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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It takes a villain to save the world
I enjoyed this take on the age-old hero vs villain story. Bernheimer has created a dystopian world where mankind relies on superheroes to save them, and the most popular superheroes are The Olympians - 12 common people who were chosen to wield the powers of certain of the Gods of Olympus.

Conversely there are the supervillains, and Cal `Mechani-Cal' Stringel...
Published on May 7, 2011 by Connie J. Jasperson

versus
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Details
OK ill try to keep this simple. I enjoyed the story and Cal was a fun main character to read about. The writing style took me a bit to get into (read the sample) and there is really only one thing that i did not like about the book. The author did not describe anything. I mean ANYTHING, characters, places, buildings nothing. I cant tell you what any of the characters look...
Published on August 28, 2012 by Bryce


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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It takes a villain to save the world, May 7, 2011
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I enjoyed this take on the age-old hero vs villain story. Bernheimer has created a dystopian world where mankind relies on superheroes to save them, and the most popular superheroes are The Olympians - 12 common people who were chosen to wield the powers of certain of the Gods of Olympus.

Conversely there are the supervillains, and Cal `Mechani-Cal' Stringel is, by his own assertion, not one of the more successful of them, but he gets by.

The world has been taken over by bugs the size of grasshoppers that have attached themselves to everyone's necks, reorganizing the world into a hive society of junkies addicted to the bugs in the desperate way that a junkie is addicted to heroin. Because he works inside of his mechanical suit, Cal has managed to avoid this fate. Out of necessity, he finds himself trying to get the `good-guys' back on their feet and back to saving the world like they are supposed to be doing.

As superheroes go, The Olympians are as unlikeable and evil a bunch of shallow, self-serving stars as you could ask for. The supervillains, on the other hand, are actually the better human beings, because they are honest about their motives.

I don't normally like first person, present tense point of view in a story, because I find it difficult to get into into the story. But once I got past that initial issue I have to admit, this story captured and held my interest.

The adventures that Cal has as he tries to re-hab the Olympians and save the world are quite entertaining. There are some adult themes, but though there is nothing graphic I recommend this as a fun adult read.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great character portrayals, one of my favorite superhero novels, August 6, 2011
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Out of all the superhero genre books that have come out in the past years, this is definitely a favorite. While the writing is good, the plot is solid, and the powers and battles are great fun, many other similar novels exist. What makes this book standout is the human portrayal of the heroes. Neither too morally corrupt, nor too pure, I felt that Bernheimer (the author) managed a really good job in making them seem human. The protagonist, Calvin (AKA Mechani-CAL), is particularly well portrayed as a morally gray, hyper-intelligent everyman. Initially a "good guy", crushed by corporate greed and his superiors' arrogance, he eventually switches sides and becomes a villain to survive. During a potential apocalypse, he is revealed to be far, far different from his previous media portrayal. Once again a "good guy", Cal still acts believably, a trait many other authors could learn from. Overall, a great read, tons of fun, and well recommended to fans of the superhero genre.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a D-list Supervillian is a good read, May 31, 2011
I had a good time with this story. I'm about to sound critical because this story dares to take up some forms that can be distracting unless done for good reasons. It flirts with trouble, but it survives to thump its chest by the time it's done.

In general, I'm especially hard to please when it comes to first person, present-tense narration. This story pulls it off, but just by its fingernails. Most of the way, I was half aware of the format, which is not the total immersion in the story that I wanted. I kept thinking, this would just be easier to fall into in the past tense.

It turns out that the narration is in the present tense for a reason. A somewhat contrived gotcha! plot twist seems to be the point. (Given that, otherwise, the past tense could totally be as good, if not better for the rest of the story). I quibble, and will allow the twist to pass because it is sufficiently well set up and clever. (I won't spoil anything by saying that the one chapter that seemed out of the narrative arc does earn its presence after the fact, by setting up the twist.)

Bottom line: Fast paced entertainment. Well thought out. Everything wraps up at the end in a satisfying way. The characters are believable and I identified with the principals, and cared about them.

I'd give this a solid recontamination based on how well it does what it intends to do. I believe that the target audience of super action adventure readers will be well pleased.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SuperVillains Rule., October 24, 2011
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I don't read superhero adventure novels in general, I like my superheroes and villains in full color graphic glory. At least that is what the 12 boxes of comic books in the back of the garage seem to indicate. This was an off-the-wall choice for me. So...

