Title: The Invisibles
Author Name & Publisher: Francis Gideon (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: January 6th 2016- 52 pages
Mike meets Johnny and Ray during the first week of high school just as 9/11 happens. When they can’t deal with what’s occurring in real life, the three boys skip class together and bond over comic books and movies instead.
From there, Johnny and Mike grow closer and end up forming a friendship. When Mike realizes that Johnny has his own “secret identity” like the superheroes he loves, the two become even closer. But in order for Johnny to truly open up about being gay, Mike has to figure out what’s so special about the superheros he loves, and why being invisible is the best superpower there can be.
I’m always glad to see another story by Francis Gideon. He’s got a terrific knack for working geek culture in to a story in a way which is appealing and accessible even for those of us who only dabble in geekery. This time, we have a very short, sweet high school romance set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
For such a short story, there’s a lot going on, and it almost felt as though it could be the beginning or a prologue of sorts to a larger story. Mike, Johnny, and Ray are all dealing in their own ways with both family issues and with the events of 9/11. I would have loved to see more of all of them, and I would have enjoyed seeing how the relationship between Mike and Johnny affected their friendship with Ray.
There were some touching, tender moments and a couple of hilariously awkward ones (I’m pretty sure Mike’s reaction to Ray’s interest in porn is one of the best lines on the subject I’ve read in a long, long time). There are also references to some of my favorite writers as well as some new things to look up for further reading. Even though I sense this is definitely aimed at a gay/questioning audience, I think this is one I would love to see any teens read and discuss.