Bystander 27

Angry Robot. Aug. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780857668592. pap. $14.99.
DEBUT Jon Hayes is a bystander when supervillain Jade Shade accidentally kills his pregnant wife while battling superhero Captain Light. The Costumes—the supervillains and superheroes who inhabit the Earth—constantly wage war in the heart of New York City. At first glance, the skirmishes appear random, but Jon discovers that maybe they’re not accidental at all. Devastated by the loss of his wife and soon-to-be-born child, Jon researches news footage of recent altercations and is shocked to find pictures of him and his wife, with a young girl in tow, in the crowds. But he’s positive they were never there. Is there an alternate universe, are people being replicated, or is there a New World Order manipulating battles between the Costumes? Jon doesn’t want revenge, he wants answers. He must figure out a way to confront Captain Light and is willing to die trying. But where does reality stop and fiction begin? What he discovers changes Jon’s world forever.
VERDICT Fans of comic-book universes will enjoy entering screenwriter Hoskin’s world, where superheroes and villains routinely duke it out on the streets of New York City. The shocking surprise ending adds further intrigue.

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