I really liked this story. It was engaging, one of the few where I finished dinner, got the kids showered and slipped back to my reading chair before bed type of book. Jim Bernheimer did a great job of creating Calvin Stringel, a character that is a hardcore bad man...well, sort of a bad guy. Well, okay he's mostly just not a nice guy that has some standards, they are flexible. The main character crosses the line in some instances but holds to it in others. And always in a manner that is true to himself and, more importantly in a fiction story, is within character. Through the course of the narrative you begin to question who the real villain is when his actions and motives are compared to the inside scoop of the glamourous superheroes world. It reminded me of the old "film noir" style stories where at the end, you realized the good people weren't necessarily so and the unsavory ones were pretty decent after all.

I saw that some reviews had a problem with the 1st person narrative. I had no problem with it. Actually, I think it that it works for two very good reasons. It was necessary to deliver a plot twist at the end. But more importantly the reader comes to realizations as the character develops before the character does. Without the benefit of 3rd person hindsight, Calvin does not realize how he has evolved and progressed in association with the so-called heroes around him. I also think that the 1st person perspective keeps the intensity of the story going, in a comic book superhero its-happening-right-now pace.

It was fast paced story, with typical comic book archetypes and plot twists, had good character development and fit well within the comic book world that it was staged. Since the story relies on archetypes that we are already familiar with after decades of comic lore, Bernheimer is able to take those, just twist them enough to make them both original and recognizable as he throws them into the storyline. This allows him then delved into the various character issues. Using the first person also means that motives for the other characters are shown through their actions and conversations with Calvin, something typical in modern comic book stories where the "thought bubble" has been generally disappearing.

There was an added bonus to the action/adventure story in the amount of humor that an intelligent, self-depreciating and sarcastic dialog can provide from the supervillain point of view. In every plot challenge Calvin, tosses out interesting commentary with questionable ethical or moral decisions and shows a truly devious intellect. Most importantly, because Calvin is a dyed-in-the-wool supervillain, he cheats. He cheats really good.

Anyway that is my 2 pennies worth.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Details, August 28, 2012
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OK ill try to keep this simple. I enjoyed the story and Cal was a fun main character to read about. The writing style took me a bit to get into (read the sample) and there is really only one thing that i did not like about the book. The author did not describe anything. I mean ANYTHING, characters, places, buildings nothing. I cant tell you what any of the characters look like because the author doesnt say. What do the bases look like? No clue. How about Cals armor that is such an important fixture? We get a couple brief blurbs here and there but thats it, nothing to really paint a picture.

So with all that said, if you want a quick easy read and are ok with having to picture everything from a superheroes costume (those are not described either) to 50 foot tall robots then id say give the book a shot.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fast and Fun Read, February 11, 2012
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This review is from: Confessions of a D-List Supervillain (Paperback)
Although strongly suspected I would before I began reading just by the back of the book blurb:

"Being a supervillain means never having to say you're sorry...Unless it's to the judge or the parole board. Even then, you don't really have to. It's not like it's going to change the outcome or anything."
--I really enjoyed this book.

The main character, Calvin Stringel (or Mechani-Cal), makes the story work. He's a second-string villain thrust into the limelight by cataclysmic events, and struggles to survive enemies from every corner, aiming at him through motives both subtle and overt.

Stringel is both pragmatic and petty, brilliant yet bumbling--a survivor just trying to make it through, sometimes to the next meager payoff (or paycheck if you're a `good guy'). Even through his tarnished reputation and flawed worldview, I couldn't help but root for him--even when the rest of the world wasn't.

In a supervillain(sort of)/superhero(depending on your definition) vs. all comers that one might relegate to a graphic novel or comic book, the author does a superb job bringing the story to life in novel form. The dialogue and description, punctuated by Stringel's thoughts and sometimes bumbling intentions, paint the picture and keep the story flowing with just enough time to ponder before the next conflict, twist or crisis--right up to the end.

