Since it was written by a colleague — Matthew Phillion, a fellow Gatehouse Media journalist — I would have likely picked up ”The Indestructibles“ just as a show of support. But I challenge anyone to resist this plot description, whether you know Matt or not:

”A solar powered girl. A ballerina vigilante. A boy with the alien sharing his brain. A werewolf. A girl with a black hole for a heart. This is the next generation of heroes Doc Silence has gathered together, a random collection of amazing kids he hopes to train to make the world a better place.”

He had me at werewolf.

”The Indestructibles” is a so-called YA novel, although to quote Stephen Colbert, that usually just means it’s a regular novel that people actually read. And this one is definitely well suited to your average 12-year-old superhero fanatic.

But if you’re like some of us, you have an inner 12-year-old that you can access at a moment’s notice, sort of like Bruce Banner does with the Hulk in ”The Avengers.” (”That’s my secret, Cap — I’m always 12.”) If that’s you, and you know who you are, you’ll probably get almost as much out of ”The Indestructibles” as any prepubescent superhero junkie.

Phillion definitely deals in plenty of familiar comic book tropes, and it’s not hard to draw parallels between his characters and others that came before them — the mystical Doc Silence evokes elements of Dr. Strange, Kate ”Dancer” Miller has Batman written all over her, and Solar, a sunshine-powered superheroine, fits the Superman template — although it’s refreshing to have the book’s one truly indestructible hero be female.

But there’s plenty in ”The Indestructibles” that you haven’t seen before, including a sentient storm that provides the main obstacle for our fledgling heroes, and a winning invention in Entropy Emily, a wisecracking nerdette who also happens to be powerful enough to capture entire hurricanes in an anti-gravity bubble — and whose mother has a heroic secret of her own.

Phillion ramps up the action often enough to keep things moving, and writes battle scenes in such a way that you can actually picture what’s going on, which is not as easy as it sounds. And sly pop culture references — Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Bill Bixby’s TV Hulk and E.T. all get name dropped during the team’s adventures — keep the dialogue zippy.

But in the end, it’s the heroes’ well-drawn personalities that make ”The Indestructibles” fly. Straylight, the laser-zapping alien symbiote who’s quick to develop crushes on female adversaries, and Titus the angry (and wouldn’t you be?) teenage werewolf handily round out the super-crew, even if it’s the women who carry the show. And Phillion doesn’t give the villains short shrift either — a cyborg assassin with conscience issues and a truly frightening sorceress with a shadowy connection to Doc are just two of a litany of antagonists that make the heroes’ comings-of-age super-challenges convincing.

In short, it’s the rare young superhero fan who won’t find him- or herself plowing through ”The Indestructibles” in as few sittings as possible — and the rare older fan who won’t want to scoop it up as soon as junior finishes.

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Read more Pete at Pete’s Pop Culture, Parenting & Pets Blog.


About the Author

Pete Chianca

Pete Chianca is a humor and music writer and author of Glory Days: Springsteen's Greatest Albums. He lives north of Boston with his wife, two kids and an indeterminate number of dogs and cats. Read more Pete at Pete's Pop Culture, Parenting & Pets Blog.

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