Super Powereds is a web series by Drew Hayes (other Drew Hayes work reviewed on WordSteel here). I actually picked up the first book online (link to first book on Amazon) and discovered via the author’s forward section that SuperPowereds is a web novel that gets turned into books once every year of the characters’ school life is written. So far 3 books (corresponding to 3 years in college) have been published.
Super Powereds is a long running web series following the life and times of a handful of super heroes in training. In the Super Powereds world, “supers” are people with special abilities who have control of them. “Powereds” are people with super powers who don’t have control of them, potentially becoming a hazard to themselves and others. The main characters of this series are former powereds who becomes supers through a mysterious process they were forced to forget (via memory wipe). After they gain control of their abilities, they try to fit in while attending mundane classes and Hero classes at a fictional CA college. Drew Hayes’ super hero world is a bit more realistic than others in that all super heroes have to be certified to fight crime for insurance reasons. Like me, Mr. Hayes must have wondered who was going to pay for all the damage while watching cartoons and movies where super heroes caused millions of dollars in property damage.
This series has a diverse cast of characters with realistic motivations and a healthy dose of humanity. Some characters and situations are over the top, but that is to be expected in this genre.
My only real complaint with the series is that some characters are deeply interesting and fun to read while others aren’t. For instance, one character grew up in an organized crime family and grows out of his amoral nihilism enough to accept true friendship and reciprocate it. This character is interesting not just because of his mysterious past, but also due to his subtle changes in personality via character development and the way his character subverts traditional heroism. As an example, he is loyal to his friends and feels obligated to shield them from some harsh realities of the world so they can remain untarnished. This means he is completely willing to kill other people in cold blood if it means protecting the innocence of his friends who are on the path to become heroes and will very likely spend a career hunting down people like himself. It’s wonderful writing.
On the other hand, some of the characters, notably characters who are supposed to be “good” are exceedingly boring and stupid. It’s permissible for teen characters to have a certain degree of obliviousness, but once people get to their early 20’s, most people grow out of their awkward, “awww shucks” phase. One character in particular I don’t dislike, but he hasn’t really grown as a person in 3+ years in college other than not being afraid to use his power anymore. This is hardly earth shattering character growth. In many ways, he reminds me of a Japanese Shonen MC. His greatest powers are honesty and believing in his friends. You can’t see me, but I am rolling my eyes.
Still, I don’t want to give anyone the impression I dislike this series. I enjoy it quite a bit and I plan to pick up the next book in the series as soon as it comes out. I enjoy Drew Hayes as a writer, and I know for a fact from his other work that he is capable of making every character in a story be nuanced and interesting. Super Powereds is a great series with a lot of heart, but sometimes the level of obliviousness among some characters tests my suspension of disbelief. The characters in the series who are wise, dynamic, and multifaceted completely make for it it, though. I suggest giving the series a shot, even if only to see a somewhat unique take on a world of superheroes and villains.
I give this series 3.8 out of 5 stars and I will definitely be buying the 4th book when it comes out to support Drew Hayes despite the fact I read the web updates as well.
*Note: I am now maintaining a list of web novels, translated light novels, etc on WordSteel. The link is here. There is also a link to the page from the main page of the site.