Author: Adam Christopher
Publisher: Angry Robot
Published: Out Now
Price: £7.99 (paperback) – £5.49 (Kindle)
Tony Prosdocimi lives in the Shining City that is San Ventura California – a city in fear, a fear of the worlds only remaining supervillain The Cowl. Tony’s a minimum wage drone working for a retail outlet, bored with life and with little to look forward to. Then he awakes one morning with superpowers, and decides to take down The Cowl. However he finds the resident superhero team, the Seven Wonders, are not too happy at his intervention or as grateful as he’d thought they’d be.
Adam Christopher showed his love of all things noir with his debut book Empire State, now he’s turned his attention to comics and the tale of superheroes and villains. Set in the imaginary city of San Ventura on the golden coast of California the story revolves around the resident super team and their attempts – or not – to bring down the worlds only remaining supervillain, The Cowl. In this world all other superheroes are either retired, media celebrities or dead, and one of the questions raised is if there are no more villains, do we really need heroes?
Reading like a comic book without the pictures the book hits the ground running with a blistering opening that doesn’t save on the violence. This is no childrens superhero story, there is death, there is destruction, and from early on you are left wondering who the real heroes are. Adam has used the format that is popular with fantasy fiction at the moment of painting his primary characters a nice shade of grey. There are a lot of agendas, some hidden, some obvious; but you need to read right to the end to get to the bottom of what is really going on in San Ventura.
Where Empire State was a fairly contained story – set as it was in a small bubble of reality – Seven Wonders has a broader scope, world encompassing and beyond scope at that. There are nods to famous heroes, trimmed down phrases, actions, powers, that are overly familiar but have a distinctive bent so as they are new and fresh. Also you are getting more than just the story of Tony Prosdocimi and his quest to rid the city of The Cowl, that is resolved fairly early on, but as one story ends so another starts, building upon the bones of the first. All linked together to make an overall arc with an endgame that rivals the New York smackdown in The Avengers film.
Adam’s writing has improved from Empire State, it seems less hesitant, less repetitive. The characters are colourful and real, with histories that are briefly touched upon. If I was to have any criticism’s it would be the main “threat” was a little too borglike. What did I like the most? The opening, every superhero story should start with a Meanwhile back at…, and the rollcall of superheroes near the end – for me – possibly hints at future stories set in the same world.
As a second book Seven Wonders ticks all the right boxes, it is a thrilling rollercoaster ride where the reader feels the wind in their hair, and their cape flapping behind them.