The Chowderhead Crusades


Fiction - Science Fiction
282 Pages
Reviewed on 01/02/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Chowderhead Crusades is a work of fiction in the science fiction and fantasy, humor, and superhero sub-genres, and was penned by author J. J. Walsh. We find ourselves in the colorful near-future of Comic-Con 2036, where an entity known as Cateklysm appears to the nerdy masses with a proclamation: that one lucky person who can truly learn the messages of superhero comics will be the one with the power to change the world. Twenty years later, Clayton Clayborn has spent his whole childhood growing up with this ideal in mind, and despite his indentured servitude to the Martians, he’s determined to break away and fulfill Cateklysm's Challenge. But he’s not the only one with that kind of knowledge and power on his mind…

Author J. J. Walsh has crafted an irreverent and utterly charming take on the superhero genre which acknowledges and embraces its deepest roots in the world of comics, nerds, and conventions. Anyone who has ever stepped into the world of fandom will relate to Clayton at once, as well as picking up on the numerous witty references to comic book lore along the way. Yet deep within the laughs and the twists and turns of this well-crafted adventure, there is also warmth and heart in the development of our young hero, giving an emotional resonance to the tale as he never lets life get the better of him, and keeps his spirit up. Overall, The Chowderhead Crusades is an accomplished work that I would highly recommend to science fiction fans seeking a truly heroic adventure.

Vincent Dublado

J.J. Walsh has created a story that may well translate as an independent graphic novel. The Chowderhead Crusades begins with a prologue that takes us into the futuristic year of 2036. During a Comic-Con broadcast, a man interrupts the feed and introduces himself as Cateklysm Catholicon. Dressed like a crackpot Halloween reject, he declares himself as a transcendent intelligence, who wants to redeem humanity from its failings by instituting a three-stage contest superhero scholarship, in which the grand prize is the power to change the world. But decades have passed and his offer has been forgotten. Clayton Clayborn was born on Earth but spent most of his growing up years on a space freighter called Charon. He lives a hand-to-mouth existence, working for slave labor under life-threatening conditions. His love for the comic book culture helps to keep his sanity intact. He is a second-generation member of the Chowderheads, a community of avid superhero worshippers who still remember the challenge. Clayborn is bent on taking on the challenge to get out of the rut, even if it means putting himself in harm’s way.

J.J. Walsh uses comic book culture as a study in the nature of competition in The Chowderhead Crusades. Competition is fun when you are motivated by great things that guarantee an improvement in your life. For Clayborn, his motivation stems from both an intrinsic and extrinsic perspective. The premise may sound a bit silly for those who are not familiar with the comic book community, but The Chowderhead Crusades touches on themes that we can all identify with. It gives a sense of community, a sense of belonging in trying to achieve a cause hampered by insurmountable odds in the personification of the antagonist Luthor Norman. Walsh’s writing has a humorous, down-to-earth voice, which is fitting for a story narrated by an underdog character who tries to make the best that he can out of his miserable situation. This is a fun read for anyone who has ever picked up a comic book.

Foluso Falaye

In January 2036, the eventual obliteration of humanity is inevitable unless someone wins the grand prize of acquiring the Unimaginably Advanced Technology: the power to change the world. This message is delivered by Cateklysm Catholicon, who appears from nowhere at the world’s biggest comic convention. Nearly two decades later, only the Chowderheads remain motivated to win the challenge. While seventeen-year-old Clayton Clayborn slaves away for a mining company on Mars, he plans to win the contest and punish all the villains, especially the man who murdered his parents. One such villain is Luthor Norman, the murderous business tyrant he works for, who is also bent on winning the grand prize. Now, both the hero and the villain are in a race to win as they use their superhuman abilities, which they gain while exposed to a weird element. Join Clayborn as he races to defeat his first villain in The Chowderhead Crusades by J.J. Walsh.

Make way for the new superhero who fights with his toughness as much he does with his knowledge of comic heroes. The Chowderhead Crusades is not for the faint-hearted as it involves many bloodcurdling, near-death (and even death) experiences that will have you on the edge of your seat while taking breaks to regain normal blood pressure. This was my experience, along with the similarly exciting dream I had the morning after reading the book. The contest, which is mostly in the form of riddles, tested my knowledge of different superheroes, including Batman, Superman, and Spiderman, and it was great fun to follow. The Chowderhead Crusades is a striking work of science fiction by J.J. Walsh about vengeance and closure immersed in the fascinating world of comic superheroes.