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Literature / Battlecry

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She saves herself. Or does she?

Battlecry by Emerald Dodge is a 2018 superhero novel.

Jillian Johnson, known as the mighty Battlecry, was born into a superhero cult. She craves a life of freedom, far away from her violent and abusive team leader, Patrick. With no education, no money, and no future to speak of, she's stuck in the dangerous life...until she meets the mysterious and compelling Benjamin, a civilian with superpowers. When Patrick confronts her, she fights back—and then runs for her life. One by one, her ex-teammates join her until a new team has formed.

Battlecry has two prequels, a novel called Excalibur that takes place in 1994 and follow the exploits of another team, and Ignite, a novella that takes place a month before the beginning of Battlecry. Two more novels, Sentinel and Mercury, were released in 2018.


Battlecry and its prequels contain examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Ember tells the others that when Patrick asked his father to live as a civilian, his father dragged him into the middle of the camp and beat him publicly. Mr. Trent doesn't seem very nice, either.
  • Action Girl: Jill, Ember, Captain Drummond.
  • Adults Are Useless: The elders might as well be made of cardboard for all they do to stop Patrick.
  • After-Action Patch-Up
  • A Hero to His Hometown: The various teams around the country purposely cultivate local hometown popularity, altering their uniforms and behavior to play this up as much as possible.
  • Alliterative Name: Jillian Johnson
  • Amazon Chaser: Benjamin to Jill.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Averted during the final fight, when Jill is unable to rejoice at Patrick's demise.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Marco flirts with this trope, notably yanking Jill's chain when they're looking for a hideout following a hostage scene, being obstinate and argumentative before and after the school attack, and whining about his job during the flood.
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  • Appeal to Force: Obey Patrick or he'll telekinetically toss you around and choke you. Or try to rape you.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Benjamin starts out secretly wanting to be a superhero, despite being a supervillain. He ends up being the local superhero team's combat medic, and dating the leader, to boot.
  • Asshole Victim: Patrick, who is ultimately killed by Mrs. Trent.
  • Attempted Rape
  • Audience Surrogate: Benjamin is a civilian and learns about the deeper history of the camps along with the reader. He also echoes a lot of what the reader might be thinking about the cult.
  • Bad Boss: Patrick bullies, beats, and abuses every single teammate, male or female.
  • Bad Mood as an Excuse: Ember warns Jill to be more submissive to Patrick because Patrick was in a bad mood and looking to inflict pain on someone.
  • Badass Normal: Several.
    • Captain Drummond, the police captain who calls Jill out on her shit more than once.
    • Sebastian Gonzales, a fourteen year-old boy who bum-rushes Patrick at one point.
    • Miguel and his parents.
    • Lawrence Gonzales.
  • Battle in the Rain: The opening scene turns into this. The pivotal library battle calls back to this via water sprinklers going off.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Jill is heavily scratched and bruised following the opening fight.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: How the senior Trents view Benjamin's Heel–Face Turn.
  • BFS: Heather can produce one of these from her hand by the power of thought alone. She named it Excalibur. It can cut through just about anything.
  • Big Bad: Patrick to Jill and the team. However, he's killed by the Trents before they get away, possibly establishing them as the series Big Bad.
    • Roberto in Excalibur.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A bunch of times.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Jill is described as having thick, dark eyebrows. She refers to them at one point as "ridiculous."
  • Big Sister Instinct: One of the fastest ways to push Jill into an Unstoppable Rage is to threaten Marco.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A ton in Excalibur, where much of the Spanish also doubles as Getting Crap Past the Radar. Without translations, the book could pass as PG-13. Translated, it's a solid R.
  • Book Dumb: The whole team, with the exception of Benjamin. The camps want it that way. They Get Better though, and by the end of the book are making great efforts to educate themselves.
    • Heather is illiterate.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Jillian is shown coaching Ember in martial arts. The first instance is Foreshadowing of Patrick's attack on Ember.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Jill and Marco qualify.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Captain Drummond wants to be this, but is strong-armed by Jill into bending the rules.
