DREADNOUGHT BY APRIL DANIELS

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Submitted Date 04/26/2023
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There's a lot of power in transgender stories.

Before the seventies, being openly queer in the U.S. was illegal—laws on crossdressing meant that transgender, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming people weren't really allowed to just exist in public. As always, there was safe spaces—gay bars have a historical significance in the queer community, as they were places with queer culture, though even safe spaces weren't exactly safe from the outside. Enter Stonewall.

Queer people did not pop into existence in the modern era, our existence just started being acknowledged. We got a little more room to thrive and flourish—and enter a new era of storytelling, where identity, relationships, and social norms can be discussed a little more thoroughly. Specifically, trans stories often center around the concept of identity, so, put like that, it's kind of a wonder why we don't have more trans superheroes.

Like, c'mon. Hiding your legal name, keeping a secret from your family, sneaking out the window in an outfit that will make your life end if somebody recognizes you? That's trans, baby! Plus, most of the trans people I know tend to have the strongest sense of justice. It just makes sense.

And here we have Dreadnought, focusing around closeted transgirl Danny Tozer, who—after watching the world's most superhero die in front of her, and she accidentally inherits his powers—has to kinda save the world, survive her abusive parents, and face the transphobia the world has to offer her. Dreadnought as a story grapples identity and bravery with a main character you can root for and relate to—and honestly, it's pretty fucking epic.

PLOT SUMMARY:

We open with our main character secretly paining their nails where no one can see her, and relatively far from home. This is the only way she can really, safely express herself—pretty chill afternoon, all things considered.

Then there's a superhero fight and she watches a man fall from the sky with a crater in his chest—she does consider trying to run, but she recognizes him as Dreadnought, one of the most powerful superheroes of all time, and everybody loves him, and more than that, it just doesn't seem to be in her nature to not help people when she can.

Her help really only consists of trying to bring him under shelter and giving him water—before Dreadnought dies, he identifies his killer as Utopia, he states that the world needs "a Dreadnought" and apologizes, for what we don't know just yet, before hanging over some weird light that he pulls out of his chest and hands over to Danny.

She takes it, and the world starts to change—and when she tries to call out to Dreadnought to wake up, she realizes that she's also changed.

The story does clear up around this point some of the worldbuilding: Dreadnought was named after a warship in WWII, and he combatted against some of Hitler's minion in this story's universe, making him a much beloved hero. The US' famous arms race against the soviets led to more of these metahumans like him, and then eventually, they had supervillains on top of superheroes. One of those villains was Mistress Malice, who ended up killing this Dreadnought before her defeat. The second Dreadnought was just as powerful as him, with his mantle, before he died against a kaiju. His successor was the one that gave Danny the mantle now.

At this point, a girl her age shows up with a Southern accent and introduces herself as Calamity—she came to help, but when she realizes that Dreadnought is dead, she advises Danny to leave the scene for her own safety—if the cops catch her, she could end up needing to testify, and that would be up against a supervillain strong enough to kill Dreadnought. It's about then when she starts to take into stock just how her body's changed—it's the way she's always wanted it to be. There is absolutely no hiding she's a girl, from anyone, and more than that, she's apparently a really hot girl. (Later, she compares herself to a lingerie model. Like, she's got the ideals.) Calamity sends her on her way home and she realizes she has to face her parents now, which she dreads to the point of reaching out to her best friend for comfort.

Initially, her parents assume she's joking. Repeatedly. They're already worried enough with the superhero battle that went on, so to them, their son not coming home and instead sending home a friend of his as a prank is probably worth being upset over—but when they do realize that that is Danny, they're horrified to the point where her father doesn't shout—which isn't common for him, apparently. Near immediately, he decides that he's determined to fix Danny, even when Danny tries to insist this might just be how things are—to her, this is a way of bypassing coming out entirely, because it's a little less of trying to reach a change, and more of just accepting something that's already happened. But either way, her father can't change her, and she goes up to her room to do her homework.

The next day, she decides she wants to go shopping for clothes she can actually fit into—her father only agrees to shoes that will fit her feet, but from there, she manages to get a pair of dress shoes, and some properly fitting underwear, where she realizes that bras are fucking expensive. Her mother insists it's okay because she has some money saved up (that apparently Danny's father doesn't know about).

In between inconclusive tests done by teams of doctors and hiding her new body from her best friend, Danny's left with thoughts of Dreadnought's death. She's a little guilty that the best thing to happen to her has come at the cost of a life, and one as famed and beloved as Dreadnought, so she decides, what she wants to do with her superpowers and her new bangin' bod is honor him, by doing good.

Later, Danny is contacted by the Legion Pacifica (commonly called the Legion), which is the best league of superheroes on the West Coast, and she's a big fan of them. Specifically, it's Carapace (who seems to be a normal man in an armored suit with super tech, like this book's twist on Iron Man) and Valkyrja (a superhero based off like, the Nordic battle maidens) who Danny's got the biggest crush on. After a brief bout of deadnaming her, they explain that, while the Legion doesn't accept minors as members, after realizing that she holds Dreadnought's mantle they want to offer support, and a potential place when she is of age, and bring her back to the Legion's tower.

There she gets to meet Doc Impossible, a bipartisan doctor who helps the superheroes of the tower and wants to do a few tests on Danny to see how the mantle's affected her exactly. The answer is a lot. The mantle's changed every other Dreadnought in some way, but the biggest change before Danny was growing back some amputated toes, and she's… very different. According to Doc Impossible, the mantle works with what it has, so while she's super hot and her testicles have like, retreated inside of her and secrete estrogen, they're still anatomically recognizable as testicals. On top of looking the way she wants to, she's fit as hell. Strong, quick, everything. And she can fly too—a little barebones when it comes to superheroes, but who the Hell wouldn't want to fly? Doc Impossible also gives her some clothes with "throwaway colors" which are meant to signal she's a super, but not necessarily a superhero and she's not looking for any sort of fight. After this, they go to the rest of the legion.

There's Magma, a black man who seems to be super strong and got some sort of fire thing going on, despite being maybe the most levelheaded of the team, which you pick up in his interactions. There's Chlorophyll, who's half man and half plant, and is glad that they have another queer super around. And then there's Graywytch, who is some emo sorceress with a raven and a cape.

