Title: Summus Proelium Author: Cerulean Rating: M Genre: Superhero, Urban Fantasy Pairing: None so far Fandom: Original Universe (spinoff of Heretical Edge) Chapters: 95 Worlds ~300,000 Updated: May 11, 2020 Published: March 4, 2019 Status: In-progress Link: https://ceruleanscrawling.wordpress.com/summus-proelium-table-of-contents/ Given all the positive feedback coming in about Cerulean's webserial Heretical Edge, I figured it was time to put this superhero spinoff up for review. --- To sum it up, Summus Proelium is fun. Really fun. While I enjoy Heretical Edge a lot, and find it immensely creative and enjoyable, the extreme blowup of the world, lack of conciseness, and need to fit in an action scene every other chapter are from time to time grating. Summus Proelium has none of these problems. It's a straight-up superhero novel, and indulges in it. Summus Proelium is set in an alternate-universe Detroit, where mysterious orbs grant superpowers to ordinary people (usually in emotional distress), leading them to pursue careers as either superheroes (the Star-Touched, working with corporate conglomerates or the government) or supervillains (the Fell-Touched, working with various organized crime groups). Cerulean's protagonist is Cassidy Evans, daughter of the richest man in Detroit, who gains her paint-based powers the night she witnesses her brother and father murder two people. In the first couple arcs of the story, Cassidy finds herself entangled between playing nice to both sides of the Touched and trying to come to terms with her family's tainted wealth. The Fell-Touched are a highlight - the gangs are realistic and entertaining in their motives, and all come in varying shades of gray, some extremely close to light or dark, but never fully in a camp. As the story moves forward, we see Cassidy's alter ego, Paintball, gain renown in Detroit. Here the action scenes that seemed so awkwardly interspersed throughout Heretical Edge become natural and flowing, one heist leading to more information, one pissed-off bad guy connected with another, one friend in need one moment, another friend that's the enemy of the first friend the next! The world is tightly contained and controlled, in contrast to Heretical Edge, and while the Patreon snippets and interludes continue in this story, they're usually more relevant and actually contain major plot points. While they are similar in internal voice, Cassidy is a more comfortable narrator than Cerulean's Flick Chambers: she's less insecure, a little more restrained, and much less loud and extraverted than Flick. The overall impression of the writing in Summus Proelium is more improvisatory and whimsical yet more structured than Heretical Edge; this seems easier for Cerulean to write, or perhaps he's just gotten better. Cerulean's give-no-shits narrative style also fits better here than in an epic fantasy like Edge. It's a classic superhero story, but the superpowers are more on the creative side, more like Worm or Sanderson's Steelheart than Marvel or DC. Summus Proelium especially reminds me of Steelheart, albeit less apocalyptic, more mature, and overall more contained. As in any superhero story, the faces behind the masks are important, and Cerulean creates a smaller but much more interesting set of characters than the Crossroads Heretics in Edge. By the way, at this point it's not necessary to read Edge to enjoy/understand this serial - the crossover is minor, and there's one character from Edge mentioned in passing as an Easter egg. I'll close by adding a few minor details that might, but don't detract from a perfect rating, at least for me. I find Cerulean writes characters in archetypes, and a couple felt close ( Spoiler Cassidy=Flick, Amber=Sands, Wren=Tabbris, Carousel=Scout ) but in all cases I felt the Proelium characters were stronger than their counterparts in Edge. Cerulean has clearly made a point that he wants to write well-done LGBT characters and relationships, but here it feels MUCH less contrived and less present than in Edge. Lastly, in the very first arc we learn that Spoiler two of Cassidy's classmates are actually superheroes, but this hasn't been revealed to Cassidy as of arc 11 , which seems unnecessarily long, but that's the most minor complaint I could possibly come up with. As I said before, 5/5 and highly recommended. I haven't read past the first two arcs of Worm, but this is just as good technically and in a less dark vein.