‘My brother is a superhero, and I could have been one too, except that I needed to go for a wee.’ It’s a wonderful opening line and sets the tone for this hilarious, engaging story. While Luke’s in the loo, Zorbon the Decider arrives. In need of a superhero, and finding Luke’s older brother Zack, Zorbon bestows a few superpowers on him, tells him his mission is to save two universes, and warns him that ‘Nemesis is coming’. It’s really unfair: Luke is the comic fanatic and he should rightfully be the superhero, not someone who barely knows what telekinesis is.
Zack calls himself Star Lad, due to the stars he finds glowing on his chest. (He’d rather have been Starman, or Star Boy, but as Luke tells him, those names are already taken.) Zak just won’t behave as superheroes should – he has a hoodie not a mask, refuses to wear the curtain-cape Luke spent ages making, and doesn’t even try to fly. In fact, Zack would rather be doing his homework. But he knows his duties and he’s soon stopping bus crashes and bridges from collapsing and rescuing babies from burning buildings, in true superhero fashion. Meanwhile Luke’s left trying to protect Star Lad’s identity, and growing more and more jealous of him. He reckons he’d be very happy if his brother came to a sticky end – but then Zack’s taken hostage. Luke needs all his superhero knowledge to rescue him, not just because he’s his brother, but because Star Lad still has his mission to fulfil. After all, the future of two universes is at stake.
Narrated in the first person by Luke, it’s full of brilliant one-liners and funny dialogue. There’s also a wonderful array of characters: Cara, Zack’s love interest; her sister Lara with her entertaining malapropisms (going on a ‘wild moose chase’, finding ‘a noodle in a haystack’); Christopher Talbot who owns the comic shop and loves inventions; best friend Serge who’s French and a total Star Lad obsessive; and Mum and Dad who remain oblivious to Zak’s new role.
At over 300 pages, I found it a tad drawn-out at times, but it’s a very enjoyable read and I’m sure the target market will be left begging for more.