Edited by Lou Anders
Gallery (Simon and Schuster), Jul 2010, $15.00
This fifteen short story collection pays homage to superheroes and supervillains, as each needs the other (like Ali and Frazier) to anchor their super status. None of the entries are horrific though a coupleare only okay. Most are entertainingly super as the authors captured the essence of the comic book sub-genre. The creators of the great Jack of Fables, Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham respectively open and close the anthology with fascinating solo entries: “Cleansed and Set In Gold” by Sturges focuses on heroes struggling with the death of a seemingly invincible member while “A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)” by Willingham is an odd but interesting encyclopedic look at flawed super-humans. In "Message from the Bubble Gum Factory" by Daryl Gregory, an envious sidekick finally understands what sacrifices a superhero must endure. Marjorie M. Liu's "Call Her Savage" stars a classic heroine whose legend for destruction forces her to live up to the myth as her fan following would expect nothing less. Also excellent is Stephen Baxter’s science fiction "Vacuum Lad." as the first star child grows up in a seemingly vacuum, but was born over two decades ago in 1557 in Saudi Arabia (2136 by the Christian calendar user). Strange but superb is “Tonight We Fly” by Ian McDonald as Chester gets no peace from the next door kids while Belfast has no heroes or villains yet Captain Miracle flies far away from his adversary Dr. Nightingshade. Masked is a strong collection that catches the essence of the modern golden age of superheroes and their super opponents.