I recently stumbled across the two volumes pictured, The Supervillain Handbook, and The Supervillain Field Manual, written by “King Oblivion, Ph.D.,” aka, Matt Wilson. Despite having what could best be described as a near-fetish reaction to technical manuals (especially those in sci-fi), I typically avoid books like these; I’ve just never found them interesting or funny. But this pair is different – I not only like them; I’d recommend them. Be forewarned: This is not your usual light summertime read. These are, first and foremost, written as humor, and some of it kind of falls flat. Still, I like the idea of a ‘villain’s handbook,’ and these certainly fill the bill.
In essence, “Dr. Oblivion” has taken the time to guide potential supervillains on the ins and outs of the crime trade with helpful hints, lessons, and warnings. He makes fun of various clichés within the superhero genre, while actually showing the field a lot of respect. I’ll confess to being a Batman guy; have been since watching reruns of the Adam West show as a wee lad. I don’t follow the comic books, but I did break down and buy the Batman Encyclopedia, which at least gave me the rundown on the Caped Crusader’s past. (A full Batman tech manual discussion is probably going to happen one of these days – just a warning, people.)
Actually, as much as I like the superhero genre, I don’t follow it much at all, which is probably one of the reasons that the Supervillain Handbooks resonate with me. It’s the best of both worlds – tech manuals on superheroes that don’t require a heavy personal investment. They’re funny, a decent parody, and on target, especially with a new Avengers movie hitting the theaters soon.