Every once in a great while, an irresistible opportunity comes along to participate in a unique project with a slew of talented writers. That was the case was Sheree R. Thomas’s Dark Matter speculative fiction anthologies, and Brandon Massey’s Dark Dreams horror anthologies.
Welcome to The Darker Mask: Heroes from the Shadows, edited by Gary Phillips and Christopher Chambers, an anthology of black superhero stories that is unlike anything that has come before.
In addition to contributions from Walter Mosley, L.A. Banks and other award-winning writers, my husband Steven Barnes and I contributed a short story collaboration called “Trickster, set in a futuristic Africa. (Those of you who read “Danger Word” in Dark Dreams have already seen a short-fiction collaboration from us—these are stories that neither of us would have written on our own! It takes a village…)
I have to admit: Unlike Steve, who is an encyclopedia of such matters, I don’t know much about comic books or superheroes. Even as a tomboy growing up, I never found superhero stories that caught fire in my imagination. Perhaps if there had been more superheroes of color…? I’ll never know.
But I do understand the power of myth in comprehending our own infinite potential, and superheroes have always signified much more than capes and tights. That is especially true in this anthology. The Darker Mask is for everyone, but its contributors are well aware that children and adults of color, in particular, have been missing those nutrients in our national popular culture.
Well, hope you’re hungry. The Darker Mask is long overdue. The stories are varied and excellent, the illustrations are amazing, and the time has come.
Oh, and it’s good, too! Publishers Weekly’s review concluded: “Deceptively simple and entertaining while never skimping on serious topics, this tight anthology will satisfy any superhero enthusiast.”
In other words, get ready for a hell of a flight.
[When you finish reading, please post a review on Amazon.com and send me a line here to tell me what you thought.]