If you haven’t had a chance to check out the back cover copy for my new novel Less Than Hero, here’s the gist in a nutshell:
A group of professional human guinea pigs who make their living testing experimental drugs in Phase I clinical trials develop unusual side effects that they project on to petty criminals who prey upon the homeless and helpless of New York City.
So yes, my superheros make people vomit, develop rashes, and suffer from convulsions and rapid weight gain.
Obviously these aren’t your classic superheroes. No men of steel or dark knights. No caped crusaders with superhuman strength or masked crime fighters with spider-sense. No one who is faster than a speeding bullet or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s more like:
Faster than a spreading rash! More powerful than dry heaves! Able to put villains to sleep with a single yawn!
My superheroes have more in common with the band of crime fighters in Mystery Men than they do with The Avengers. As a matter of fact, Mystery Men is one of the main superhero inspirations/influences for Less Than Hero.
I saw Mystery Men in the theater back in 1999 and loved it. The next year I saw X-Men, followed by Unbreakable, both of which made a lasting impression on my imagination. I didn’t know it at the time, but those three films would be instrumental in the eventual writing of Less Than Hero.
Unlike a significant portion of today’s superhero fans, I don’t have a background in comic books. I didn’t read superhero comics as a kid and I don’t read them now. But I watched a lot of superhero cartoons and TV shows growing up and I enjoy catching superhero films at the multiplex. However, while I’m a fan of the Spider-Man and Batman and Avengers franchises, certain superhero films strike a chord more than the others.
Mystery Men appealed to me because the heroes were just ordinary people with unusual talents who wanted to make a difference. Plus I loved the humor. X-Men hooked me with the concept of mutants and its social commentary on prejudice and discrimination. And I loved Unbreakable because it was about an ordinary man discovering his extraordinary abilities and, eventually, a purpose that gave his life meaning.
In a way, Less Than Hero encompasses aspects of all three films. The characters, while they exist on the fringe of society, are normal people who end up wanting to make a difference, with the main character, and several of the others, searching for meaning in their lives. And while there aren’t any themes of prejudice or discrimination, there’s a definite social commentary on prescription drugs and their side effects.
Less Than Hero is the modern prescription for our over-medicated society, coming to save the day March 17, 2015.