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Literature / Superheroes Anonymous

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Superheroes Anonymous is a 2014 superhero novel by Lexie Dunne. Gail Godwin is the administrative coordinator of Mirror Reality, the woman behind the scenes ensuring that all of the work actually gets done. Unfortunately, she's also known as Hostage Girl, designated target of any supervillain looking to make a name for themselves by kidnapping and threatening her.

She has her own personal superhero, Blaze, who rescues her every time, but it's far from an ideal situation as she's frequently in the hospital recovering from the kidnappings, and she can't afford to leave the job she hates because they provide excellent medical insurance. One day, her boyfriend of several years (definitely not Blaze despite superficial resemblances) and Blaze suddenly move to Miami, leaving Gail to try to make a life of her own without being kidnapped every week. Unfortunately, not every villain has gotten the memo that Hostage Girl is no longer being saved, and one villain's attempt to addict Gail to a radioactive substance turns out to have unexpected consequences.

Superheroes Anonymous was followed in 2015 by Supervillains Anyonmous, wherein Gail learns that her kidnapping may not have been random, that the jail for supervillains is surprisingly comfortable, and that there are sinister conspiracies underneath the surface of the superhero community. In the third novel of the series she learns How To Save The World. And in the fourth (and final) novel she embarrasses herself and her mentor with #HEROFAIL.

The Superheroes Anonymous series contains examples of:

