Review of League of Superheroes by Stephen Rice


When it comes to Christian superheroes, I’m really more of a Larryboy fangirl, myself. It’s very hard to make a Bible-quoting superhero work, in my humble opinion. Bibleman, for example–could anyone take that show seriously? Batman meets a revival of stereotypical proportions. I wouldn’t even bother showing that to my kids–they’d laugh and not for good reasons like with Veggie Tales cartoons.

Well, if you’d like your kids to read about Christian superheroes they can identify with, I recommend Steven Rice’s League of Superheroes. Here’s a fun easy read about a band of teenage kids (plus one little sister) who meet a cyborg supergenius online. Genie gifts them with supersuits based on their favorite comic book heroes, setting them up for trouble with the mega-corporation who created Genie and intend to keep her–and any of her inventions–for their own nefarious purposes.

Oh, did that read like a comic book plot? It should. Steve was very obviously having fun with the comic book stereotypes, as well as the unbelievably intelligent-yet-doomed-to-endure-high-school cast of teens. He nonetheless crafts an enjoyable read and keptt he characters from becoming perfect geniuses, a la Wesley Crusher. I especially liked Rod’s misadventures with his suit. The heroes at times strayed into unbelievable goodness, yet still had some of the common foibles of teenage boys–a certain disdain for little sisters, a penchant for getting into trouble, and the like–that kept them from becoming caricatures rather than characters.

If you like plausible technobabble, you’ll love this book. Steve is very careful to give scientifically possible methods for each one of the supersuit’s capabilities–and does a good job of explaining them. Makes me want to go back and check out a quantum physics book. He also gave each suit a limitation, which I appreciate. Can you imagine how insufferable a teenage boy with the perfect supersuit could be?

Steve also does his best to represent a tapestry of Christian beliefs, as the characters are Catholic, Baptist, Assembly of God and non-denominational, and he does a fair job of representing all the beliefs in a valid and positive light. Since the story is told from Tom’s point of view, it has a decidedly Protestant angle. I found some of the religious dialogue and events a little heavy-handed for my taste, especially toward the end, but not enough to call it sermon-in-a-story. (One of my pet peeves.)

Steve has a nice, straightforward writing style that’s good for the middle reader–I’d recommend this book for 4th or 5th grade and up. Plus, Steven, on occasion, comes up with a killer line: I felt like a Biblical character who had just received a patriarchal blessing—honored, mature, strong, and above all, so scared that I needed to use the bathroom. He also has a lot of skill with ending a chapter in such a way that you want to turn the next page, so watch out if you read this as a bedtime story to your kids.

Review by Karina Fabian, www.fabianspace.com

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