aka: What Fire Cannot Burn
Scriptwriter and NPR commentator who occasionally writes novels. As yet, this page only has tropes for three of his works—add more if you know more.
Those Who Walk In Darkness
and its sequel What Fire Cannot Burn
. Described as Superhero Deconstructions
in the manner of Watchmen
, they follow Soledad "Bullet" O'Rourke, a cop who specializes in hunting down mutants and "freaks"
- Ascended Extra: Eddi Aoki, a colleague of Soledad's, originally notable for her Tragic Keepsake of a hunting knife she plans to use to cut out a mutant's heart. In the sequel she takes on more of a prominent role, and eventually becomes the main character after Soledad's death.
- Black and Gray Morality: Most of the "freak" targets are more willing to get their hands dirty than the average superhero, although typically with reason or after being attacked. The protagonist is an unabashedly Fantastic Racist who kills an unarmed woman for having the power to stop other people from being hurt. This may go as far as Villain Protagonist.
- Broken Pedestal: As a child, Soledad idolized the superheroine Nubian Princess (best described as a black Expy of Wonder Woman.)
- Soledad to Eddi in the second half of What Fire Cannot Burn after the latter reads her hate-filled and self-righteous journals.
- Cape Busters: The MTacs.
- Complexity Addiction: The metanormals really, really would be more effective if they weren't obsessed with style, irony, or practically being comic book characters. Justified with the metanormals with more revenge-driven motives, but when a shapeshifter trying to run turns into a big, lumbering brick wall, he almost deserves the inevitable rain of shotgun shells.
- Contemptible Cover: the paperback editions.
- Covers Always Lie: a mild case, but one that appears on seemingly every edition of both books. Soledad repeatedly describes herself as a BAMF (Bad Ass Mother-Fucker), and the covers show her as having those letters tattooed on her shoulder. In the story, her tattoo instead reads "We don't need another hero."
- Deadly Euphemism: When MTac "serves a warrant", there's a good deal more bullets, poisons, and sedatives and much fewer actual arrests involved than you'd expect.
- Fantastic Racism: It's not immediately apparent, but the author's rooting for the mutants. So far, only one has been evil, and another even begged for his life.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Soledad customized an O'Dwyer VLe to fire Abnormal Ammo she designs herself. Most shots target the Achilles Heel of a specific enemy type, though Semtex bullets can be used against anything.
- He Who Fights Monsters: where to begin?
- Holding Out for a Hero: Lampshaded and Subverted in the background. Soledad, at least, seems to think that normal humans were just sitting around whenever a villain popped up, waiting for a hero to save them, but we're also told that the mayor of San Fransisco dropped everything to try and help.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The first book's Big Bad became a villain specifically because Soledad killed his wife.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: Almost everyone in MTac to some degree. A significant portion barely earn the Noble part, and some of the normal cops make it to Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop.
- Not Quite Dead: over and over, along with Faking the Dead. At least it subverts Instant Death Bullets ...
- One Person, One Power: for the most part—see I Believe I Can Fly. Also, the super-hunting serial killer in the second book seemingly had multiple powers (he turned out to just have a suit of Powered Armor.)
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Regardless of how you interpret the first book, there is one. Either Soledad's unfettered Fantastic Racism, or Vaughn's abusive mind control and vicious dislike of the mentally disabled Aubrey.
- Red Shirt Army: The MTac teams are stated to have a survival rate of 30% to 70% for certain types of encounters, depending on who they are and what they're facing down.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Reese.
- Sacrificial Lion: Yarborough.
- Stock Superpowers
- Dishing Out Dirt: Strictly speaking, this is the ability to communicate with the planet and talk it into shifting itself. Users of this ability are Always Lawful Good, and tend to hate fighting. Not that this stops MTac from killing them ...
- Extra Ore Dinary: Almost a straight copy of Magneto, but can create Golem-like allies.
- Eye Beams: invisible eye beams, no less.
- Healing Factor
- I Believe I Can Fly: Although it's stated that each mutant has only one power, flight seems to be an exception. Generally it's Not Quite Flight, but there's been one Winged Humanoid (who also used Winds of Destiny, Change.)
- Intangible Man: on-and-off, fully voluntary, and can affect both objects and other people. Incidentally, that last part is Chekhov's Gun.
- Nigh Invulnerability: Well, it's an invulnerable exterior. These mutants can be killed either by poisoning them, or by overloading their pain nerves.
- Playing with Fire: Some varieties can start fires, others can simply control them.
- Shock and Awe: of the blast-from-the-hands variety. Can be stressed into a Superpower Meltdown.
- Sizeshifting: actually two abilities; shrinking and growing. The latter is self-explanatory. The former is only used once (to pass through an enemy's skin, then explode outwards.)
- Super Speed
- Super Strength: though those who have it don't look it—they tend to be extremely "reedy" since they never get decent exercise. Prone to Ace Lightning Syndrome.
- Telepathy: this is what you get if you win the Superpower Lottery, since you can also use People Puppets. Virtually impossible to beat in a fair fight.
- Unstoppable Rage: A power of its own, and quite effective.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: virtually unlimited changes to shape and appearance, sometimes including a Shape Shifter Weapon, but no mass-changing abilities. Goes into a Shape Shifter Swan Song when electrocuted, but dying by any other means makes them look human again.
- Super Registration Act: they're way beyond that now, at least in America. Any time a mutant is identified, they're ordered to surrender. Compliance results in "a life of sedation in a cell" if you're lucky, medical experimentation if you're not. Failure to comply is punishable by immediate death.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Not the main character, obviously, who will just shoot her opponents. The remaining powered heroes stick to this rule and will try to stop or rat out anyone that violates it, though.
- Token Minority: Most superheroes are white males, with a few exceptions like Nubian Princess. Lampshaded, since Soledad is black.
- Soledad frequently remarks in her monologue that people underestimate and patronize because she is a black female. There are some times she's correct and a few times where it feels like she's trying to convince herself that the world is out to get her.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: several Christian references that have yet to be explained.
- What Measure Is A Non Super: lampshaded, and half the reason normal people are fighting back.
Works with their own pages: Undercover Brother
(scriptwriter), Three Kings
(one of the scriptwriters), and Third Watch