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10 Superheroes You Won’t Find in Comic Books

Wonder Woman. Black Panther. Wolverine. Captain Marvel.

Everyone knows the names of these superheroes—and they’re enjoying a new heyday because of their explosion onto the big screen. But if you’re more in the mood for a book than a comic book or a movie, here are ten superhero novels that we think you just can’t miss.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Image Place holder  of - 39 Every superhero needs a good supervillain: Batman and the Joker, Magneto and Professor X, the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom. Eli and Victor were best friends until a terrible accident ripped them apart and they became worst enemies. V.E. Schwab’s twist on the superhero genre turns its tropes on their head and takes a hard look at what it means to be a hero—or a villain.

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault by James Alan Gardner

Image Placeholder of - 20 Three newbie heroes—they don’t even have a team name!—find themselves desperately trying to counter a diabolical scheme. This romp through a world of monsters and superpowers has all the fun of traditional superhero comics in a fresh setting.

 

Wild Cards edited by George R.R. Martin

Place holder  of - 8 This series, edited by George R.R. Martin, takes place in a world where an alien virus wiped out huge swaths of the population, and gave one percent of humanity superpowers. A shared-universe series written by a broad range of incredible authors (including Roger Zelazny, Sage Walker, and George R.R. Martin himself), Wild Cards tells the story of the world ever since.

Good Guys by Steven Brust

Placeholder of  -71 It may not be available until March, but keep an eye out for Steven Brust’s novel about a team of people who learn they have superpowers, and find themselves working for a secretive organization known only as The Foundation putting their abilities to work. As it turns out, though, those who look like good guys at first…might not be that at all.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Poster Placeholder of - 38 Doctor Impossible is a mad genius, but he just doesn’t quite seem able to pull off any of his grand plans. This novel is from the point of view of a man just trying to achieve his dreams of world domination, only to be perpetually thwarted by the heroes. Austin Grossman provides a look into the daily trials and travails of a struggling supervillain.

 

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

While being a superhero might be a challenge, being a superhero’s assistant is even harder. Sarah Kuhn’s fun and action-packed novel is the answer to your female-superhero-seeking prayers. Evie Tanaka is good at her job as backup dancer to her childhood friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. When she poses as her boss for a night, though, her life is about to turn upside down.

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Superheroes known as ex-humans versus an army of zombies. What’s not to like? With the plague of living dead spread around the globe, a ragtag team of disillusioned and scarred heroes struggle to defend a small group of survivors. Unfortunately, it turns out that the zombie horde may not be the only threat.

 

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

Celia West is the daughter of two famous superheroes—but she doesn’t have any powers of her own. A favorite target of crime bosses and supervillains, Celia wants nothing more than to reject her family’s legacy and make her own life out of the shadow of her famous parents, but she learns it’s not that easy to escape the world of capes and immortals.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

In this twist on superheroes, Brandon Sanderson presents a world where great powers aren’t used for good at all. Those people who were gifted with powers in a catastrophic event called the Calamity might have superpowers, but they aren’t heroes: instead they use their strength to subjugate everyone else, and only a group of ordinary humans are fighting back.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer, author of the beloved Lunar Chronicles series, turns to a world where the Renegades, a group of individuals with extraordinary powers, overcame a pack of villains to establish truth and justice. Adrian is a Renegade boy who believes in their cause, and Nova is a girl seeking vengeance against them. Their lives are about to collide.

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Throwback Thursdays: Before the Golden Age

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

In Carrie Vaughn’s After the Golden Age, Celia, the daughter of superheroes tries to live a normal life, lacking the power of her parents. It’s not easy. Now, in January’s Dreams of the Golden Age, Celia’s daughter is developing her own superpowers, and trying to hide them from her parents… Back in May of 2011, Carrie Vaughn wrote a piece for the Tor/Forge Newsletter about the inspiration for her series: her love of superheroes. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

After the Golden Age by Carrie VaughnBy Carrie Vaughn

A lot of people have been asking me about comic books. After the Golden Age is so obviously inspired by the classic comic-book superheroes, surely I must have a lifelong love for them. But I have a terrible confession: I didn’t really read comic books when I was growing up, and didn’t start until college, when I encountered Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and all those seminal graphic novels that changed everything. Instead, I watched a lot of TV, and that’s how I fell in love with superheroes.

I grew up in a golden age of TV superheroes: Wonder Woman, the Incredible Hulk, the Bionic Woman, and Six Million Dollar Man, not to mention those Spider-Man shorts on The Electric Company, the Super Friends cartoon, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that Bobby/Iceman was supposed to be part of the X-Men. I thought, he doesn’t have time for that, he’s off saving the world with Spider-Man and Firestar!), and a bunch of others I’ve probably forgotten. I even adored The Greatest American Hero, which was on some level a spoof—but a spoof that remained true to the spirit of superheroism. Ralph really did have powers, and he really did help people, however goofy he was while doing it.

