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The Definitive Guide To Superhero Novels

Omnipotence Having grown up with comics, I love the superhero universe. And as an adult, I confess I indulge in the guilty pleasure of devouring novels from the Superhero genre - it's what inspired The Personal Productivity Encyclopedia Of Superhero Powers.

Having just finished the delightful It's Superman!: A Novel, I did some research to find as many other superhero novels as possible. Then I figured, heck, why not share them with you! I've put them up in an Amazon Listmania list:

The Definitive Guide To Superhero Novels.

I'm curious: Do you have any superhero (or related) books to recommend? Enjoy!

(Image from The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company's Omnipotence page.)

Reader Comments (16)

I hadn't seen those - thanks. The first two get stellar ratings, and the latter looks like a strange mix. All go onto the list!

October 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

I love superhero novels. Thank you for the list.

Here is one I didn't see.

Gladiator by Philip Wylie was a fun surprise.


Howard Chaykin and Russ Heath turned it into a comic called Legend.


I recommend Philip Wylie's book. It is a product of its time.

January 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Sweet! Thanks, Chris. I need some reading for an up-coming recuperation.

February 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell
Just released is one of the best superhero novels I've seen so far, Hard Magic by Larry Correia. He's already a brilliant author, his debut novel Monster Hunters International was a freaking brick of gold, the guy's just got talent. His first effort was up there with some of the other great sci-fi/fantasy writers up at Baen and the other quality sci-fi/fantasy publishers like John Ringo. This one has a little more Jim Butcher in it and it's even another step up from MHI (which developed a massive following and became a best seller despite being originally self published (baen picked it up after it got on the news WHILE self-published). It's dressed up as 'magic,' in the book, but only because the whole phenomenon came about before the idea of superheroes existed in the world Correia created. It's beyond fantastic though, and better than any other superhero effort I've yet seen in print or comics, which figures since Correia is just some kind of freaky sci-fantasy Thriller savant.

Then there's, wildcards which is the most successful superhero novel franchise, dunno how you could make a list about superhero books and not put that in there.

Then there's gladiator, kinda a crime to leave that out when it's what the comics ripped superman off of. I mean, seriously, all of superman's earlier adventures were taken straight from the pages of that novel, and the creators denied having read it at first despite running a sci-fi magazine (and philip wylie being one of the biggest sci-fi writers at the time, Gladiator being THE biggest sci-fi book). Literally every issue was taken from the pages of that book until they ran out of things to rip off from it, even the physical description - the look, the blue-black hair, the proportional strength of an ant and jumping abilities of a grasshopper, the ability to survive anything up to a bursting artillery shell, early superman was WORD FOR WORD a ripoff of philip wylie's Gladiator. They even had him wearing gladiator sandals on the first appearance in action comics but I guess they figured that that was too blatant so they colored over them in red and that's how superman got his boots. The only reason philip wylie didn't end up owning the rights to superman (there was an extensive legal battle) was because his idiot publisher didn't copyright his character, there's no real debate at all over whether it was a ripoff his publisher just failed epically.

Then there's ex-heroes, which was a lot of fun. Go to superheronovels.com and they have most of them from the recent years when the genre has been getting more popular.
May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
BTW you can get gladiator for free online (legally), if you're into superhero stuff you really can't justify not reading it because it is what started it all, what inspired superman (really, the blatant rip-offery is too much for anyone who isn't a retard to deny). It's a far superior story as well because the early superman comics were 100% naive cheese whereas wylie was way ahead of his time in his writing, cynical and honest about the world he lived in, and the story reflects this rather than just being feel-good bs.
May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Thank you for writing, Bob. While I appreciate your sharing - which I think others can learn from - I've edited your comment to remove the unhelpful tone. Feel free to list more, or to point readers to other lists you like. For those reading, here are some Amazon links for the titles mentioned:

Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles: http://goo.gl/kUCj1

Wild Cards I on Amazon: http://goo.gl/q0xZ1

Gladiator: http://goo.gl/ZgWu0 ( free downloads: http://www.manybooks.net/titles/wyliepother07gladiator.html and http://www.archive.org/details/Gladiator_261 )

Ex-Heroes: http://goo.gl/fyazT

Also, here's "Superhero Novels | News, reviews, and commentary about superhero fiction" - http://superheronovels.com/ . It looks like a lot of fun.
May 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
If you are still interested in superhero novels, I thought I'd share mine: H.E.R.O. - Metamorphosis. The follow-up novel in the series is nearly finished as well, and ought to be available this month.
September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKevin G. Rau
Excellent, Kevin! What an accomplishment. I can't wait to read it. For other readers, here it is on Amazon: http://goo.gl/oh4uR
September 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
Thank you Matthew, for posting The Definitive Guide to Superhero Novels, I hope you continue to update it. Excellent Superhero Novels are hard to find, and the genre needs thoughtful people like you to keep it alive. I love your blog and Mindhacker's psychology.


Linden Morningstar
June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinden Morningstar
If you're still looking for superhero novels, here's one I really enjoyed: Kingdom of Heroes. I found it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BV746O2
July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom Baker
Thanks, Tom. Looks good.
July 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
Don't know if going back a ways intersts you, but I love this novel above all other superman novels:
Superman: Last Son of Krypton.
It was released at the time of the Christopher Reeve movie, has a picvture of him on the cover, and has pictures included from the movie. This is strange, because the book has no similarity to the story of the film. It's much, much better.
August 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElliot S Maggin
Thanks for the pointer, Elliot. Unfortunately I could not find it in our library system.
September 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
I'd like to share my new novel, Ultras: Effect of the Sky Canopy. The novel is about a group of superheroes in a post apocalyptic setting. Reviews would be most welcome.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravis Lefelhoc
Great job, Travis. Thanks for sharing., and good luck!
December 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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