Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Bookwyrm's Review of Alpha Male by Joshua Corey Mays

Author: Joshua Corey Mays

Length: 285 Pages

Release Date: February 1, 2015

Publisher: Joshua Corey Mays

As a huge fan of comics as a kid, I have been excited to see the volume of superhero/antihero/villain-centric fiction being produced over the last decade or so. Whether it be Marion Harmon's Wearing the Cape superhero books, CT Phipps Rules of Supervillainy series, Ben Bequer's Blackjack series, Jim Bernheimer's D-List Supervillain series, or even Nelson Chereeta's Dr. Anarchy's Rules for World Domination, it is a great time to be able to read the various adventures of these super powered characters. I now have to add Joshua May's Alpha Male in to the mix, although it is of a decidedly darker tone than the ones I mentioned earlier.

In a city somewhere in America, the world's only superhero, Alpha Male, blessed with incredible strength, invulnerability and flight, has driven crime to the lowest level of any major urban area.  Alpha is a huge celebrity, invited to all the galas, feted as the superhero he is. There is even a TV show about his adventures with his former partner, Beta Boy. There is a problem, though. The people of the city have come to expect him to fix all their problems. When he misses a crime, they get incensed he wasn't there to stop it. Basically, familiarity has bred contempt. In addition, the politicians are pressuring the police to rein him in, no matter what it takes.

On to this scene for the first time burst some actual supervillains! When a super powered man and 2 super powered creatures fight their way through a chunk of the city, Alpha Male has a challenge he'll need all his powers for. The two monstrous supers are captured by a street gang looking for revenge on Alpha, while the human one has amnesia and starts living on the street after he escapes. The street gang releases one to try and kill Alpha, but he manages to defeat it. The homeless one, Al, who has massive telekinesis, ends up with the street gang as well, and helps rob various warehouses to keep the group fed in the subway tunnel lair. He also has run ins with Alpha, who he irrationally hates, and it ends indecisively.  Meanwhile, the police are tracking down possible leads into what created the new supers. What they discover could rock the world as they know it, as Alpha Male and Al, now going by the supervillain name Omega, face off in a penultimate battle with all the secrets of Alpha's past potentially coming to light, and having much broader effect than it would seem possible.

Characters and plotting are definite strengths of this book. While Alpha Male is hidden behind his mask the whole book, his actions indicate he is dealing with a lot of personal issues, and not always constructively. One of my favorite characters was the police Chief, Rose, a strong woman in an old boys network that has to fight twice as hard for the respect she's due, while also trying to keep a leash on the loose cannon Alpha, who can basically do whatever he wants. Al is basically the kind of stock amnesia character, although his arc does develop nicely, and you do find out why he has such an irrational hatred of Alpha. The setting has lots of Easter Eggs, like a robbery at the corner of Kirby and Lee, or the local college having a Richards Building on Yancy Street. For those who don't know, Kirby and Lee refers to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, creators of Spiderman and a host of other comic characters for Marvel. Yancy Street and Richards are Fantastic Four references. Definitely some fun for comic fans.

All in all, this is a good addition to the growing volume of superhero stories today. It's definitely darker than a lot of the more comical titles today, but still worth your time to read and enjoy,


  1. It's great to have reviews of superhero novels out there. Thank you for doing this one.