Behind the Mask is an anthology of superhero stories edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson. Setting off on the journey of reading it, I wasn’t sure what to expect; I’ve read plenty of superhero stories but normally they are accompanied by pictures and this is words, words, words. As the title suggests, this is less about heroes battling with amazing strength and energy and more about the people they are when they get time away from the public eye.
The first story didn’t do much for me but the second (‘Destroy the City with Me Tonight’ by Kate Marshall) gave me some impetus to continue – the protagonist finds herself becoming an avatar of a city but ponders how to escape this geas. Overall, I felt it was a mixed bag and I was not as gushingly enthusiastic about all the stories as the editors seem to be. Some just didn’t appeal and others were hard to follow or, on following them, ended up not really going anywhere.
However, there were a few excellent stories in the mix. My favourite was ‘The Beard of Truth’ by Matt Mikalatos. That was on the more comic (ha ha) end of the spectrum but there were also some less flippant contributions that also stuck with me. Having finished it, I’m not convinced to make superhero fiction my new, big thing (and I think options are relatively limited anyway) but it has opened my eyes to a few new names to watch out for and a few moments where my reading imagination could soar through the skies with its cape flowing out behind.