Review: “The Bull” by J. R. Rain

2 of 5 stars.

Included in Chronology published by Curiosity Quills Press, this tale does not rise to the level of being a short story. It is a vignette, or rather a character study, seemingly for a comic-book hero. However, we never see the self-styled superhero in action. The narrator claims to be revealing his origin story, however there is not much story to that either. Carl, a mostly unsuccessful rodeo clown living in The Rodeo Capital of the World in Arizona, briefly tells of getting a late call to replace a sick rodeo clown and finding himself in the ring with El Diablo, a legend of a fierce bull. A freak hail-and-lightning storm blows in while Carl faces off with El Diablo and with heavy implications of divine intervention, lightning strikes Carl right as the bull is about to.

Carl wakes in the hospital three days later to hear that no trace of the bull was ever seen again. Meanwhile, Carl is seemingly fine–no scratches on him. He goes home and within the hour, horns and a tail have sprouted, by the next morning, he is bigger, buffer and covered in fire-proof, bullet-proof, fur-covered hide.

That’s it. He implies later run-ins with super-villains, but we don’t get to hear those tales nor see those adversaries. Most of the implied heroics lean into cliche mad scientists holed up on private islands. Luckily, we are spared the cliche by getting no story at all.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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