cover image Adventures of Blue Avenger

Adventures of Blue Avenger

Norma Howe. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6062-1

David Bruce Schumacher has been drawing comic books featuring a superhero for three years, but on his 16th birthday he decides that it's high time that someone actually do something about the world's problems. Accordingly, he dons his late father's fishing vest, puts a towel on his head, la Lawrence of Arabia, and renames himself Blue Avenger after his creation (""The"" is a lousy first name, he decides). Almost instantly the skinny redhead becomes a hero, first by saving the high school principal from killer bees, then by secretly arranging treatment for an acne-ravaged friend and ultimately effecting an end to handgun violence in Oakland, Calif.--maybe even the entire U.S. In this canny and sophisticated fable, Howe (The Game of Life) interpolates her loopy plot with serious discussions of philosophy, teen romance, a recipe for ""weepless"" lemon meringue pie and finely honed characterizations. Especially endearing are the hero and Omaha Nebraska Brown, the feisty gal he's drawn to by his own free will--or is it determinism? Throughout, Howe edgily challenges the reader to decide whether the events related therein (allegedly with the help of an extraterrestrial) are due to chance or fate. The story's teasingly open ending will inspire delighted conjecture. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)