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Literature / Ex-Superheroes

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Nova is hot (in more than one way)
Ex-Superheroes is a series of novels by A. J. Markam that are a cross between a superhero story and a Harem Genre, currently consisting of three books.

At some point in the 21st century, a drug called Ephemera is discovered that can be used to give people superpowers. The seven largest economies (informally called the S7) band together and sign a treaty on non-proliferation of Ephemera, essentially cutting other nations out of the superhero club. This results in a vibrant illegal Ephemera trade, especially to freedom fighters across the world. The official term for a superpowered human is a Super-Powered Combatant (SPC). Any crime committed with the use of powers automatically carries a tenfold prison term.

Hunter McNeil is an ex-Army Ranger and a former member of the Super-Powered Combatant Corps, a branch of the US Military that utilizes superpowered soldiers to combat the enemies of the US. His ability to generate force fields is extremely versatile. However, he grew disillusioned with the SPCC and resigned, becoming an Ephemera smuggler, seeking to help freedom fighters level the playing field against the S7. He gets captured and is sentenced to 50 years in a supermax prison for supervillains.

A prison break allows him to escape, but he gets re-captured by the SPCC and is recruited by General Harding. It turns out that a coordinated strike across the globe has eliminated every superhero in the world (including the freedom fighters Hunter has helped). Shortly after that, supervillains took control over all the major cities, declaring that a thousand hostages would be killed daily in every city if any government tries to retake them.

While the General initially wants Hunter to infiltrate the supervillain community and discover the mastermind behind the strike, Hunter instead proposes to form his own team of disgruntled SPCs and take out one supervillain after another, with each member promised a full pardon and $10 million. However, Harding isn't about to send Hunter without oversight, so he sends Lieutenant Angelica "Nova" Smith, a pyrokinetic and a rookie with him.

As it happens, all the SPCs Hunter intends to recruit happen to be women. Smoking hot women with large breasts (just the way Hunter likes them). This includes Nova as well. Lots of sexual hijinks ensue.

The series includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Amazon Brigade: Hunter's team eventually consists of attractive women with powerful abilities. At first it's just Nova, then Yuki joins in Tokyo, then Mariana in San Francisco. During the climax of book 3, his team includes 6 superpowered women (4 of whom he's slept with, and the other 2 slept with at least one member of his team), including Mindfuck, Frost, and Elixir. After Harding's assassination and Hunter being declared a terrorist, all of them decide to join him on his personal mission to take out the rest of the superheroes (including Mindfuck), and Hunter is eagerly anticipating a seven-way.
  • Anti Matter: The supervillain in charge of Tokyo is Hiroshi Takamura, a former member of Japan's S7 strike force gone rogue. He has since begun calling himself Antimatter or Tonmonoshitsu ("antimatter" in Japanese). He can generate antimatter near his body and direct it wherever he wants. He can use it to attack, defend, or fly (by projecting antimatter jets from his boots).
  • Barrier Warrior: Hunter is able to generate and manipulate force fields of various shapes and sizes. This is an incredibly versatile power, allowing him to both attack and defend, as well as to move (by forming a force field under his feet and moving it). He's the only one who is able to see the force fields. There's feedback from his force fields, allowing him to feel impacts against them.
  • Berserk Button: For Hunter, it's anyone insulting the women he cares about (including other women).
  • Blackmail: In book 2, Mindfuck learns the truth about Hunter's mission and blackmails him into having sex with her. Otherwise she'll tell Nexus everything. Hunter is disgusted at this, and even more at her Mind Rape earlier, so he makes sure she feels his anger during the sex, not that Mindfuck minds, since she likes it rough (although she warns him that if he's too rough, she'll fry his brain). She even reads his innermost desires and lets him have anal sex with her, something he was too self-conscious to ask Nova or Yuki about.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Thanatos, one of the original researchers studying Ephemera. He masterminded the assassination of 624 superheroes across the world and takeover of major cities by supervillains. His endgame is to clone the slain superheroes and make them his puppets and personal army.
  • Dating Catwoman: Well, less "dating" and more "screwing". Hunter ends up having rough sex with Mindfuck after she blackmails him into it. At the end of book 2, she tells him she can't wait to have another go. While he does try to kill her immediately after that (it turns out she's just projecting an illusion of herself into his mind), he muses to himself that he's either going to kill her or screw her brains out the next time they meet. In book 3, she ends up working with Hunter and his team to stop the Big Bad.
