Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories


Twenty-two of today's most talented writers (and comics fans) unite in Who Can Save Us Now?, an anthology featuring brand-new superheroes equipped for the threats and challenges of the twenty-first century — with a few supervillains thrown in for good measure. Edited and with contributions by Owen King (We're All in This Together) and John McNally (America's Report Card), Who Can Save Us Now? enriches the superhero canon immeasurably.

With mutations stranger than the X-Men and ...

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Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories

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Twenty-two of today's most talented writers (and comics fans) unite in Who Can Save Us Now?, an anthology featuring brand-new superheroes equipped for the threats and challenges of the twenty-first century — with a few supervillains thrown in for good measure. Edited and with contributions by Owen King (We're All in This Together) and John McNally (America's Report Card), Who Can Save Us Now? enriches the superhero canon immeasurably.

With mutations stranger than the X-Men and with even more baggage than the Hulk, this next generation of superheroes is a far cry from your run-of-the-mill caped crusader. From the image-conscious and not-very-mysterious masked meathead who swoops in and sweeps the tough girl reporter off her feet; to the Meerkat, who overcomes his species' cute and cuddly image to become the resident hero in a small Midwestern city; to the Silverfish, "the creepy superhero," who fights crime while maintaining the slipperiest of identities; to Manna Man, who manipulates the minds of televangelists to serve his own righteous mission, these protectors (and in some cases antagonizers) of the innocent and the virtuous will delight literary enthusiasts and comic fans alike.

With stunning illustrations by artist Chris Burnham, Who Can Save Us Now? offers a vibrant, funny, and truly unusual array of characters and their stories.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This mostly tepid anthology, edited by King (son of Stephen King and author of We're All in This Together) and McNally (America's Report Card), has a few stimulating moments amid a flood of formulaic stories about inept people who are given powers that serve only to spotlight their insecurities. There are a few standouts: Stephanie Harrell's "Girl Reporter" reveals the origins of a Superman-like hero through the first-person narration of a Lois Lane-like reporter. For Jim Shepard, in "In Cretaceous Seas," the "superhero and super villain all in one" is "a shitty son, a shitty brother, a lousy father, a lazy helpmate, a wreck of a husband" who means well but hates himself for not doing better. Sam Weller's "The Quick Stop 5" is a hilarious story about five people at a gas station who are turned into superheroes after biofuel spills from a truck. Weller's presentation of "super-power" as a subjective term resonates as one flips through the pages of this anthology. Readers who can't get enough of superheroes will get the most out of this. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This high-quality collection contains 22 original stories presenting brand-new superheroes for our postmodern age. Edited by King (We're All in This Together) and McNally (America's Report Card), each of whom also contributes a story, the volume features crime fighters struggling with labels like freaky and creepy and facing post-9/11 problems like registering with the Department of Homeland Security. Working out of places like Cleveland and Shreveport, they boast a mind-boggling array of mutant abilities. The stories' authors have their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks as their superheroes declare "great legs!" to the girl in distress they've just saved, or boast that "I diverted a nuclear missile. I sidetracked a civil war. I removed a cat from a tree." The eye-catching cover graphic is supplemented by interior black-and-white line drawings by the talented Chris Burnham. Fresh and fun, this collection is sure to please everyone from the classic comics lover to the newbie Heroes fan. Highly recommended for public libraries.
—Alison M. Lewis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416566441
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/2008
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Owen King is the author of the novel Double Feature, We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories, and the co-editor of Who Can Save Us Now? Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories.

John McNally is the author of two novels, The Book of Ralph and America's Report Card, and a short story collection, Troublemakers. His next book, Ghosts of Chicago, a collection of short stories, will be published this fall. A native of Chicago, he lives with his wife, Amy, in North Carolina, where he is associate professor of English at Wake Forest University. The first word he ever spoke was "Batman," who has remained, in his darker incarnations, his favorite superhero. John's first creative work, a play written in the fourth grade, featured an overweight superhero who gets stuck inside a phone booth while changing into his costume. He is happy to return to the genre, albeit thirty-four years later.

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Read an Excerpt


In 1938 a gawky, bespectacled man walked through a door, and when it opened again, a benevolent giant in red and blue tights emerged, gave a wink, and lifted right off the pages of ACTION COMICS #1 and into the sky. As the years have gone by, countless other champions have joined this remarkable gentleman in the firmament of the popular imagination, and created a mythology for the twenty-first century.

However, in the sixty years since Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, our collective story has grown a good deal more complex. The black-and-white conflict of World War II is a speck in the rearview mirror, and the road ahead is a smashed causeway north of Baghdad. Racial and sexual politics have been radically transformed. Technology has made our planet miraculously and terrifyingly small. It's more apparent than ever that the worst of the bad guys don't wear spandex and live in underground ice palaces in Antarctica, but can generally be found in three-piece suits at the head of gleaming boardroom conference tables.

The raccoon-eyed purse-snatchers of the Golden Age comic books are the least of our problems. We have suicide bombers, dwindling oil reserves, global warming, and an international community in complete disrepair. Not even the biggest and broadest bulletproof chest could stop all these out-of-control locomotives.