Bernheimer's book is one I strongly recommend picking up if you enjoy action, humor, and a twist or three wrapped up in a good story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We need more independent fiction like this., July 10, 2011
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CT Phipps (Ashland, Ky USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Confessions of a D-List Supervillain (Paperback)
That's my summary of this work and I put it up easily with Soon I will be Invincible for superhero fiction. I also put it above Brian Clevinger's The Atomic Age, which will funnier and darker just left a sour taste in my mouth at the end. The title is a bit misleading: Mechani-Cal is only a supervillain for the first fifteen pages or so of the book and his criminal inclinations are barely existent. However, it's still an excellent story about how one man gets wrapped up in events far larger than himself and end up playing it by ear.

I'm a bit reminded of Spiderman meets the Thunderbolts version of the Beetle to get a grasp of how Cal interacts with people. He certainly has the Peter Parker "hard luck" going for him but he also has basically the same background as the Beetle/Mach V (attention whore scientist turns against the company that employed him as a means of getting revenge/money). Ultimately, this is less the Confessions of a D-List supervillain and more, "Average Joe Superhero with a slightly shady past" but I have no objections to that so it worked for me.

Some may be put off by the first person present narration but I felt the ultimate payoff was wonderful.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Story - Highly Recommended, December 10, 2011
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"Confessions of a D-List Supervillain" is a very enjoyable expansion of the short story found in Horror, Humor, and Heroes. This story reads a bit like a first person perspective comic book, but has elements of Sci-Fi and a lot of humor.

No spoilers from me! The story is narrated (for the most part) by Cal Stringer, a less than successful villain in a mechanical battle suit living in a world that is perfectly at ease with supper-heroes and villains fighting in the streets. At the beginning of the story, the unfortunate Cal ("Mechani-Cal") is one of the last holdouts against an evil plot gone very wrong where normal humans, villians, and even the most powerful super-heroes have fallen under the control of mind controlling "bugs".

I enjoyed the portrayal of the noble (mostly) but flawed super-heroes, the personal struggle Cal undergoes to deal with situations he blunders into, and found the humor to be exactly to my tastes (as others have noted, mostly along the lines of the type found in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog [Blu-ray]).

This is one of the few books that I have invested the time in to read more than once.

Highly Recommended!

CFH
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A foundational work for an emerging genre, July 7, 2013
By 
Amazon Customer "James Maxey" (Hillsborough, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Confessions of a D-List Supervillain (Paperback)
I met Jim at ConCarolina's a few years ago and, since we'd both written superhero novels, we swapped copies of our books. Today, it feels like there are a dozen superhero novels coming out each week, but even back in the distant era of early 2012 there really weren't enough prose superheroics to really talk seriously about it being a sub-genre. Now that's definitely changed, and Confessions of a D-List Supervillain is an important reason for that.

This book is solid. It's strong-points are breakneck pacing, complicated characters, a love story with some genuine emotional depth, and more gee-whiz idea and concepts than you'd find flying around the room at a Pixar brainstorming session. It's a terrific story told in an interesting and compelling voice. It proves that there are depths of the superhero mythos that can only really be explored in prose, where a character's inner life can be revealed in much more depth than in a comic book or movie.

The packaged crap that DC and Marvel are shoveling out these days really doesn't hold a candle. Fifty years from now, it will all be forgotten, but people will still be reading this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun adventure that twists the superhero genre, May 9, 2011
By 
Susan Carhart (Naperville, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Confessions of a D-List Supervillain (Paperback)
A fast-paced, exciting read, full of humor and clever twists, set in a universe bursting with superheroes and supervillains. The down-on-his luck, self-proclaimed D-list supervillain tells the tale of his adventures and misadventures.

What I particularly enjoyed about this novel were the clever plot twists. Most stories of this sort are about a threat to destroy the universe and all life as we know it. That threat is here, and written with wit and energy, but it's not really what the book is about. MechaniCAL, our protagonist (real name Calvin Stringel), goes through a life-changing experience, and then finds out that life is still pretty much like high school, with the cool kids ruling the roost and getting the credit. His struggles to reinvent himself and find a place in the world are at the heart of the story. Bernheimer is obviously having great fun inventing scores of heroes and villains, with amazing and sometimes hilarious powers. Highly recommended.
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Confessions of a D-List Supervillain
Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer (Paperback - April 10, 2011)
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