THE SUPERVILLAIN HANDBOOK by King Oblivion (and Matt D. Wilson)

There's something about the instructional tome that makes it a fine format for comedy. Or there aren't enough books written on how to battle a spandex-clad nemesis and conquer the world. Either way, The Supervillain Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide to Destruction and Mayhem is a funny look at the tropes of comic book supervillainy.

The Supervillain Handbook, written by Matt D. Wilson, is "told" by King Oblivion, Ph.D., founder and overlord of the International Society of Supervillains. Using the "Psychomonitor thought-reading device" to sense the questions people might have about a career in evil, King Oblivion provides a step-by-step guide to what the hopeful villain might need for this career, from initial motivation to planning and limitations. There are also training exercises, profiles in lame suoervillainy (highlighting actual ridiculous bad guys from comic books), and lists like "Ten Celebrities We'd Like to Recriut" and "Branding Baseness: Nine Corporations to Emulate." Each chapter has an evil sponsor, and the book ends with a timeline of the ISS and a conveniently evil supervillain glossary.

As a fan of comic books, I recognized the cliches (and most of the lame suoervillains) listed through the book. I also found it pretty amusing. King Oblivion is the uber-typical arch villain, complaining about his adversary (Mister Wonderful), offering "good (bad)" tips for aspiring baddies, and giving such "useful" advice on becoming evil without having powers, pros and cons of common hideouts, contempt for henchmen, and the importance of a name: "You're going to be stuck with whatever you come up with for pretty much the rest of your career. It's like a band name. Do you think Hootie and the Blowfish still want to be Hootie and the Blowfish? No. No they don't."

Fortunately, The Supervillain Handbook is too over the top to actually inspire actual mayhem, theft, or crimes. What it does is provide a hysterical trip through the world of the comic book villain. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys comic books -- or villains who are completely full of themselves.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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