A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that How to Be a Supervillain is the start of a goofy graphic novel series by Michael Fry (Over the Hedge comic strip, The Naughty List) about a good kid born to bad parents who mean well. There's plenty of cartoonish violence played to absurd extremes (a mentor's superpower is staining people; another villain wields smelly feet) and a complicated relationship with a mentor whose motives and loyalties aren't always clear. Much of the humor is derived from depicting villains and heroes as everyday working people, with a fair amount of gross and goofy jokes (a ridiculous pair of underwear features prominently in the plot).
What's the story?
HOW TO BE A SUPERVILLAIN stars Victor Spoil, who's the only child of supervillains the Spoil Sports but is so naturally good, he can't not eat peas. His parents, dismayed by his unfailing politeness and cautious nature, apprentice him to the Smear, a down-and-out villain trying to get back in the game. And it is just a game: Ever since the truce, fights have been staged and the winners -- always the superheroes -- predetermined. The Smear (who stains his foes) starts showing Victor the ropes, but Victor grows concerned as a mysterious attacker pursues them and the Smear keeps going off script. As battles escalate, Victor worries the truce will be broken or all the supers will be purged to space -- or one supervillain could take over the world.
Is it any good?
Michael Fry gets in on the "superheroes as working stiffs" genre with this giddy romp about a sweet boy raised by adoring parents who worry he isn't evil enough and send him off for villain training. How to Be a Supervillain is set in a world where heroes and villains have been reduced to has-been, semiretired pro wrestlers jeered as freaks but followed by eccentric fans.
Fry seems less interested in reining in the meandering plot than he is in having fun with superhero and villain conventions and cracking jokes about monologuing and ridiculous superpowers. He tries to give the story some moral depth with muddy philosophizing on good and evil, but the intended lesson is lost in the explosions, dust clouds, and messy stains of the action. It's superficial and slight but a fast and fun read for kids who like their humor super silly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the blurry line between good and bad in How to Be a Supervillain. Do you find it difficult sometimes to decide whether someone or something is good or bad?
What does the Smear mean when he says sometimes it takes a villain to make a hero?
Why are funny takes on superhero stories so popular?
- Author: Michael Fry
- Illustrator: Michael Fry
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Superheroes, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: jimmy patterson
- Publication date: May 2, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 312
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.