Bystander 27

Rik Hoskin. Angry Robot, $14.99 trade paper (344p) ISBN 978-0-85766-859-2
Hoskin (the Outlanders series) riffs on superhero stories and revenge plots with this gritty, fatalistic fantasy. Former Navy SEAL Jon Hayes accepts caped crusaders and supervillains clashing in the streets as an everyday sight in New York City. But then Jon witnesses his pregnant wife, Melanie, become collateral damage in a fight between beloved hero Captain Light and supervillain Jade Shade. In the wake of Melanie’s death, Jon sets out to discover who these superheroes really are. His investigation takes a turn for the bizarre as he spots the same people turning up in the crowds of spectators across multiple superfights and interviews bystanders who have no memory of the fights at all, leading Jon and the reader alike to question his sense of reality. Comics fans may be disappointed by one too many similarities between this and Garth Ennis’s The Boys, and despite Jon’s neuroses, he often comes across as a cardboard cut-out hero who just happens to possess every skill he could possibly need. Those willing to look past these flaws will find Hoskin’s pessimistic narrative voice bleakly transfixing, and his quickly paced plot will keep readers guessing until the very last page. This is an enjoyably meta, if unoriginal, take on comic book staples. Agent: Vaughne Hansen, the Virginia Kidd Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 03/26/2020
Release date: 08/11/2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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