A frustrated eighth-grader would rather spend his days saving the world as an anointed superhero than deal with the reality of his life as a middle schooler, in this sequel to The Attack of the Alien Horde (2015).
Miles Taylor prepares for his first day as an eighth-grader after soaring through a summer of adventures as Gilded, his inherited golden-caped–superhero identity. The white 13-year-old is no longer the insecure new kid at school. He starts his second year at Chapman Middle School empowered with the secret of his superhero identity, a secret that he has only shared with Henry, his African-American best friend, and his father. The story begins as Miles grapples with his new-normal inner conflict: he’d really rather be the significant superhero full-time and not the insignificant eighth-grader who is daily bullied by the middle school football star. After disobeying his father by donning the golden cape to save the day for a nonsuperhero emergency of a multicar wreck, Miles and Henry are kidnapped by a cape-hungry U.S. Army general who somehow gets away with kidnapping minors and injecting them with truth serum. Venditti goes even darker when the general orders robots to kill Gilded and the pre-pubescent innocents. Higgins’ grayscale comics-style sequential panels periodically punctuate the prose narrative, sharing the storytelling mode.
What starts as a charming story morphs rather jarringly into a questionable golden-cape tug of war between an eighth-grader and a dry old general who’s mysteriously acquired a budget to create a robot army. (Adventure. 9-12)