The origin story of badass Canadian superheroes fated to defend humanity against a dark scourge. Naturally.
A respected emissary for groundbreaking science fiction, Gardner (Gravity Wells, 2014, etc.) kicks a hyperkinetic reboot into gear with a series that combines classic monsters, steampunk-ish science, and a gender-fluid hero who vacillates (delightfully) between snarky and valiant. Our narrator is Kim, born Kimberlite Crystal Lam, a 21-year-old Chinese-Canadian earth sciences student specializing in geology at the University of Waterloo. Kim’s world is very different from our own, as the world’s nightmares (think vampires, werewolves, demons, and sorcerers) decided that 1982 was a good time to offer power and immortality as a commodity to the insanely wealthy. Now the world’s elite roam the world as “Darklings,” creatures of immense power and appetites. When Kim and three roommates (goddess Miranda, supportive girlfriend Shar, and Jools) are predictably caught in a freak accident, they turn super. “Wow, I have superpowers!” exclaims one. “Excellent.” Armed with a variety of supernatural powers, among them flight, psychic abilities, superstrength, and the ability to shrink down to a subatomic level, the quartet don costumes to enter the battle between Light and Dark as “Sparks.” “That’s how the Light works,” explains an elder. “It supers up everyday people and trusts 'em to do what needs doing. Surprisingly often, they do it.” But a “Hiroshima-level” villain named Diamond could be more than this team bargained for. There’s the requisite amount of worldbuilding going on here, but the team’s humor shines through even in their dire straits—a montage in which the quartet must assemble their costumes and code names is particularly memorable. Through it all, Gardner’s adroit, hyperkinetic pace, creative heroes and villains, and refusal to pigeonhole his lead make this a ride well worth the ticket—look forward to seeing Jools and company again in 2018 for the sequel, They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded.
We’ll give Gardner's narrator the last word on this terrific superhero adventure: “Spectacularity ensued.”