Reactions to Danny are varied because not only are they mourning a powerful ally in Dreadnought, but he's been replaced with this fifteen-year-old, and said fifteen-year-old is trans. Graywytch is the most openly hostile—deadnaming her, laughing at her when she says she's a girl, and from meeting her, Graywytch jumps on any sort of flaw or weakness she can get her hands on like she has a personal vendetta against Danny. Carapace sounds more confused than anything, and while he doesn't stop Graywytch at all, it is important that he never goes out of his way to actively shit on Danny—plus when it's pointed out that Danny not waiting for the cops delayed their investigation, he agrees that it's not worth dwelling on when Graywytch focuses on it, so he isn't nearly as transphobic as her, or at least thinks finding Dreadnought's murderer comes way before it. Among just whether or not they respect Danny's identity, they need Dreadnought's powers, and after what seems to be a minor member of the Legion dying, they don't accept members under eighteen—so, they also need to think about whether or not they take the mantle from Danny and give it to somebody else, or whether an exception should be made to that rule, if Danny is even fit for the mantle and whether or not that actually matters because they've never taken that into consideration in the past.

It all doesn't get resolved, and Danny ends up feeling betrayed that Doc Impossible would out her to the whole ass Legion when she talked about her magical transition with them. Doc Impossible goes after her when she leaves the room, and insists she keeps the provisional membership to the Legion she's been offered, before Danny leaves and goes home, still fairly pissed. Instead of staying at home, Danny goes out flying in her rage and reaffirms her own identity, by deciding that she is a girl, and nobody's going to take that away from her, because she has the powers of Dreadnought. With her new determination to be recognized as a girl, she heads to school without her parents' permission. Her best friend, David, is stunned. Naturally, he doesn't believe Danny really is Danny, since to him, his best friend has just suddenly turned into a girl. She decides to keep the superpowers on the downlow until the two of them get somewhere private. In the meantime, David spends a lot of time staring at her tits.

Absolutely everybody is stunned, but it becomes pretty obvious that that really is the Danny people knew. It gets a little tedious at some point, which is a very accurate way to depict coming out. Danny's mom comes to pick her up, saying she can't start attending school until she begins those treatments meant to turn her back into a boy. She also tries to take her to the mall in an effort Danny recognizes to bribe her into silence, because if this was something that her father figured out…

This is about when Danny reaches the heart wrenching conclusion that she doesn't have a much more sensible mother to combat an unreasonable father—but that her mother is in the same (unsafe) position that she is with her father, and even with her newfound defiance, her mother is trying desperately to avoid a blowup she fears as much as Danny has. But what the Hell can a fifteen-year-old do with this heavy burden, that one of your parents is actively harming you, and the other is hopelessly failing the both of you? Jack shit, so she just goes along with it.

And she tries again the next day, even scared of her father. She ends up going to the girl's bathroom where she meets Sarah, staring at her a little weird considering… well, she's a girl and that's all everybody can talk about, but after a moment, she remembers her manners and welcomes Danny as a girl, and tells her she'll get used to the boys eventually.

At lunch, she ends up figuring out what she means. It's a whole thing that she can't decide what to have for lunch, because as beautiful as she is, she wants to hold onto the standards of what a girl is 'supposed' to look like, and doesn't want to get fat, which is a brand new experience for her. Over lunch, David continues to stare, and when she snaps, he asks if she's on her period, which is like, the number one thing to do to piss a girl off. Their argument ends with David storming off, prompts the realization that Danny's been feeling things a little more recently. She thinks this might have something to do with estrogen, but it could also just be the act of transitioning, having superpowers, and her new resolve to get what she wants—she could also just be pulling herself out of the funk that being closeted will often bring. Either way, she decides they'll get over themselves and things will be normal.

And then her father finds out, and screams like he usually does when he's angry. And boy howdy, he is pissed. An hour and a half of screaming the type of things trans teens usually hear from bigoted parents—we don't get to read the interaction, so much as we do a summary, and it messes her up bad. When she's flying to take her mind off of it, she finds a plane in the sky that is badly malfunctioning and is going to crash, filled with people.

It's her first big save, and it hurts like a bitch—even as a superhero, the story goes out of it's way to show that she isn't indestructible. She sustains multiple injuries, and nearly fails to stop it, and even when she does, the people inside do get a little injured. But nobody dies, and she's riding the high of victory. Everybody adores her, she's a hero, she's on the news, and she decides this is what she wants to do. She wants to be Dreadnought.

She thinks she might be able to tell David all about her new secret identity as the world's greatest superhero, but instead, David tries to convince her into dating him, because she's so hot, and he doesn't quite understand that Danny's trans, gay, and very, very much not into him. Whatever he says, we don't know exactly, but Danny claims that it's not unforgivable—but she knows that David is never going to take it back and never going to apologize, and now, she's alone. That's it.

The best part of the Legion (Valkryja and Doc Impossible) get her to recount the plane rescue before the doctor looks at her injuries. She got very, very badly banged up, but it's all healing up pretty well, and the Doc offers her some more girly clothes she might like too, on top of a new suit (though they apparently can reconstruct themselves, it just takes a little while). Before she leaves, Valkryja talks to her, about how she can claim colors with her suit, and what she was doing out when the plan happened, and then the moment I was waiting for nonstop during this book—does she feel safe at home?

And she very obviously doesn't. Her father's screamed at her so much as a child in his rage, that one of her ears is damaged. He insults her, belittles her, and even her mother can't or won't help her. They're walking on eggshells, actively avoiding doing anything he might not like. Maybe he hasn't actively laid a hand on her since she was a kid and was spanked—but the threat is there, and Danny doesn't feel safe. But for one reason, or another, or maybe all of them, she doesn't admit this to Valkryja and takes off.

The same day, when she's doing her homework after dinner and keeping her head down, Calamity comes in through the window into her bedroom. Danny immediately recognizes her as Sarah from school, even when Sarah insists no, she's Calamity. And not just Calamity, she's a gray cape. It's very obvious that Sarah is a good person--she's a vigilante, she robs drug dealers to get the money for her gear, but she stops armed robberies and protects people, she might be a little misguided, but it's super obvious that she's using her powers for good. Her and Danny go caping and stop this one armed robber who nearly murdered a store owner, and then could've killed Danny if it weren't for the fact that Danny is bulletproof. Calamity helps, but like, she isn't the main character, she's just kinda awesome. She tells Danny, the next day, they can go hunt down Utopia! Yay for being a superhero, am I right?

