The Year of the Superhero officially comes to an end at The Book Smugglers with this story. At least as far as original short fiction is concerned. It's a good thing, then, that it's a longer piece, and that it's a bit of a departure from the other superhero offerings the publication has put out so far. Instead of capes and cowls, this story looks at the idea of being a chosen hero, of having some role to fill in a larger story. And what happens when, for most, the story ends. What happens to the primary character? It's a fascinating and poignant work and it's time to review it!
|Art by Jenna Whyte|
"The Life and Times of Angel Evans" by Meredith Debonnaire (16,757 words)
This story veers a bit from the rest of the Year of the Superhero offerings in that it's not about a superhero in the traditional sense. More, it's about being the Chosen One, about being born to a great many prophecies and then…living. Having to live with the aftermath of the Great Event that the prophecies…prophesied. And for Angel Evans that means living with an awful lot of baggage. With the weight of memory and regret and loss and having to try and move forward, both with the knowledge of what has happened and also with the power and skill and nature that drove her to be the Chosen One in the first place. It's a story about running and a story that, to me, speaks to living your life for one moment and then having that moment pass. Being left totally devastated and kicked to the side by the forces that made you the center of the universe. And it's a brilliant piece, delicate and wrenching and alive. Angel as a character isn't exactly a superhero to me but she does have powers and does know what it's like to save the world. To save every world, really, except for one.
[SPOILERS] Except for hers. And that's the central tragedy of the piece, that the moment that Angel was born for was to choose whether her world would be destroyed or whether all the other worlds would be destroyed. If the corruption that was already tainting her reality would be allowed to spread or if it would be cut away. And Angel chose to cut. Chose to kill everything there to save everything else, and a decision like that doesn't come cheap, doesn't leave no mark. She is gripped with guilt and despair and shame and loneliness. Burdened with the knowledge that she can't go back and the story does a beautiful job building all of that together and revealing Angel as hurt and vulnerable and in flux as she has always been in flux but without direction. She's always been running because the prophecies were always chasing her, btu now that they've past she's still running, unable to conceive of a universe where she doesn't have to. And yet everything seems closing it. The only comfort she has is from her ghost girlfriend, Yumiko, who is (because of course) the most solid thing in her life.
And I love the relationship between the two characters and love how Angel struggles with what happened, what she did but also what happened to her, the unfairness of it. That she is alive is a victory, and she begins to realize this in the face of the people trying to thank her and the memories of her life that is now gone forever, the people she loved and the adventures she had. I love how the story brings her to this point where she has another choice to make. Not one that will make or break all realities, but a personal choice that everyone has to make: what to do next? It's great and it's powerful and the story has a smooth and fun voice and a raw emotional and some amazing characters. It's on the long side but it is definitely worth checking out. Read it!