Superheroes are often underrepresented in literature. To be sure, they dominate the landscape of comics, television, and movies these days, but actual books about superheroes are pretty scarce. Nevertheless, they do exist and there are some real gems among the throngs. You just have to dig deep. But to celebrate the release of Avengers: Endgame, here are some recommendations for the best superhero novels to add to your collection, super-fans!
Wild Cards is an anthology series of books, centering on different superheroes throughout different ages of history, all written by various authors, including George R.R. Martin himself! An alien virus struck the earth in World War II, giving various members of society superhuman abilities. Some became heroes, some became villains, and the world turns into an alternate history from there, chronicling the so called ‘Wild Cards’ throughout the long history of Earth. From the backdrop of World War II to the Cold War to Vietnam to the modern age, the Wild Cards have a role to play in everything. Some of the best characters of the series include: Fortunato, a man whose abilities are powered by sexual pleasure; the Turtle, a telekinetic who builds a huge armored shell to fight inside; and Jetboy, a legendary hero from World War II who sacrificed himself to save the world. Full of complex, weird, and tragic figures, Wild Cards is the ultimate superhero series.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer is part of the DC Icons series, a collection of novels about their most iconic characters. By far, the best yet is this novel Wonder Woman: Warbringer, which delves into the origin of Diana Prince before she becomes a superhero. Diana wants to prove herself to her warrior sisters on her hidden island. But when she finds a mortal woman washed up on her isle, a direct descendent of Helen of Troy, she’ll risk everything to defend her new friend. This novel is great both as an origin story, having fun action against monsters and mythic creatures while also forging a powerful friendship between Diana and the woman she saved, Alia Keralis.
Renedages by Marissa Meyer tells the story of a syndicate of humans with extraordinary abilities. Champions of justice, they overthrew a corrupt society and built a better one, making a utopia. The Renegades are beloved by all, except, of course, for the villains they ousted. Now, Nova, a former villain, wants to defeat the renegades and return to power. But then, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who falls in love with her. Now, Nova’s loyalties to the villains are tested as she finds herself caught between two worlds. An alternate history from the villain’s POV, this is a great superhero novel that is heavy on grey morality and showcasing a world where the good guys win… and not everyone is happy.
A hilarious satirization of superhero comics, Princess Paragon tells the story of a renowned comics cartoonist Brian Parrish who has fallen on hard times. Bang Comics hires him to redesign one of their iconic superheroes, Princess Paragon, an innocent super-heroine who is considered outdated and needs a grittier makeover. Brian’s solution is to make her lesbian and embrace her sexuality, bringing him into conflict with Princess Paragon superfan Jerome, who tries everything he can to stop Brian. The result is a deranged sendup of superhero stories, providing a great look at the minds of comics fandom and behind the scenes work on comics in general.
Soon I Will Be Invincible is a loving commentary upon superhero tropes that also embraces the concepts that make them so endearing to audiences. It tells the story of two characters, a rookie superhero named Fatale and a villainous mad scientist called Doctor Impossible. Both are quite compelling points of view, each chronicling their attempts to become a superhero and rule the world respectively. Eventually, their paths cross, and the novel deconstructs the cliches around superheroes while still making them compelling for an audience. It’s very well-written and highly recommended for any comic book lovers.