The abduction of a little girl kick starts a noir-infused ride through a city ruled by villains. Before the tale’s completion, an impotent hero, a single mother, a Harley-riding loner, and a rundown detective will all face demons inside and out. The journey will lead this band of misfits to confront their own flaws as the city rots from within.
THE FORMER HERO is a story of a lost child surrounded by evil, a mother’s desperate hunt, a detective’s quest for redemption, and a hero trying to find his place in a world of villains and begins with Penny Flax’s abduction. Distraught, her mother races through the city hoping to find her daughter before the literal villains who run the city can. Villains including Slasher and Viper, among others, work for a mayor more intent on money and power than the well-being of his city. One of his moneymaking plans is a pornography ring run by Slasher, one where children are highly prized. As she seeks her daughter, Moira enlists the help of a motorcyclist named Angus. They shake up the status quo and bring unwanted attention leading them to Detective McCarthy. McCarthy may work for the city government, but he refused to join the villains and instead seeks to find help in the city’s past. He hides from the corruption by reading through the city’s archives hoping to find a clue to defeating the evil ruling his city. As all the three characters races towards confrontation, the former hero himself, Omni-man remains in a hospital waiting on a cure for his loss of powers.
Author Jeffrey Allen Mays creates a fascinating world in THE FORMER HERO. Unlike comic-book escapades, the villains manage to triumph over good. In addition to the corrupt mayor several barons, former villains that McCarthy helped put away, rule the city with iron fists. These barons run drugs, film violent pornography, and more. This makes for a fascinating look at the nature of heroism itself. Mays deftly combines elements of noir, comic book, and westerns into a captivating descent into the psychological underpinnings of heroism, villainy, and the everyday man who just wants to live his life. The plot weaves together several of the main character’s points of view with city archive material, witness testimony, and transcripts of secret meetings. Dialogue skews stilted and stiff occasionally and there are the some typos and grammatical issues. Characters are well fleshed out, but can sometimes veer into omniscient-like revelations just to advance the plot. If the reader digs deeper, and Mays worked hard to make this worthwhile, there is more to discover.
THE FORMER HERO is not a simple story. On the surface, it surveys the psychological health of the citizens in a city ruled by villains. This is a story that demands attention and rewards readers with taut suspense, thrilling action, and a captivating evil that spans time.