A few years ago, when I wrote about Irene Vartanoff’s first two books in this series, Temporary Superheroine and Crisis at Comicon, I observed that a third installment would be really welcome. And lo and behold, last summer Vartanoff did indeed release Hollywood Superheroine.
I only found out about it early this year, when I was going back and listening to older episodes of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast* that I had missed, and got to one featuring Vartanoff herself (it’s worth noting that Edelman is Vartanoff’s husband). In it, she mentioned that the book had been released. So I immediately bought the eBook, but then only found time to read it last week.
As the title suggests, the setting for this one is southern California, as the titular temporary superheroine, Chloe Cole, is now working as a storyboard artist for a motion picture studio that’s moving into the lucrative superhero movie market. While acclimating to her new job and new surroundings, Chloe has to deal with the – mostly unwanted – romantic overtures from her boss, a high-power, 40-something producer and director, but also with her duties as a superheroine (which involves traveling to a parallel Earth among other things).
Like the first two, this one is a nice blend of chick-lit and superheroics. And as in the first two books, Vartanoff does tackle certain real-world issues – in this case, the #MeToo movement and related gender parity issues are front and center. However, while the character development involving Chloe is engaging as usual, the overall plot is a bit thin compared to the first two books. Also, there’s a sort of ambiguous end to the main story that almost seems to suggest yet another installment in the series. But then there’s an epilogue that sort of, but not entirely, wraps everything up.
This may be due to the fact that Vartanoff – as she notes in her afterword – basically re-wrote big chunks of the book after already finishing the original manuscript sometime in late 2015. Apparently, the original version had a major subplot involving a humorous look at the US presidential election which, given how the election actually turned out in 2016, she understandably decided to scrap.
Nevertheless, it’s a breezy and enjoyable book – ideal summertime reading.
* Eating the Fantastic is a, well, fantastic podcast. It’s basically Scott Edelman having conversations with other writers over meals. The episodes featuring comics pros, both former and current, are particularly enjoyable.
** Note: if you click any Amazon link to a book in the post, and end up buying anything, a (very) little something comes back to us here at the Atomic Junk Shop. Thank you.