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Literature / Legacy: The Tale of the American Eagle

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The first novel from Australian author David Kachel, Legacy: The Tale of The American Eagle is a superhero/adventure novel starring a crimefighter known as the American Eagle.

Set in 1993, in a world with various superheroes, supervillains, innocent bystanders and all flavours of magic and science-fiction gadgetry, the novel follows the American Eagle. The Eagle is a man without powers who fights crime and protects the people of St. Theodore with his natural athleticism, combat skills, a utility belt full of crimefighting gadgets and various allies, including Sparrow.

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But when Sparrow is killed in the crossfire of two warring drug gangs, it motivates the crimefighter to shift his focus from 'crimefighting' to 'a one man War On Drugs', so he leaves his city to travel the world and engage various drug cartels.

From arresting costumed criminals, and rubbing shoulders with street crime vigilantes, American Eagle will enter a world full of people and powers, a world where superheroes roam the Earth, a world with a long history, and a dark future. And now he has become part of that future, whether he likes it or not.

His crusade to protect humanity from the poisons of drugs, organised crime and corrupt law enforcement will have him meet many colourful allies and dangerous enemies, before putting him on a collision course with a conspiracy to make the transition to the twenty first century a terrible, but memorable one.

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Originally published as a serialised story on Metahuman Press in 2009, and then as a novel in 2011 (2nd edition in 2012), available here [1].

This book contains examples of:

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: American Eagle, Sparrow (Type II), while genetic experiment Coldblood on Goodspeed Island was a Type I
  • Badass Cape: Standard fare for St. Theodore's bird-themed protectors, with the added benefit of being able to harden into a glider through use of electrical currents and smart fabric.
  • Bat Signal: Discussed. Communication with the police is done over encrypted communications, but Eagle's bodyguard explained that he used to use a hand-held version to spotlight criminals caught in the act, making them realise they were in deep trouble.
  • Badass Normal: American Eagle is an accomplished martial artist, accurate with throwing knives, speaks various languages and practices sports like le parkour and BASE jumping in his day to day operations. In an effort to add realism, however, he is shown to be horribly wounded after each 'act' of the novel, and is often healed by extranormal means to get back in action quickly.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: American Eagle has caused significant damage to international drug trade, but it’s implied the Snakehead organisation can rebuild faster than the good guys anticipated, and for all his efforts he is being disowned by the United States of America, forcing him to live on the run.
  • The Cape: American Eagle, of course. His idealism and code of "No One Dies", (even when running through Vietnamese jungle after a drug cartel and getting repeadtedly ambushed), annoys the team of mercenaries accompanying him to no end.
  • Captain Geographic: In that his name has 'American' in it, although he has no official ties to any government organisation.
  • Chest Insignia: American Eagle. Averted with most other superpowered characters, as they are either supersoldiers who like an air of anonymity, or escaped genetic experiments
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Cooper Adam of the St. Theodore Police Department until he kidnapped a child, where some unclear links to crime families came to light Later, Captain Gina Lin, who fits the trope to a T.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: At the end, after being disowned by the United States of America and called to trial, after which everyone who meets him basically sympathises, but agree they wouldn't want to be in his shoes.
  • Keep the Home Fires Burning: Several of the middle chapters, while American Eagle is in Thailand, focus on the adventures of his friends and fellow crimefighters back home. While they are fighting off an assasination attempt, it is notable for introducing the love interest for American Eagle's bodyguard/bestfriend, and then revealing her to be pregnant.
  • Legacy Character: An odd example, in that the mercenary team American Eagle hires to assist him in the crusade is named the Fearless Falcons, which is later revealed to be Sparrow's first choice of codename, before being told he might 'grow into it', ala Robin to Nightwing
  • Rogues Gallery: Mentioned but mostly unseen; in his hideout in an early chapter, a trophy wall is described and several names are dropped, but since he leaves the country immedaitely after for the majority of the book, details about them are left in the air upon his return in the final chapter, two are shown; Arsenic (who wasn't mentioned in the tropy wall), and 9 Volt (who was). Both are dispatched quickly and without too much worry, implying that his adventures have made him grow beyond them.
  • Secret Identity: American Eagle aka, Nathan Wagner. Only revealed to his closest friends, to the point where he has filed a false identity with the government's Department of Justice and Department of Metahuman Affairs (hugely illegal, and implied to both threaten the sentences of any criminals he put away, and have a team of Cape Busters come after him), to prevent them from getting tempted to stick their nose into his family's charity. once he goes on the crusade, the government puts more than a cursory effort into checking his paperwork, and finds out that the man on their paper doesn't exist, then reveals to the world that the manager of a charitable foundation is a superhero.
  • Secret Keeper: As mentioned above, the closest friends and confidants of American Eagle, who are all crimefighters themselves.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Implied to have something to do with the Department of Justice Registration(so police can work out standard crimefighting plays?), and explored as a theme in the novel when the Hero of St. Theodore uproots and goes on a crusade across the world, irregardless of international boundaries. On a larger scale, there appears to be laws against sending superheroes who operate in one country into another, explored with Nightwolf, a former supersoldier who was court-martialed for violating the Non-Combatant Treaty (superpeople can be medics or chefs, but not fight in wars.)
  • Super Villain: Apart from one mad scientist who never met the hero, this trope is Averted. The villains in the story start as street criminals, move up to mercenaries protecting poppy fields and culminate in said mad scientists random genetic experiments running loose on Goodspeed Island (though they have 'powers', their mental conditioning makes it unclear if they are aware of their own actions)
  • Utility Belt: With standard crimefighting equipment! His suit has other in-built gadgets, like the communication rig and automated lenses in his cowl, and the aforementioned cape/glider.
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