Friday, October 12, 2012
Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, by Jim Bernheimer
There are plenty of benefits to being a supervillain, even if superheroes are constantly foiling your plans and wrecking your bases. You get to set your own hours, there are plenty of banks and jewelry stores to knock over if you're short on cash, and if your bases does get blown up there's still a pretty good chance you'll get away. Well, that's if you're a major league villain like the Evil Overlord or General Devious. If you're a minor-leaguer like Calvin Stringel, aka Mechani-CAL, life consists of more scraping to get by and the odd run in the slammer rather than devious plotting and world domination. Cal's had more than his fair share of bad breaks in his life and was trying to get out of the supervillain business for good. Fortunately Cal was in his power armor for a weapons deal when the Evil Overlord's mind-control slugs got released. Now the world's salvation lies in the most unlikely, and certainly not the most ethical, hands.
Overall, I liked this book as well, however I had one or two issues that I want to talk about later in my review. However, first I want to talk about what I think was really strong about Confessions of a D-List Supervillain. The first thing which I really liked was the main character of Calvin, even if I disagreed with some of his opinions on women at the start of the book and his far more...flexible morality. Despite his shortcomings when it came to character, I ended up really relating to Calvin because he's a down on his luck schmuck. Granted Calvin's a down on his luck schmuck with a couple of secret bases and a suit of power armor, but still a very relateable character. And if I'm being completely honest, his utter lack of self-confidence struck a very specific chord with me. Throughout the novel I came to like Calvin more and caring about all the misfortune that keeps following him around. I won't spoil the ending for you, but I was satisfied with how things ended up for Calvin.
The other thing that I really appreciated about this novel is that it became a very realistic deconstruction of the superhero genre. As the story continues and Calvin gets involved in the world of superheroes we find that many of these so-called heroes are no better than the villains they fight, the heroes just have better lawyers. I actually found it very believable that superheroes would be involved in dirty backroom deals and more interested in maintaining the image of their organizations than seeing that justice is actually done. It's very evocative of the internal corruption we frequently experience with our own politicians and I thought it was very well-done by the author.
As for what I disliked about this book, it boils down to two major issues. My first problem was that while Bernheimer has developed a wonderful and complex world of superheroes and supervillains, I still felt it was kind of thin around the edges. I found myself wondering where all of these superpowered people got their powers and some of the finer details about how this superhero economy works. I think Bernheimer could have made Confessions of a D-List Supervillain slightly longer and gone a little further in-depth into his world.
My other major issue was a fairly significant plot-twist towards the end of the novel. Much like the other book by Bernheimer I read, Prime Suspects, I felt like there wasn't a lot of lead-up to the twist and I felt kind of blindsided. The hints are there, but they aren't as well-developed and I think taking more time in the novels would have helped in that aspect.
Overall, despite my issues, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain was a very fun read for me and I'd definitely recommend it to all of my readers. It's definitely a must-read for anyone who liked other deconstruction of the superhero genre like Watchmen or The Incredibles. I definitely will keep Bernheimer on my list of authors to check out in the future.