  • Call-Forward: In Ignite, Patrick expresses pragmatic admiration for how the chemistry teacher locked the students into a school and set it on fire. In Battlecry, he does just that at a local high school.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jill sarcastically tells Jasmine, a woman who appears in just one short scene, to tell the world about Patrick's abuse. She does—and it is among the biggest Oh, Crap! moments in the novel.
  • Clark Kenting: Jill's civilian disguise in the third chapter comprises civilian clothes, braids, and hipster glasses.
  • Combat Medic: Benjamin's ultimate role on the team.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Several times throughout the novel, most notably with Jill and Patrick at the climax.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Beautiful heroines! Handsome heroes! Everyone loves them! Oh, and they're born and raised in cult-like totalitarian camps that starve them, beat them, control their every move, don't educate them, and (it's implied) kill the ones who try to escape.
  • Death Faked for You: Jill and Captain Drummond concoct one of these schemes to protect Benjamin after the library, because in Benjamin's line of work, one can't just walk away.
  • Distressed Dude: Benjamin, at times.
  • Dope Slap: Ember gives Jill one when the latter starts fantasizing about kissing Benjamin.
  • Due to the Dead: Heather might be cornered in a room and about to be lynched by a mob, but dammit, she's going to give Eleazar the hero's funeral he deserves.
  • Dumb Muscle: Jill originally believes herself to be this to her team.
  • Elemental Powers: Reid, who can control earth/rock.
  • Fantastic Racism: Jill considers a Super (person with powers) marrying a non-Super (a person without powers) to be "unnatural."
  • Fiery Redhead: Ember.
  • Financial Abuse: Patrick confiscate 97% of the money grateful civilians give his teammates. As a result, Jill has accrued a paltry $20 in six months. And she's grateful for it.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Foil: Reid, for Jill. Jill is rash, impulsive, rebellious, sanguine, and feminine. Reid is thoughtful, deliberate, legalistic, melancholic, and masculine.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Mr. and Mrs. Trent
  • Friend to All Children: Marco.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ember, who can telepathically communicate with animals. She's a vegan and is shown to be gentle with everything from spiders to dogs.
  • Gendered Insult: Patrick refers to Ember as a slut.
  • Girly Bruiser: Jill.
  • Glowing Eyes: Both Reid and Marco's eyes glow when they're at full power.
  • Good Parents: The Gonzales parents in Battlecry and the Alvear parents in Excalibur.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Alejandro, a native of Mexico, slips into his native language when he's upset, which also doubles as Getting Crap Past the Radar since he is incredibly foul-mouthed. So does his half-brother, Roberto.
  • Gray Eyes: Reid is the second variation described on the trope page. He's the most legalistic of the team, generally stern, and takes the longest to warm up to Benjamin.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Benjamin.
  • Healing Hands: Benjamin can heal even the most serious of injuries...except his own.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Veronica
  • Important Haircut: Jillian, Ember, and a rare male example with Benjamin.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Averted with Marco. Though he is the youngest character and views The Leader, Jill, as an older sister, he is an extremely lethal fighter in his own right, most definitely The Lancer, and dishes out the most shocking on-page death in the novel.
  • Kill on Sight: Jill's orders to her team re: Patrick after he murders hundreds of people at the high school.
  • Killed Off for Real: Captain Drummond and Sebastian Gonzales. In Excalibur, Ágata and Eleazar.
  • Knife Nut: Jillian, and how. She carries six knives at any given time, and at one point says that she played with butterfly knives as a child.
  • Legacy Character: Jillian is technically Battlecry II, since the first Battlecry was her grandmother. She also bears her grandmother's first name.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: In-Universe. The cult mandates that women have long, waist-length hair because it's beautiful, and beauty supposedly commands respect.
  • Mind Rape: How Patrick uses Ember's powers against her.
  • Mother Bear: Mrs. Trent. She murders Patrick for supposedly killing her daughter, Eleanor. Leticia Ortiz beat a man to death with a meat hammer when he broke in to kidnap her son.
  • Nice Guy: Benjamin.
  • Named Weapon: Heather cheekily named her BFS "Excalibur."
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Jillian unleashes several during the novel.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Jill tries to deflect a tricky question from Benjamin by mentioning tampons, hoping he won't continue with the subject at hand.
