Caped Fear: Edited By Steve Proposch, Christopher Sequeira & Bryce Stevens
Reviewed By Paul Flewitt
Superheroes haven’t always been archetypes of perfection, totems of everything we would like humanity to aspire to be. Back in the 30’s and 40’s, comic book writers often made our caped crusaders flawed and dangerous. At times, heroes could quite often be terrifying and indulge themselves in some pretty heinous acts of violence which could hardly be justified. That’s the way they were written back in the day, and it changed in the 50’s and 60’s to make them the ideal of everything we wanted mankind to be, the template of how we should all behave. Of course, Batman was generally an exception to that rule, but superheroes pretty much became blueprints that nobody could reasonably aspire to anymore.
In the 80’s, movies began to harken back to the anti-hero and flawed hero tropes. I remember Christopher Reeves’ Superman battling the evil part of himself in a junk yard, just as well as I remember Michael Keaton’s Batman tossing Jack Nicholson’s Joker off a roof. It was a step back toward the original portrayal of our heroes; that they could also be inspired by darkness and do bad deeds. They could, in essence, be scary as all hell.
This is what the Caped Fear anthology celebrates, and is a mission statement set out loudly and clearly in Mark Waid’s introduction to this collection. He offers a potted history of horror in the superhero world, and whets our appetites for the treats to come. In the book, we will find new anti-heroes being born, a few old ones being parodied and a fresh look at the comic book world.
Needless to say, there is far too much in here to offer an in-depth examination of each story, but we have work from writers such as Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Joe Lansdale, George RR Martin, Robert Bloch and so many more. It’s diverse in its scope, and there’s something for tastes ranging from the darkly comic, through science fiction and straight into the heart of horror.
For me, the standouts here are The Omnivore; Colleen Doran, Call Me Titan; Robert Silverberg, SuperDoc and the Ten Day Cure for the Zombie Apocalypse; Heather Graham and Mylakhrion The Immortal; Brian Lumley. All of these offer us something different, whether it be an interesting sidebar to the Cthulu mythos (Mylakhrion,) a darkly comic look at the zombie genre (SuperDoc) or a truly terrifying glimpse of a new Greek mythology (Call Me Titan,) these stories satisfy an itch and tell a great tale.
Sadly, not all of them are hits. Some are just too silly, some try to be a little too clever, while others just miss the mark a little and fail to satisfy. But hey, you can’t win ‘em all. Most of them are fun, and just an okay little read.
On the whole, this is a fun collection of stories that will keep you entertained. There’s a little something for most tastes, and the writing talent on show here is worth the price of admission alone. Recommended, but don’t take it too seriously if you’re in the comic book fandom. This is a bunch of writers just playing in the sandbox, not reinventing your favourite tropes.
They are superhuman champions: hyper-charged, meta-guardians of humanity; protecting the innocent from the corrupt, saving us from the sadistic; shielding us from human or inhuman evil in all its forms.
But, what if the gleaming smile from the chiseled jaw was actually the animalistic baring of teeth? What if THEY were the nightmare threat? They are not superheroes, but superhorrors!
This dark potential is revealed as we present tales of shock and the macabre from a roster that includes some of the greatest creative minds from the realms of fantasy, science fiction, horror and comic-books. What sort of dark and chilling fates arise when those with powers far beyond mere mortals are the central figures not in tales of triumph, but of terror?
Welcome to CAPED FEAR.
Paul Flewitt is a horror and dark fantasy writer from Sheffield, UK, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Paul began publishing in 2012, beginning with the flash fiction story, Smoke, for OzHorrorCon’s Book of the Tribes anthology. He went on to pen further short stories, including Paradise Park, Climbing Out, Apartment 16c and Always Beneath.
In 2012, he also published his first novel, Poor Jeffrey, which was received to much critical acclaim.
Paul cites writers such as Clive Barker, Stephen King, James Herbert and JRR Tolkien as inspirations on his own writing.
Paul continues to write, contributing to Matt Shaw’s The Many Deaths of Edgar Allan Poe anthology in 2020 with The Last Horror of Dear Eddie. He also began releasing free short stories and fanfiction on his Wattpad account for fun.
You can find more information, and keep up to date with latest news at these links…
Facebook: Paul Flewitt
Amazon: Paul Flewitt