A lot of what I had been reading lately required a good bit of concentration, so I was in the mood for something light and fun. Scrolling through my Kindle app downloads, I came across The Last Superhero by Stephen Altrogge. I don’t remember where or who recommended him, but when I saw this book offered for free (at this writing it’s 99 cents), I decided to give him a try.
The story is about a family of superheroes. The grandfather, John Utticus Wagner, is something is a legend in the superhero community. But his son is something of a klutz: he has superhuman strength, but has trouble controlling it. So after nearly killing three professors and causing assorted other problems, he’s kicked out of Superhero College. His wife has super speed…but has trouble stopping. You can imagine the kind of trouble that causes. They decide being superheroes isn’t working out so well for them, so the dad decides to become an accountant. They have Junior, or John Utticus Wagner II, who also has super strength, but without any training, he doesn’t know how to use his, either.
Though the dad has some regrets about not carrying on the family business and some longing to be an able superhero, life goes along pretty well until a new villain, Boom, starts blowing things up around town. Then the three generations of men — an aging superhero, a klutz, and an 8th-grader — decide to go into training to find and defeat him.
Those of you who know me well know this isn’t my usual fare. But it did fit the bill of a clean, light, fun read, at least until a tragedy at the end. The ending sets things up for a sequel, but I don’t know if any is in the works.
Altrogge’s tone had me smiling throughout the books. Here are a few excerpts. The book is written from Junior’s point of view.
Girls like guys who are tall, dark, and handsome, not pale, short, and able to punch a hole in a steel door.
Now you, the reader, probably already know this, but it doesn’t hurt to point out that the last sentence my Grandpa said is something dark and sinister called ‘foreshadowing.’ If this were a movie, the camera would probably zoom in close on Grandpa’s face as he said the words. See, my Grandpa said that he was glad he didn’t have to deal with ‘The Plague’ any more. But maybe they’re not as gone as he thinks. Maybe they’ll play into this story somehow. You probably think you have the whole thing figured out, but trust me, you don’t.
Mom was getting really worked up, and tears began to trickle down her cheeks. As I’m sure you know, it’s a really, really bad sign when your mom starts crying. It can’t get much worse than that. Mom tears are one of the most powerful forces in the universe.
The carpet was so thick I could have made carpet angels.
There are also a number of funny asides about other well-known superheroes, and apparently thee Wagners were behind a number of famous incidents in history.
I didn’t know, until I looked him up after reading the book, that Altrogge is a pastor and a co-writer at The Blazing Center, a blog I’ve looked at and linked to occasionally. The book isn’t Christian fiction, though there is a Bible verse quoted: it’s just good clean fun. And though I don’t normally like the dad in a story portrayed as a klutz (there’s too much of that on TV), it’s not done here in a disrespectful way: he’s not a clueless idiot, he just doesn’t have quite the superhero capabilities as others do.