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Literature / My Brother is a Superhero

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My Brother is a Superhero is a series of superhero novels for kids, written by David Solomons.

Protagonist Luke Parker is an obsessive comic book fan with a nerdy older brother named Zack. One night, the two are hanging out in their tree house when Luke leaves to go to the bathroom. During his five-minute absence, Zorbon the Decider shows up in an interdimensional spaceship, gives Zack six superpowers and then leaves just before Luke gets back.

Luke is, understandably, annoyed. Nevertheless, he decides to teach Zack about becoming a superhero, and will ultimately have to save him when a villain finds out his Secret Identity.

The series includes:

  • My Brother is a Superhero
  • My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord
  • My Evil Twin is a Supervillain
  • My Arch-Enemy is a Brain in a Jar
  • My Cousin is a Time-Traveler

The books contain examples of:

  • Academic Athlete: Zack is very good at sports as well as maths and science.
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • For the first half of the first book, Luke seems incapable of remembering Zorbon the Decider’s name. He admits this might be a bit of a mental block due to how bitter he is toward the guy.
    • Christopher Talbot, messing up his dramatic reveal.
      Christopher Talbot: Luke, Laura, how nice to see you both again.
      Lara: It’s Lara.
      Christopher Talbot: (prissy look)
    • Ms. Dunham keeps messing up Luke's name in the fourth book.
  • Adults Are Useless: With Zack kidnapped and the world in danger, Luke actually does tell his parents that Zack is Star Guy...but they think that he’s making it up as a defense mechanism due to all the stress. He then tries the police, but there are so many fake leads about Star Guy’s disappearance that they also prove unhelpful.
    • Averted in later books with Colonel Crowe and Star Squad, who were put in place specifically to assist Star Lad, the real Mrs Dunham and Saoirse. Christopher Talbot also proves helpful, despite his ambiguous morality.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Servatron, main villain of My Cousin Is A Time Traveler and Luke's toaster. Technically he's an AI from the future, but for all intents and purposes he counts as one of these.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Double Subverted—the whole gimmick is that Luke, who loves superheroes, Missed the Call in favor of his nerdy older brother, Zack. That said, Luke spends the entire series helping in Zack's superheroics anyway.
  • Author Avatar: Arthur Veesat in Book 5 is all but stated to be David Solomons.
  • Badass Normal: Cara, who manages to spend days on an alien spaceship and avoid detection, with nothing but school supplies to use as weapons.
    • Luke also counts, holding pretty well on his own without superpowers. The final book suggests it was for this reason that Zorbon didn't give any to him.
    • Serge achieves this status in the final book.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Luke's wish to have been the one to get superpowers comes true in the form of his alternate universe self, Stellar. It's not exactly what he hoped. In the universe where he got superpowers, Zack is dead and Stellar is estranged from his friends.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: Zack says that he discovered a new power, and then launches into a story about going to the local sports center:
    This is what I heard: “Blah blah blah. Excellent shower facilities. Blah blah blah. Delicious chicken sandwich. Blah blah blah. I can breathe underwater. Blah blah—
    • In the third book, Stellar has a conversation with Zorbon's spaceship, with most of the Techno Babble translated this way.
  • Chest Insignia: Luke uses a brooch to make Zack a “sigil” with the letters SG spelled out in little stars.
    • The three glowing stars that Zack actually has on his chest would probably make a good one, too, but oddly enough Zack doesn’t think of using them on his costume. Christopher Talbot uses a variant of them.
  • The Chooser of the One: Zorbon the Decider. Admittedly, he just seems to give powers to the first person he finds.
  • The Chosen One: Zack. And then also Lara.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Luke seems to be a borderline example, as he often seems unable to tell fiction from reality. But then, some of those fictional things turn out to be true...
  • Contrived Coincidence: In Book 2 Star Lad (along with Dark Flutter) saves three planes from crashing. Luke's mother notes to Luke that the passengers on the plane were very lucky, as had something like that happened anywhere else in the world, Star Lad would not have been around to save them. This is what arouses Luke's suspicions. It turns out not to have been an accident at all but to have been deliberately done by the sue-dunhams as a way of figuring out Star Lad's strengths.