  • Action Survivor: As Hostage Girl, Gail's learned how to take a punch, how to convince supervillains to take her hostage in place of others, and how to remain calm under pressure.
  • Adaptive Ability: The key to how Mobium works. As its host encounters threats, it enhances their body to ensure its survival. It also lets recipients pick up new powers this way. Doing so, particularly adding new powers, imposes stress on the body and might kill the host.
  • Alliterative Name: With a name like Gail Godwin, she should have known that she'd wind up with powers.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Raptor. Sharkman. Cheetah.
  • Arch-Enemy: Supervillainess Fearless is the Raptor's. Razor X insists she is Gail's.
  • Beneficial Disease: The Mobium gives Gail accelerated healing, super-strength, killer abs, heightened senses, and Awesomeness by Analysis. It also gave her cancer. Until it's revealed that the cancer is a cover story by Lemuel to keep her from recognizing the other effects of her powers.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Dr. Mobius's latest serum does this to Plain Jane and Blaze. Vicki is distraught but Guy is happy to be normal again. Vicki later discovers she has been Brought Down to Badass and is somewhat comforted. Eventually both of them are cured.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: Tamara Diesel arrives at the Davenport party and gasses the attendants with a chemical that creates debilitating pain in non-powered individuals, hoping to flush out The Raptor. Jessie Davenport is among the people left seizing on the stage as she's the setting's Batman analogue.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: A false report of such causes Raptor to leave Gail tied up but alone so Blaze can rescue her (again).
  • Captain Ersatz: Kurt Davenport/the Raptor is very obviously based on a famous cowled hero.
  • Celebrity Masquerade: Super model Victoria Burroughs is also Superheroine Plain Jane. Many people find this difficult to process.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Ostensibly what the Raptor does, although Gail is skeptical and points out that it would be nearly impossible without some degree of Healing Factor.
  • The Chessmaster: Fearless is playing a long game against Lemuel and the Lodi Corporation.
  • Chest Insignia: Blaze's is, unsurprisingly, a stylized flame.
  • Code Name: Gail starts out burdened with the media inflicted designation 'Hostage Girl' and becomes 'Raptorlet' as the Raptor's apprentice. Her boyfriend is Blaze. His brother is War Hammer. Her mentor is 'Plain Jane' and her ex becomes 'Pulse'.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: In the third book Gail and her friends have all developed a habit of visiting and talking to the comatose Jeremy.
  • Create Your Own Villain: War Hammer unintentionally created the less than terrifyingly named 'Chelsea'.
  • Damsel in Distress: Gail's life for four long years, constantly being kidnapped and held hostage and just as regularly rescued by Blaze. In the fourth book Gail and Guy have traded roles. Now he's the Distressed Dude being held hostage by Gail's Arch-Enemy Razor X. Gail is not amused. Guy mostly is.
  • Dating Catwoman: Founding superhero Raptor didn't just date his nemesis, Fearless, he was married to her!
  • Designated Victim: A chance encounter with a villain shortly after coming to town turned Gail into this for the supervillain community because they know Blaze will come to rescue her, guaranteeing a good fight. It turns out that that one villain took it personally that Gail managed to peg him with a bottle, so he spread the rumor that Blaze was romantically involved with Gail so that others would target her.
  • Flight: It's a fairly common power among the superheroes. Blaze, War Hammer, and Plain Jane have it among the heroes. Sykik and Chelsea have it among the villains.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Davenport complex is deep underground and apparently goes on forever. Luckily a super sense of direction is one of Gail's new powers.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Dr. Mobius and Rita Detmer may be a mad scientist and supervillainess respectively but they love their granddaughter. In the Fourth book we discover that only maternal sentiment has been keeping Rita Detmer in the prison named for her.
  • Expy: Raptor, very obviously for Batman. Warhammer appears to dress like Thor but there's no other resemblance.
  • Flying Brick: Blaze, War Hammer, Plain Jane, and Chelsea all have extreme durability, strength, and the ability to fly.
  • Freak Lab Accident: How the Feared Five got their powers, and the Bookman siblings, and just about everybody but Gail.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Given the amount of damage Gail takes, and sometimes does to herself it is a very good thing that Mobium gives her fast healing.
  • Hand Blast: Blaze can emit flame from his hands when he chooses to. He generally doesn't because he loses his invulnerability when he does so.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: The usual citizen reaction to a Supervillain attack to either run, watch or take pictures with their phones.
    • Years as Hostage Girl has taught Gail to sit back and wait for Blaze. It's not an indefensible strategy but she comes to realize in the first book just how passive she's become in every aspect of her life.
  • Hollywood Acid: Lazarus acid is a super-science product that can go through anything. The fact that Lemuel takes a faceful of it and survives illustrates just how major of a threat he is.
  • Home Base: Raptor's is called 'The Nest'. She blames her assistant Audra.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Most superhumans, including Gail, who have a Healing Factor have to consume massive quantities of food to fuel it.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Gail reacts angrily when another Supervillain hurts her Archnemesis Razor X.
    'Raze was my enemy. Nobody got to hurt her but me!'
  • Invisibility: Portia, Gail's former co-worker, turns out to have this power.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Gail changes her mind about a second drink after Portia reveals her superpower.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Razor X acts more like a jilted lover or younger sibling to Gail who just wants to "hang out."
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: After being incarcerated at the end of the first book, Gail learns how supervillains are kept busy, processing tax returns. Yes, they're hired by the IRS. Some of them actually try to do their job. Most of them content themselves with the petty villainy of rejecting return after return.
  • Kryptonite Factor: According to Intrepid Reporter Naomi Gunn all heroes have a weakness.
  • Legacy Character: The Raptor. The original Raptor died years ago. His daughter took up the mantle and is currently grooming one of her children to replace her. The general public is unaware due to padded costumes and voice modulators. In the third book it is revealed that she doesn't want her son following in her footsteps and has selected Gail as her successor. In the fourth book Jessie Davenport retires and Gail officially becomes Raptor.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: The Detmer Correctional Institute offers gourmet food, massages, and general luxury for sufferers of Villain Syndrome. By making prison an enjoyable experience, they increase the chance that the villains will allow themselves to be taken in.
    • In the third book, Supervillainess Chelsea confesses she can't sleep on ordinary mattresses after her time in Detmer and Gail admits she has dreams about the thread count of the sheets.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Mobius.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Poor Angélica dies by the end of the first book at the hands of Chelsea. She gets better.
  • Mission Control: Angelica's new job description in '#HEROFAIL'.
  • The Mole: Lemuel Cooper works in the medical department and gathers data on the superheroes for the Lodi Corporation, as revealed in the second book.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: We are never told what institute of higher learning conferred 'Doctor' Mobius's degree.
  • Most Common Superpower: Averted. Most superpowers include an increased metabolism that builds up muscle and burns fat. As Gail occasionally laments, she had an impressive bust before her empowering event, but not so much afterwards.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: But very well justified thanks to Mobium.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Gail doesn't have a 'uniform' in her first book and most of the second and even heroes who do are occasionally caught without access to them. Gym clothes and ski masks are the favored resort.
  • Photographic Memory: Gail gains this, among her other powers, from the Mobium.
  • Power Copying: a side effect of Mobium. So far Gail has picked up the ability to phase from her trainer and to teleport apparently from her first and only experience of porting. And now telepathy - apparently because the Mobium is irritated by the way she's constantly losing her phone. For reasons Gail can't even begin to grasp Mobium chooses to give her a variant of Chelsea's Agony Beam, acid seeping from her palms. And Rita Detmer gives her an involuntary 'upgrade' that throws all her powers off at the worst possible time.
  • Power Nullifier: the Demobilizer created by Dr. Mobius.
  • Power Palms: Chelsea opens up a hole in her hand and emits an Agony Beam.
  • Superheroes Wear Tights: Bright spandex costumes are standard, largely because they let the superheroes act as highly visible symbols to the populace.
  • Super Serum: Mobium. It creates adaptive superpowers in those injected with it but causes physical degeneration in them if too many powers are acquired at once.
  • Super-Speed: Angélica possesses this in short bursts due to being able to manipulate her inertia. Gail acquires the ability and finds that it's more of a short-range teleport.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Angelica answers with this trope when asked if she deliberately phased from the couch to the bathroom door.
  • The Symbiote: Mobium is mildly sentient, albeit with little drive other than preservation of itself and its host.
  • Take Me Instead: Well used to being the hostage, Gail attempts to do this wherever possible. Due to her fame, bystanders around her also tend to implore the supervillains to Take Her Instead...
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Happens to poor Gail ALL THE TIME. Superheroes Anonymous opens with her waking up in the hospital and asking her dedicated physician (she's that regular a customer) 1. How long has she been out? and 2. Which Supervillain was it this time? Later she wakes up in a Mad Scientist's lab and after that in a secret superhero hideout.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Villain Syndrome is a common problem with superhero origins where acquiring powers leads to a belief that they need to save the world by any means necessary. Depending on the level of derangement, this might range from believing that all nuclear powers need to be disarmed to believing that everyone would be a lot more happy if they could photosynthesize and stop eating plant matter.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Averted. Gail is cleared of complicity in the death of her mentor, Angélica, but the second book ends with her going to Detmer for breaking out of prison to clear her name.