Moore, P. (2007). Hero. New York: Hyperion.
Hero tells the story of Thom, the athletic son of a disgraced superhero. While learning about his past, his superpower and embracing his own homosexuality while making some friends, Thom develops into a superhero.
The fact that Thom is homosexual is central to Moore’s narrative. It may be empowering for many teens to read a superhero story from the perspective of a homosexual teen who must struggle for acceptance from his father and community. While homosexual characters have been given a presence in superhero comics and other superhero narratives, they historically have appeared at the periphery, as secondary characters. Thom’s voice is central and engaging, as well as honest and does not avoid any topics relevant to his sexuality or growth as a character. The narrative also considers issues of race, class, discrimination and living in a single-parent household.
Strong secondary characters and subtle humor strengthen the narrative and help to make it relatable.
I really enjoyed this book. But then, I do love me my superheroes. (You hear that, Wolverine? Call me!)
Complicating a students’ reading of the text is the fact that some key descriptions are excluded (such as superheroes’ uniforms) as well as the fact that the passage of time over the summer that the story is set during is not always properly addressed.
Activities to do with the book:
Teachers could discuss issues of acceptance, exclusion and homosexuality with students. Also teachers could address the distinctions among a hero, victim and villain, as well as how narrative can serve to empower writers and readers. Also, students could do reflective journal writing about the text or create their own endings to the story
As a class, students could create a superhero—determine his or her struggles, strengths, etc.
“I never thought I’d have a story worth telling, at least not one about me. I always knew I was different, but until I discovered I had my own story, I never thought I was anything special” (p. 1).
“What in his life made him take this turn to wear gaudy tights, take steroids, and rob banks? Maybe he just needed better opportunities, maybe he just needed someone why believed in him—” (p. 164-165).
“Well, there may be no ‘I’ in team, but apparently there’s a real big one in ‘Kevin.’” (p. 173).
“Everyone in the world should have at least one moment in their lifetime when an entire crowd of people cheers them on for something, one moment to feel exceptional, one moment that lets you know you really do mean something in the universe” (p. 191).