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Archvillain

. 183p. 978-0-54519-649-9.
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Gr 5—7—Sixth-grader Kyle is smart, popular, and the planner of high-quality pranks. Then an encounter with a mysterious "space plasma" leaves him with cosmic intellect, super-strength, and the ability to fly. Kyle loves his new skills, but decides it's safest to keep them under wraps. However, the plasma has brought something else as well—a strange boy whom Kyle strongly suspects is an alien. Mighty Mike has superpowers too—but he isn't shy about exercising them in public. Mike quickly becomes a sensation with adults as well as kids, even though his good deeds don't always go smoothly. Kyle resents Mike taking over his top-dog status and suspects that the newcomer may have more sinister schemes in mind. He plans a super prank to expose him, but things get disastrously out of hand. There is a subtle underlying message about perception vs. reality. Kyle is not a particularly admirable character. He is self-centered and frequently uses his newfound powers to manipulate people. Much of his vaunted popularity seems to rest on his ability to humiliate others, especially in setting up grudge pranks on request. His crowd is quick to switch allegiance when a new sensation comes along. The author takes some sly digs at popular culture as well. The question of Mike's true identity is left unresolved. Is he an earnest, if somewhat naïve superhero or are Kyle's rather cynical suspicions on track? Who is the good guy and who is really the archvillain? Tune in next time....—Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Intelligent, popular, egotistical prankster Kyle finds himself with superpowers after celestial plasma lands on Earth, bringing with it an amnesiac superhuman named Mike. Rather than exposing Mike for the extraterrestrial that he is, Kyle goes out of his way to become Mike's nemesis. The entertaining antihero narrative reads like an elaborate backstory for the real adventures yet to come in future volumes.

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