This review was originally posted in my column on Booknest.
When Gary Karkofsky receives a mysterious package containing a magical cloak he uses it to be Merciless: The Supervillain without Mercy™ and starts making plans to take over Falconcrest City.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review.
The Rules of Supervillainy plays with a lot of the tropes common to comic books; secret identities, lairs, the seeming inability of characters to recognize heroes in their civilian attire and the tendency of characters not to stay dead. But where this book is objectively better than many comics is that the world in which it takes place remains consistent throughout. You get the impression that there has been a great deal of history mapped out for this world and that most of it is still to be explored.
One of the things that helps hold the book together is the first person narration from Gary. He comes across as a reasonable average person, maybe a little more fanboy-ish, but he still reacts to many of the events in a believable manner. He also has a tendency not to take things too seriously, even in moments of extreme danger. To link back to what I presume is one of the author’s inspirations, the way Gary acts and talks often reminded me of Peter Parker from the Spider-Man comics.
The supporting cast is entertaining too. Gary’s ex Cindy, now a semi-profession hench-person is the sort who says the things every one thinks but doesn’t usually voice. But I think my favourite was Diabloman, a former A-list supervillain, now past his prime physically and mainly just trying to a good father to his daughter. His new role as Gary’s major domo offers equal parts salvation and irritation, being a conduit for some of the history of the world.
While the humor of the book may not suit everyone, as a long time comic book fan and someone who enjoys a good in-joke, this was a great book for me. I found it hugely entertaining. One warning though, since this is the first book in a series, it does end on a fairly major cliff-hanger.
5 out of 5 mysterious capes.