Cower not, fierce reader! Today we stare villainy in the face. Sometimes it is familiar, sometimes understandable, sometimes incomprehensible. I will have to take a few stories to task, but let's take a look.
We open with a foreword by Nick Cole, drawing on his acting background and experience. He quite rightly mentions that villains are in many ways, better characters. Many comic book heroes are defined by, or rather, in contrast to, their villains.
Supervillainy 101 by Chris Pourteau- Whew. Take one part serial killer interview, one part sacrifice to a LONG term plan.
Tick Tock by Christopher J. Valin- The writing is very solid. I wish the set piece part of the story were more original: A good chunk of this is a reworking of Max Allan Collins' Batman story, "A Death in the Family". I don't mind the copying of characters so much, but the fact that there's little to separate it, to make it unique.
Vying for Power by Greg Wilkey- The big supervillain in a city has died. Now, at the funeral, a play is made for control and power. But not everyone is what they seem to be.
Ghosts of the Flames by Hall and Beaulieu- We follow a team of scavengers in a world of heroes and villains at war. But hidden agendas and unsettled spirits have ways of unsettling things further.
Rejected by M,K, Gibson- A retired hero gives a chance to shamed heroes. The fallout of a supervilain's death has to be dealt with, and there are more layers to his organization than is readily known.
The Winter Witch by Susan Faw- Morpheus leaves the world, and one of his children has their own plans for the realm granted by their father.
Counterclockwise by Ed Gosney- A man whose power has failed him approaches his last moments due to a lack of control and judgement. Or perhaps we have a case of psychosis? Either way, the act was done, and actions have consequences.
The Gala by Morgon Newquist- Ooh, another Serenity City story. This takes place long after the one in Paragons. There's a really interesting take on the insane female sidekick here, more complex than many versions of Harley Quinn. A sinister lass indeed. Stay away from the crazy.
The Heart of a Clockwork Girl by Michael Ezell- Oh, man. A henchman goes on a mission for the evil genius that has created an artificial woman to hold him loyal. Revelations and weariness change the henchman's perspective.
Djinn 2.0 by Jessica West- An alien royal is exiled to Earth after scandal. Her redemption is to help humanity to peace.
Hacksaw's Formulation by A. J. McWain- I know nothing of the story, as it was absent from the ARC I received.
Prisoner of War by Steve Beaulieu- A war reporter under fire finds there are worse things than normal enemy soldiers to worry about. And lines can be easy to cross.
There are some standout stories in here, I particularly enjoyed Vying for Power, Rejected, and The Gala. And the volume is at least currently priced to be well worth it. 7 of 10 fell deeds.
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.