cover image Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

Edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson. Meerkat, $16.95 trade paper (282p) ISBN 978-0-9966262-6-2

Reeks and Richardson have pulled together a treasure trove of 20 stories (including four reprints) exploring the lives of superheroes when they’re not saving the world. In Lavie Tidhar’s melancholy “Heroes,” an undercover operative in 1987 Berlin encounters a villain who has the power to heal at only a touch and is startled to witness him using his power for good. Nathan Crowder’s “Madjack” is about a young woman who must take her otherworldly father’s place after his death, as she seeks to find her own place in the world. In Carrie Vaughn’s bittersweet “Origin Story,” a woman discovers that the boy she loved in high school is now a supervillain. Seanan McGuire’s “Pedestal” features a superhero who just wants to do her grocery shopping in peace. In Cat Rambo’s achingly sad “Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut” Ms. Liberty, a construct, wonders whether her desires are real or just her programming. Kelly Link’s “Origin Story” is a dreamlike treat, and Stuart Suffel’s lovely “Birthright” is a self-discovery story with a twist. There is nary a miss in this diverse and thoughtful collection, which will have readers considering what it means to be human. (May)