Just finished Vicki Pettersson's third novel in the Zodiac series, The Touch of Twilight. I loved it, as I've loved all three of the books in the series so far, but it's an interesting process I have coming to that conclusion each time.
First off, I always begin the book (the first fifty pages or so) with a thought of, "Superheroes? In Vegas? Is she kidding? This is cheesy."
After about fifty pages, it changes to, "This feels like X-Men in an alternate universe."
Then it becomes, "This is amazing. She is so original. I never would have thought of THAT. I WISH I'd thought of THAT." What looks at first to be simple becomes intricate. What appears to be derivative becomes completely unique. The character development has great depth. Their relationships are complex.
I'm really not into superheroes. This is the only series of that nature that has interested me at all. I was never interested in that type of comic book either, unless Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles counts. And while I enjoy an X-Men film, I don't read those comics and I really haven't liked movies of a similar nature.
I think the reason is that many of the classic superheroes are too goody goody for my taste. Yes, characters like Batman have "dark" or "tragic" pasts, but now they are overwhelmingly heroic and seem, at least in the early films and t.v. shows, to suffer little from those pasts. Spiderman feels the same to me, and the Incredible Hulk comes across, to me, as pathetic, not sympathetic.
I really prefer heroes who have their heroic status thrust upon them (like the main character in the Zodiac series) or those who have a LOT of adversity to overcome in order to achieve their goals. I like reluctant heroes, or those who have no choice. Maybe that applies to Spiderman and Hulk as well, but I just find that they whine too much. Or maybe they just don't have enough attitude.
The heroes I like might be heroes, but when something sucks, they are going to tell you it sucks. They aren't above tossing around some swear words. They don't live perfectly moral lives. They make mistakes, sometimes fatal ones, but they carry on. They lose their tempers. They don't always listen to their mentors. But in the end, they succeed and the bad guys don't. And when a new problem arises, they complain about it to anyone who will listen. And then they deal with it. That's what makes them heroes.