Friday, May 24, 2013

Villains Inc. review

    Villains Inc. is the sequel to the extremely enjoyable Wearing the Cape novel. It takes six months after the events of the first novel, our protagonist forced to deal with fallout from the climax. I won't spoil what happened there but will say it was one of the better endings I've seen for this genre. Characters lived, died, grew, and changed based on realistic consequences from their actions. Well, as realistic as any novel involving Superman-esque power sets can be.

    Wearing the Cape's Earth  is still light and cheerful but more wary of the destructive power of superhumans. Initially, I thought this novel was going to focus on Hope dealing with negative publicity and the rising tide of anti-superhero sentiment but the author surprised me by going in a different direction.

    Instead, Villains Inc. is a story which focuses on giving the Chicago Sentinels some archrivals. Because the Wearing the Cape series has a more "realistic" sense of scale, it's a group of mob-related heavies but they still manage to invoke the kind of team-ups which gave us the Legion of Doom and Injustice League.

    Speaking of realism, this book introduces an element to the setting I wasn't expecting: magic. Without changing the rules set out from the Breakthrough Event, Marion G. Harmon broadens the nature of his world significantly. We knew Breakthroughs include people who can imitate magic, vampires, and demons but this volume suggests they actually outnumber 'normal' superheroes.
    I think this book is actually better than Wearing the Cape, showing that Hope isn't just a one-trick pony. She is growing as both a hero and a character, moving beyond her origin story to become a more multi-faceted complex character. I still love her relationship with Artemis and am eagerly looking forward to reading said character's solo novel.

    If there was an element I missed, I rather regret losing the element of celebrity that was such an ever-present part of the previous books. It was still present, to an extent, but Hope only seems to deal with the negative elements of being famous in this book. I felt it was a missed opportunity to not explore more "responsibilities" of celebrity.

    It's hard to imagine the public turning against Hope since she's about as offensive as Belle from Beauty and the Beast but I, otherwise, liked the book. The Wearing the Cape series has shown the Capepunk genre can carry a 'serious' story. Superheroes have a place in prose and I'm hoping to see more tales from the author set in the universe.

     In conclusion, buy the novel. It's an excellent example of why internet publishing can be a good thing.


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