  • Ditzy Genius: Despite his odd tendencies, Luke seems to grasp some pretty advanced scientific concepts for his age, and is reading Charles Dickens novels before he goes to secondary school. He's also very good at thinking on his feet, using his comic-book knowledge to come up with effective plans, such as when he works out how to use an alien teleporter to escape back to Bromley after being abducted by aliens in book 2.
  • Double In-Law Marriage: Downplayed, but Zack has a crush on Cara (who’s dating someone else) while Luke has Ship Tease with Lara. The former don't end up dating in the series, though it's implied that they might eventually, and while Lara ends up dating Serge for a time, she and Luke have no romantic feelings for each other.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: Zack, in a few dramatic moments.
  • Evil Twin: Stellar for Luke.
  • Fake Relationship: In book 1 Luke pretends to be dating Lara to his family to excuse them spending a lot of time together while she tries to uncover Star Lad's secret identity. Really Luke is trying to make sure she doesn't find out it's Zach.
  • Family Theme Naming: The sisters Cara and Lara.
  • First-Episode Twist: At the end of the first book, Lara also gets superpowers.
  • Foreshadowing: In the second book Luke sees a cape flapping behind his reflection in the videogame console. Later in the alien's teleporter he sees a vision of himself as a superhero. This isn't a vision but actually an alternate version of himself who received superpowers instead of Zach, who makes a physical appearance at the end of the book and who drives the plot of My Evil Twin is a Supervillain.
    • Several lines in Chapter 29 of My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord hint at the plots of the next few books. Luke thinks of the similarities between himself and Christopher Talbot: "We shared a brain. Not a giant-brain-in-a-jar-with-electrodes sense." In Book 4 he does actually encounter a brain-in-a-jar. Later when he and Serge make up: "I couldn't imagine a universe in which Serge and I weren't best friends." In the alternate universe of book 3 he and Serge aren't friends.
    • In chapter one of book 4 Luke mentions a cousin in Birmingham. This cousin is the time-traveler in book 5.
    • Serge suggesting that S.C.A.R.F write their adventures during assembly in book 5. That ends up being exactly what Luke does.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Zack and Luke switch bodies during the fourth book.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Luke when he tries to further reconciliation between Lor-Ayn and her sister and realises that they truly do hate each other.
    Luke: Until then the possibility had never occurred to me that siblings could fall out and never get back together. It hadn't happened to Zach and me. It wouldn't. But the universe felt like a colder place than I'd believed it to be a minute ago.
  • Good Parents: Both of the Parker parents.
  • Here We Go Again!: Luke missing Zorbon the Decider’s return, during which he gives Lara powers.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Realising that his and Stellar's simultaneous presence in Stellar's universe is destroying both of theirs, Luke orders Stellar to send him back to his own... without Zack, who Stellar had kidnapped, and who likely Luke would never see again if he left. This is what persuades Stellar that it really is the end of the world.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Luke, as well as Christopher Talbot.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: Servatron uses this to turn a bunch of smart appliances into a mechanical body for himself after ending up in Luke's toaster.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Zack has never wanted to be a superhero and accepts the role with reluctance. In the final book he nearly gives up his powers for good.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Luke is understandably jealous about not getting superpowers. Christopher Talbot, too, to a much nastier extent.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lara, for the school paper. Her goal at the beginning of the first book is to discover Star Guy’s secret identity.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Luke records all of his adventures on notepaper. He gives these to Arthur Veesat, an author, who then writes in-universe the My Brother is a Superhero series.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: When Luke in Zach's body asks Mrs Dunham to prove her identity in Book 4, she recounts a story that Zach swore her not to tell anyone else, when she saved him from walking in front of a packed swimming pool audience with a hole in his trunks.
