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What is Arsenal?

Amelia Lockheart can’t walk, but she can fly. As the armored superhero–Arsenal, she has the power of a small army at her disposal. Fourteen years ago her parents disappeared after a horrific wreck which left her wheelchair bound. With thieves salivating to steal her armor, and supervillains trying to kill her, Amelia must learn to trust her new team if she wants to survive long enough to learn the truth.


ARSENAL by Jeffrey Haskell is the first book in the FULL METAL SUPERHERO series. The premise is standard with a crippled teen genius using the money she made off her tech to build herself a suit of power armor. Her parents were taken by a mysterious group of individuals in the accident that cost her use of her legs. Amelia Lockhart, a woman with the most Final Fantasy heroine name of all time, must infiltrate Category-7 to find out what happened to them since they’re the most obvious suspects. It’s just they’re a company that supplies superheroes, so the easiest way to do that is become a superhero herself.

As the author of the Supervillainy Saga, I’m a huge fan of prose superhero stories but they tend to be on the deconstructive side. Arsenal feels like a very good and straightforward superhero story that could easily have been its own comic book series. It’s something that doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel and that’s probably its greatest strength. If you’re looking for a classic superhero story, then this is the kind of tale that will appeal to you. It’s a bit more grounded than comics but something in line with, say, The Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The chief draw of the book is Amelia Lockhart, the nineteen-year-old super genius that has isolated herself from everyone but her best friend, Carlos. She’s got a full Batman-esque revenge plan that she’s pretty far along with. However, that plan is disrupted by the simple fact that she starts making friends among her fellow superheroes. They all appear entirely sincere in their desire to help people, and this throws her for a loop as she was assuming everyone in Category-7 was part of an evil conspiracy.

My second favorite character in the book is definitely Kate Petrenelli AKA Domino, a beautiful ex-CIA agent with empathy powers who is much more grounded than Kate. The older woman quickly adopts Kate like a kid sister and starts showing her the ropes around the Nevada Diamondbacks. She’s such a warm and friendly character that you frequently forget how deadly she is as well as the fact she’s very good at manipulating other people into obeying her. We also find out that her power is as much a curse as a blessing.

The world-building is also well done with an event that caused the appearance of superpowers in the world, a description of how superheroes function within the law, and a lot of other little details that bring the world to life. There’s some minor flaws and criticisms to be had about where they could have been a bit more development of the secondary characters as well as conflict among them.

Still, this is a fun, feel good book and one I heartily recommend. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited and the first volume of a nine-book series that I plowed through pretty quickly. While I didn’t agree with all of the series’ decisions, I enjoyed it and the first book is definitely something that will tell you if it’s your kind of series or not.

Available here


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