Where else but the Book Smugglers would I run across a book as delightful and off-beat as this one?
The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again by A.C. Wise. Lethe Press, 2015.
A series of linked short stories from the points of view of different members fit together to form the story of the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron. It starts and ends with full team adventures, but in between are background stories for all but the most mysterious of the members. One of these, Sapphire (a Black drag queen, whose twin is the White, plus-sized Ruby), is represented by the mixed drink recipes she creates for the other members of the team, explaining with the recipe why it works for them and why she is (or isn’t) happy with the recipe. The adventures involve standing up for the bullied against garden-variety bullies, aliens, mad scientists, tentacle monsters, giant insect hordes & more, all while fabulously dressed and wearing heels or roller skates.
This is a whole lot of subversive superhero fun – subversive because there is lots of cross-dressing, and genderqueer people and people of color are in the spotlight. Wise makes a point – unspoken, but clear in context, that the status quo is political. We don’t necessarily think about how political a statement it is in this day and age to have a book or movie feature all straight, white characters – but in this book, none of the many POV characters fits the standard straight, white and slender mold. The closest to that type is the nefarious Doctor Blood, not a member of the Glitter Squadron. There is only a little romance (sweet though it is) – this is much more about gender and being comfortable with one’s inner fabulousness than it is about sex or sexuality. And while the message is there and clear, there is definitely enough in the way of superhero hi-jinks and straightforward character development to keep the overall focus on the adventurers and their deeds. This is marketed towards adults, but the fun and the underlying thinky-thoughts would be spot-on for teens as well.
Pair this with Seanan McGuire’s equally fun and thoughtful Velveteen Vs. books.