Also, this is his blog: http://matthewsturges.com/wordpress/
On to the review! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Let's get this out of the way.
"She clearly could care less what I make of the Ghoul King, and I don't even bother to answer her."
In other news, his use of the present tense gets a gold star from me.
So the main character of Cleansed and Set in Gold (C&SG) is named David Caulfield, his superhero alias is Wildcard. His superpower is variable. You never know what he's going to show up to a battle with. Invisibility? Maybe. Flight? It's possible. Underwear outside of his pants? You know it. Funnily enough, the only powers he expresses are of his fellow superheroes in the League of Heroes. Simple, right?
The twist is that he's a cannibal. That's how he gets his powers. Any heroes or villians who die, he digs up and stores in his secret refrigerated lair (Sidebar: His secret refrigerated lair is accessible from his apartment. I'm not sure how that works.) and eats as needed.
Honestly, the first time I read C&SG I was like, WHAT THE MUFF, LAMEFACE?
The second time, I liked it a lot more.
There was this nice bit of foreshadowing in the beginning that I missed but caught on the second read. It seems obvious now, but at the time I just thought, "Oh, yeah, eating makes me feel better, too." I dunno, the whole eat-the-flesh-of-your-enemies-to-gain-their-strength trope is extremely old but it's stuck around. I mean, it's in District 9, and that only came out last year.
But then it's like... what about hair and nails and stuff? There's this part at the end when he eats part of his still-living enemy and gains her power, so obviously he doesn't have to eat already dead people. Or, hey, hey, hey, David could try giving out some blowjobs and see if that worked. Plus, how did he even discover his superpower? And what constitutes a power? If he ate a fish, could he swim real fast and breathe underwater? If he ate some beef, would he taste delicious?
Maybe this short story would have worked better as a book. Or maybe there just could have been a Q&A afterward.
(Sidebar again: Back to his secret refrigerated lair, sorry. David is being interviewed by this reporter, and he shows her the false wall that leads to his lair. He notes she is "impressed" and I JUST figured out why. SHE THINKS YOU CAN BEND SPACE AND TIME, DAVID. SHE THINKS YOU ARE A TIME LORD.)
C&SG gets another gold star for its focus on character relationships.
LOL. Look what I wrote in my notes: More characters involved in an action scene, the harder it is to do. Matthew Sturges manages to skirt around this law by killing off his heroes as quick as possible.
It's true, too. This League of Heroes is really more of a Group of Heroes. And by the end, it's pretty much just a Couple. David's got to power his superpower somehow.
Oh, and there's this weird interaction toward the beginning of C&SG where it's revealed David has a love of words. I was waiting for it to come into play again, but no. Never again.
There's not much more for me to say about C&SG without going real in-depth, blah, blah, symbolism, blah, blah, who cares. There's a scene where David gives that reporter I mentioned earlier the interview of her life, but the only reason I take issue with it is because I would have done it differently and that's a lame reason not to like something. Matthew Sturges did it his way; it's his story, and I'm not going to go all, I HATE THIS WRITE IT MY WAY OR ELSE DAMN IT
AND. There is a lot of dialogue. A lot of it was unnecessary. At first I felt like Sturges was doing it because he normally works with comic books, so lots of dialogue is just business as usual for him. But then he lampshaded it at one point because David is like, "I'm saying this aloud, but the words aren't really necessary." FUCKIN' A, DAVID. FUCKIN' A.
So what? Good concept. Slightly uneven execution. No plot holes, but some major backstory holes. 4.5 out of 5. I'm being a little generous here because a couple of the stories to come are so bad, this one seems... *puts on sunglasses* ...cleansed and set in gold.