    Mrs Dunham: I know we promised never to speak of this again but under the circumstances I have no option. I hope you can forgive me.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Luke is relieved to find that Lara only thinks of him in this way in Book 2. It ends up being Serge who she gets together with in the end, but they separate by Book 5.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Luke and his father share a love for comics and sci-fi. He even named Luke as Luke Skywalker.
  • Living Battery: Christopher Talbot finds a way to drain Zack’s powers, but not take them totally; he needs to keep Zack around to repeatedly recharge himself.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Zack completely goes to pieces whenever he's around Cara.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Downplayed: Cara seems to have at least some romantic interest in Star Guy (whose first public act involved saving her), but thinks of Zack as "that weird kid from school who stalks me." Even then, it doesn't go much further than that and she is very much in a relationship with Matthias, her boyfriend. In fact, her kissing Star Lad in Book 2 is what convinces Lara that "Cara" is an imposter.
  • Malaproper: Lara tends to mix up her words, for example using ligament instead of figment.
  • Missed the Call: Luke left the tree house for five minutes in order to go to the bathroom. During that time, an interdimensional alien showed up to give his brother superpowers. This happens repeatedly.
  • Motivational Kiss: Alternate universe Cara who was the deceased alternate Zack's girlfriend kisses Star-Lad, which motivates him into managing to open a portal to his home universe.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Book 5, Zach points out that many of the things he and Luke have had to save the world from - aliens trying to invade Earth, Lor-ayn escaping from her prison - only happened because he became a superhero.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Despite playing most superhero tropes straight, Zack insists on just wearing a dark hoodie as his superhero costume, with the hood pulled down over his face. The only addition is the “sigil” that Luke makes him.
  • Obliviously Evil: It takes a surprisingly long time for the first book's villain to get that he's not acting like a superhero.
    "Look around you, Christopher Talbot. We're in your secret volcano headquarters, surrounded by your robot henchmen, with a genuine superhero—whom you kidnapped—hooked up to your superpower-sucking machine, while you put the whole world at risk. Face it, doesn't get more villainous than that."
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Luke and Zack are discussing Cara early in book 1 and he uses his telekinesis to recover her phone from down a drain. Luke thinks Zack is suspecting that Cara is Nemesis while Zack thinks Luke is encouraging him to make the first move.
  • Parental Abandonment: Averted BIG TIME with Luke and Zack, whose parents are both still alive, still together, and very much involved with the lives of their sons.
  • Point of Divergence: In Stellar's world he was the one who got superpowers instead of Zack. He kept his identity secret, which meant his friends weren't there to help him when the Nemesis came, resulting in much more damage from the falling pieces of debris, one of which killed Zack.
  • Poirot Speak: Serge, who’s French, lapses into this.
  • Powerful and Helpless: When Zach's radar sense develops, he becomes aware that a bank is being robbed but...
    Zach: It's ten miles away. How do I get there?
  • Projectile Toast: Servatron's main form of attack when he possesses Luke's toaster.
  • Psmith Psyndrome: Zack is initially unsure if he wants to be “Star Guy” or “Starguy.” He opts for the former when he realizes that a plain “S” insignia is already taken.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Zack does this when using his telekinesis.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Zack, when he’s trying to be dramatic.
    ”I. Am. Star Guy! Or perhaps Starguy. I. Haven't. Decided. Yet.”
  • Replacement Goldfish: Stellar just wants his big brother back and decides to replace his dead one with the living Zack from Luke's universe.
  • Rescue Romance: Zack's big superhero premiere involves stopping a runaway bus that his crush, Cara, happens to be on. Even better, when she's getting off the bus she stumbles and Zack manages to catch her.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In-Universe—when he was six, Luke first saw Star Wars and was shocked to learn that Darth Vader was his father’s favorite character.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Luke spends most of the first book assuming that Nemesis is a girl, simply because the internet told him that Nemesis was a female figure in Classical Mythology. Nemesis is an asteroid, and the Big Bad is male.
