''In Hero Years, I'm Dead'' is a 2010 "superhero noir" novel by MichaelStackpole which follows a superhero, named Coyote, returning to his city after a 20-year absence. He finds that the world has changed greatly since he left. Superheroes and villains have become commercialized, and combat between them is a ritual followed on the level of professional sports, complete with fantasy leagues. Facing a system where he'll never fit in, Coyote is forced to decide whether to change, to retire, or to do what he does best: break the system.

Stackpole has released the novel as a digital download with sample chapters on his Web site, [[http://www.michaelastackpole.com/?p=1786 here.]]
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!!Contains Examples Of:
* ArcWords: "Be Good", "Kyrgyzstan".
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: Revealed to be the key to Coyote's success. In this world, superheroes are much more realistic about the measures they take to protect their identities, but Coyote has specialized in ferreting out the identities of heroes and villains. He caught the Superman analogue on sunscreen while temping as an accountant.
* BroughtDownToNormal: Superman-expy Gravitor is revealed to have lost his powers because he has [[KryptoniteFactor Jadeite shards embedded into his heart.]]
* CallARabbitASmeerp: The world is an alternate history where large bills are called Reagans and videoscreens are called Murdochs.
* ClarkKenting: Grant Stone always wears aviator glasses. Graviton doesn't.
* TheCowl: Nighthaunt, Coyote, Puma.
* CrazyPrepared: Coyote notes this to be the key to being a "Felix", an unpowered superhero with a bag of tricks from which you can always pull one more.
* DatingCatwoman: Literally. Coyote dated [[spoiler:and fathered a daughter by]] the Catwoman {{expy}}.
** It's mentioned that even before that it was common for the media to speculate that she and resident Batman expy, Nighthaunt were a couple, though they never actually were.
* DeadManWriting:
** Puma's granddaughter, Diana, has a number of letters from Puma passed out after his death. The only one identified is to Dr. Sinisterion. The contents are never stated.
** [[spoiler:Subverted.]] Nighthaunt leaves a bottle of whiskey with attached clue with Coyote shortly before he's [[spoiler:ostensibly]] found dead in his mansion.
* DisappearedDad: Coyote had to leave abruptly. For 20 years. He learns upon his return that he has a daughter.
* {{Expy}}: Multiple. Graviton is Franchise/{{Superman}}. Nighthaunt and Redhawk are Franchise/{{Batman}} and Robin. Colonel Constitution is CaptainAmerica, just to name a few examples.
* EvilCounterpart: Both Nighthaunt and Dr. Sinisterion were [[Franchise/{{Batman}} made orphans after their parents were shot down in an alley]]. Nighthaunt became a superhero while Dr. Sinisterion became an (alleged) criminal mastermind.
** [[spoiler: It is eventually revealed that Nighthaunt's father paid for the hit on Dr. Sinisterion's parents and Dr. Sinisterion's uncle returned the favor.]]
* EvilPlan: [[spoiler:Nighthaunt]]'s attempt to overturn the system by masterminding a villain uprising while convincing three factions of heroes that the other faction is behind it.
* FaceHeelTurn: Coyote himself thanks to efforts of [[spoiler:Puma]].
* FakingTheDead:
** [[spoiler:Dr. Sinisterion, subverted in that its actually not him, but Selina in a nanite costume to make her look like him.]]
** [[spoiler:Nighthaunt]]
* GasChamber: The memorabilia room and its vacuum pump.
* IHaveManyNames: Coyote has multiple secret identities, with accompanying name. His real name is [[spoiler:unrevealed, other than the obvious last name]].
* IntercontinuityCrossover: Coyote becomes [[spoiler:Revenant]], the character who also appears in ''{{PS238}}'' and other fiction by Michael Stackpole.
* LegacyCharacter: A couple of examples in-universe, like Captain Constitution, and Coyote/Kid Coyote.
* LukeIAmYourFather: Coyote knows that (alleged) super-villain [[spoiler:Dr. Sinisterion]] is his father, but it's not widely known to the public and is an incredible shock to Coyote's daughter.
* MakeMeWannaShout: Panda-moanium
* MentorOccupationalHazard: [[spoiler:Puma]] dies protecting Coyote and a bystander from Panda-moanium. Subverted in that he's a bit senile at the moment, and probably didn't realize he was protecting his former pupil.
* MorallyAmbiguousDoctorate: Dr. Sinisterion, who is revealed to have a doctorate in divinity.
--> "One who deserves to be worshipped as a god ought to have the background for it, shouldn’t one?"
* OldSuperhero: The novel doesn't shy away from the fact that older super-heroes typically find that years of heroics or [[FreakLabAccident strange empowering chemicals]] tend to leave one in very bad shape after a certain age. The successful ones frequently parlay this into a living selling memorabilia and autographs, but many of the older heroes never thought to try to control video footage of them and therefore have nothing left to sell but themselves.
--> "Average age of death, fifty-six years. That’s the toll the stress takes on the body. I guarantee you, any hero over fifty-six is a mutant, an alien, or got out early."
* PassingTheTorch: What Coyote winds up doing.
* RecklessSidekick: Nighthaunt reveals to Coyote that he accidentally made Redhawk this by being a bit too competent. Redhawk knew he'd always get rescued, so his ''modus operandi'' was to rush in half-cocked and his reaction in a hopeless situation was to give up and wait for rescue.
* RenaissanceMan: Forced onto Coyote by [[spoiler:Dr. Sinisterion]] as he attended numerous schools to pick up numerous skills.
* ResignationsNotAccepted: Played with. Coyote wants to retire, his girlfriend wants him to retire, his daughter wants him to retire. The BigBad doesn't want him to retire in order to draw him into his EvilPlan.
* RetiredBadass: Coyote eventually tries to settle into being one of these. He's... working on it. At first, he wants to get right back into the game. Even after he realizes he's too old for it, he continues to fight crime when InHarmsWay. Even when he decides to not do super-heroing, he still finds himself being TheChessmaster in analyzing the superhero industry and finding ways to manipulate or break it.
* StuffedInTheFridge: A non-lethal version. Sinisterion's enemies kidnapped and held [[spoiler: Coyote]] hostage for twenty years because [[spoiler: he was Sinisterion's son]]. Didn't really work out because the extent of Sinisterion's caring was whether or not his son died in a way that could be harmful to his own reputation.
* TitleDrop: Mentioned by Coyote in a conversation with Grant Stone.
* UtilityBelt: Fairly standard for "Felix"-type heroes in the world. Puma's utility belt serves as a ChekhovsGun at one point in the book.
* YaoiGuys: It's mentioned in passing that Golden Guardian and his sidekick Goldie were this.
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