Agents of Light & Shade by S.L. Pineda
Anton Gregory, aka “The Eclipser,” is a middle-age ex-villain, essentially a lost boy who wound up with the wrong crowd. He was an “honorable” bad guy who followed the rules and etiquettes of hero-villain encounters. He never expected to win an encounter and felt slightly offended when heroes themselves didn’t play by the rules. After all, he did. Fifteen years ago he lost the big one because he expected the hero to save a little girl in danger. But instead the hero opted for glory over the life of the innocent so The Eclipser had no choice but to save the girl himself, spelling disaster for him. After fifteen long years in prison he had finally adjusted to life behind bars only to be let out for good behavior. The world that greets him on the outside is far different from what he remembered. The new heroes of the city look as vicious as the villains and they trample each other without care for innocent bystanders.
Life is indiscriminately hard all around. While Anton ponders his future, or lack thereof, Craig Smith, aka “Captain Splendor,” a middle-age egotistical hero, wonders about the same thing. Craig is a guy who thinks the world owes him a comfortable life because he spends his time fighting crime. He is a good guy, make no mistake, but has issues like any other person and these issues get the better of him sometimes. One such issue is his gambling, making him indebted to everyone including his long-suffering girlfriend, parents and the mafia—especially the mafia. Craig spends his time drinking with old super friends (those that can be bothered to talk to him) and gambling. The gambling becomes a heavy-duty problem when his debt gets big enough to garner the attention of Don Ricardo, the Monster, mafia godfather and paraplegic.
Two superbeings. One, an agent for Good desperately longing for a break that could save his life and sanity. The other, Evil’s son, seeks only to redeem himself from a past he was never fully comfortable with. In other words, two desperate schmucks locked in eternal struggle against cruel Life itself.
Review: Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.
An incredibly touching story of two men, seemingly at odds, who manage to find some good in each other and a new purpose in life.
At this book's surface is a tale of superheroes and supervillians. Under the surface lies a tale of two middle aged men who have not dealt well with all the changes the world has wrought. Anton and Craig really are two pathetic and sad individuals, but I still felt sympathy for them. Neither's life was going how they had planned and each was stumbling around in the dark, looking for the light. Anton and Craig really show that nothing in life is ever black and white, merely shades of grey.
Emily, who is the catalyst for most of the plot, is such a ridiculous character and could easily become unbelievable, but Pineda writes her well. If anything, she is the most pathetic and sad person in this story. I liked the current state of affairs in the world with superheroes and villains being quite common, which takes away the novelty of it all. I would have liked to see more superheroes and villains, especially the very first hero (who reminds me very much of Superman). I was a bit confused by the ending, but I was glad that Craig and Anton found new purpose in life.
Recommendation: I would recommend this story to those that enjoy superhero stories or stories of redemption.