She's pulled from school the next day by a disguised Chlorophyll who speaks with her in his car. (No further Yay for being a superhero.) The first thing he does is apologize for how he treated her, because he thinks he was out of line, but he's still a little pushy about Danny joining the legion. When Danny comments that she might want to spend a little more time being a girl before she's a superhero, Chlorophyll only points out that there's still female superheroes and doesn't see how one of those identities might "preclude" the other one, which while he does have a point, kinda shows that he doesn't understand the complexities of Danny's specific identity, being only fifteen, trans, gay, and unsure of what she really wants to do. Danny insists, if they want her to join the Legion so bad, then they oughta give Graywytch the boot or she isn't joining. They're not doing that, so she insists she's not joining—at this point, Chlorophyll backtracks and says, if she doesn't wanna do the Dreadnought things, maybe she should give up the Dreadnought powers so they can find a new one, and Danny leaves.

So, later she goes to look at a shop Utopia raided—it's a little strange, because it seems very baseline in comparison to the hypertech Utopia's into, but with Danny's help, they manage to get in. About here, Danny's realized that that little reality net she can see has these massive holes in the affected area—while the net can bend and twist and stuff, she's never seen holes in it, and it greatly disturbs her, so it's implied that this is the sort of thing that disturbs reality and matter. Number one rule of matter is that it can't be created or destroyed, only changed—and here, Utopia has destroyed it. (It's actually kinda cool, if we're gonna be honest.) This is about where Danny realizes that this is serious, and they should tell the Legion, but Calamity convinces her not to, because she doesn't trust the Legion, and Danny (after her experiences) doesn't really. Instead, they go to a bar for gray capes, looking for further clues. Instead of finding what they were looking for, they find Danny's father, looking for somebody that might be able to somehow change Danny back to the point he's started contacting graycapes. The only person that hears him out Calamity identifies as Bosco, a real nasty metahuman separatist. Bosco and Danny's father go outside—and then. Bosco threatens to kill him, and Calamity and Danny have to act.

Initially, Danny wants her father to die, but tries to save him out of guilt—and then she realizes, he will recognize her, and fuck, she does not want that, so she stops, and Calamity's the one who ends up saving him, regardless of whether or not he might deserve it.

Bosco, Danny decides, is just a bully. He does construction, he's never actually killed anybody, just has the ability to and likes to rough up the baselines—Calamity says, the cops aren't looking for a fight with somebody like him unless he's killing people, and the Legion doesn't care. Danny's the first to stand up to somebody like him. Calamity insists, if she does join the Legion one day, to stand apart from them in their pristine white capes and remember the actual problems the normal people like her are facing with assholes like Bosco roaming around, and she promises, she could never forget about Calamity anyways.

Danny's father doesn't talk about his brush with death when he comes home, but does talk to Danny about her being a girl now. For a minute, he's going for something almost loving, and then Danny breaks and just admits, she's a girl. Not because she was turned into one, but because she's always been a girl, and she genuinely doesn't want to change, and we get to see every possible color of transphobia you can receive from a parent. He kicks her out for the day, and she goes to study with Sarah.

Danny tries to go caping with her, but she insists they don't, because Danny's too angry—she calls her out on it, asks what's wrong, and Danny admits what happened. She's not used to talking about her feelings with people like this (the patriarchy fucks up the guys before it reaches the girls, and she's still a little new to the acting like a girl thing), but, Sarah's okay with calling her out on it, and Danny apologizes for being a little bitchy. When they do go caping, Danny's a lot calmer.

They go back to their metahuman bar where somebody immediately runs away at the sight of them, which tips them off. They don't know how exactly the guy's their lead, but it's suspicious enough to get them to do something, so Calamity swipes some DNA off the glass they abandoned and says they're going to go talk to her ex.

Her ex is a wizard! His name is Charlie, and he's initially skeptical of Danny before Calamity explains that she's a cape. Danny shows off her powers by making a marble float, and then also admits she's super strong which is not the best description of her abilities. Charlie accepts the sample, does his magic, and they got a location. Nothing exact, but a building. They call it there for the day, so Danny can get home just in case her father wants her home. She's still grounded and all.

They eventually find their lead's apartment in a building—they manage to pin him down, and though he originally tries to deny any sort of wrongdoing, Calamity finds Utopia listed as a contact in his phone.

His name is Gerald, and he's a little pathetic. He claims nobody really cares for people like him, and Utopia only came into his apartment, magicked him into stillness and offered to give him superpowers if he did her bidding, and he just wanted to be somebody. Danny sympathizes with him, partially because she was always scared to end up like him, and partially because she just doesn't like breaking into people's homes and beating them up for answers, but Gerald rejects all sympathy. A little bit of threatening (mainly from Calamity), and he admits he's mostly just been driving a truck for some stolen goods, and Utopia promised to give him powers by the end of the week. They break away with some new clues and ideas, and a time frame, but still kinda need to regroup.

At home, Danny's father is gone at work, so she feels okay with being out in the kitchen with her mother—the topic of Danny's transness comes up, which prompts an argument because Danny's mother thinks they're losing their son, and then thinks it's a result of poor parenting, and refuses to understand that, at the end of the day, Danny knows what's best for herself. The way she seems to think of it is there was never a choice between being a man or a woman—it was that she was going to be a woman, or she was going to die before she ever really became a man, because being a man was "torture." She insists, regardless of her mother's wants or how she might see her, she is a girl, and leaves to her bedroom.

The next day, Danny goes caping with Sarah/Calamity for some missing files in an office they think oughta be related to Utopia—at a point, Calamity almost slips up and calls her "Danny" while in costume before she catches herself, and prompts Danny to question if she really does want to be a cape. Originally, she would've loved to, and she does want to honor Dreadnought by getting his killer—but her identity's been kinda muddled since her parents figured out she was a girl, she lost her best friend, the Legion questioned her ability and identity in every sense of the word, and the actual process of being a cape isn't super glamorous. For not the first time and not the last time, Danny wonders if she can really be Dreadnought—Calamity gets the feeling she's upset her, and apologizes for it before asking if she wants to go shopping.

Amidst all the mystery and crime fighting, Danny and Sarah really are just teenagers. They're kids—and they get to do dumb stuff like go shopping together. Danny gets some makeup, and is so overwhelmed with this new bit of girlhood, she acts on the part of girlhood she's always witnessed by hugging her before treating her to food at a nearby diner, which Sarah spends giving her glances, smiling, and staring out a window. Danny remarks, "It's nice having a friend," which might make the reader be a little skeptical about the "friendship" this is (and start screaming in their head because they know exactly where this is going).

The next night, they're back to caping—they decide to go and talk to a… friend(?) of Calamity's, the Artificer, who's some sort of grey-caped mad scientist that I could honestly read a whole book about just based on his aesthetic. At first, he's a little horrified that Calamity and Danny are out looking for Utopia in a way that seems to imply he's very much aware he's working with children here, but seems to force himself to stay out of it. With the presented evidence, he tells Calamity to bring him some more N-squared (a chemical used in the hypertech technology), and he'll see what he can find out for them.

