Literature / Other People's Heroes

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Other People's Heroes is a 2002 superhero novel by Blake M. Petit, first released as a Podiobook. Josh Corwood is a reporter for Powerlines, a magazine dedicated to the Capes and Masks (heroes and villains) of Siegel City. Josh has a particular interest in heroes, having been saved from a fire by Lionheart, one of the founding heroes of the city, now disappeared. After a disappointing interview with one of the local Capes, and his promoter, Josh realizes that he has powers of his own. Or, rather, he can acquire the powers of others when they're in close proximity to him. And so he devises a costume and sets out to fight crime, only to find out that his life is a lie.

The conflict of capes and masks is all kayfabe, organized by one man with a vision. You see, actual battles would lead to destruction and casualties, but if the fights are choreographed, the damage can be minimized and the drama maximized. The storylines are orchestrated, the superpowered people regularly change their costumes to play a different hero, and actual crime is deterred because it's obvious that the good guys always win. Josh, offended by this mockery of heroism, decides to expose it the best way he knows how. What he didn't count on was falling in love, both with the job and with a certain Mask...

The book has been followed up by a handful of short stories and a prequel novel, The Pyrite War.


This work exhibits the following tropes:

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Animan plays most of these. His power is to assume the animal powers of carved totems, so he plays everything from werewolves to animal-powered heroes.
  • Background Music: The Conductor's power is to be able to broadcast music to everyone in the area. He uses it to make the battles more exciting.
  • Big Bad: Gunk turns out to be an immortal shapeshifter who's been taking over the city.
  • Blob Monster: The Gunk and the Goop are orange slime over a skeleton. The Gunk is actually an immortal shapeshifter. The Goop is actually a transformed Lionheart.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: It turns out that many people who would have turned to crime are content with a steady paycheck and the chance to occasionally smash things up and get into fights.
  • Dating Catwoman: While it doesn't happen publicly, heroes and villains are often shacking up behind the scenes. Miss Sinistah and Doc Noble are a prominent case and later Josh and Sinistah.
  • Self-Duplication: Five-Share is a martial artist that can split himself into five people. Subverted as it turns out "he" is actually six individuals (one female) who have the power to teleport, but only to the location of one of the others.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Doc Noble is a complete and utter ass to everyone, including his girlfriend, and ultimately turns out to be one of the few actual villains.
  • Kayfabe: All of the fights are carefully choreographed to further the storylines. Many superpowered individuals play more than one role, often on both sides of the Cape/Mask conflict.
  • Power Copying: This is Josh's power, the ability to borrow the powers of others. Acquiring the powers also gives him an understanding of how they work, sometimes better than the person he borrowed them from.
  • Rubber Man: DoubleGum Man has stretching powers.
  • Shape Shifter: Animan can transform himself via his tokens. The Gunk can make himself look like anyone.

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