  • Non-Action Guy: Benjamin, in the eyes of the team. Though he can use his speed to outrun his opponents, he's untrained in martial arts and doesn't have a lot to offer in a hand-to-hand situation.
  • Offing the Offspring: Mr. Trent comes very, very close to murdering Benjamin (and Jill).
  • Oh, Crap!: Jill has a mighty moment of this trope when she realizes that Patrick knows she spilled the beans on him. Later, Benjamin and Jill have another when Benjamin's parents show up during the climax.
  • One Person, One Power: Averted. Benjamin has two, and Ember's two types of telepathy is treated as two different powers.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Poor, poor Marco.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: The team was raised in a cult that teaches many un-PC things, such as: women aren't capable of leading superhero teams (though, notably, none of the teammates seem to believe that generally Men Are Better Than Women); Reid's camp forbids women to wear red, a "passion" color, because A Man Is Always Eager, and nobody from his camp is allowed to dance; they believe civilian media is corrupting and evil. The Arkansas camp was founded by white supremacists.
  • Power Incontinence: Marco, Reid, and Patrick all have moments of this when they're angry or otherwise upset.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Drummond.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Averted, hard. Jill and Ember are both asskicking superheroes who are totally unafraid of the fight, but that doesn't stop them from wearing skirts/dresses, caring about their appearances, and pursuing typically feminine interests/hobbies.
  • Real Women Have Curves: Averted with Ember, who is described multiple times as "frail," "slim," and "slender" but is still incredibly popular with the opposite sex.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Jill, who can't get comfortable in the cult and continually acts out and/or disobeys her "authority umbrella."
  • Run for the Border: How the 1994 San Diego team decide to escape the camps.
  • Run or Die: Jill faces this after unleashing a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Patrick, her commander. Much later in the novel, Benjamin and Jill face this choice on the gym roof.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Eleazar, the leader of the 1994 San Diego team.
  • Secret Identity: Both played with and discussed. The superheroes take pains to maintain their secret identities, but everyone seems to know them on sight anyway.
  • Soap Opera: Heather is a big fan of both US soaps and Mexican telenovelas.
  • Single-Power Superheroes: Reid, Patrick.
  • Slave to PR: Patrick, who only chases after Jillian and Marco when his PR ratings begin to drop.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Jillian is a superheroine. Benjamin is a civilian and from a supervillain family.
  • The Sociopath: Patrick claims to not believe in morality. A few minutes later, he murders hundreds of people.
  • Stock Superpowers: A ton of them.
  • Straw Vegetarian: Averted. Ember is a vegan due to her being The Beastmaster, but it's actually Reid who de facto forces everyone to be vegan, since he's the main cook of the house and is dating Ember. Any mention of Meat Versus Veggies is largely Played for Laughs.
  • Superhero Team: The main characters are a functioning superhero team in a fictional coastal Georgia city, Saint Catherine. Doubles as a Badass Crew because of their combat abilities. By the end of the novel, they qualify as a Band of Brothers, and Reid even refers to Marco and Benjamin as his "brothers."
  • Strong and Skilled: Most of the team, with the exception of Ember.
  • The90s: Excalibur takes place in August 1994.
  • The Bruiser: Jill, who even comments on it.
  • The Illegal: It's strongly implied that Alejandro is undocumented.
  • The Unfavorite: Benjamin hints that he is this at home.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted with the team, who take a standard "try to take them alive, but kill if necessary" view on lethal force.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Ember and Jill.
  • True Companions: The team has shades of this.
  • The Unmasking: One of the earlier Wham Lines, and the end of the first act, is a dramatic unmasking.
  • Utility Belt: Jill wears one.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Patrick could be the poster child for this trope. He's in tabloids, has his own fan forums, and is treated as a local celebrity.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Jill's two brothers have these kinds of powers, which is why they're not superheroes.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Patrick calls his abuse "discipline" and laments that he has to do it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Patrick murders hundreds of them in the space of about fifteen minutes.
  • You Say Tomato: Benjamin is openly appreciative of Jill's thick southern drawl.

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