The thing is, N-squared isn't being sold, meaning they will be stealing this. Calamity argues, they're stealing from the people who can easily, easily afford it and there's no other way to get it, but Danny insists that stealing (as a whole, for any reason) is morally wrong, and they can't fall to that. When she tries to insist they can just go to Doc Impossible, Sarah refuses to go to the legion.

Sarah's distrust of the legion stems from the fact that they kinda framed her father for murder. Her father was a cape (called Ricochet) who figured out the CIA was assisting the Colombian cartels for a cut of profits, and when he tried to get any sort of justice for it from Congress, the legion arrested him. Danny can barely believe that the Legion she's so respected and admired (despite all the new revelations about how shitty superheroes can be) is capable of doing that—and it's not clear why. Danny thinks it must be some awful mistake, born of their own sense of justice that led to the wrong answers, and Calamity thinks they just didn't care. And it doesn't matter if they do care, because she doesn't trust them, her father's in prison.

Just then, an explosion hits the factory the Artificer's in (my love was too weak to save him <3), and Utopia's appeared, apparently coming to erase any clues to what she's doing. Gerald possibly warned her. Danny knows they shouldn't be fighting her, and tries to talk Calamity out of, insisting they could get the Legion, or simply leave—but Calamity's intent to finish her off.

The fight seems to be going their way, at first, before Utopia gets Danny to stop—here, she claims that Dreadnought is only dead because he wouldn't see reason, and she's only been fighting to save humanity from what she calls The Nemesis—and when she killed Dreadnought, she saw Danny, and made the active choice to let her live, even knowing she would end up taking the mantle, but has been keeping an eye on her. Meaning, she knows about Danny—that she's trans, and where she lives, and who her family is, and how she's been progressing as a superhero.

Calamity immediately jumps to murder, not just because she's killed Dreadnought and the Artificer, but because she can very, very easily hurt Danny and clearly has a reason to—Danny insists they can't kill anybody (because it's not right, you see), but Utopia chimes in with a third response and her professional opinion, and fires her weapon, hitting Calamity.

Again, she chooses to let Danny live, one last time—she explains her laser is created out of a substance that is coming for Earth, and will be way, way worse than any of her weapons—it's hit one whole side of Calamity, melting her gun to her hand and destroying her arm. Danny insists, Utopia can come and help save humanity by telling them about this danger, but much like Calamity, Utopia has no faith in the government and has taken matters into her own hands—but implores Danny to save Calamity, because she doesn't like killing children.

Calamity refuses to let Danny take her to a hospital—she's been working as a cape, robbing drug dealers. If the government finds out who she is, what she's been doing, she's going into foster care (at best, honestly, but this is what she's worried about when she's on death's door), so all she's worried about is getting to her family. Death doesn't faze her—but Danny is completely different from her, and death fazes her very, very much and she can't just let Calamity die in her arms, so she takes her to the Legion, where Doc Impossible can train her.

It's Graywytch that answers the intercom, and wakes the doc, and lets her into the elevator—she has to explain to Doc Impossible they were hunting Utopia (which she's very upset to hear) before Sarah is taken into surgery. In the meantime, Magma tries to comfort Danny and understand what's happened.

So, Danny comes clean about everything. Her own doubts about being Dreadnought, and going caping with Calamity, and trying to find Dreadnought. Magma admits that while she absolutely should've come forward to them with this information, he mainly blames themselves, because Danny and Sarah are children, and clearly needed guidance, and they—as the adults, and as superheroes—should have been doing that. Instead, the debates about Danny's powers, whether she deserves them, and the disrespect about her youth, her gender identity, and everything related to that pushed her away—and Magma admits, they should've been there for Sarah too, and the two of them did the best they could. When he thinks she's going to be okay, he leaves to make some calls, and Danny waits on the Doc.

Sarah's survived the surgery—but she's in rough shape, and her arm was amputated. Doc Impossible is, understandably, shaken, and she takes the time to sincerely ask Danny why she wants to be a cape. She can help people in thousands upon thousands of other ways—so, why is this the one? Danny responds with the classic—she knows what it's like to be weak. She doesn't want to be like that again, and doesn't want people pushing her around, and with her powers, not only will that never happen again, but she can stop these people from pushing others around. She can be a hero. It's at this point where it clicks the reason the Doctor's so worried about Danny knowing her options before she makes a choice is because she now regrets her choice—and she tells Danny that she can't go back to being nonpartisan, because she's made an enemy she can't fight, and this is her only option left. Upon the realization that Utopia knows who Danny is, she decides they can fight it and try to make Utopia's silence a part of the plea deal, if they can beat her.

But Danny realizes the time and takes off home—when the lights are still on (at three in the morning) she initially thinks something's happened, but the idea of her parents thinking she's snuck out is more terrifying than the thought of them being hostage. Before she can realize how to smooth things out, she spots Graywytch a little ways away.

That's because Graywytch told Danny's parents she was a superhero. That she was trans, that she's been caping, and that her friend nearly died tonight. This is despite the fact that, as a superhero, she should be taking the concept of secret identities very, very seriously—in doing this, she has endangered Danny, and she justifies it because she's just a transphobic bitch, and believes she's the reason Sarah nearly died. She insists Danny isn't and will never be a real woman, and that her very existence is a threat to women, and womanhood, and promises to destroy him. When Danny fights back, though, she calls it violence, and seems to believe it's evidence that she's a man and is also therefore a threat.

She leaves, and Danny's left to deal with her parents.

It's exactly what you'd expect. Danny's father seems to believe, under whatever bullshit Graywytch told them, that being trans and being a superhero is all connected, and that Danny is doing this to be special and to impress them, and she can just stop and everything will be fine for them—but Danny literally just saw her best friend nearly die, has been betrayed by a superhero she's been trying to trust, and knows what she is. She keeps insisting, she is trans and she was given Dreadnought's powers—so, her mother insists that she's being selfish, because sure, she might want to be a girl, but her parents want their son back, and now she's a superhero, and what about what they want?

The audacity, holy fucking god. Danny responds that she's always been a girl, they can just see it now—and her parents throw her out, because she's not doing what they want. Danny leaves, confidently.

She takes it pretty well, actually. She tries to get in touch with Doc Impossible and Valkryja, but to no avail, and while she's waiting for a response on her dying phone, she overhears the explosions.

She rushes into help—there's some sort of robbery going on with a cash train, and these big-ass mechas are wreaking havoc—Danny decides, she obviously has to help, because this must be a part of Utopia's plan, she just don't know how. Why would Utopia kill Dreadnought and go for all this trouble to get some cash? Impossible amounts of cash, but like, still, just cash.