To put it bluntly, Superman just wasn't built for times like these. The antidote? You're holding it in your hands!

Within these pages, you'll find twenty-two brand-new stories about men and women whose amazing abilities reflect and address our strange and confusing new conditions. These superheroes are different from the Technicolor do-gooders you remember from the rack at the drugstore. These heroes are conflicted, frustrated, freaked out, and desperate; they're brave and afraid and not sure; they're a little nuts. In other words, you're going to recognize these people — they're a lot like us.

And the supervillains? We've got them, too. And maybe they're even more familiar, those carnival glass reflections of our murkiest compulsions.

Who Can Save Us Now? introduces a plethora of origin stories (How does a girl with bad luck come to shape the events around her? How did a band of Quick Stop drones become an unlikely team of superheroes?); stories of heroes whose powers derive from nature's most peculiar creatures (A flock of flying orphans, anyone?); stories of the sinister draw that unbelievable power has on all-too-believable men and women (Why is it that this little town never had any trouble until that band of superheroes showed up? What becomes of a man whose soul has been lit on fire?); and stories in which the extraordinary is used to help the ordinary and protect the innocent (What awesome power is capable of manipulating televangelists into assisting those truly in need? What vast strength empowers the hero of this city's disregarded streets, the defender of its disregarded people?).

You'll meet the Big Guy, the Rememberer, the Meerkat, Mr. Big Deal, the Silverfish, Bad Karma Girl, Ghetto Man, and, yes, even Bob Brown. You'll see submarine monstrosities, fiery conclusions, reporters searching for answers, and neighborhood taverns destroyed. Whether your own origin story includes an obsession for comic books and a penchant for the darker worlds of graphic novelists like Frank Miller and Alan Moore, or a love for superhero-inspired literary fare like The Fortress of Solitude and The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, we promise that within these pages you'll find stories that suspend your disbelief without insulting your intelligence.

How are we going to stay alive in this world of trouble?

Read on!

Can anyone save us now?

We repeat: Read on!

What use is all this fancy in the face of so much real darkness?

If we're honest, we have to concede that it's probably no use at all. The sky is falling. And yet if we're courageous enough to see things as they aren't — to believe that a flying man can catch a flaming satellite before it destroys the city — then maybe we can summon enough heart to see things as they could be. This is just a book, a few hours' diversion, but we believe in heroes, and we need them now, like never before.

...And look! There's one now — Copyright © 2008 by John McNally and Owen King

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Table of Contents

The Most Unlikely Beginnings

Girl Reporter Stephanie Harrell Harrell, Stephanie 2

The Oversoul Graham Joyce Joyce, Graham 22

Nate Pinckney-Alderson, Superhero Elizabeth Crane Crane, Elizabeth 38

The Horses Are Loose Cary Holladay Holladay, Cary 46

The Ouick Stop 5 [Registered] Sam Weller Weller, Sam 62

The Beast Within

Remains of the Night John McNally McNally, John 86

The Pentecostal Home for Flying Children Will Clarke Clarke, Will 106

The Meerkat Owen King King, Owen 122

A Shadowy Figure

When the Heroes Came to Town Michael Czyzniejewski Czyzniejewski, Michael 160

The Thirteenth Egg Scott Snyder Snyder, Scott 166

In Cretaceous Seas Jim Shepard Shepard, Jim 196

Roe #5 Richard Dooling Dooling, Richard 202

The Snipper Noria Jablonski Jablonski, Noria 216

Behind the Mask

Man Oh Man - It's Manna Man George Singleton Singleton, George 230

My Interview with the Avenger Tom Bissell Bissell, Tom 243

The Rememberer J. Robert Lennon Lennon, J. Robert 260

The Sisters of St. Misery Lauren Grodstein Grodstein, Lauren 270

Mr. Dig Deal Sean Doolittle Doolittle, Sean 289

Super Ordinary

The Somewhat Super David Yoo Yoo, David 305

Bad Karma Girl Wins at Bingo Kelly Braffet Braffet, Kelly 334

League of Justice (Philadelphia Division) Jennifer Weiner Weiner, Jennifer 359

The Lives of Ordinary Superheroes David Haynes Haynes, David 393

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A few gems, fun reading....

    Who Can Save Us Now?" is good, not great!

    If you where to only read the best stories, it's a five star quality book, but everyone has their own opinion on which stories were best, so your stuck reading them all and deciding for yourself....

    It seemed to me that alot of the writers didn't quite grasp what a super hero story is and got totally of course & to make matters worse, their stories were long winded!

    The book has twenty two stories, eight of which I thought were exceptionally written:

    Remains of the Night by John McNally (* 1 of 4 best)

    The Pentecostal Home for Flying Children by Will Clarke

    The Thirteenth Egg by Scott Synder (* 1 of 4 best)

    The Snipper by Nora Jablonski

    Man Oh Man - It's Manna Man by George Singleton (* 1 of 4 best)

    My Interview w/ the Avenger by Tom Bissell

    Mr. Big Deal by Sean Doolittle

    The Somewhat Super by David Yoo (* 1 of 4 best)

    Start with one of those 1st and proceed with caution on the other stories not mentioned~

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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