The author calls this one street-level superhero noir.Dan Galkin is desperately trying to be normal, but when you were a teenage super-villain in high school and your grandfather is an evil psychopath, it's going to take more than a low-paying pizza delivery job and a cynical attitude to convince the police, your probation officer and two house-mates that you're just like any other disaffected eighteen year old.
Dan is an uberhuman, born with the ability to sense and manipulate electricity, and even though he was a member of The Small Gods for only two weeks, the label of supervillain is hard to erase. As part of his rehabilitation, Dan is required to work for the uberguard security firm, under the thumb of Alsana Owens.
While delivering pizza, Dan is caught up in a paparazzi storm outside the hotel of American pop singer, Miranda Brody. Brody's management hires Dan as part of her security detail after seeing him in action, but Brody is not impressed with 'the pizza boy'. The job seems to be all about making Brody look good by manoeuvring undesirables out of her personal space, but then Dan is nearly killed at the airport and he realises that the superstar's life (and his own) are in danger. He is dragged through a police interrogation, insulted by Brody and her entourage, abandoned by his manager, only to find himself under attack again.
With no one to turn to, Dan and Brody slip into the streets to escape. They meet up with Halo, a former team-mate and rival, who has embraced the life of a criminal. Brody enjoys Halo's tour of the city's underworld while Dan tries to find out who is behind the attacks. He suspects his grandfather, the Mad Russian, and after some investigation he stumbles into a trap - set by Halo.
Betrayed and beaten, Dan is confronted by his grandfather who wants him to return to the super-villain fraternity instead of wasting his life delivering pizza. To do this in style, the Mad Russian wants Dan to be credited with Miranda Brody's death - and it doesn't matter whether Dan's interested or not. Using a combination of bluff and his powers, Dan escapes with Brody, bruised and without a plan.
They leave the city in a stolen car and end up at Dan's deranged mother's house where he realises he has gone as far as he can. He stops running - from his grandfather and from his past. Using clues from the previous attacks, his grandfather's contacts, and his limited ability to tap into telecommunications network, he tracks the Mad Russian's location - a shopping centre.
At the centre, Brody uses her celebrity status to cause a stampede of shoppers and distracts security while Dan slips into service corridors and clashes with Halo. The Mad Russian makes a very public stand in the middle of the centre, taking Brody hostage to draw out his grandson. Dan is pushed to his limits keeping the people safe and taking down his grandfather, eventually scrambling the electrical impulses of the Mad Russian's brain, although it nearly kills them both.
In the aftermath, Brody is bathed in the limelight when the media (and her entourage) arrives. Dan finds himself pulled into the throng as well, and becomes a 'hero', although he worries about some of the comments his grandfather made suggesting that Dan isn't in control of his destiny.
Dan wakes up the next day to a front cover news report labelling him a hero. Alsana Owens phones him up with a job but he hangs up, deciding to live his life the way he wants.
At 599 words, this is tightly – and quite nicely! – written. I think it does a good job capturing the events – the whats. Where I, as a reader going into this cold, feel it could use a bit of fleshing out is in the motivation – the whys. I have a good idea of what Dan does, but not necessarily why.
Here are my pain points:
Dan is nearly killed at the airport, then we see him being attacked again. The synopsis makes it sound like he's the target, but then we find out his grand-dad is somehow setting it up so that Brody gets killed. Yet Brody never really seems to be in danger until the incident at the shopping mall.
The reference to the grandfather's comments about Dan's destiny seems to come a bit out of nowhere. Maybe work that into the earlier paragraph where Dan and his grandfather meet up.
In the last two paragraphs, there are two references to Dan being labeled a hero. I think one would be enough. And even so, I'm not sure how Dan feels about it. What does he constitute as normal now? Being a hero or going back to slacker-dom?
Dan hangs up on Alsana at the end, but 1) I don't know what life he wants to live so am not clear what he's headed off to do, and 2) if Alsana's gig is a court-ordered rehab, won't he wind up in prison and be so not in control of his life at that time?
I also was a little uncertain about why Dan was delivering pizzas and working the security gig for Alsana (even as part of his rehab). Was the uberguard just part-time? And is the uber part of Alsana's guard services secret? Wouldn't Brody be aware Dan is more than a pizza boy if her handlers purposefully hire uber protection? And if it is secret, why would the uberguard be hiring on as celebrity bodyguards and not political bodyguards or guards for witnesses or others generally in more danger than celebs?
For me, none of these questions are deal-breakers in the synopsis; I think the synopsis, even as is, will likely garner some requests! Especially if you attach the first 5 pages and the writing holds up there as well as it does here.