Not a Lot of Worship for Hero Worship
Hero Worship: Christopher E. Long
Review by Casey Cook
Writing books about about superheroes has its expectations set pretty high with the Marvel and DC superhero phenomenon. So not only do you have to have an outstanding story about a superhero, but you also have to at least know how to write. Unfortunately, Christopher E. Long only holds one of these qualities in his book Hero Worship, which is the story part.
Hero Worship is about a community of people with superpowers, and after taking a test, those powers are either labeled “clean” or “dirty”. People with clean superpowers are free to do whatever they want, even destroy a building, and yet are still worshiped like war heroes.
Those with dirty powers are banned from using their powers and have the choice to remove them using a special DNA modification medical treatment. Our protagonist, Marvin Maywood, has dirty powers with his friends, Yvonne and Kent. Since all three of these teens are homeless, they live together in an embankment by a freeway and Yvonne and Kent use their powers to extort money from “normies”, who are the normal, non-superhero people.
Yvonne’s powers are to ease another’s pain and she became, of course, a drug dealer and “In helping the junkies, Yvonne was doing what she had to do for survival, despite the fact that she was breaking the law.”
Then there is Kent who can be considered a living puddle and must work hard just to maintain a normal human form. “Kent’s condition gives him some advantages, like…[getting] hit by a car and [walking] away smiling, usually after extorting money from the driver to not file a police report.”
Marvin is unlike his friends because he doesn’t use his powers against the law; he follows the law to a tee. That is, until he meets a member of the Core, the famous clean superheroes that save the world. That’s when he finds out his idols aren’t as clean as they appear to be.
Marvin finds out that his idols have a deep, dark secret which is what makes this book good. Long brings out the dark side of superhero work as well as the political side of being a hero. Although this book is seemingly childish, the ending makes up for it by including tons of action scenes. This is what Long is good at. He knows how to write an action scene that is both exciting and thrilling.
Even though the action scenes are fluent and fun, the rest of the story does not share those qualities. The story jumps around at times; in one paragraph you’re at Midtown Café and in the following paragraph you’re at the Core Mansion with no clue as to how you got there. The storyline altogether was kind of predictable; when you knew where you were in the story, it was easy to tell what was going to happen.
Long’s characters were easy to read as well. They needed to have a little bit more depth to them, they were straight-forward, stereotypical people.
Many of Long’s characters are like this. If I were to meet them in a grocery store, I would think they are simple-minded, go-with-the-flow kind of people, instead of the strong-willed, complex characters we typically see in movies and books these days. I felt that Long’s characters had the potential to be great.
Marvin is an example of this stereotypical lead character. He’s all about justice and pretty much fits that hero mold, but his superpower is fueled by fear. Wouldn’t that make Marvin have a dark side of wanting that fear to power up? Marvin could have made a good villain, but Long didn’t even give him the chance to have that flaw (not saying that I wish Marvin was a villain, just saying I wish he had a dark side).
Along with his characters, Long could have done more with his story. The plot was there and so were the characters, but if he had developed his characters a little bit more and worked more with the story, this book could have been a best-seller.
Still, on a good note, it’s an interesting read and Long is extremely talented when it comes to writing action scenes. I’m a huge superhero fan and this book brings out the other side of superheroes that typically isn’t mentioned; who pays for all the damages and if they are doing unpaid hero work, how are they so rich?
Buy the book here!
Christopher’s debut young adult novel, Hero Worship, will be published in early 2014 by Flux. He has worked for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, IDW Publishing, Boom! Studios and Image Comics.
Christopher’s magazine writing has appeared in Flaunt Magazine, Anthem Magazine, and Lemonade Magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Spinetingler Magazine, and Powder Burn Flash.
He was born in Seattle, Washington, raised in Logan, Utah, and currently lives in Southern California with his wife and son.