Danny finally takes up the name of Dreadnought to encourage people to get to shelters and call the Legion for backup before she goes to deal with the mechas.

The ensuing battle tears her cowl, meaning going back out is risking her identity, but she soldiers on anyway and figures out one of the five, piloting the green one is Gerald, who keeps telling her to go away. When she gets to him, she can see that he's had most of his body amputated to plug his torso into the mecha. That's his new body—because he wants those powers so bad, and according to him, the plan really is just a robbery.

After Danny gets all the other mechas, she goes out to find why the fuck the Legion hasn't responded to this. Like, people were dying, and the city was being destroyed, and they left a fifteen year old to deal with it? Calamity is sitting up in bed and shoots at her, but is super relieved when it's just Danny, and then she finds Doc Impossible on the floor with her head blown off. This is the reason nobody came to help her against the mechas: they were mostly dead.

From here, Doc Impossible's voice comes from a speaker, and we learn the truth about her: she isn't human. She's a creation of Utopia's, an android—and Utopia isn't some mysterious villain from nowhere, she was the original supervillain too, the one we've only heard about in Danny's history lessons: Mistress Malice, who killed the first Dreadnought and the one that gave Danny her powers. The person Doc Impossible was running from? That was her, and while she tried to break free, there was some sort of back entry in her mind that allowed her access, and through it, she essentially possessed the doctor, and used her to put the Legion out of commission with a nerve gas that's killed Carapace and Valkryja—the only one that's still very much alive is Greywytch, who had some sort of spell that shielded her not just from whatever toxin in the air, but Doc Impossible's gun. A version of Doc Impossible, free from Utopia's control, was with Sarah but without a body.

Utopia's plan is to just upload herself into the internet with a thousand different versions of her so she's impossible to kill, but will have access to everything—and that really means everything. In a high tech society, like this book, she's beyond powerful, and Doc Impossible fears, by now, she's already won. There's no fighting her anymore. At most, they have an hour before she's uploaded herself, and she's in a vault protected by electricity, which will kill Danny if she tries to get in.

For a minute, it really does seem like she's won, but then Sarah asks about the reactor powering it, which I understand very little about and could possibly be made up by the author—but there's a coolant or something, and it's a space Sarah can get in, sever something, and it'll need to go to some sort of backup power source (I think???) but in the short amount of time it's down, Dreadnought could get in. Sarah's very, very injured but she's not down for the count, and she fully intends to help however she can.

And then the minute Danny comes in, Utopia just shoots her with her matter-melting gun. Twice.

 

MAIN CHARACTERS:

I love Danny. She's modern, she's sweet, but she's not a pushover, and I find her super easy to relate to. At first glance, she seems like the typical every(wo)man becoming a superhero, proving that it can one day happen to the reader, but it's a bit more complicated than that.

Danny's very smart and very nerdy—but in the most lovable way. She talks about how you can't hit villains with cars because cars are made to crumple around passengers on impacts to protect them, but you can pull out their engines and beat the shit out of your enemies with that. And despite being noble and brave, she is not above anger, and is not completely pacifistic, not just up against people like Utopia or Bosco, but against the people who've personally wronged her. She's afraid of her father and does genuinely care about David—but she takes no shit from her friends, and when she stands up against her father, I sdkahsdsdjhka. Honestly, that's when I fell in love. Like, no, don't let him touch you, yes you should leave, get as far away from him as you can. I started rooting like Hell for her.

I'm not a girl, but it's something super validating to see a transgender superhero who's… still angry. She's choosing justice, and she's definitely a little plain, but she feels fleshed out. She's been weak her whole life, and now that she's powerful enough to choose who she wants to be, she's chosen to be a goddamn role model! She's chosen a life of freedom, to be who she wants, and that's essentially what Dreadnought as a story is, just told via superpowers.

I especially love Sarah as her foil—they have a lot of things that keep them being very, very different like how Danny is white, and Danny's trans, and Sarah is way more well-versed in all these caping shenanigans where Danny's morality is so firm and rigid she kinda refuses to break the law in any scenario—but they also have a lot in common! They're both trying to stop Utopia, they're both trying to benefit their city, they're both kids getting into matters that they honestly shouldn't—but nobody else will. Nobody is helping them, nobody is stopping Utopia, and it all rests on them. Where Sarah welcomes Danny into girlhood with their shopping trip and befriending her and welcoming her into the bathroom, it's Calamity that welcomes Dreadnought into the complexities of caping, of justice and morality, and for that reason, I fucking love Calamity, and it's foils like her that keep the heroes like Danny interesting—because a lot of Calamity's actions are way more questionable than Danny's. She's okay with stealing if she's got a reason for it, she doesn't trust a lot of authority because she knows how authority can hurt people like her—and I really feel like her being Latina helps nail this in, because the U.S. government is more than okay with hurting brown people for sometimes, no reason at all. It was a president, our highest ranking official, the most powerful man in the country that started a racist war on drugs simply meant to criminalize people of color (his administration admitted it too). In the Great Depression, the country deported tons of Mexicans thinking it'd help with the crumbling economy if the white people could just take their jobs, but their sudden loss actually worsened it all (plus, a lot of these people were American-born. Like, ⅓. We deported perfectly legal citizens). As Calamity says, the government will just give these nasty jobs to brown people, which was what happened to her grandfather. It was a job no one else wanted, and it's something that even trying to use right and trying to do the right thing has gotten them in trouble for.

I do feel like Calamity deserves to be the main character of a story somewhere—but it's totally possible it isn't something Daniels could write a full-ass book about, she might not be equipped to delve into her story arc, and I choose to believe future books will be really, properly developing her as a character—hopefully with the addition of her dating Danny, because I'm shipping them. They're adorable.

Either way, their interactions don't just pad out the story and serve in the narrative to develop Danny, but they offer further context for these often idealized structures—it's Calamity fighting against the law and protecting her streets even in cases where the law probably isn't on her side, but it's Sarah who's been robbed of her father, who's lost so much of her family to something her grandfather might've been coerced into, and now it's Sarah who's lost a limb and had her life permanently altered fighting evil, because she knows just what evil is. This context of doing good, and being okay with stealing and beating up a suspect for answers adds to that internal conflict we get with Dreadnought—because she's not used to being a hero. She's worried she isn't smart enough, that she's a coward, that she isn't made for heroism, but Sarah—even in her experience and gray mortality—knows fully that Dreadnought can be just as good as a hero as her.

