Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy by Steven Campbell review

    HARD LUCK HANK is notably the first book I ever saw advertised alongside one of my books and every single volume of the series has been advertised alongside my Supervillainy Saga books, almost in tandem. This factor, along with the hilarious covers, made me finally shell out the money to buy a copy of the first book. I'm currently on the fifth book, interrupting my work in writing my Lucifer's Star sequel and reading other series to read the books one after the other.

    Hank, last name unknown, is a mutant on the space station of Belvaille. He is mostly indestructible, at least to small arms fire, and slow as hell. He's basically the Juggernaut if the Juggernaut were a third as powerful and an even bigger slob. Actually, that describes Spiderman villain The Rhino but a lot more people know the Juggernaut than the Rhino. You could also make a comparison to the Hulk's Joe Fix-It personality but that's even less known. Bellvaile is one of the worst cities in the galaxy and composed almost entirely of criminals.

    Despite possessing superpowers, Hank is a low-level thug who lives just well enough to keep himself in doughnuts, hamburgers, and whatever else he eats in the future. He has a close friendship with the station's incredibly corrupt security chief, Garm, and more or less has no ambitions but to keep doing what he's doing for the next few centuries.

    Hank's life changes a great deal when a pair of other mutants start living next door, one of whom is a level 10 mutant who may be able to change the galaxy. Also, the discovery he's been mislabeled a level 10 mutant himself and this has attracted the attention of two indestructible robots that are going to potentially murder everyone in the station to get rid of this threat to their race. Hank more or less gets roped into doing the right thing and everything goes downhill from there.

    I recommend the audiobook version of this book since Liam Owen does an amazing job of imitating Patrick Warburton as a burned out space goon. The text version isn't bad by itself but the audio acting adds something special to the story. This is a comedic story which can still be taken seriously and enjoyed on the merits of being anti-hero fiction at its funniest. Hank is a killer, leg-breaker, and general all round beast but he's too lazy to be malevolent.

    The supporting cast is a treat with Garm being my favorite character but a certain purple skinned femme ingenue being every bit as enjoyable. This cast will carry Hank's adventures through a number of books so I'm going to say it's a good thing they're all as fun as they are. I also like Belvaille here most. The station will go through some dramatic changes but it's never more enjoyable than when it's like a floating Mos Eisley.

    Hank is a likable character despite how much shade I throw on him and a great comedy protagonist. He's dangerous enough that he can deal with most problems without getting hurt (again, primarily because he's mostly indestructible). Unfortunately, for him, most of the problems in the book are much more dangerous than him. As a career criminal, we see him try to do whatever he's paid to do but he keeps a certain honesty despite it. Perhaps the biggest insight into his character is when one of his customers tries to drastically overpay him, only for him to correct her with the right total. No one else on Belvaille would have done that, nor, do I suspect would much of the galaxy put up with the lumps he takes for his kinda-sorta friends.

    In conclusion, I strongly recommend you pick up this book if you're in the mood for a sci-fi comedy. The characters are great, the story is decent, and the setting is interesting. Best of all, Hank is hilarious as he lumbers from bad situation to bad situation, making things worse for the most part, as he tries to do the bare minimum required. Sometimes, it ends up fixing things and it's as surprising to Hank as it is to the reader.


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