Well it’s Christmas Week. I hope all your plans and shopping are coming together with much more cheer than stress.
I wanted to check back in and share a new book with you all. This was sent to me for review by the talented Mr. Warren Hately. Warren lives in Australia, where he has worked as a freelance travel writer, photographer, philosopher, musician, security detail, and academic. He also publishes books, most notably his Zephyr series, which details the adventures of a postmodern superhero named Zephyr. Over the last couple of months, I’ve struggled to find the time to give Zephyr the attention it deserves. But over the last week or two, things have calmed down a bit, so I’ve been able to really get into it.
It follows the story of Zephyr, a superhero with an array of powers including super strength, a lightning fast metabolism, and the ability to control electricity. But he is also not your typical superhero. He is a drug taking, drink loving, smoking, womanizer. Oh, and he lives in a world where superheroes are the norm, who balance their time between crime fighting and socializing with celebrities at an array of popular hotspots. Of course it has plenty of action scenes that are part and parcel of the genre, from buildings coming to life and wreaking a city and swarms of insects terrorising the public. But it is the character interactions and the flipping of the norms of superhero fiction that stand out the most here.
Zephyr reads like a soap opera, with various different stories joining into one, and its lead is a great character, with elements of Deadpool and Tony Stark (albeit without the billions of dollars) but also with slight undertones of the iconic Patrick Bateman, the main character in Bret Easton Ellis’ acclaimed American Psycho (albeit without the murderous urges). Though he is superhuman, he is flawed and has the everyday responsibilities of your average human, from family life to bills that make him throughly relatable. We see Zephyr struggle with his superhero duties and his duties as a father to a daughter who is at a transformative time in life, and a wife who feels short-changed in favour of the rest of the world.
In most superhero stories, we are presented with the brooding, lonely hero, who must conceal their identity while saving the world in order to protect those closest to them. That is replaced here by the fact that heroes are two a penny. And rather than live in the shadows, they are even going as far as hiring agents and working with PR teams to increase both their public profile and profits. Heroes and villains in this world are likely to go toe-to-toe and then be splashed over tabloids and magazine gossip pages with pictures of them socializing in swanky nightclubs. Being a superhero is no longer a noble sacrifice in a post modern world. It’s a clever nod to the “cult of celebrity” that has become so prevalent in our world today.
Overall the series is well written, sharp and witty. It is written in a similar style to American Psycho as well, which may mean that it won’t appeal to everybody, but if given a chance the series has a lot of good points to it. The only criticism that immediately jumps to mind is the sheer volume of characters introduced. Some have interesting names, powers and back story, but it can be hard to distinguish them all from each other, to the point where you are dragged out of what is going on in the story because you are thinking “have I met this character before or are they someone new?”
More and more nowadays, we are seeing a move for superhero stories from the big screen to the small screen, with the likes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and the upcoming FOX series Legion (to name a few) gaining massive buzz. I think if an adaptation of Zephyr were on the cards, TV would be an ideal fit. Something along the lines of Entourage meets Deadpool meets soap drama could be interesting to watch, and Zephyr would be a character that TV viewers would get behind, for his cocky and wise cracking, yet flawed, persona.
There are a further 5 volumes in the series, that can be bought online here. Give the series a look in if you like your superheroes and want something a little bit different.