I mentioned before that one of my favorite hobbies is to explore the world of indie authors for hidden gems lost in the sea of coal. And one of my favorite genres to explore for great indie authors is the superhero genre.
What’s that? Yes, pros superhero fiction exists and it’s awesome.
There are quite a few notable authors in the indie superhero genre, but Kristen Brand truly stands out. Her main trilogy follows the retired superhero White Knight and his wife, the former supervillainess, the Black Valentine. The first book begins after both have been married, retired, and had a child. It’s kind of like the Godfather 3’s: “they keep pulling me back in.” But what do you expect when one of the most notorious villains in the country marries the most popular heroes in the country? Being the best comes with a lot of baggage…a lot of baggage that doesn’t go away.
The stories are well edited, excellently paced, and keep you glues to the page from start to finish. So…pretty much every Marvel Comics decided to toss out. However, there are two very specific reasons why I chose Kristen Brand’s White Knight and Black Valentine trilogy over other decent works in the genre: they’re pure superhero fiction.
I know that sounds strange considering the genre is specifically superhero, but to anyone exploring the indie section, you’ll notice that quite a few forget to focus on actual superhero action. A number of writers, for some reason, see the genre as a hotbed for romance or strange fantasies. Some even start off with great superhero action with excellent pacing and action only to toss that away to focus on romance. The superhero genre, ok, is NOT a romance genre. It can have romance in it, but not as the focus. Kristen Brand does a great job of showing exactly how you do superhero romance. These are action/mystery books at heart. For example, the first one follows White Knight as he tries to clear the name of his supervillain wife. The romance exists, but it’s not separate from the action, it’s part of the action. The White Knight is driven to save his wife because he loves her. The romance raises the stakes and significantly increases the dramatic tension of the action.
The second reason I chose this trilogy, was because it balances another common aspect of the indie superhero genre: silliness. Yes, the superhero genre is ripe with recognized clichés and tropes that are easy to mock. And that’s fine. It’s even, almost, expected. Some authors take it a little too far. I know in a world where the main characters all have silly names and wear silly costumes, it can be hard to imagine things getting too silly. And I’m not saying superhero stories should be gritty Watchmen-esque style romps…far from. I’m saying that there’s a point where your superhero story crosses the line from action/adventure into parody. Once you hit parody levels, it starts to lose its ability to be taken seriously. It’s kind of like the difference between a movie like 300 and it’s parody version. The White Knight and Black Valentine trilogy is a perfect level of superhero silly. Over-the-top superhero stuff happens, and crazy characters get introduced, but the stories remain grounded.
Overall, Kristen Brand’s trilogy is a top-notch indie work that I highly recommend checking out. And if you end up liking her work, I have even more good news. In addition to her Amazon published novels, she also publishes other snippets from the WK&BV universe on her website which can be found here.
Now go forth and read true believers!
White Knight and Black Valentine Trilogy: