Thom Creed is a high school
basketball star. His mother abandoned the family and his
father is a former masked crimefighter who retired in
disgrace following a national incident and now works as a
lowly worker in a factory. Thom's own superpowers are
beginning to manifest themselves, as is his homosexuality.
But Thom must keep his powers a secret, for fear of further
disgracing his father and risking his hometown's homophobic
But as Thom's sexuality
becomes more troublesome, he decides to run away from home.
He immediately becomes mixed up in a battle between some
villains and The League, and does well enough to be invited
to try out for the team. Thom is accepted as a trainee, and
assigned to work with a group of other probationary heroes.
The stress of keeping so many secrets from his father exacts
a painful toll.
Soon, however, the world's
superheroes begin dying under mysterious circumstances. In
order to solve the mystery, Thom must reunite with his
fellow outcast trainees and deal as well with society's
prejudices when his secrets are revealed.
I won't lie, I was very
reticient about reading this novel. More often than not, gay
media (be it books, movies, music, etc.) plays to every
derogatory stereotype there is and it induces far more
homophobia in society than ultra-conservatives ever could.
Despite my trepidation, I
still kept hearing a lot about this book and my curiosity
got the better of me and this led to much research. In
various interviews, author Perry Moore explained explained
that part of his inspiration for writing Hero was because he
wanted to portray gay characters (gay superheroes
specifically) in a positive manner and debunk the offensive
caricatures that inundate the media. The Chronicles of
Narnia executive producer also wanted to show that despite
the hardships that LGBTs face, being gay is not a tragedy.
Moore has also campaigned to bring awareness to the bigotry
LGBT characters face in comic books. Always eager to support
a fellow minority who is striving to do positive works and
defy convention, I decided to pick up a copy.
As a writer, a comic book
junkie, and a double minority, I can't tell you how much I
enjoyed this novel. Moore gets it. He didn't write a gay
story about a gay character for a gay audience like many
writers do. He wrote a story about a character for a
universal audience. A character who just happened to be gay.
And that's why this story works. Any self-respecting
minority will tell you that we're more than the sum of our
parts. Our minority (be it race, gender, or orientation)
contributes to our character but that isn't all there is to
us. Moore gets this. For the most part, this story could've
worked just as well if the character had been heterosexual.
Gay or not, most audiences can either relate or sympathize
with Thom whose story is based loosely on Moore's adolescent
years. Just as Hal, is based loosely on Thom's father, a
veteran who faced societal rebuke upon returning from
Thom is an affable
protagonist. A star athlete, he's quirky and at times a spaz.
Think Peter Parker with a hint of Connor Kent. The story's
mythos is a blatant satire/parody/homage of both DC and
Marvel Comics, much in the spirit of the film Sky High.
While I personally would've enjoyed more development with
said mythos, I get the intent behind it. It's a fun story
that doesn't take itself too seriously. Ironically, one of
the things that makes Hero successful is the light-hearted
prose which is juxtaposed against the heavy social issues it
addresses. We're talking everything from homophobia to
divorce, healthcare, war, racism and poverty.
This coming of age tale is
also candid and honest. One of my favorite scenes is when
Hal nearly walks in on Thom who is masturbating to gay porn
on the laptop in such a matter-of-fact manner. Because as a
matter of fact, jerking off to porn is something teen boys
tend to do. A LOT!
Moore does an excellent job
fleshing out many of the characters who would've otherwise
been one-dimensional. Ruth is an outright riot who steals
every scene and following Thom, she's my favorite character
in the novel. While Hero is certainly a stand-alone novel,
there are a few loose ends which lends nicely to a sequel.
According to reports,
sequels to the novel are planned and Moore has teamed up
with comic books legend Stan Lee to do an adaptation for
Having achieved the
seemingly impossible in creating a compelling gay character
(a superhero no less), Moore has become my personal
Hero is a conscious engaging
dramedy and a fun read at that. I highly recommend it for
comic book fans or fans of a very good story.