  • Cool Boat: Kraken-class subs are submersible aircraft carriers capable of launching and recovering sparkjets. Their roof is retractable to reveal the flight deck.
    • Dr. Thanatos's submarine is based on the Kraken design but is even more advanced, able to move underwater incredibly fast.
  • Destination Defenestration: Hunter does this twice in book 1, both times at Madame's, given that the brothel/restaurant is located on the 80th floor of a high-rise. First he uses a force field to push a naked assassin out the window. Later on, when he sits down at Madame's with Antimatter and his Yakuza goons, he uses a large force field to shove everyone through the window. He's considerate enough to place a shield 15 feet above the ground to protect the passersby from falling bodies and glass shards, though. Not that impacting a shield is in any way better for the Yakuza than hitting the ground.
  • Dragon Their Feet: In book 3, Titan outlives Dr. Thanatos by a few hours. While he's not technically Thanatos's dragon, he does kind of fulfil that role near the end of the book.
  • EMP: One of the Oakland supervillains calls himself Crazian (and yes, he's Asian). He's able to generate localized electromagnetic pulses. He was placed in Oakland by the mastermind behind the takeover in order to check Nexus's ambitions, since Crazian would be able to shut down Nexus's suit easily. They also test the EMP against Hunter's shields and discover that the pulse is very effective at neutralizing the shields.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Hunter really hates his former SPCC codename "Mr. Shield".
  • Everyone Is Bi: At least when it comes to women. It seems that every woman Hunter sleeps with is at least bi-curious (like Nova) or is a full-blown bisexual (Yuki, Mariana, Mindfuck). Hunter himself makes it clear that he is very much in the "hetero" camp.
  • Extradimensional Shortcut: Nexus is a Silicon Valley tech billionaire named John Xavier LaGrange. After taking Ephemera, he gained the ability to cross any distance via other dimensions. However, one such transition has burned his body almost to a crisp, so he built himself a protective suit that keeps him safe during transitions. He can also use this extradimensional energy to attack. When the supervillains took over, he showed his true colors by becoming the overlord of San Francisco.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Mindfuck becomes this in book 3, especially after she joins the team at the end of the book. No one trusts her, but she seems to genuinely want to help save the world from supervillains. Plus, she's one of the best weapons Hunter has.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: When Hunter first visits Madame's and goes upstairs with one of Mama-san's girls, he undresses her. Then he turns around to undress himself and barely dodges a steel fan the girl uses to try and kill him from behind. A fight then ensues, with the girl revealing her electrical powers and fighting him entirely in the nude.
  • Golem: Golem is a huge stone creature that seems to be under Nexus's control. It's pretty dumb but incredibly strong and tough.
  • Gravity Master: Heavy in book 2. A perpetually-stoned black guy who can manipulate gravity in a wide variety of ways. He can dial up or down Earth's gravity on a particular object or person, but he can also do the same to specific gravity (e.g. from a building to a car a block away, making the car fly towards the building). He is also one of the few SPCs whose power goes right through Hunter's force fields.
  • Healing Hands: One member of the Oakland crew is named Fixer. He's able to heal recent injuries with a touch. When Hunter asks Mariana why Nexus isn't interested in getting his burns fixed, Mariana explains that healers can't fix old injuries. In book 3, it's revealed that healers can only heal SPCs. Their powers don't work on regular humans.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mindfuck ends up turning on Dr. Thanatos in book 3 after discovering his true plans for the world. She works with Hunter and his team to take down Thanatos.
  • Hero Killer: The supervillains of the world mastermind a coordinated strike all over the world, taking out over 600 superheroes in about 2 hours, leaving the world defenseless against their takeover.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: At the end of book 2, Hunter contemplates doing this to Raider, given his Nigh-Invulnerability with Heavy's help, but Heavy points out that his power doesn't work over cosmic distances, and neither does Hunter's. So they'd never be able to launch Raider with a high enough velocity to keep him from crashing back down.
  • I Have Your Wife: Nexus is ensuring Mariana's loyalty by having his lackeys in Brazil hold her family hostage. If she ever turns on him, he'll have them all killed.
    • Later on in book 2, he takes Nova and Yuki hostage and threatens to kill them if Hunter betrays him. He allows Hunter to bring one with him, but when Hunter picks Nova, Nexus gives him Yuki instead.
