Book Review (SERIES): Powerless

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Powerless: A Superhero Box Set (Books 1-3) by Tony Cooper

  1. Powerless
  2. Killing Gods
  3. Die Famous


A wonderful Powerful grimdark superhero story.
1. All the characters have their own desires, goals, history, and decisions. Amazingly well-done character developments throughout – with more than one character having an arc in every book of the series.
2. The world changes over time – the 70’s is different from the 80’s which is different from now.
3. Worldbuilding goes down layers – with lawyers, religion, wars, even child services, impacted by being Powered and not Powered.
4. Each book has MULTIPLE plotlines.
5. Not all pieces are tied up neatly at the end of each book – the world is messy, the endings aren’t HEA.
6. Things are dark, there are multiple things which can set off Triggers, especially in the first book. (There is a reason why Martin, the main character, suffers from PTSD – and with the flashbacks, you live through it with him. The bad guy in the first book is a Bad Guy.)

Amazing storytelling.


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“My name is Martin Molloy. I haven’t used my powers in almost two decades. I’ve been a night security guard for four years and not had a panic attack for nearly ten months.
Then my old teammate and best friend Vincent is murdered by another power. My carefully constructed solitude crumbles around me as the Police, the Powered Crime Agency and the rest of the team search for answers.
All I want is to find out who killed him without having to dredge up too much pain from the past, but when the super-powered killer comes after me, all I am left with are nightmares.”

POWERLESS is a British-based superhero thriller.
People born with extraordinary powers are called Heroes. In Britain today, laws forbid the use of powers in public and force those with abilities to register or face prosecution.
Martin, or Roadblock as he used to be known, is a night security guard. It helps him forget his time in The Pulse, one of the biggest superhero teams of Element City. When his best friend is murdered, he is forced to face the demons from his past, before they destroy him.


A “gritty” superhero world with all colors of gray, the central character struggles with PTSD and trying to remain a good man. The challenge is as a Power, he wants to support law and order — and law and order has decided that Powers should remain Powerless. He was willing to obey the law, until a friend is murdered and he seems to be the next target.

No one in this story is wonderful and sweet and heroic. Heroes, to be heroes, fight against incredible odds. Odds where they can lose … badly. Martin had been a small-time hero, than a big-time hero, then … and then the public changed the law and he went into hiding.

Now a friend from his time as a hero has died, and Martin’s hero complex demands he figure out the reason even though his power is muscles, not brain. His friend with the brain had died. Can he pull it off without a panic attack or being attacked?

Triggers abound in here. One of the villains is a mind-manipulator, and the author presented it a way four-color comics on the newspaper rack in 7-11 never could.


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“When a physically mutated villain’s son goes missing from protective care, he is determined to do whatever it takes to find his child and punish those responsible. In his way stand a Child Protection Officer following her heart above her duty, a violent anti-hero group desperate for media attention, a seemingly benevolent hero- worshipping cult, and Martin and Hayley trying to work out who they can trust.”

KILLING GODS is a British-based superhero thriller. In a world much like our own, people born with extraordinary powers are called ‘Heroes’. In the mid 1990s, Heroes were banned from using their powers in public and forced to register their true identities or face arrest. As a result, all superhero teams of the time disbanded, filtering back into society.
Today, Martin Molloy, or “Roadblock” as he used to be known, secretly uses his abilities to fight crime while reluctantly training up Hayley, a young teleporter to whom he owes his life. He had planned on a quiet retirement, but when he receives a request for help from an old enemy he is further torn between following the letter of the law and doing the right thing.


The grimdark world of the Powerless series continues in Killing Gods, a couple months after where Powerless left off. Martin and Hayley continue as a team, Martin continues to come out of his shell and reconnect with the world, and the world continues to be far too real – where those with Power are subject to abuse and prejudice.

One of Martin’s old enemies comes knocking, only this time asking for help for his son. As a physical Power, like Martin, only one that can’t “pass” in normal society, prejudice is out-and-out discrimination for the ex-con. He can’t catch a break. Social services has come knocking and the SAVAGE is sure his past will haunt him as much as his claws do, and they will declare him an unfit father and take his son.

A son who is showing a VERY rare Power while still in diapers – a Power, if known, everyone would want control of. Governments, religious organizations, villains, corporations. The child’s two parents are caught up in mechanisms beyond their control.

Can Martin help? Dare Martin help? He is playing vigilante in a world where using his Powers at all can get him incarcerated alongside Powers he put in the prison system.

This is not a world with win-win situations.

It is a world with a lot happening. The story has multiple plot lines and characters which twist together and spread apart wonderfully. Highly recommend to those who love grimdark superpowers.

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“Ruth doesn’t want to be famous, she just wants to be seen and accepted for who she is. And she is prepared to defy her father to take part in a Hero talent contest to create a new team for Element City.
However she doesn’t count on a team of villains from the 1970s waking themselves up in order to bring Havoc to the present day.

Neither do Martin and Hayley, who inadvertently stumble upon their plot and find themselves risking their lives to save the villain’s ultimate target: the TV show’s contestants.”


Third of the series (but not the last, I hope – book #2 left two big hanging threads, and book #3 ends with several ways to go as well), Die Famous continues Mr. Cooper’s excellent threading between multiple story lines and points-of-view. His character each have a unique set of goals, personality traits, and history – all of which come out in the mix for a heavenly – if very grimdark – superpower story.

One plot line is following kids in a Got-Talent type reality show, using a heck of a lot of lawyers to dance around the “don’t use your Powers” laws. Another follow Martin and Maria’s growing relationship. Another concentrates on Hayley’s trials of being a Power AND Police. And still another follows a group of 70’s villains who have defied death to return to modern times and wreck Havoc.

All the threads pull and push each other, creating a complicated, wonderful story.

As with all books of this series, some triggers might be set off. This is not a nice world.

The story also continues Mr. Cooper’s comparing of different philosophies, juxtapositioning different choices people make. I especially liked the comparison of two dying Powers – one villain choosing to be a hero in the end and one hero doing the opposite. This series is complicated.