The Midlife Crisis of Commander Invincible
Publication Year: 2013
Once the mighty superhero Commander Invincible, thirty-nine-year-old Vincent Shepherd now faces new enemies: downsizing, a second divorce, and the strains of fatherhood. Decades ago, Vince made a living fighting supervillains, huge irradiated insects, and androids armed with death rays. But when the good guys won the war, heroes like Vince grew obsolete. Certain that his younger wife is starting to find their marriage as frivolous as his old cape, Vince embarks on a scheme to reestablish himself not only as a superhero but as a super dad and a super husband. Confronting former allies with long-buried secrets, he must also battle the same demons we all encounter: doubt, regret, loss, and failure. The Midlife Crisis of Commander Invincible turns a literary lens onto the world of comic book fantasy to reveal the challenges of simply being human.
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
Series: Yellow Shoe Fiction
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
I’m flying high over this city that was supposed to be mine. Once, the mere sight of my black and bronze cape fluttering above would’ve stopped traffic, spun the heads of all the stunned citizens. Nowadays, even if I streak through Center Circle at rush hour, I’m lucky if a half-dozen tourists snap cellphone photos. ...
As I head toward Little Germany, I try to clear my mind in anticipation of the emergency. But I can’t shake what happened in the warehouse, the things I did and the things I was about to do. And strangely, something still bothers me about King Lear and his lost star. Like me, that guy is clearly past his prime. ...
Below me, the city’s density gives way to suburbs and strip malls, then hotels and gas stations clustered around interstate exits. I leave the highways behind, cross high above the Allegheny Mountains, pass valleys with towns nestled between sloping giants. ...
As I approach the HALO, floating and spinning slowly a half-mile over Kingdom Town, the hangar doors split down the center and begin to recede. The column of bright light expands, and I see a solitary figure standing in the back of the landing bay. The planets are finally aligning. ...
During the glory days of WWII, when the fate of the free world hung in the balance, the USS Endeavor was recognized as a singular vessel. An Atlanta Class antiaircraft cruiser, the Endeavor played a crucial role in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands west of the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific theater. ...
A few miles ahead, a white glistening castle that looks disturbingly like a cathedral rises from the swampland of south Jersey. Titan Spire. The two-lane highway below me, which I’ve been following since I left the turnpike, is crowded with minivans and SUVs packed with children and traveling at unsafe speeds. ...
Three hours after I float away from Titanland, I finally locate a landmark to verify that I’ve arrived in Suffolk County: the big iron bridge below crosses the river a few miles from my in-laws’. Not that I was ever lost, not really. Had I stayed over the interstate, I would’ve arrived an hour ago, ...
“Trust me,” I tell Thomas, as we stand on the helipad atop the western rim of the HALO. Behind my teenage son, a red windsock flaps madly, the tail of a desperate fish. Nate sits snugly on my right forearm, his chubby arms locked in a death grip around my neck, and I beckon Thomas with my free hand. ...
There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by appreciative fans. But when you’ve got a four-year-old with you, there’s a danger of being crushed if things get out of control. To avoid such an event, and to get out of the cold, I led both my sons through the first open door I could find. ...
Approaching the zoo from the air, I see quite the commotion in the parking lot. There’s a small crowd of people held back by police barricades, four squad cars, a fire engine, and five news vans topped with satellite dishes. One is from KQEP, Sheila’s station back in the day. ...
“This may not be helpful,” Gypsy says from my side as we fly. “But the possibility of capturing Bone Crusher is rapidly diminishing. The spectrum of outcomes collapses as we approach any given moment. Every second the future becomes more certain.” ...
The morning of my fortieth birthday, I’m lying in bed awake, waiting for the sun to rise. The space next to me, where Debbie should be, is empty, and I’ve been reminded of the months after Sheila and I called it quits, how I hated sleeping alone again. I’m hoping that soon Nate will wake up, ...
After leaving the HALO, I touch down in the eastern field of Washington Park. Holding the long thin box in one hand, I start kicking about the oak leaves carpeting the grass, looking for a stick the right size. Pigeons take flight from the nearby walkway. Just beyond them, skate punks in hooded sweatshirts congregate at the bottom of a steep set of concrete steps. ...
This is a fact that should upset me, that should suggest all kinds of things that make me doubt what I’m doing. Back on the Utah salt flats, when I first tried it on for Ecklar, the process took forever and was awkward as hell. Today it feels natural, like I’m slipping on a second skin. ...
I watch the armor burst in a fiery ball—surely bearing witness to my own death—on a huge flat-screen TV. Impossible as this is, I can’t turn away from the spectacle—red and orange blooms, flowing billows of black smoke. It’s enough to knock Clyde on his ass, which pleases me just a bit. ...
For core support, I’m grateful for my wife, Beth, as well as our boys, Owen and James. I hope this book helps them both understand why Dad’s at his desk when they wake up. I also recognize the keen eye of Warren Frazier for encouragement and instrumental feedback on early drafts of this story. ...