  • Intangibility: Hunter's old friend (and occasional sex buddy) is a Classy Cat-Burglar named Yuki Inaba, who goes by Yurei (Japanese for "ghost"). She is able to make her body and anything (or anyone) she touches intangible. She also has some control over her movements while out of phase. She can't phase through force fields and energy and breathing is still a necessity (she has to hold her breath while passing through objects). She can also make her body parts selectively tangible. Her lair is a World War II-era bomb shelter in Tokyo. She made sure to seal off any physical entrance, so the only way inside is through phasing. Yuki ends up killing Spike by phasing his head through the concrete and then leaving it there. It's a very unpleasant way to go.
  • Just Following Orders: In a flashback, Hunter is the only member of his SPCC team who has a problem with S7 countries forcing regime changes in nations that resist them. One team member says he only follows orders and doesn't care about politics. Hunter counters that this defense didn't help those on trial in Nuremberg much. Concussion complains how quickly Hunter went to calling them Nazis, while Lizard wonders what Nuremberg is.
  • Magic Pants: Mariana's bikini seems to melt with her when she turns to water and comes back when she turns back into a solid form. She explains that Nexus's scientists made it for her out of some unstable molecules.
  • Making a Splash: In book 2, Hunter goes to San Francisco to recruit an Old Flame named Mariana da Silva Paranhos, a former Brazilian freedom fighter now working for the supervillain Nexus. Mariana's exposure to Ephemera has resulted in a physical mutation, turning her skin emerald green and giving her webbed hands and feet. Mariana can control water around her and can herself turn into water. She also swims like a dolphin and can breathe underwater. In combat, she can turn her arms into long whips of water that strike like a water jet cutter.
  • Most Common Superpower: This seems to be the case with most of the women Hunter encounters and sleeps with. Even the diminutive Yuki has a rack that's way too large for her small frame. None of those women ever complain about any back problems. Most large breasts are natural. The only one with implants is Mindfuck, and Hunter admits he doesn't care that they're not real.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the flashback of book 3, Hunter stops two Russian S7 operatives from killing dozens of Thai protesters. Titan then explains that Hunter may have saved a few dozen, but he likely doomed thousands. Had he not intervened, the Thai people would've been too scared to protest later on. But now they assume Americans are on their side and will come out in larger numbers. And Hunter won't be there to help them again. That is exactly what ends up happening. Ironically, Hunter's actions were the catalyst to an S7 propaganda that evolved into the civilian superhero program.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability:
    • Raider can't be harmed in any way. He likes demonstrating his power by having others shoot him. Hunter recalls that one of his SPCC instructors was also immune to pretty much all damage.
    • Hunter's old colleague Titan has this power as well. But, unlike Raider, he also has Super Strength. Hunter ends up killing Titan at the end of book 3 after using Null to bring them both down to normal. While Titan has been used to relying on his invulnerability and strength for over three decades, Hunter has been stuck in prison without his powers for a year and had to learn to defend himself from the other inmates. So Hunter ends up crushing his larynx and watching his former best friend die.
  • Not Quite Flight: Antimatter is able to fly by projecting jets of antimatter from his feet.
  • Oakland: The setting for half of book 2. The city is under the control of three supervillains: Raider (yes, he names himself after the Oakland Raiders that seem to have moved back from Las Vegas), Heavy, and Crazian. It seems the city's brief renaissance of the early 21st century ended, and it slid back into crime and poverty.
  • The Oldest Profession: After arriving to Tokyo, the first place Hunter visits is a high-class brothel/restaurant called Madame's. It's run by a former prostitute everyone calls Mama-san.
  • Playing with Fire: Nova can produce very hot flames from her hands. She can also exert some control over fire, like when she puts out fires on the ground in book 1.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: It seems that most supervillains are sexist. Mindfuck explains that she wanted a city of her own, but the male supervillains dismissed her because she was a woman.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In book 2, Nexus sends Hunter to lure Raider and the rest of his Oakland crew to San Francisco, so Nexus and Hunter can kill them and claim self-defense. However, Raider first wants Hunter to prove himself by taking out a rival crew of SPCs operating in Oakland. After a battle that results in that entire crew's deaths, Hunter goes to Nexus and learns that they were secretly working for Nexus. Nexus is livid that Hunter killed his team, but Hunter points out that this never would've happened had Nexus told him that he had a team in the city or even told his team about Hunter and his mission. Nexus keeps insisting that it's all Hunter's fault.
