Books

Hero by Perry Moore

Shawn O’Rourke

Not since Superfolks by Robert Mayer, has there been a novel as important to contemporary superhero mythology, and subsequently, the comic book medium.


Hero

Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 1423101952
Contributors: Tk (Illustrator)
Author: Perry Moore
Price: $16.99
Length: 432
Formats: Hardcover
US publication date: 2007-08
Amazon

Sometimes in order to avoid stagnation and revitalize some mode of expression, it takes an outsider to break the paradigm and challenge tradition. That "outsider" status can come from both perspective and field, or medium and mechanism. In the case of Perry Moore, and his book Hero, he fulfills both qualifications. Perry Moore has written at length of his negative feelings towards comic books and their portrayal of homosexual characters. He has argued that gay comic book characters usually suffer terrible fates.

Consequently, his new novel, the story of a young gay man with powers, breaks with that tradition by altering the representation of the comic book's most traditional icon: the superhero. Moreover, it does this by taking the discussion outside the realm of comic books and placing it in a novel, thus altering the medium. This book is significant, not just because it is well-written and replete with interesting characters and insightful social commentary, but is important for what it represents. The superhero story, despite its often being dismissed as escapist entertainment, is truly a telling example of the beliefs and values of a society. This book adds to the discourse on the subject and is a very necessary work.

Hero begins as a fairly traditional contemporary superhero story with a few deconstructionist elements. Thom is a young, intelligent, athlete, who slowly learns that he has superpowers. His father is a disgraced superhero and his mother has disappeared. Despite his father's bitterness over superheroes following his unjust fall from grace, Thom wants to use his powers to help the world and despite his awkwardness and inexperience, he is able to make it onto a viable superhero team. These desires to use his powers for good are coupled with his internal conflict over his homosexuality; both represent who he is and who he wants to be, but both come in conflict with the beliefs of his kind and well-meaning, but sometimes narrow-minded, father.

The book functions on two distinct but well-integrated narrative planks. The first is from the perspective of the adolescent. Thom struggles with the natural social clumsiness and painful embarrassments teenagers usually endure. He attempts to fit in with tough social environments, all the while crippled by his anxiety over society's reaction to his sexual orientation. This is compounded by an overwhelming desire to please his father, who sacrifices much for the boy's happiness. The myriad conflicts and internal antagonisms will resonate with anyone who remembers those thrilling and painful days of adolescence.

The second plank of the story is the superhero paradigm that drives much of the actual plot. Thom joins a team called the League-Moore's interpretation of the JLA and Avengers, complete with its own versions of Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman, etc. As Thom trains with his provisional team of green heroes, they eventually find themselves on the trail of murderer who is targeting powerful superheroes. As the narrative -- which is reminiscent of Watchmen both in execution and conclusion -- continues, Thom is forced to suspect that members of the League may be connected to the mysterious deaths. His team of would-be heroes goes out on their own in order to catch the true killer.

Both of these devices create a well-fleshed out coming-of-age-tale: Thom becoming a man secure with himself, and Thom becoming a Hero. There are multiple subplots that add to the substance and subsequent enjoyment that will offer the reader several levels of engagement; the murder mystery, the father/son dynamic, the fall from grace and subsequent vindication, but the questions of Thom's sexuality are the most significant for readers interested in the nuance of superhero mythology. Hero is the archetype for how homosexual heroes should be represented in popular culture. His internal conflict and eventual open acceptance of who he is, symbolically crosses the threshold that many other writers have tripped over. Thom is not just a gay hero, a definition that other creators have spent too much time muddling through, he is a hero who happens to be gay. This is not just a semantic trick of language, it is emblematic of how superheroes should be represented. Now that Moore, through Thom, has added his novel to the discourse on superheroes, it can be hoped that homosexual comic characters will no longer be as marginalized and misrepresented as before.

Not since Superfolks by Robert Mayer, has there been a novel as important to contemporary superhero mythology, and subsequently, the comic book medium. It can only be hoped that Moore's work has the same impact Mayer's did. Placed in a vacuum, Moore's book is good; read it once then move on. But in its appropriate context in the larger discussion of homosexual representation in superhero stories, it becomes something so much more significant then just "good," it becomes important.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Prof. Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.