Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ashcroft, Supervillain (2012)

Ras Ashcroft, Supervillain: The Concise Guide. Indie, 2012. c.26000 words. ASIN B0076ZZCIC. $0.99 / £0.77.

Reviewed by RJ Blain

Have you ever wanted to be a villain? Or, dare I ask, a supervillain? If so, Supervillain: The Concise Guide may just be the book for you. Written in a self-help style that openly mocks the finance world, this parody pokes fun at those who want to go from rags to riches based off of the help from a book by presenting reasonable methods of becoming a modern-day villain.

Ashcroft opens the book up with the forward you expect to see in most self-help books. It is a little edgy and more than a little tongue-in-cheek, which sets a humorous tone to the book right from the start. That said, the book starts off strong, showing ways a hopeful villain can cross various lines in order to build their business. In this case, the showcased company is a window-washing business.

From there, the book progresses from the rise of the villain through washing windows right up to complete world domination. At first, the suggestions are reasonable, giving potential methods that are feasible to do, all of which cross moral lines at some point or another. Many of the transitions are almost feasible right up until the showcased villain moves his (or her!) operation to space.

The humor, I found, was a little subtle—almost too subtle. While there were a few witty comments that did make me laugh, it wasn’t the stitch-in-side-insane-maniacal laughter I’d been hoping for. After all, superheroes should have the boring jobs. Supervillains should have the fun job.

Like equipping sharks with lasers, piranha pools, and fembots.

Alas, there was too much common sense in this book. Too much realism. Not a single recommended shark with lasers in sight. If anything, Ashcroft recommends against all of the fun stereotypes associated with being an evil overlord or supervillain. There were some cool gadgets recommended in order to deal with superheroes, but, ultimately, common sense stuff. Fight elements with the opposite element, and do tricks to eliminate the hero’s advantage. While good advice, it wasn’t the entertainment I was hoping for. (For the record, Ashcroft recommends that you should fight a fire-based superhero with ice. Personally, if you’re going to fight a superhero that uses fire, forget the ice. Remove the air and add a lot of water. Not only will you drown the flame, you’ll suffocate the superhero. Just my two cents, of course.)

At the end of the book, Ashcroft includes a disclaimer on why you really shouldn’t try this at home.

The book is priced at a very reasonable $0.99, which fits as this is a very short piece at 90 pages. It is funny, but in a subtle way. It serves its purpose, and even includes some humorous ‘interviews’ at the back of the book. The writing quality was good, and for the two hours it took to read it, I felt like it was set at just the right amount to be worth it.

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