Supervillain Week/Paris Month Crossover: Bandette

Superhero Week 2014- Supervillains Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.05.47 AM

In the true spirit of comics (of which superheroes and their arch foes made their debut), I’ve teamed up with Michele from Just A Lil Lost for a crossover post! For Paris Month and Supervillain Week 2014, we’re checking out Bandette Volume 1 by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover. Michele is tackling the setting of Paris where the book takes place while I look at the villains of the piece which may or may not involve the lead character herself: Bandette.

Bandette

Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s enchanting, Eisner-nominated digital series comes to print! The world’s greatest thief is a costumed teen burglar in swinging Paris by the nome d’arte of Bandette! Gleefully plying her skills on either side of the law, Bandette is a thorn in the sides of both police inspector Belgique and the criminal underworld. But it’s not all breaking hearts and purloining masterpieces when a rival thief discovers that an international criminal organization wants Bandette dead! This beautiful hardcover includes the first arc, tales of Bandette’s street urchin helpers by guest artists, an original illustrated story, and more!

To call Bandette a villain would be a hard thing to do. Sure, she’s a thief in the same way that Catwoman is in the Batman comics but she’s also active in doing heroic activities like helping Police Inspector B. D. Belgique with a bank heist that involves hostages. So she’s not a supervillain or even a clear cut villain.

Bandette

Then we have Monsieur, a cat burglar, who could be considered a villain but, despite being a rival to Bandette, he seems to care for her when he chooses to help her when an attempt is made on her life rather than follow the mysterious woman he’s been hired by. Again, not a supervillain and not your typical villain.

Monsieur

Then we have the Friends In Need Improvement Society (or F.I.N.I.S.) which is a criminal organization fronting as an organization that “works to improve the plight of the world’s impoverished”. They’re are led by Absinthe (not the drink!) who is definitely not led by a nice guy and you’d write him off as just a regular mob boss if it wasn’t for the costumed assassins his sends to kill Bandette.

Absinthe

The first of which is Matadori who’s dress up as a bullfighter and is very entertaining to watch as she duels Bandette.

Matadori

There’s also a sinister looking fellow who isn’t as fun but twice as scary. Readers will have to find out who he is in volume 2.

mystery dude

We must now ask ourselves if a supervillain can still be a supervillain without a superhero. Bandette is a nice gal but she isn’t a superhero or even a straight up hero. What what do you think? Is Bandette a hero? Is Absinthe and his assassins supervillains? Bandette is a digital comic by MonkeyBrain Comics and the first volume collects issues #1-#5.

A. A. Omer

Villainous Lit Spotlight Day 1: The Cloak Society

The first book to get the spotlight during Supervillain Week is Jeramey Kraatz’s The Cloak Society.

cloak

Here’s the synopsis:

The first in a thrilling, action-packed middle grade trilogy, which School Library Journal declared “will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.

The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago the Cloak Society was defeated by Sterling City’s superheroes, the Rangers of Justice, and vanished without a trace. But the villains have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. . . .

Twelve-year-old Alex Knight is a dedicated junior member of Cloak who has spent years mastering his telekinetic superpowers and preparing for the day when Cloak will rise to power again. Cloak is everything he believes in.

But during his debut mission, Alex does the unthinkable: He saves the life of a Junior Ranger of Justice. Even worse . . . she becomes his friend. And the more time he spends with her, the more Alex wonders what, exactly, he’s been fighting for.

I don’t normally read middle grade books but this one was so well written and a lot of fun. It built a great world, showcased cool powers and got readers thinking about what it means to be a superhero and a supervillain. The book sets the stage by teaching us a lesson or two about the supervillain trade.

Most people don’t comprehend the passion needed to be successful in such a thankless field, one that boasts such a low rate of success. It’s not all doomsday devices and dramatic entrances. Your days are spent plotting, strategizing, inventing, training – trying to prove to your city or your nemesis or yourself that you’re not just some delusional screw up who read one too many comic books. Every day you face humiliation, rejection and failure. It’s a life that requires bravery. If you call yourself Captain Terror or Madam Fear, you’d better be able to live up to the name. When you’re backed into a corner, you can’t hesitate to use your death ray.

– Page 1 & 2 of The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz

It’s interesting to see bravery used to describe supervillains when it’s a trait that’s often attributed to superheroes. Throughout, you realize that there very few things that separate heroes from villains and one of the things they both share in the book is the feeling of revenge and avenging those they care about.

How quickly people change when the moment calls for it as commented by one of the villains, Shade, on underestimating the superhero’s “moral stance on never killing”. Shade has an interesting view on the roles of superhero and supervillain that’s echoed by her fellow Cloak members. She places the Society in the role of saviour when she describes superheroes as making the city weak and dependent as well as seeking flattery and praise for their deeds. In a way, Shade is right. Superheroes are great to have but it’s easy to be too reliant on them and easy to drag them into our society’s celebrity culture which is terrifying just thinking about it. Would you want to know what your neighborhood police officer is wearing to the grocery store? No? Then why would we care who your superhero was dating or if they looked too thin?

Kraatz’s book explores perception. Who’s the villain? Are they just misunderstood people? Are they scorned individuals who were backed into a corner and became these bad guys? Are they actually the good guys and the so called superheroes are just feeding the city’s citizens propaganda?To say that there aren’t any supervillains who deserve the title in the book would be misleading but I will say that not everything is as it seems and Kraatz handled that wonderfully.

The book is for ages 8-12 but adults will enjoy it just as much especially if you’re into the superhero/supervillain dynamic. It is a trilogy and its sequel, Villains Rising, is out now.

A. A. Omer

Supervillain Week 2014: Welcome to the World of Villains

After such a fun, whirl wind adventure of the first annual Superhero Week in 2013, I immediately started thinking about the following year and what I could do differently to make it even better than the last. I asked and you answered: villains.

Superhero Week 2014- Supervillains

Not just villains though but supervillains. A giant step above the petty criminals and who aren’t susceptible to the “cowardly lot” theory Batman put forth when he donned his frightful costume. They challenge the superhero physically, emotionally and, most importantly, ideologically. They up the stakes and push the story (and hero) to the edge. Sometimes, they’re even created by the very existence of the superhero.

Loving superheroes as much as I do, I’ve come to realize as I got older and read more books/comics that supervillains come in all shapes and sizes. Some are sympathetic through their unfortunate back stories (most of the Spider-Man villains), some are fighting for a cause (Poison Ivy), some want to rule (Dr. Doom) and some have no reason at all for the chaos they cause (The Joker).

This week, we’ll look at who they are, they’re relationship with superheroes, the different forms they come in and if good and evil is as black and white as we think it is. We’ll have five great books getting the spotlight all week long that star and/or house interesting supervillains as well as a crossover post with Just a Lil Lost’s Paris Month. So sit back, relax and put your plans for world domination on hold. This will be a week of being bad, or good. depending on your perspective.

Hail Supervillains!

A. A. Omer