Even if she jokingly calls Dreadnought a sidekick.

 

FIRST FIVE PAGES:

So, we start off with Danny just buying some nail polish. This immediately introduces us to the key component of her character—she's hiding a huge part of herself, and she's desperately longing to be free, to properly express who she is, and she can't. Partially because of her parents, or society, or not being able to—but she is limiting herself to this tiny thing that she wants, something she cannot do in the comfort of her own home—this is a scene you'd expect in a coming-of-age queer novel, and then, while she's in hiding, we get a superhero fight—and her response is not "oh my god! So cool! Superheroes!" She's like, "oh no. Superheroes? Now?" It quickly establishes that, while cool, this is a fairly common thing that she knows what to do, and it goes into the logistics of a world with superheroes. This world has shelters, emergency plans, and a whole history that's dictated the need for them.

The first five pages does an amazing job—with it's imagery, it's characterization of the main character, the complexities of her identity, and we're not like, waiting until halfway in the book for the superheroes and the action, we actually get it very quickly. This is absolutely everything we want in the first five pages. April Daniels fucking nailed it.

 

DIVERSITY:

I've come to possess the super strong notion that a lack of diversity often goes hand in hand with a lack of depth and development. Dreadnought is a book centering a transgirl in a world that refuses to take her seriously, and under the hypertech and the capes, this book centers that. Danny is very obviously poor. It's not the focus, but it's there to add more depth to her past—her family cut cable forever ago, and she talks about how there's a whole bunch of things in her home that they always meant to fix and couldn't. She's not just a transgirl, but a lesbian—which is what kinda has her risking all sorts of bigotry by being open. Now that she looks more like what people associate with a girl, she's being treated like one—this book even shows a strange man insisting that she smile for no fucking reason, because diversity is not always about x person having presence, but their role in it and how it impacts the character, and this is important for the story's development. Not only does society have a strange entitlement to women in how David assumes Danny should just be down to date him and random people tell her how to feel—but then we have Doc Impossible just sharing that she's trans, and how this makes Greywytch assume she knows Danny better than Danny must know herself and come all out with the stupid tampon problem, and the story seems to even imply that the whole world feels entitled to the likes of Dreadnought. Partially because everybody adored him—but we have a random photographer risking his life just for a picture of Danny, because he has something to gain from exposing her face. Everybody has tons of questions for her, everybody wants to know who she is when they know damn well the reasons why she shouldn't be public with her identity. It's the perfect dissection of transphobia and misogyny, and just where it all intersects—transmisogyny, where transwomen are punished for not giving into the things a "rEaL wOmEn" should be. This is when you catch assholes mocking transwomen for being too tall, or too fat, where they're ugly or hairy or somehow mannish, and it's rhetoric that not just transwomen have to face but that is often used for ciswomen too. Women in general are expected to be petite, but also need to have decently sized breasts or they're deemed unattractive. Being too skinny is being unhealthy, but too curvy means you're fat and then no one likes you expect in a fetish-y way. Being flat means you don't look like a woman, but people will mock well-endowed women because having big tits means you're promiscuous, and they're probably not real anyway. Women are expected to be pretty naturally—but too much effort into your looks means you're fake and superficial and high maintenance, and not trying at all means you're a slob and there's usually something wrong with you.

Danny might be thin, white, and conventionally attractive—but it doesn't free her from all this bullshit she has to deal with, on top of transphobia and homophobia her identity will give her. And then the fact that her father has shouted enough at her that hearing in one of her ears has begun to suffer? These characters are so well developed, it shows.

And then, her friend is there: Calamity's race doesn't get specified, but it definitely seems like she's brown. I don't want to assume her race (even if I assume every character is automatically Mexican by default), and I do wish we got a bit of that characterization—but this wasn't just a character being brown, and she was by no means thrown in for a splash of color among the cast. She's well-developed, she has a unique and thought-out backstory not necessarily centering her race, but that plays into a lot of U.S. history, and makes her ethnicity feel a little more baked into her, instead of something added on top with her comments about how white girls get all the fun gifts.

I would also like to say that while it's by no means a focus, and I'm no expert on it specifically, Sarah's new disability feels well done. It's too fresh for us to be hearing about prosthetics, and she's very upset by it, because I mean, she nearly died. This was a very traumatic event and this is going to be a big change for her. Realistically, this could stop her from doing a lot of stuff in the future—she naturally feels lost. It'd be stupid to play it off as something she can only shrug off, because while disabled people aren't worth any less than the able bodied, they are different from them and they have different needs. It's brief, but Danny insists it won't stop her from saving the world—because she helped stop Utopia when she was crawling without an arm, fresh out of surgery. Sarah is a badass, with or without her arm, and it seems very clear to me that April Daniels is doing not just the disability but Sarah as a character her due respect, and this addition makes the story just so much more realistic for one involving superheroes. It didn't feel like she had plot armor, and it didn't feel like she just shrugged off certain death, and it's inclusion adds depth and a more somber, bitter-sweet tone to the ending as a whole.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it after this—diversity is not a checklist to scratch things off of so we can pat ourselves on the back. While Dreadnought does seem to center a white girl, it does the whole cast justice and feels well thought out. And I mean, we had a group of three women (one of which was not human, but seems to possess a human-ish consciousness, so we're counting her as an equal) saving the world against another woman villain—that's got to count for something too.

 

WRITING:

There's this thing with first-person POV that I couldn't nail down, but I've recently started writing a novel in first-person, so I think I have a better understanding of it now to say that it can be a little… wonky.

I think it works a lot better when you really know your main character and you embody them, which Daniels has done perfectly with her book here. You get a very good understanding of Danny—her emotions, and her motivations, and her actions, so I think all these small parts about it that seem weird to me are either to be expected by first-person POVs, or purely a me problem because I don't read or write a lot of first-person POVs.

Outside of that, though—the imagery in this thing's amazing. Maybe it's just because I'm a writer, but there was many times where I stopped, sorta leaned back and just appreciated the scene Daniels was painting. It was beautiful. And Daniels didn't shy away from anything, this feels like the type of book where the vision was not even remotely compromised and you know exactly what the author wanted to write. I felt Danny on this spiritual level I absolutely adore. The humor was not quite laugh-out-loud funny, but still overall lightened the mood and was entertaining.

And the worldbuilding. It was not simply "modern world + superheroes" we get hypertech, we have androids, we have mad scientists, we have people who basically have superpowers but don't get them recognized as superpowers so they can just be really awesome delivery people. Daniels took history into account, laws and legalities, how normal people would react to these things—the world of Dreadnought is beautifully realistic, even with the superheroes.