  • The Pornomancer: The books might as well be called "porn with a plot". Hunter often gets it on with his female companions and other women, sometimes several at once. The descriptions of the sex acts are lengthy and very detailed. Hunter is almost always able to give his women multiple orgasms and is able to do it several times a day or night.
  • Pre-Climax Climax:
    • When Hunter first met Mariana in Brazil, she had volunteered to be one of the first to take Ephemera. She told Hunter she was afraid she might either die or mutate from the exposure. He assured her she'd be fine, since the Ephemera he sold the freedom fighters was of a high quality. Still, she wants to spend her possibly last night as a normal woman as... well, a woman, so she invites Hunter to her tent with obvious intent. After Ephemera turns her skin green, she's devastated at first, but he assures her she's still beautiful, so she asks him to prove it by making love to her again. He's happy to oblige.
    • Hunter, Nova, and Yuki often have threesomes before a battle.
  • Psychic Radar: Mindfuck is able to detect other minds pretty far away. Exceptions are shielded minds and non-organic minds. She also seemingly fails to pick up the superheroes waiting for him at the end of book 3.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: This is General Harding's intention with Hunter, except his original plan is to send Hunter in undercover, so he can get close to the top dog supervillain and find out who it is. Hunter rejects it outright, since it's likely to get him killed without success. He suggests an alternative: to let him recruit a team of other disgruntled SPCs skirting the law in order to take out the supervillains ruling over the cities, one by one. Since he wouldn't be formally associated with any government or military, he'd simply look like a rival supervillain trying to muscle in on some territory. This quickly falls apart when it turns out that there's a mole in the SPCC, and when the US military moves in to take Tokyo immediately after Hunter and his team kill Antimatter and Spike. When Hunter goes to San Francisco, Nexus immediately tells him that he knows Hunter is working for the US government. Mindfuck manages to convince him it's not true by faking Hunter's memories and making it look like Hunter and Nova are betraying the SPCC.
  • Restraining Bolt: While at Karkarin, Hunter spends a year wearing a power-dampening collar, which doubles as an Explosive Leash. After it's removed, he learns that the year of not using his power has set him back by a lot, so he has to work up his strength and skill. In book 2, Nexus puts collars on Nova to keep her as his hostage and force Hunter to abide by his terms of the deal. In book 3, Dr. Thanatos forces Hunter, Nova, Yuki, and Mariana to wear collars. Hunter enlists the help of Frost, Elixir, and Mindfuck to get the collars off. Frost freezes the collars to shut them off temporarily, allowing Yuki to phase everyone out of them. Meanwhile, Elixir continually heals the frostbite damage. Mindfuck also numbs the pain for Nova, Yuki, and Mariana (she'd do it for Hunter too, but he previously implanted the mind-shielding metal into his skull, so her powers don't work on him). Afterwards, Hunter encases the collars in a shield to contain the explosion.
  • San Francisco: Half of book 2 is set in San Francisco. The city is controlled by Nexus after the supervillain takeover. It's also where Hunter recruits Mariana. By the end of book 2, San Francisco (along with Oakland) is under the control of Heavy and Crazian, who have decided to cut Raider out of the deal.
  • Sex–Face Turn:
    • Mindfuck fakes one of Hunter's memories to make it look like Nova has betrayed General Harding because Hunter is that good in bed.
    • In a more realistic way, Nova's loyalties are indeed divided, but it has less to do with the great sex and more with the feelings she's developing for Hunter.
    • At the end of book 3, Nova does indeed refuse a direct order from another general to arrest Hunter. Then again, it probably wasn't because of the sex.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Hunter and Nova's relationship in book 1. They eventually do it.
  • The Sociopath: Antimatter was one long before going rogue. Even while working for Japan's S7 strike force, he was always the one who took on the grim task of killing women and children, since many of his teammates would refuse. At some point, though, he decided to leave and slaughtered the rest of his team, even though they'd been his comrades for years. When meeting him in Madame's, Hunter can clearly see just how much of a mask Antimatter is wearing when he's pretending to be civil. There's nothing but cold indifference underneath.
  • The Spiny: Antimatter's Number Two Spike is covered in thick gray skin and a great number of sharp needles that are as strong as steel. He loves ripping his enemies to shreds with them.
