I haven’t read this, but it looks like so much fun!
Someone has to pay for what happened to Carmen Cole …
Bigtime, New York is not big enough for both Carmen Cole and the superheroes and ubervillains who walk its streets. An intrepid reporter, Carmen’s dedicated her life to unmasking the spandex wearers, all because her fiancé turned out to be a superhero, and a cheating one at that — sleeping with none other than his nubile nemesis.
Exposing the true identities of the nation’s caped crusaders and their archenemies has catapulted Carmen from her sleep southern hometown to the front pages of one of the country’s biggest newspapers, The Exposé. Hobnobbing with modelizing millionaires and famished fashionistas is all in a day’s work for the woman hot on the trail of the Fearless Five and Terrible Triad. But when Carmen gets the scoop of her career, her life comes crashing down around her. And even Bigtime’s sexiest superhero, Striker, may not be able to save her …
Exclusive excerpt below. 😉
From that day forward, I was on a mission.
A mission to unmask every single superhero and ubervillain in the entire world. Oh, I wouldn’t get around to all of them, but I was determined to out as many as I could, as fast as I could.
No one would be deceived as I had been. No woman would come home to find her boyfriend slipping into a neon-pink codpiece. No man would be puzzled over why his wife had a strange collection of whips and an odd affinity for black leather. No mother would wonder why her son could never be on time for anything. Not if I could help it.
I started out small. After work and on the weekends, I traveled to neighboring towns and cities on my crusades, learning all I could about their respective superheroes and ubervillains. Naturally, all of them had colorful names like Killer and Slasher and Halitosis Hal. The only thing more flamboyant than the names and personalities of the superheroes and ubervillains were their costumes. The two groups never met a neon, skin-tight, spandex outfit studded with rhinestones they didn’t love.
All the superheroes and villains had strange, sometimes frightening powers, like the ability to move objects with their minds or shoot red-hot flames from their fingertips. Since the goals of the superhero and ubervillain were at odds, they often engaged in long, lengthy battles that destroyed bridges, overpasses, and municipal buildings. Some of the bigger cities had several superheroes and ubervillains all battling it out for supremacy and leveling skyscrapers right and left. And they all wore masks to hide their true identities and thus avoid paying for the public property they decimated on a weekly basis.
I had plenty of time to spend on my mission. My dad had died in a car crash when I was a kid, while my mom passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. I didn’t have any other family, and Karen had been my only real friend. Everyone else had been Matt’s friend before they were mine. They all drifted away like smoke after my story came out. In a week, I went from the belle of the ball to an outcast. I preferred it that way. There was no one left to lie to me, no one left to hurt me.
I perused police reports, scouted out battle sites, and examined torn bits of masks and costumes. I worked up flowcharts of people kidnapped and saved by villains and heroes. I even recorded powers and weaknesses and costumes and symbols in a color-coded journal. I’d always had a knack for organization and a good memory, and both helped me immeasurably as I sifted through mountains of raw data.
In the end, it was ridiculously easy. There was always someone the superhero saved over and over and over again, whether it was a wanna-be girlfriend or a boyfriend or a kindly widowed aunt. All you had to do was find that special person and see who was closest to them. Then, bada-bing, bada-boom, you found your superhero.
As for the ubervillains, their hunger for money and power tripped them up. Most villains had buckets of money gotten in less-than-legal ways and were often involved in shady, land-development deals.
Accidents involving radioactive materials also raised a big red flag, since radioactive waste was a great way for heroes and villains to get their powers. So were magic rings, bites from rabid or otherwise altered animals, and the old-fashioned, natural, genetic mutation.
I soon learned that I had a knack for uncovering secret identities. All you had to do was dig long enough and hard enough and deep enough, and you’d find that one piece of information that would solve the riddle. I would find a scrap of evidence, something seemingly inconsequential, and everything would fall into place. The dots connected. The picture cleared. I’d always loved puzzles, from crosswords to jumbles to word searches. Uncovering the identities of superheroes and ubervillains was the ultimate human jigsaw puzzle. And I was rapidly becoming a master.
Six months after my botched wedding, I left the Beginnings Bugle for a larger newspaper that wanted me to uncover the identities of the resident superhero and ubervillain. Three months later, the Kilted Scotsman and the Blue Berserker woke to find their faces splattered all over the front page. The public found out what the Scotsman really wore under his kilt, while the Berserker went, well, a little berserk over the whole thing.
A few months later, I went on to another newspaper.
And then another …
And another …
And another …
I left a trail of unmasked superheroes and ubervillains in my wake. Of course, not everyone was happy about my private vendetta, my endless exposés. The superheroes begged me to stop my activities or retract my stories, while the ubervillains tried to bribe or threaten me. But nothing could match the righteous fervor that had awakened in me. Not threats, not money, and especially not tearful pleas.
Nothing satisfied me more than a good unmasking.
Finally, three years after my first superhero unmasking, I hit the jackpot.
The editors at The Exposé in Bigtime, New York hired me to uncover the identities of the Fearless Five, a group of superheroes, and their enemies, the Terrible Triad.
The Fearless Five and the Terrible Triad were legends, not just in Bigtime, but throughout the world. They had the strongest powers. They waged the biggest battles. They engaged in the most amazing escapes and the most elaborate schemes. They were the crème de la crème of superheroes and ubervillains.
What made the puzzle so tempting, so intriguing, was the fact that little was known about any of them. Oh, countless stories had chronicled their escapades, but no one had a clue as to their real identities. They would be a tough puzzle to solve, but I was up to the task.
After all, I was Carmen Cole, reporter extraordinaire.
The job proved tougher than expected. I worked for three months and came up with nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. I started with the superheroes like I always did, because they were easier to unmask. Ubervillains were naturally more conniving and not shy about killing people to keep them quiet. But the Fearless Five had covered their tracks well. I poured over police reports and mocked up flowcharts galore, but nothing linked the heroes to anyone. They were ghosts who showed up, battled evil, and saved the world before bedtime.
Then, one day, I got a break. A kid called in and said he saw a man in a tuxedo transform into Tornado, a member of the Fearless Five. Such tips were not uncommon, and most of the reporters at The Exposé hung up on the crackpot callers. Not me. I visited the kid, who gave me a description of the man in the tux. I had a sketch artist work with the kid, then took the drawing and compared it to the men I thought might be Tornado. I narrowed my list down to three suspects, then dug deeper until I unmasked my superhero.
Tornado was Travis Teague, a wealthy businessman specializing in wind power. How cliché. But I was sure. I could feel it deep down in the pit of my stomach. A couple of weeks later, I verified my suspicion by capturing Teague turning into Tornado through the use of a secret camera. My inner voice crowed with pride and victory. I notched another superhero exposé on my belt.
Carmen 1, Fearless Five 0.
The first excerpt can be found on Jennifer’s website.