the kids. The story seems to flow at an emergency pace, except for one prison scene that seems to serve no purpose but to introduce a character.
Teenage fiction is awesome at putting the weight of the world on kid’s shoulders and having them somehow become victorious. Kids can’t get enough stories where they look important and necessary to life. In a way, I think God believes the world should be more like these novels. We are shown in the Bible to have faith like a child and be as innocent as one. In the Gospels, the youth are praised for having the attributes of godliness. It’s not to say that Jesus thinks adults are worthless, but I think we lose some of our innocence and faith which is the foundation for Heaven. Teenage fiction aligns itself with the Gospel in that God has a powerful purpose for young people.
In the end, it looks like the challenge of putting a comic book into prose was a success. You get exactly what a comic book fan would want, break neck story telling, characters you can fall in love with, and a bunch of cool super powers that justify endless fight scenes. Have you ever started a comic series and found out half way through that the story is going to suck? What if you could have a book with movie ambitions that was half the price of a graphic novel and the same gripping power? Michael Carroll does that with Super Human. It’s a fun Summer read and its part of a series called Quantum Prophecy, which you may also want to check out if you like this epic.