 

AUTHOR:

This is my first venture into any of April Daniels' writing, and this seems to be her first book! I don't know why I keep posting debut novels on my blog, but yay!

Currently, Daniels is working on the third and final book of the trilology—I already got my hands on the second, but I'm waiting to read it for when the time is right, so mostly, I just know what the back says and that the cover's kinda breathtaking.

I didn't really find a ton of stuff on Daniels—she has a Wikipedia page, but the information on it is sparse, and its at that level of sparseness where I'm not sure if it's due to a lack of fame (which is a damn shame), or a maintained privacy on her own life. I can respect the last one, but we might all be sleeping on Miss Daniels here. I did however find an interview on her that spoke to me on a spiritual level from Geeks Out all the way back in 2020, where Daniels talks about a few choices in her novels, including her decisions for Danny's transition—while instantaneous and damn near flawless, Danny's still perceptible to this fear that she can ruin it, the way thousands of woman (trans or cis, real or fictional) often do. We close on Danny stuffing her face full of pizza because her good looks, while playing a role in her beginning and her arc, haven't actually accomplished anything. Daniels talks about how this was the type of media she wanted as a child—and I'm looking at her surname, and I'm looking Danielle "Danny" Tozer and I'm thinking, "This is it. You did it." If I could invent a time machine, I would grab fifteen-year-old April Daniels, shove this book into her hands, and tell her she's going to make a beautiful author some day, and one day she's gonna have a nonbinary writer blogging about her book with an ego the size of the moon and they'll sing her praises to the day she dies. Another small thing that stuck out to me in this interview, on top of her advice for other queer writers, was she said, "Really, I'd like a world where queer kids don't need to be heroes." It stuck out to me, I think especially in the current political climate where queer kids are being punished for being queer by adults that think they know better—something about what's currently happening in the U.S. south really made the whole part about everybody trying to turn Danny back to a boy with hormones she can get now that everybody thinks they know what's wrong really called out to me—because there's nothing wrong with Danny. I don't tend to like the idea that the body we're born in has anything wrong with it, but I'm also very distance from my own. I like the thought of just being words on a screen for y'all, mostly—but how many people have wanted to change something about themselves? The vast majority of "gender affirming surgery" is done by cisgender folks. When a cis woman gets a breast augmentation, she doesn't have to jump through hoops, go to therapy, get accused of being mentally ill—but a transwoman does it, and it's mutilation, and the law wants to stop her, and she needs three years of therapy, and everybody wants to know just what she did to her body. I don't want to share too much private information about anybody in my life—but there's somebody very close to me that got a breast augmentation when she was still in highschool. She was a ciswoman—politicians were not getting red in the face, screaming she was sick and needed to go to therapy.

My point here is, Dreadnought reflects a lot of trans issues that is so well-done, I could probably make like, three posts detailing them. If Daniels happens to be in the market for a nonbinary, loudmouth spouse, I'll buy the ring.

 

ENDING:

Danny regains consciousness not too far from her. Utopia explains that Danny's delayed her, but hasn't stopped her—she's still going, and Danny could die, but that wasn't what she was aiming for.

For obvious reasons, Danny doesn't want to die. Utopia's already killed so many others, but what seems to be the final straw for her is that this is her "first day of freedom." Not too long ago, she lost her parents, as overbearing and awful as they were, and Danny's got a whole life ahead of her not just as a girl, but as a role model and a hero. She looks again at this reality lattice that's quickly unwinding, and mends it.

It's not pretty. None of it is easy, it's incredibly painful—but she's doing it, and it's working. So until then, she seeks to distract Utopia. She gets her real plan out of her—not just to upload herself to the internet, but to upload everybody else. This will mean saving them from Nemesis, yes—but it also means a world completely under her control, and could constitute as just killing everybody to upload their consciousness which might not quite be life. Whatever Nemesis is, observing it is what brings it's effects—but in a world where people can only do what she allows them to, that will be null. Nobody will observe it, or even think about anything she doesn't want. If Danny stays alive long enough, she intends to upload her too—but make her completely loyal to her, effectively brainwashed.

Technically, this is a save from Nemesis—but it's still unclear what it is, and to be honest, there's no telling if it'll even work. Utopia insists it isn't ego if she can back it up, but we don't see her back it up, and it looks an awful lot like her version of utopia is just any society where she's in power. She's very insistent on being god over everybody else, and wants Danny to worship her.

By now, Danny's mended enough to be able to stand—it's Utopia's ego against an injured kid she's tried to kill that does her in, because she was too distracted with her technology and takeover plan to notice when Danny was alright enough to kick her ass. It's not really a battle—Danny just rips the weapon out of her chest, handicaps her, and it's over in about a page.

So, the Legion is gone. Chlorophyll is alive, but significantly brain damaged because he got shot in the head, and his sister (a supervillain on parole by the name of Aloe) is going to be in charge of him. Magma's still alive, but barely, and is dunked into a volcano to rehabilitate (by the next book, he's still alive but his injuries have forced him into retirement, so he's not really able to help Danny), and Graywytch is actually okay. Just a cut on the arm, really, and she doesn't say a single word to Danny after she's saved the world—but, to be fair, she just watched two close friends of her's die and saw the legion crumple underneath her while she could do nothing, so… she's still a bitch, but she's had a long day.

The news has caught Danny's face as Dreadnought, and there's already stories about the battle in New Port, and Utopia's been arrested, meaning it's not going to be long before everybody knows who she is. There's no secrets in her identity—but she does get some pizza, so it evens out. Now that the world is saved, Sarah very quietly breaks over losing her arm—she's alive, which is a good thing and very much a miracle, but there's no question that losing a limb is a huge change, and she seems very worried that it's going to be stopping her graycaping days, but Danny insists she can still save the world again without it, because Calamity's a fucking badass.

Danny's parents have been calling. She completely refuses to speak to them, so Doc Impossible just tells them to get a lawyer over the phone.

It's her first day of freedom, and she's got her whole life ahead of her. Danny has to put up with a press conference where she talks about the attack, including the fall of the Legion Pacifica—but she states, even without them, she's been in New Port all her life and has no intentions of going anywhere. She's going to protect the city, even if it's all by herself—and because she knows there's no chance of hiding her identity, she figures she ought to come out and say it, damn all the consequences, she's trans and gay. Her superhero status is likely not going to protect her from any bias or idiocy, and she isn't hopeful of any reconciliation with her parents, and god knows what any of this is going to mean in the context of her life, of Doc Impossible, what's going to happen with Greywytch, what this might mean for her relationship with Sarah—but she ends the book by restating her identity, and insisting she can bea. good person and do good things as the next Dreadnought.

