Sunday, February 25, 2018

Blackjack: Villain by Brian Bequer (Blackjack 1#)

    BLACKJACK: VILLAIN by Brian Bequer is a supervillain novel which is in the fashion of SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE, CONFESSIONS OF A D-LIST SUPERVILLAIN, or my own SUPERVILLAINY SAGA. It's the story of a small-time villain who has the potential to be a big-time villain. He's blessed with the skills of an archer, the strength of Thor, and a genius scientific mind. It says something about just how much of an underachiever the guy is that he's still doing penny ante jobs before he gets recruited by the world's equivalent of Lex Luthor for the biggest job imaginable.

    I liked this book a great deal and have to say that Blackjack, himself, is a large part of the appeal. I think he's a bit too overpowered as he suffers a a crisis of schticks. That's part of his appeal, though, that he can't commit to anything and even his name is because he couldn't think of anything which covered all his themes. The book outright says he's suffering from maturity problems and that includes not being able to take responsibility for his actions. Everything is the fault of his archenemy Atmosphero.

    The best part of the book is the first half which describes the nature of being a mid-level supervillain. We get to see how his crooked lawyer gets the superheroes off his back, what causes him to have chronic villainy (losing his house to a superhero fight), and also how he managed to get involved in the business in the first place. These are some really fascinating scenes and ones which I wanted to hear more about because it's the meat of the book.

    The villains which Blackjack deals with are an eccentric cast of characters who also provide a good deal of humor as well as contrasting personalities. One is a murderous psychopathic eco-terrorist with psychic powers, another one too stupid to realize his codename is a movie reference, and another still being a woman who is the very definition of bad for Blackjack. This is contrasted against a superheroine who is brainwashed into helping them but still serves as a good influence on Blackjack.

    The supporting cast is pretty good in this book. I really enjoyed Apogee, Blackjack's sort of love interest, and her struggle to deal with her mixture of love as well as hate for our protagonist. Cool Hand Luke is a hilariously dumb redneck henchman. Doctor Zundergrub is an excellent antagonist as his charming personality hides a truly murderous monster. I even loved Influx and how she nicely contrasted Apogee. 

    The book loses a star because the latter half leaves the colorful world of superheroes and villains to a weird planetary romance-esque adventure on what is best described as the Halo from Halo crossed with Barsoom. It's a genre shift which isn't entirely welcome despite being still very entertaining. I wanted to see our villains fight heroes rather than local space tribesmen. Thankfully, it returns to that for the exciting finale.


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