Climactic battles with the most powerful of the supervillainous Epics plaguing our planet leads to a win at last for truth, justice, and, well, second chances.
Once-worthy Epic Jonathan Phaedrus has been corrupted by his powers but might still be redeemable if he can be made to face his deepest fears. In pursuit of his former boss, Reckoner David “Steelslayer” Charleston and his diverse crew of Epic-killers fetch up in Ildithia—formerly known as Atlanta but now, thanks to the powers of its resident Epics, located in Kansas and transformed into salt. A whirl of raids, chases, rescues, and spectacularly destructive displays of both magic and high-tech gadgetry ensues, bringing David face to face with Calamity: the original Epic and the source of the other Epics’ powers. As said individual powers range from transformational skills and energy blasts to the ability to force victims to talk in rhyme, the threat doesn’t always seem entirely serious despite a rapidly escalating body count. Moreover, narrator David seems as addicted to eye-rolling similes (“The sun peeked over the horizon like the head of a giant radioactive manatee”) as he is to “exceptionally dangerous” mission plans. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the key to victory in this action-packed romp turns out not to be violence but pop psychology.
Adeptly done thrills, whether readers take their costumed supers seriously or with a dish (or, in this case, an entire city) of salt. (Fantasy. 11-13)