  • Super Serum: Ephemera is a drug that gives people powers. While manufacture and use of Ephemera is tightly controlled by the S7, this doesn't stop lucrative Ephemera smuggling, although the less pure it is, the likelihood of a successful outcome goes down. Unexpected side effects can range from radical mutations to death.
  • Super Speed: Hunter has to deal with a gang of SPCs in book 2, one of which is a speedster. After the speedster runs face-first into his shield and starts to circle the shield in search of a weak spot. Hunter creates flat horizontal shields around him, essentially surrounding himself with invisible razor-sharp blades. The speedster then runs into them at 200 mph and ends up looking like he just went through a blender.
  • Super Team: The SPCC team Hunter used to be a part of consisted of Goldhawk (chemical-induced flight), Concussion (produces shockwaves), Bombardier (fires blasts of explosive energy), Lizard (scaly mutant), Titan (invulnerable and super-strong), and, well, Hunter himself.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The Karkarin International Prison is a supermax for supervillains (or any SPC who commits a crime). It's located at the bottom of the ocean not far from Australia, making escape highly unlikely. Most prisoners wear special power-damping collars.
  • Taking You with Me: Near the end of book 2, the beaten and dying Nexus lures Hunter near him and then tries to kill him by teleporting both of them into space. Fortunately for Hunter, he thought Nexus might try something and put a shield around him, but there isn't much air in the bubble. Hunter still manages to fly himself back to Earth before he suffocates, with his force field able to handle re-entry (since he already knows his shield can take Nova's much hotter blasts).
  • Telepathy: One of Nexus's underlings is a hot (of course) girl colorfully named Mindfuck. She's a very powerful telepath and manages to break through Hunter's anti-telepathic training without breaking a sweat.
  • Thanatos Gambit: In book 2, Hunter ends up having to kill Crazian and Mindfuck kills Heavy (by frying his brain) in order to lure Nexus back to San Francisco and into open. Hunter knows from a previous experience that Fixer can bring someone back to life if they've been dead for less than 6 minutes, so he keeps a mental count of how long Crazian has been dead. While Nexus is distracted, Yuki phases Fixer to Crazian, allowing him to revive Crazian. Mindfuck then triggers Crazian's EMP ability, rendering Nexus's suit powerless, while also removing Nova's power-damping collar. Hunter and Nova then fry Nexus, hoping that he either dies or is forced to teleport without his suit's protection, burning his body even more. Nexus chooses the latter and is horrifically scorched. Crazian is livid about being killed, but Heavy calms him down, recognizing the necessity.
  • Tokyo: Book 1 is largely set in and around Tokyo, controlled by a supervillain called Antimatter (or Tonmonoshitsu in Japanese). It's also where Hunter recruits Yuki.
  • Unfortunate Names: Pretty much everyone finds Raider's nickname ridiculous. Apparently, he's a huge fan of the Oakland Raiders (it seems that the football team returned to Oakland from Las Vegas at some point in the 21st century).
  • We Used to Be Friends: Back during his SPCC days, Titan was Hunter's best friend and almost a mentor. After Hunter left the team, Titan felt hurt. And Hunter supplying freedom fighters with Ephemera (especially since some of those freedom fighters ended up killing two of their teammates later) put him squarely into the "traitor" category, as far as Titan is concerned. Titan ends up going along with Dr. Thanatos's plan to assassinate superheroes and take over cities with supervillains. Near the end of book 3, Titan and Hunter have a full-on battle (after Mindfuck triggers Null's power and suppresses their powers), and Hunter ends up killing Titan.
  • Wham Line: At the very end of book 3, Hunter realizes that the supposedly slain superheroes are still alive.
  • Venturous Smuggler: Hunter became a smuggler after leaving the SPCC, smuggling Ephemera and other supplies into countries fighting S7 oppression. Sure, he got paid, but most of that barely covered his expenses, so he wasn't making that much money from it.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: While working for the SPCC, Hunter has helped put down a number of rebels in other countries. However, he finally realized that the only thing they were guilty of was opposing the S7 and their own corrupt governments that were cowering to the S7. He wasn't fighting on the right side, only on the stronger side. So he finally quits the SPCC and begins to smuggle Ephemera and other supplies to freedom fighters across the world and especially the countries where he previously did the opposite. Mariana sees herself as fighting for Brazil's freedom and views General Harding as a murderer. He reciprocates and accuses her of killing at least four SPCC soldiers, going so far as to refuse to allow her to join Hunter's team because of her record.