Tilly’s dream has come true – she has been accepted as a sidekick by the Coalition of Heroes! How strange can her first day be? Find out in Villainous #1 from Mad Cave Studios!
Writer: Stonie Williams
Artist: Jef Sadzinski
Colorist: Joana LaFuente
Letterer: Justin Birch
Editor: Giovanna T. Orozco
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 14, 2020
Previously in Villainous: New York is the home of The Coalition, a group of superheroes who keep the city safe from their nemesis, the villains known as The Shadow Order. Young Matilda Anderson has dreamed all her life of joining The Coalition, and finally she has her chance to join them as one of their newest sidekicks!
A SIDEKICK GETS WHAT SHE ISN’T EXPECTING
Villainous #1 starts out at a crime scene. While it takes a second read for this to make full sense, I appreciate a book that starts out with the action and fills you in as it goes. This makes the opening more dynamic and sets the emotional tenor of the plot. It is set in New York and a couple police detectives are checking out a dead body. Showdown is one of the heroes in town, and the corpse is that of his latest sidekick. The police think The Shadow Order is responsible, but as far as they’re concerned, this is a job for The Coalition.
A week later, Pillar (administrative director of The Coalition) welcomes the new batch of sidekicks, and we meet a couple of the heroes, Showdown and Miss Nemesis. In passing, we’re also introduced to the villains: Sedition, December, and The Headhunter. As it turns out, orientation is a handy way to introduce a number of characters in a way that doesn’t seem overly forced.
This is where we meet Matilda Anderson – Rep-Tilly (a reptilian humanoid) – who is the main character we’ll be following. She is every bit as wide-eyed and innocent as you could imagine and is absolutely thrilled to be here. Pillar takes her aside to inform her she’s been singled out to be Showdown’s newest sidekick. If you hadn’t already guessed, he’s the big, handsome, muscular one. And he’s eager to have her start – with all the menial office tasks one might expect of a bad boss. He also lays down the rules, such as that out in the field, he gets to save all the hotties. If you hadn’t figured out that he’s a jerk, he caps it off by calling Rep-Tilly a freak and an affirmative action hire.
Matilda tries to make the best of it but imagine her shock when, at the end of the day, she overhears Showdown bragging about getting to kill an Ambassador. (We already learned that the Coalition have a no-kill policy.) Who can she turn to? She goes to Pillar and is further stunned when Pillar explains the lengths they have go through – secretly – to make the world a better place, including killing people. This is horrifying and, I think, all the more so because there really are people who think this way. Suddenly Tilly has to make a choice – will she be a team player, or will she walk?
She’s thinking about this on her way home, when suddenly there is an explosion in a building near her. She can’t contact The Coalition on her tablet, so she races back to the headquarters, only to find out not only that she is believed dead, but that she is being framed for her own murder! Wow. This is a heck of an opening!
ENGAGING AND WITH VERVE
I like the character design in Villainous #1. The heroes balance on the edge of classic tropes and being over-the-top. I think this works because this is Tilly’s story, and these heroes are larger-than-life to her. Showdown is a perfect example. He hearkens back to the nineties tendency to put muscles on the muscles of the strong characters, as it were. He’s got the looks to go with his attitude of absolute entitlement – he knows he’s the best and he feels he deserves everything.
But the design really shines with Tilly. She’s reptilian, as we see from her teal coloring and the light scattering of scales across her face. Those are like freckles, and in conjunction with her big eyes, she comes across as utterly adorable. There is a lot of humor in her first day as an intern, struggling to keep up, working as hard as she can to get everything done, and taking her job so seriously. Then, when she overhears Showdown bragging about killing, her reaction is almost manga-like in how complete it is.
BOTTOM LINE: OPENING WITH A HARD-HITTING PLOT TWIST
Villainous #1 wastes little time setting up the world, the main character, and the guts of the story. While the drama may feel a little extreme, it serves the purpose of drawing us in and putting plots in motion. The main character is engaging, and I’m curious to see where this goes next.
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Tilly’s first day of work as a sidekick starts out exciting and takes a swift turn toward the unthinkable!