BookHound
Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, by Shane Berryhill

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I’m a sucker for superheroes.  I always have been, and I always will be.  I grew up in the early 1960s and watched all the greats of what has become known as the Silver Age of comics come onto the scene.  I had the first issues of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man’s appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, the first issues of the Hulk and the Avengers.  I had ‘em all.

(And if I could have hung onto them, I could be putting my kids through college easily now.  Nah.  I’d have kept the comics.)

When Batman came on television in 1964, I was hooked.  I always swiped one of my mom’s towels and hung out in the backyard looking for evildoers.  I imagined them everywhere.

Now I’m glad I have an eight-year-old son who’s as fond of comics heroes as I am.  We’ve watched all the cartoon incarnations of Batman, Superman, and the Teen Titans.  We’re looking forward to the Legion of Superheroes.  Last year when Sky High came out in theaters, we were there the opening night.  Likewise for The Incredibles.

So when Shane Berryhill put out his new book, Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, the first in what is definitely going to be a series, I knew I had to get it and read it.  I did, and it was everything Sky High was, with the homage to all the comics greats I’d grown up with.

In Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, Josh Blevins had wanted to be a superhero all his life. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have superhero parents he could inherit his powers from, wasn’t the offspring of a god, hadn’t fallen into a vat of strange chemicals, hadn’t been born a mutant, hadn’t found a mystical object that gave him incredible powers, etc.

But what he had (like Batman, my personal favorite) was the heart and desire to become a hero. In the opening chapter in the book, Josh tracks down Captain Fearless, an old adventurer from the golden age of heroes, who hadn’t had any superpowers either and gets the good captain to train him.

Even with all that training, Josh’s heart is broken when he isn’t admitted into superhero school. Ultimately, with the aid of Captain Fearless, Josh changes his name to Chance Fortune and claims his superpower is BEING EXTRA LUCKY and gets into the school.

While in his classes, he meets Space Cadet and Shocker, then later gets teamed with Psy-Chick, Gothika, Iron Maiden and Private Justice (who have mutant technology powers, mental powers, magic powers, is a goddess, and can stretch like a rubberband).

But just getting through the day as an average person masquerading as someone with superpowers isn’t hard enough.  No.  His life has to become even more complicated.  Chance Fortune also runs afoul of Superion and the Invincibles, the school’s toughest team to beat.Josh – or, rather, Chance – has to figure out how to bring his team together and deal with school at the same time.  Things are made even more difficult because Iron Maiden is the daughter of a goddess and is assigned to team leader, a spot Chance is more suited for.

The book is an homage to every superhero in comics. The school buildings are named after giants in the field: (Stan) Lee, (Jack) Kirby, (Todd) McFarlane and others. Every archetypal superhero in the known comics world is revealed within the pages of fast-paced action and snappy dialogue.  Chance Fortune comes across as a real character and the technology backing the world is fun.

Comics fans will readily make comparisons to the X-Men’s Danger Room as the school tests the teams.  But it’s that familiarity that really brings the book home.  Creating the world in your head is a snap. Readers will no doubt be imagining what would happen if they had superpowers and got to go to the school.

The book is a quick, fun read for the younger crowd, and a trip down nostalgia lane for the older superhero wannabes out in the audience. For those who enjoyed the recent movie, Sky HighChance Fortune and the Outlaws offers another opportunity to witness a budding superhero in action.  

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