Plexico's Distant Star Puts Fledgling Superheroes on Cosmic Stage

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Van Allen Plexico's Sentinels: A Distant Star

Despite how it may often appear, I don't just read superhero comics. Sometimes I read superhero novels. And over the last few years, I've discovered something -- you can actually find superhero novels whose characters have not appeared in comic books!

One of the more prolific instances of this is with Van Allen Plexico's SENTINELS series. The Sentinels team includes a superhero of long-standing named Ultraa, who has the flight, strength and invulnerability aspects going for him (with some interesting caveats). Ultraa has been in the employ of the government for years, and hasn't seemed to have aged a day, although he does have some memory issues. The rest of the team, however, is neophytes. Pulsar is a young girl whose energy powers have only just manifested and she has very little idea of how to control them let alone use them with precision. Vanadium is a faceless metal alien whose past is a mystery to even himself. And Esro Brachis has always been more comfortable in the laboratory than in the field but lately finds himself forced into wearing his own battle armor more and more.

So when aliens land -- quite literally -- on Brachis's front lawn, the team is ill-equipped to deal with the situation. They rush headlong into battle with a giant robot creature who adapts to their abilities and powers, replicating them and adding to its own growing arsenal of abilities. This "Xorex" is a world killer, and it is the target of the Kur-Bai (old Jack would be honored!), a race of red-skinned, white-haired humanoids who are quickly decimated. One Kur-Bai, a female named Mondrian, leaps into a scout ship to track the Xorex, with Brachis piling into the cockpit after her, uninvited. Their chase is cut short, however, when they plummet into a wormhole and become trapped inside a space station large enough to contain several environmentally unique land masses. Their mysterious host is a collector of species, but he doesn't exactly keep a regimented control over those within his realm. Soon, Mondrian is conscripted into the slavery of someone from her past, and Brachis has to use his comparitively primitive technology to find her, rescue her, and then somehow escape back to Earth.

While all this is going on, back on Earth Ultraa, Pulsar, and Vanadium are dealing with their own issues. Vanadium experienced an involuntary shutdown at the sight of the Xorex, and he is determined to find someone who can help him learn why this happened by accessing memories sealed off from his access. Ultraa and Pulsar continue to track the Xorex, finding only devastation and more questions. And shadowy government figures work secretly to replace the Sentinels project with their own team -- a team led by an other-dimensional Nazi superman! And even they are unaware of the overarching Grand Design taking shape around them, one that potentially will bring together three cosmic rivals who take planets apart and create new ones on a whim.

If you think there's a lot happening here, you're right -- and you aren't even yet aware of all of it. A DISTANT STAR is Plexico's second novel of the already expansive SENTINELS series. Check it out for a deviation from your normal supehero fare; it's different enough to be intriguing, and familiar enough to make the superhero fan quickly comfortable in this universe.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0