magical realism and superhero novels

Superheroes were first etched into public consciousness through comic books. Through pulp magazines, people came to know and love characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, the X-Men, and Spider-Man. But the superhero literary genre is not limited to comic books or graphic novels alone. There are hundreds of superhero novels and stories outside the comic universes we know and are equally compelling to read. A lot of them are part of franchises.

Here are a few superhero novels we’d like to recommend.

Four Superhero Novels That You Need to Start Reading

superhero novels
Credit: Brandon Sanderson official website

Reckoners 1: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson first gained fame through the Mistborn graphic novel series. In 2013, he started to venture into writing novels, particularly the Reckoners series. Steelheart is the first book in the said bestselling series.

This post-apocalyptic superhero novel tells the story of the Reckoners and Epics, two groups of humans that survived a massive calamity. The Epics are a group of humans who gained superpowers after the calamity. Unlike most superheroes, they’re villainous towards ordinary humans and do everything to impose power on them. The Reckoners on the other hand, are a covert group of ordinary humans who track down and kill Epics for revenge. One of the ordinary humans, David, seeks to be part of the Reckoners to find Steelheart, the Epic who killed his father, after seeing him bleed.


superhero novels
Credit: Amazon

Sidekicked #1: Sidekicked by John David Anderson

Sidekicked offers a glimpse into the day-to-day life of teenager superhero sidekick, Drew Bean. Drew is part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for superhero sidekick training. He balances the struggles of having supersenses while developing feelings for Jenna, another teenager with super strength as her ability. He also spends time with his mentor, an ex-superhero turned into drunk bum. His parents know nothing about this secret life of his. His life is mostly drab until a supervillain returns to Justicia. With superheroes disappearing right and left, Drew steps up and learns that there’s more to being a superhero than being squeaky-clean.


superhero novels
Credit: Jim Bernheimer website

D-List Supervillain #1: Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer

Meet Mechani-Cal, or Calvin Matthew Stringel. Like most villains, he’s logical and heartless. After a plot to dominate the world goes wrong, Calvin enters the world he planned to blow up and ends up working for a bunch of nice superheroes. This series follows a convoluted tale where Calvin is torn between keeping his villainous ways or giving them up for some extra cash? It’s a fun and entertaining read, especially for fans of villains-turned-heroes stories.


superhero novels
Credit: Goodreads

Parahumans #1: Worm by Wildbow

This web serial chronicles the adventures of Taylor, an introverted teenager with superpowers. On her first venture out as a “superhero”, she gets into trouble. Taylor eventually learns that being a superhero isn’t all that. Through her new adventures, she learns that there are political factions, morality issues and a lot more in the superhero world. The more she tries to become a superhero, the more she gets into morally tricky situations.