I'm not ashamed to admit I've teared up at the last line. There's a lot of room in the ending for a lot more, but honestly, even if this was the only book we got out of April Daniels, I'd still be weeping at the thought of a transgender superhero breaking free of an abusive home, fighting evil, and deciding that they're going to do good. Like, we got Danny talking about how she thinks she's stupid and a coward and not fit for Dreadnought, and then she thinks she should let her father die and still acts to help save him when he's been nothing but an asshole, and I love her.

 

THINGS COUNTING FOR:

—Daniels dedicates this book to all "the girls in hiding." I'm not even sure if the dedications in Lemony fucking Snicket's books made me tear up as much as all these queer novels.

—There's something really brilliant about Greywytch specifically—like, I'm not going to name the bitch, but we all know about that one author who got super famous for a super popular series centered around witches and wizardry, before she got all TERFy on her social media, compared transwomen to wolves and ciswomen to hens (which is all kinds of messed up), wrote a new trash book series under the name of the man who like invented conversion therapy, and started this new wave of "feminism" that mainly centered the white cishet women like her because that's all she effectively cares about? I'm trans—I know names have power and the less responses we get for her's when they type it into the search bar on the internet, the better. The thing I've noticed most about this wave of feminism where they pick and choose who they really support the rights of, is they've clung to witches as their icon. She wrote a whole series about witches and shit, and then she used it as her whole motif, and now we got a whole bunch of TERFS exclaiming, "This witch doesn't burn!", but let's make it clear: none of these women were the ones that really had to worry about burning. There is so many complications in feminism on the basis of race, religion, class, sexual orientation, appearance, everything. You think a white woman and a black woman will be treated the same by politics? A white woman versus an Indigenous woman? A white woman versus a black man? A Christian versus a Muslim, especially if they're racialized as Arab, or are wearing religious clothing? You seen people treat janitors and construction workers the same as they treat CEOs? Somebody straight compared to somebody who might behave or look stereotypically queer? You think society will treat somebody who conforms to every beauty standard the same as somebody who just doesn't? It shouldn't be a "versus" situation, there's no point in tearing everybody down—but my point is, we got all these rich, skinny, white chicks thinking they should be leading the charge. They're not fighting for the autonomy of the disabled when they insist all these autistic girls aren't REALLY trans men, they're not fighting for any butch lesbians they're so sure they're protecting when they insist "we can always tell!" It was never the women like this unnamed author or Greywytch who were at risk of burning—because they were the eccentric ones, the ones rocking the boat, the ones getting too comfortable. Yes, women are oppressed—but having a white women stoking the flames is not freedom for anybody in this society. And now, we got Greywytch, who's whole shtick seems to be some sort of magic thing she's got going on, and her transphobia is highlighted with hypocrisy. Of course it's Danny's fault why Sarah was injured, because it's always the man's fault, and she believes Danny to be a man—but Sarah was the one who insisted they NOT get backup every time Danny insisted they go to the Legion. I don't want to say it was Sarah's fault, because Sarah's fifteen and really it's the fault of the person who shot her—but Sarah was the one who got into this mess, Sarah was the one who insisted on fighting Utopia, Sarah was the one who came into Danny's bedroom and said, "you're helping me take down Utopia! Let's go, Dreadnought, let's go take on Utopia, c'mon, let's save the world without any supervision!" Greywytch is the one who thinks Danny looking like a girl is an insult to womanhood because being a woman is beyond looking like one, when she's the one who thinks putting in a tampon is the single defining trait of being a woman. She's the one who chides Danny for her violence and cites it as some sort of man trait when she was just threatening to kill her. She's a Hate Sink, she's meant to antagonize Danny and be another obstacle in her way—but Daniels put thought into her character, and it gives a certain depth to her hatred beyond "the one you're supposed to hate."

—I know I've spoken enough about my love for Calamity—but… I'm sorry, we got a cowboy Latina superhero. That's fucking awesome. The aesthetic, her backstory, her personality, her dialogue—I just, ugh, I love it.

—The ending is beautiful. I'm sorry, just— "Because I'm Dreadnought. And I think maybe I can be a good person."

—The Artificer.

 

THINGS COUNTING AGAINST:

—Daniels killed off the love of my life (The Artificer).

—I'm still questioning the importance of David as a character. I do understand what Daniels was trying to do with him, and I do understand his whole thing is like, male entitlement that Danny now sees because she's finally being viewed as a woman, and the truth with big changes like transitioning is… you can weed out a lot of things from your past. Sometimes your friends aren't who you thought they were—but I feel like his presence wasn't really needed other than to highlight all this new loss Danny was getting with her transition. I mean, he leaves like, a third into the book. It's not necessarily pointless, but it feels a little awkward, and because this is a trilogy, that means there's a chance he'll be brought up again! Maybe he's coming back and he'll play a role in some character arc, or we'll get more insight into Danny's friendship with him from before the events of the story—but looking at Dreadnought as a stand-alone novel with no speculation, it just feels kinda… weird. I don't know.

—I am kinda wondering how Utopia/Malice shot Danny so fast. Like, the minute she got in there, just bang-bang! with her un-reality gun. Did she hear her? Did she know she was coming? Or was there enough time between Danny getting in for her to just be like 'okay, let me grab my gun and shoot you!" and then Danny got shot? It happens pretty fast in the novel, so it could've just been something I missed, and this is a pretty small gripe because otherwise, the whole part with Utopia is damn near flawless—it reads a lot like a super dramatic confrontation with a supervillain—Danny comes so close to defeat, defies the odds, literally tears this lethal, brutal weapon from Utopia's chest, all without killing her.

I already got my mitts on the second book in the series, and just the first few lines had me buzzing with excitement—so much, I had to re-read them three times, over and over again, and then set it down and start frantically pacing in my excitement. I did this a lot when I was reading the book. I also do that a lot when I'm writing—and like this, you can understand why these reviews take so much fucking time, right?

Anyway—this book slaps, and dumbing down any of my reviews to a handful of numbers is removing tons of nuance and in general doing kind of a disservice to them—but I gotta give Dreadnought…

a 9/10. Maybe even 10/10. I don't know. I think the number thing is dumb, because this is ultimately a pretty perfect book—I think there's gonna be a lot of trans kids who'll fall in love with it, and I think it's worth your time to read. And if superheroes aren't your thing, I cannot stress this enough, it'd be a super good idea to go check out other trans authors, because we're all in the middle of a crisis. I'm working on a post all about that, so please forgive the long ass wait between my posts.

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