Blackjack Villain

Blackjack Villain by Ben Bequer is trying to do many of the same things as Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer (Amazon link; Bernheimer doesn’t have a good landing page for any of his books). Small-time, likable supervillain. Big-time beautiful heroine separated from her superhero team. The inevitable drama as the two are drawn together by world-threatening machinations of a third party.

Except it doesn’t do it nearly as well, or nearly as succinctly. My honest recommendation is to go read Confessions instead. I only made it a little over halfway through Blackjack Villain before I gave up and put it aside. I liked the character, and the writing was pretty good for a self-published book except for one glaring flaw: the author clearly didn’t have anyone to rein him in. The darn thing just keeps going and going and going, with lengthy scenes that do little for the characters other than add more plot for them to wade through.

Plus by the time I quit the characters were doing things for no reason other than it added tension and presumably helped the author tick off the plot points he wanted to hit. And that drives me nuts. A reviewer on GoodReads commented “Starts off with a good story but slowly slips into stupidity”, and that about sums things up for me, too.

I don’t recommend this one, although the flip side of it going on forever is that you get pretty good bang for your buck if you don’t mind wading through interminable fight scenes for no real purpose.

Plot summary

The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.

Dale I-can’t-remember-his-last-name is a smalltime villain who always wanted to be a super hero, except that he just never plays well with the system. He specializes in gadgets despite having super strength, mainly because he doesn’t want to kill the normal folks he often finds himself up against when it comes to robbing banks and so forth. His quiet life is interrupted one day by Atmosphero, however, who literally drops his house on him.

Robbed of his home (and most of his stuff), Dale is understandably bitter. When his attorney is able to get him off the hook on a technicality, he asks to be let in on the big heist he knows the lawyer is helping to setup. He’s told that he needs to fully commit to being Blackjack if he wants a shot at the bigtime, however, and he agrees.

Blackjack is introduced to the team of villains he will be working with, including Cool Hand Luke (a foul-mouthed young man who can manipulate time), Mr. Haha (a robot with a bunny head who wields a rusty katana and streams his misadventures to Facebook), Dr. Zundergrub (a sketchy Indian guy who can utilize mind control and has an army of imps at his command), and Influx (sexiness personified, and some forgettable super-power). It turns out he is working for Retcon, an infamous supervillain whose ability is apparently that he is unstuck in time. This apparently means two conflicting things: one that he can simultaneously be in prison right now as well as out committing evil acts, and two that he can coordinate with all of his past selves in order to do things like leave messages in unlikely places.

They do some stuff involving violence, Influx gets killed before she and Blackjack have a chance to do anything more than sexy talk, and eventually they end up fighting a super hero team put together specifically to stop them from stealing the random crap that Retcon has them stealing.

As part of the battle, the beautiful hero Apogee comes after Blackjack because he inadvertently killed some guy she used to fight with back in the day, and he’s able to subdue her using his super-strength.

After the dust clears, Zundergrub wanders by and mind controls Apogee into protecting Blackjack, then scarpers for the rocket ship they were going to escape in, leaving Blackjack behind to recuperate.

The unlikely duo goes on a road trip trying to escape justice, and predictably start falling for one another.

Eventually they hook back up with the other heroes, Zundergrub mind controls Apogee again for no good reason, Blackjack lets him for even less good reason, Apogee tries to kill Blackjack, and drama ensues until they find themselves on an alien planet (evidently the same alien planet where the original seven superheroes got their powers back in the mid-20th century).

Lots of boring things happen, culminating with an astonishingly tedious battle against an alien scouting party.

I quit reading at this point.

6 other opinions (share yours!)

  1. Ben Bequer says:

    Love the review. Can I quote you for the sequel?

  2. Darren says:

    Um, not to be smart or anything, but even if you don’t like the book, you can at least be nice and ANSWER HIS QUESTION!!! He asks a qus. you answer it. Don’t be rude, Ian.

  3. Ben Bequer says:

    Darren, Ian’s response to my question was a valid one, and in further emails, we had a cordial conversation about letting me have permission for his quote on the sequel – in which it appears. I don’t think Ian understood how tongue-in-cheek I take the whole thing in his initial response, and maybe he thought I might have been upset in some way because he thought my book was awful.

    Ian didn’t like the book, didn’t like it one bit, and I wager he likes the second book even less – so much that he probably wasn’t motivated to either finish it, or to write a review. And that’s totally fine. Any writer who thinks his stuff is beyond reproach, and that any criticism is misplaced is full of stuff. What’s the best book ever, Ulysses? War and Peace? Plenty of people hate them, even now that they’re classics.

    Anyway, I know you weren’t privy to Ian and my personal conversations, but let’s give the guy a break. He took time to read my book, and for that, I’ll forever be grateful.

    • Ian Beck says:

      I actually haven’t tried the Blackjack sequel, so I can’t offer any opinions on that score.

      I am, however, impressed with how Ben handles connecting with his readers online.

  4. Sam says:

    Took that flaming like a champ Ben.
    I enjoyed both books.

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