Kid Normal and his friends save the day again in this very normal sequel.
Murph Cooper has settled happily into his school for young superheroes, hanging with his group of strangely Caped friends despite the fact that he doesn’t have a Capability of his own. Some kids and teachers think he doesn’t belong, but his other heroic qualities mean that he’s been accepted into the elite Heroes’ Alliance. His power-less alignment with powerful friends makes him a perfect target for Magpie, a villain who steals Capabilities from other heroes and wreaked havoc on the Caped community 30 years ago. Magpie is safely quarantined, but Murph finds himself an unwitting pawn in the villain’s plan to escape. The plot-by-numbers includes some flashbacks, a mystery to solve, adults who are either bumbling or helpful, and a heroic rescue, with wholly unremarkable characters driving the action. This kind of story benefits from a fast-moving plot, but chapters bog down in the tangents, digressions, and authorial asides that aim for zany and clever but quickly become cumulatively exhausting. The humor sometimes lands, but it also veers into lazy or cruel territory, especially when it treats fat people as punchlines. Brown-skinned Nellie and Asian-presenting Billy, two of Murph’s friends, again provide most of the primary-cast diversity, though much of the rest of the student body is as white as Murph.
A lengthy trek, mostly appealing to readers who loved the first installment. (Adventure. 8-12)