I had Wonder Woman and Supergirl Underoos. My second time trick-or-treating on Halloween, I dressed up as Wonder Woman. I spent a lot of time on the playground in preschool pretending to be Wonder Woman, including getting into a knock-down argument with the other kids about what she would really look like flying in her invisible jet. (I insisted on sticking my arms out and running around making airplane noises. I was informed that this was incorrect, and that she would merely scoot through the air in a seated position. Well, sure, I said. But my way is more fun.) I would spin around and pretend that my costume changed, just like Lynda Carter’s. Spin Wonder Woman! Spin Scuba Wonder Woman! Spin Motorcycle Wonder Woman! It was awesome. And dizzy.

I tried reading comic books—my brother’s, not mine. Girls were not supposed to read comic books, so nobody gave me any. Fortunately, Rob shared his. I gotta tell you, early 1980’s runs of Superman and X-Men and such were kind of…boring. Not nearly as interesting as what I was watching on TV. I later found out from comic-guru friends that it wasn’t just me—this was not the best time to be reading comic books.  It was the lull before Alan Moore and Frank Miller knocked the stuffings out of the genre.

These days, I have boxes of my own comic books. It’s even okay for girls to read them now, which is awesome. I came to comics as an adult, for the most part. But my true love has always been for the superheroes rather than the medium they first appeared in. Which is why, I think, I wrote a novel about them instead of a comic book. I didn’t need the pictures. I wanted the hows and whys and thoughts and meaning. The “what if?” questions that made me daydream as a kid. That still make me daydream.

‘Cause you know, I still occasionally dress up as Wonder Woman.

This article is originally from the May 2011 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!

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Before the Golden Age

Image Place holder  of - 30By Carrie Vaughn

A lot of people have been asking me about comic books.  After the Golden Age is so obviously inspired by the classic comic-book superheroes, surely I must have a lifelong love for them.  But I have a terrible confession:  I didn’t really read comic books when I was growing up, and didn’t start until college, when I encountered Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and all those seminal graphic novels that changed everything.  Instead, I watched a lot of TV, and that’s how I fell in love with superheroes.

I grew up in a golden age of TV superheroes:  Wonder Woman, the Incredible Hulk, the Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man, not to mention those Spider-Man shorts on The Electric Company, the Super Friends cartoon, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that Bobby/Iceman was supposed to be part of the X-Men.  I thought, he doesn’t have time for that, he’s off saving the world with Spider-Man and Firestar!), and a bunch of others I’ve probably forgotten.  I even adored The Greatest American Hero, which was on some level a spoof—but a spoof that remained true to the spirit of superheroism.  Ralph really did have powers, and he really did help people, however goofy he was while doing it.

I had Wonder Woman and Supergirl Underoos.  My second time trick-or-treating on Halloween, I dressed up as Wonder Woman.  I spent a lot of time on the playground in preschool pretending to be Wonder Woman, including getting into a knock-down argument with the other kids about what she would really look like flying in her invisible jet.  (I insisted on sticking my arms out and running around making airplane noises.  I was informed that this was incorrect, and that she would merely scoot through the air in a seated position.  Well, sure, I said.  But my way is more fun.)  I would spin around and pretend that my costume changed, just like Lynda Carter’s.  Spin Wonder Woman!  Spin Scuba Wonder Woman!  Spin Motorcycle Wonder Woman!  It was awesome.  And dizzy.

I tried reading comic books—my brother’s, not mine.  Girls were not supposed to read comic books, so nobody gave me any.  Fortunately, Rob shared his.  I gotta tell you, early 1980’s runs of Superman and X-Men and such were kind of…boring.  Not nearly as interesting as what I was watching on TV.  I later found out from comic-guru friends that it wasn’t just me—this was not the best time to be reading comic books.  It was the lull before Alan Moore and Frank Miller knocked the stuffings out of the genre.

These days, I have boxes of my own comic books.  It’s even okay for girls to read them now, which is awesome.  I came to comics as an adult, for the most part.  But my true love has always been for the superheroes rather than the medium they first appeared in.  Which is why, I think, I wrote a novel about them instead of a comic book.  I didn’t need the pictures.  I wanted the hows and whys and thoughts and meaning.  The “what if?” questions that made me daydream as a kid.  That still make me daydream.

‘Cause you know, I still occasionally dress up as Wonder Woman.

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