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Literature / Soledad O'Roarke

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Soledad O'Roarke is a duology of novels by John Ridley following the adventures of the titular character. A black woman of Irish descent, Soledad O'Roarke is part of a special task force which hunts down (and exterminates) superhumans. Soledad is not conflicted about this mission, she hates and despises them with every fiber of their being for the fact they failed to protect San Fransisco from a supervillain's weapon.

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Those Who Walk in Darkness and its sequel What Fire Cannot Burn can be 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".


These books contain the following tropes:

  • Animated Adaptation: There was a movie based on the first book where Lil Kim voiced Soledad.
  • Arc Words: In the first book: "What bullet can kill a telepath?" The question was asked when Soledad created a customized pistol loaded with a variety of bullets for killing nearly any mutant, but didn't have an answer when asked about the most dangerous freaks of all. Turns out, plain old lead works just fine.
  • 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.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: The public is turning against the MTAC unit for their genocidal activities and people like Aoki are working from the inside to protect superhumans. Soledad ends up getting killed for her crimes.
  • 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.
  • Cape Punk: A misandrist view of the situation. Humanity will turn on superhumans the moment they fail and do so with a genocidal brutality.
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  • 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 (Badass 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."
  • Crapsack World: Averted. It's only America which treats its superhumans as worse than animals.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • It's implied Soledad may, herself, be a superhuman of the inventor variety but doesn't realize this. It's also a kind impossible to test for. She, herself, never realizes this before she's killed.
  • Heel Realization: Aoki has one in the second book when she realizes Soledad is a psychopath.
  • 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).
  • Sociopathic Hero: Soledad O'Roarke is gradually revealed to be this. She feels no guilt for murder, no ability to bond with other people save superficially, and only seems to feel happy when she's killing someone. May double over with Psychopathic Manchild given her motivation for hunting superhumans is her perceived betrayal from her childhood idol.
  • 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.

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