Dull Boy was a book I picked up for my MFA program but never got the chance to add it to my reading list. It’s too bad, too, because it is one of the better superhero books I’ve read. It is Cross’s first book but I’m sure it won’t be her last.
Dull Boy is the story of Avery, who is superstrong and has the ability to fly. He slips out at night and flies around the city. Not even Avery’s parents know his secret. He’s also deathly afraid of being discovered for fear of being dissected by the “government.” I’ve noticed this is a recurring theme in superhero titles: fear of being discovered and used as a science experiment by the government. I wonder what this says about the attitude of the current generation about the overreaching Federal government.
But Avery (spoilers to follow) is sought out by Cherchette, an Iceman type character who we learn is responsible for DNA testing on babies around the nation. Many of those babies died, some of them ended up deformed, but the small band that we read about all have superpowers of some sort. Cherchette spends more than the first half of the book trying to recruit Avery and his new pals. They are pals only in the sense that they’re thrust into the situation together. Cherchette’s offers sound good, but when they learn more about her, they are determined to stop her. The resolution is a big fight with Cherchette.
Cross’s writing moves and is easy to read. The story clunks a little early on as we try to figure out what the story is. The characters are interesting enough to keep us moving forward to find out what each character will do. There is some language in the book, enough to notice but not a lot. Certainly no more than you’d find in a PG-13 movie. Most of it could have been edited out as superfluous.
That said, this is a story about oddballs making oddball friends and sticking together in friendship. The mood is a little reminiscent of Claremont’s X-Men…but that’s not a horrible thing.