SUPER PROBLEMS is a magic pen adventure from Jason R. Lady, author of Monster Problems. This inventive fantasy suitable for middle-grade readers hurtles along from one sometimes funny, sometimes scary, always clever crisis to the next. The stellar plot revolves around an enchanted pen one young comic artist comes upon, discovering that whatever he draws becomes real. i.e. creating illustrations of his new friends with superpowers turns them into bona fide superheroes (albeit quite inexperienced ones). With this novel approach to the popular, almost oversaturated superhero genre, these characters (and readers) wind up having to take a good, hard look at the downsides of having powers…and of war. Being able to instantly manifest whatever one wants to eat or being able to become ‘intangible ‘may sound and feel great for awhile, but is having an enemy that must now be battled for all eternity actually that fun? Especially when the enemy is someone who easily spots and capitalizes on rookie mistakes while endeavoring to literally kill its human nemesis, leaving little time for the main characters to just goof off and savor the fact that they are kids.
There is so much to enjoy about this unusual story, and with nefarious antagonists like Stinky Sock, plus a mysterious art teacher, Mr. Octagon, who seems to know a lot without revealing much, young readers are likely to be enthralled to the very last satisfying pages of this tale. The bossy alpaca character is especially hilarious. In terms of structural weak spots, there are a few. While the asides can be humorous –as one character recounts events they didn’t happen to be physically present for–sometimes this also seems to be utilized as a stock way of getting out of dealing with logistical problems. For instance: how any sock-sized creature could drive a human-sized vehicle and press “the gas pedal all the way down.” Sometimes such logical questions are subsequently and adequately addressed. Other times they are not. Additionally, while it is good that there is at least one girl amongst this band of superhero friends, she is unfortunately also the least developed character.
After zooming through the amusing middle-reader novel, SUPER PROBLEMS by Jason R. Lady–in which vocabularies and imaginations will be delightfully stretched–no reader (young or old) will ever again wonder what’s happening when one sock in a pair inexplicably goes missing.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader