The Golden Age of Pop Culture Jokes

Two reviews in a month? It’s almost as if I have discovered that I can devote 10 minutes of social media time to being pathetically and laughably just above the unproductive line. I’m starting to wonder if I have ADHD with the way I get distracted on top of the monumental laziness that seems to lie at the core of my ever expanding waistline.

But we are not here to discuss my failures today. No. Today we are here to discuss another book of CT Phipps. (If you are keeping track this is the third book of his I have reviewed. What can I say? Amazon has locked me out of my Kindle account and I have a lot of his books in paperback.) The book today? The Rules of Supervillainy. As per usual we will start with the synopsis.

“Gary Karkofsky is an ordinary guy with an ordinary life living in an extraordinary world. Supervillains, heroes, and monsters are a common part of the world he inhabits. Yet, after the death of his hometown’s resident superhero, he gains the amazing gift of the late champion’s magical cloak. Deciding he prefers to be rich rather than good, Gary embarks on a career as Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy. But is he evil enough to be a villain in America’s most crime-ridden city? Gary soon finds himself surrounded by a host of the worst of Falconcrest City’s toughest criminals. Supported by his long-suffering wife, his ex-girlfriend turned professional henchwoman, and a has-been evil mastermind, Gary may end up being not the hero they want but the villain they need.”

This is over all pretty accurate. Though I think how ordinary Gary really was is up to debate. He is somewhere on the psychopathy scale. And for an ordinary guy he has had a lot of very attractive girlfriends. The most accurate thing is how cheesy it sounds  because it is and everyone in the book makes fun of it.

Don’t go into this book expecting serious worldbuilding and internal logic concerning how powers work. That’s not what this book is about. This is all the tropes of Golden Age Comics mixed with an unabashed distaste for the Dark Age of Comics. This is less a comic book than it is someone transcribing a character from City of Villains and letting the randos characters be the supporting cast.

Aliens, magic, lunatics dressed as Ice Cream men, death rays, Biblical monstrosities, government created cyborgs, SuperLantern, Nazi supervillains (and one antihero), campy 60’s style heroes, pun names that I am fairly certain are a violation of the Geneva Convention rules on the use of torture, and more. To cover every comic book trope would take me far, far too long. So let me introduce you to the characters,

Merciless, the Supervillain without Mercy! aka Gary. Brother to a former  (now deceased) supervillain and aspiring chef. History major and former bank clerk before donning a magic cloak and trying to rob said bank (and beating to death a domestic terrorist dressed as an Ice Cream Man with a chair). He speaks mostly in pop culture references and bad attempts at sounding villainous. Consistently mocked by his magic cloak.

The Reaper’s Cloak aka the magic hoodie aka Cloak. Created by Death, intelligent, and sarcastically judgmental.

Red Riding Hood aka Cindy. Harley Quinn without the toxic relationship. Gary’s ex. Gleeful psychopath, not exactly loyal, and a has a bad track record of the villains she works for being murdered on the job.

Mandy Karkofsky aka the wife. Goth, bi, ex of The Black Witch, and destined to be a superhero. Surprisingly okay with Gary being a supervillain as long as he mostly targets bad people.

Diabloman aka the villain mentor. Has been, does black magic, needs heart pills, dresses like a luchador, and has visitation with his daughter every other weekend.

Are you starting to get the picture? The whole book is like this. It’s fun and insane and hilarious. Which seems to be Charles’ forte if the three books of his has taught me anything. Are they perfect? No. Not at all. There are editing mistakes and the story finishes in a kind of rushed manager – which may be a result of his writing process rather than writing skill. He puts out books at a tremendous pace and I feel like he is a pantser more than a planner. Like he just makes it up as he goes and maybe just makes it hard on himself to pull it all together at the end.

Still a better ending than Snow Crash.

Any way. Go out and buy the book. Its fun and in this day and age we could all use a little bit more fun. *looks at the news* Escapism is good right now. So very good.

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