Canadian publisher Tyche Books brings us the anthology Masked Mosaic – Canadian Super Stories. Edited by Canadian writers Claude Lalumière and Camille Alexa, this anthology is not just about Canadian superheroes and Canadian villains. This is twenty-four exciting Canadian adventures by some of the most talented Canadian writers of today in one Canadian collection. Do you see the pattern here? Yeah, it’s pretty obvious – there are some great stories here.
Before we get started on what’s inside, we have to acknowledge the brilliant cover art by Steve Thomas and layout by Lucia Starkey. The classic styling of comic book action hero faces in snapshots and snippets adds to the “mosaic” theme. From the mysterious shadowy images to the pained masked reflections of heroes and villains at their weakest and strongest, the readers can become immersed in the stories before the very first page. If you’re like me, you might even find yourself continually returning to the cover to see if you can link one of the images to a particular story.Okay, now for the inside. Once you dive in, cuz that’s what you have to do with anthologies, the collection starts off strong with an intriguing idea in Nocturne by E. L. Chen. What would happen if a super hero did not realize he was a super hero? When a young man first obtains his super powers, but only while he sleeps, his world is turned upside down.
Other heroes discovering their powers for the first time face many obstacles. A Bunny Hug for Karl by Mike Rimar looks at the rise of a super hero and how some villains become who they are. The Seamstress without a Costume by Lisa Poh is a fascinating look at how one discovers their powers and ultimately being forced into the superhero role. On the other side of the fence, Lonesome Charlie Johnstone’s Strange Boon by Jason Sharp is a tale of revenge and how superpowers can turn a good man to evil.
Circe and the Gunboat by Kevin Cockle is a look at how vulnerable even some of the most powerful people can be and questions who really is in charge. Vulnerability is also part of Knife Fight by David Nickle, which looks at what happens if “to the victor goes the spoils” but nobody wins. Octopi Bleakly Corners by David Perlmutter is a classic battle of strength and power.
Social and economical implications may also arise in a world of superheroes. On-To-Ottawa by Derryl Murphy is a historical retelling of Canadian hardship that brings authenticity. Did you ever wonder what the business side of good versus evil entails? Kristi Charish shows us the challenges of maintaining an evil lifestyle in Canadian Blood Diamonds. And what about once we get older? Never the Twain by Jonathan Olfert looks at how villains and heroes live after their careers are over.
Good old fashioned mysteries are also a logical place to find superheroes and villains. Iron Justice versus the Fiends of Evil by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a cultural examination of treachery as a retired superhero returns to solve a crime. With a touch of steampunk influence, The Man in the Mask by Emma Faraday tackles the classic murder mystery. Revenge of the Iron Shadow by Jason Ridler is a mystery tale of power and greed.
The Secret History of the Intrepids by D. K. Latte is reminiscent of the pulp classics plucked right out of the comics. And “Not a Dream! Not a Hoax! Not an Imaginary Story!” by Emma Vossen examines the underbelly of a vintage comic artist’s life though a noir lens and the eyes of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster. Not to be left out, Giant Canadian Comics by Patrick T. Goddard pays homage to the literary perspective of classic comics without the use of the visual artwork.
Kid Wonder by A. C. Wise is a new twist on the sidekick role and the responsibility the image has on society. Leaf Man by Rhea Rose also looks at sidekicks, but from a more intimate yet alien perspective.
The Kevlar Canoe by Marie Bilodeau is a spiritual tale. Sea and Sky by Rhonda and Jonathan Parrish is an epic adventure of two powerful siblings, separated in hopes of controlling their powers. A Face in the Wind by Chantal Boudreau is about a child necromancer. The Shield Maiden by Alyxandra Harvey is a combination zombie story and a link to the transference of superpowers throughout time. Even inherited powers can become a delicate issue. The Many Lives of the Xun Long by Michael Matheson is a cultural examination of loyalty and responsibility.
The Creep by Michael S. Chong is an unsettling story about a man who can slow time down, but the fine line between superhero and stalker becomes blurred, giving the story’s title a double meaning. This story is a prime example of social perceptions of people in power and the question of their trust.
Masked Mosaic – Canadian Super Stories is a wide range of stories by and about Canadians. But like the stories Claude Lalumière and Camille Alexa has chosen to include within, each has its own literary superpower. Masked Mosaic brings super villains and heroes to life.