Alec Archer runs a male escort service in Centerport. After spending his early years hustling on the streets, Alec is now happy and settled into married life with his husband, Peter. But Alec has an alter-ego as the super strong, fast, and impenetrable super hero, Whirlwind, who works to protect Centerport from all manner of bad guys — and does it with flair in his turquoise costume.
When Thanatos comes to town, it seems like just another in a long line of super villains looking to test their skills against the Whirlwind. Thanatos has blown up a local genetics lab to cover for the fact that he has stolen some crucial research that could have disastrous consequences in the wrong hands. Alec may find Thanatos alluring in his all black costume — particularly his amazing cape that Alec can’t help but covet — but he also knows that he must bring Thanatos down. But stopping the villain isn’t as easy as it would seem. Thanatos is outsmarting them at every turn and time is running out. Now, Alec must fight to stop the villain before he destroys the city — and threatens the world.
Fabulous in Tights is the first installment in Hal Bodner’s new Adventures of the Whirlwind series. The story is told in Alec’s first person POV, interspersed with third person narration from a variety of other characters. We get a nice sense of Alec as a character, including his past as a prostitute, his job now running an escort service, his love and adoration for his husband, and his close confidants who know about his alter ego as the Whirlwind. The book has a very comic book feel and there is a fun, campiness to the story that I enjoyed. I think there is a nice balance here of the more intense superhero storyline with humor and a bit of silliness that come from Alec’s personality. This is a very specific type of sometimes over-the-top humor, and there were times where the jokes didn’t really land for me. Sometimes I just found the style a bit much; in other cases, it seemed mean spirited (multiple disparaging references to people being overweight, for example). But in general, I found the tone light and fun.
The adventure is set up well, with readers getting an eye into Thanatos’ plan fairly early on through his POV. So as we follow along with Alec trying to figure out what is going on, we are privy to more inside information as readers. There is some nice conflict here, with high stakes and some intense sequences, even with the lighter tone. I also enjoyed the bits of world building into Alec’s super powers, as well as the sense we get about some of the other super villains out there. I did wish for a little more backstory into some of these encounters, rather than just dropping the names of bad guys the Whirlwind has fought. Still, I think Bodner sets up the super hero world well here. That said, this story really didn’t stick the landing for me. The ultimate battle between Thanatos and the Whirlwind rages until the very end of the book, and there were literally less than a handful of reading minutes left before we get the reveal of Thanatos’ identity and motivation. The ending is a strange combination of one part that felt fairly obvious to me and the other part totally out of nowhere, with zero groundwork laid throughout the story to support it. Things are made worse since there is just no time given to unpacking what we learn, as the story ends almost immediately after. So I was disappointed that after a nice development, the ending feels completely abrubt and without enough development to make it work.
From the relationship end, we see Peter and Alec solely from Alec’s POV. It is clear he is incredibly in love with Peter and those feelings really come through. Peter doesn’t know about Alec’s job as the Whirlwind, and so Alec has to work to keep him in the dark about what is going on. Peter is involved in the larger story, as he works at the genetics company where the research was stolen. But we don’t really get to know him much throughout the book and he doesn’t appear a lot with Alec. So on one hand, I could feel Alec’s connection to Peter through his POV narration, but I didn’t feel like we got much to time to really get a sense of them as a couple, or of Peter’s backstory.
Overall, I found this one to be a fun superhero story. I am a fan of this genre, so I enjoyed the adventure and think the hero/villain dynamic set up well. The humor is probably not going to be a fit for every reader, and while I mostly enjoyed it, there were some elements that didn’t sit well with me. And I think that the ending just didn’t come together and, sadly, detracted from the overall story for me. But I did enjoy my introduction to the Whirlwind and I will keep my eyes open for further adventures.