I’ve been away for a couple of weeks and managed to catch up on some reading. Chief amongst this was Andrez Bergen’s WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CAPES OF HEROPA?. Rarely for me, this is timely (I think the book released early to Amazon last night), and here’s a review.

First, a quick aside: Andrez is very good at getting books into people’s hands ahead of time without coming across as a spammy bell end. People should learn. He’s also a very nice guy and a fine writer. I very much liked THE TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT and was enjoying 100 YEARS OF VICISSITUDE until a pile of other stuff swallowed my time and I sort of dropped out of reading it about a quarter of the way through. No fault of the book; I’m just lousy at returning to stories I’ve had to leave for a month or so.

HEROPA is a superhero crime novel with SF elements in the way that INCEPTION has SF elements (hand-wavy background setup rather than heavy story pieces). It’s also easily his most accessible book, and for my money his best.

I had only two minor quibbles with it. Let’s get them out of the way. Firstly, (MINOR SPOILER OF AN EARLY REVEAL) in the real world - Heropa is a plug-your-body-in MMO in which you die if you die, the body cannot live without the mind and all that - Jack is 15, but in stretches he comes across as older. (END MINOR SPOILER) And secondly, the ending was a bit abrupt for me; I’d have liked a little coda chapter, something to wind down.

And that’s it. The second is purely a matter of my personal taste and the first is a tiny thing that made absolutely no difference to my enjoyment of the story; Jack, like Brick, Pretty Amazonia and all the others, is a genuinely engaging character who you want to see come out of things OK.

The story starts off similar to the first POWERS arc, WHO KILLED RETRO GIRL?, but soon branches off into something more sinister, as well as going more and more into the relationship between Capes and Blandos. Jack gets involved - in a touch of the GROUNDHOG DAYs, also neatly done - with a Blando, Louise, and their relationship - and the traditional powers-with-civvies conflicting personal loyalty - is key to the later part of the book, and rightly so.

I don’t want to go too much into the story so let’s wrap up. I very much doubt I’ll read a supers novel better than HEROPA, but it’s also primarily, like the aforementioned POWERS, a crime story at heart, and has plenty of emotional character draw and soul to it, as well as being a lot of fun. I really, really enjoyed HEROPA, and I’d happily recommend it to anyone. Great stuff.