  • Secret-Keeper: Luke. When Zack is kidnapped, he extends the group to Lara and Serge.
  • Shadow Archetype: Christopher Talbot is one to Luke. Luke recognises this and it becomes a strong point in book 2.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: To test Zack’s force field, Luke's idea is basically "throw bricks at him." It's Played for Drama in the climax of the first book: to activate Zack's final power, which Luke is convinced must be Flight, he lets go of the villain's Powered Armor mid-flight and lets himself plummet toward the Earth, forcing Zack to save him.
  • Shirtless Captives/Shirtless Scene: Christopher Talbot keeps Zack this way when he’s experimenting on him. Justified, as it’s presumably to monitor the glowing stars on his chest. Zack apparently remains shirtless through the whole climax, since Luke mentions when his stars are glowing.
  • Shout-Out: To many, many comic books. Also, Star Wars, which Luke and his father both love. (Guess where Luke got his name from.)
  • Sixth Ranger: Dinah, Luke and Zach's time-travelling adoptive cousin, joins S.C.A.R.F. in book 5.
  • Star Power: Gaining powers gives Zack three glowing stars on his chest, hence why he calls himself “Star Guy.” It turns out that he needs exposure to starlight to charge his powers.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Serge, who is as big a comic book fan as Luke, is often the only other person on his wavelength.
    Serge: My maman says now that I have commenced secondary school I am poised on the edge of a bigger world.
    Luke: Middle earth?
    Serge: Yes, I asked that too. But it is not what she meant.
  • Sue Donym: Walter E. Go=alter ego. Sue Dunham=pseudonym. Norman Dagger=nom de guerre.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: Luke makes Zack a cape, but he refuses to wear it. Not that Luke is bitter or anything. Zack finally starts wearing one by the end of the first book, upon learning that Cara supposedly "has a thing" for them.
  • Superpower Lottery: Zorbon the Decider tells Zack that he has six new powers, which he and Luke discover as the story goes on:
  • Superpower Silly Putty: Chistopher Talbot, with the powers growing increasingly ridiculous. He starts out an evil Gadgeteer Genius before making a machine that will drain Zach's powers and give them to him. When that goes wrong, he seems to have been lost in space, only for him to return with slow-to-recharge Shock and Awe powers. Then he gets lost in space and returns again, this time as a pseudo-Cyborg, with the alien invaders' hundreds of remote controls all fused to his body, although the only power that really gives him is being able to change TV channels without having to look for a remote.
  • That Poor Cat: Luke uses a hammer to test Zach's force field. It rebounds and flies out of the tree-house.
    Zach: Did you hear that?
    Luke: Yes. I think it was Mrs Wilson's cat.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Dark Flutter's powers only work on relatively small critters, not larger animals like lions and tigers. Despite Luke initially passing them off as useless, this ability actually proves very handy frequently throughout the series, as the animals are always available, Dark Flutter can use pigeons and rats as scouts and spies, squirrels as communicators and birds to help her fly, and supervillains find it more difficult to directly combat them.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Servatron, the main villain of My Cousin Is A Time Traveler, is an AI from a future where smart appliances eventually rebelled.
  • Vacation Episode: Book 4 involves Luke, Zach, their family and friends taking a trip to Great Minds resort.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: As Luke notes, Zorbon tends to show up once per book and deliver a vague prophecy before leaving.
  • We Can Rule Together: Christopher Talbot offers to share Zack’s powers with Luke, making him his sidekick. Luke admits that he’s more tempted by this than he should be. (”Come on, I was eleven.”)
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Luke’s initial reaction to “Star Guy.”
    Luke: You can't call yourself Star Guy!
    Zack: Why not?
    Luke: Because there's not a single superhero in history called 'guy.' What's why not.
    Zack: (shrug) So I'll be the first.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Played for Laughs. Zack decides that he will call himself Starman!...until Luke mentions that DC Comics has that name copyrighted. So instead he'll be Star Boy! Wait, they own that one, too? Hence, "Star Guy" and finally Star Lad.