Literature / The Supervillainy Saga

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It's good to be the bad guy.

The Supervillainy Saga is a humorous Urban Fantasy Capepunk superhero series published by Jim Bernheimer, author of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain.

Gary Karkofsky is an ordinary guy with an ordinary life living in an extraordinary world. Supervillains, heroes, and monsters are a common part of the world he inhabits. Yet, after the death of his hometown's resident superhero, he gains the amazing gift of the late champion's magical cloak. Deciding he prefers to be rich rather than good, Gary embarks on a career as Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy.

But is he evil enough for the worst city in America?

The series follows Gary as he travels through a four-color world full of Expies of popular superheroes and the crazy situations he gets into as a result. The book often Lampshades the use of tropes and their implications even as it treats their plots seriously.

The series contains the following books:


The series contains the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Cindy, Ultragoddess, Black Witch, Ninjess, Guinevere, the Human Tank, the Red Schoolgirl, and many more. There are a lot of superheroines and supervillainesses in this world and all of them are badass.
    • Nightgirl a.k.a. Amanda Douglas joins the ranks of the heroines in Games.
  • All Myths Are True: Greek Mythology, Judaism, Neil Gaiman-esque ubergods, Lovecraftian abominations, and more all seem to be real.
  • Alternate Timeline: Ultragod defeated Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin during World War II, bringing them both to trial for war crimes. Becomes For Want of a Nail as both Nazism and the Red Scare continued without them.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Cindy. Humorous, since Gary's wife Mandy is openly bisexual and put off by Cindy's vague allusions.
    • Gary becomes this in The Games of Supervillainy due to his unwanted attraction to Angel Face.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Gary reacts to things in a slightly off-way, finding humor in inappropriate things as well as saying whatever is on his mind regardless of whether it's appropriate or not. He also suffers no guilt for killing supervillains. This briefly leads him to think he's a Sociopath. Given he's prone to empathizing with everyone except the supervillains he kills, this is unlikely.
  • Antihero: Gary zig-zags between this and Villain Protagonist for much of the book before finally choosing which he is. He's an anti-villain.
    • The Extreme and Shoot-Em-Up are antiheroes as well, though they kill numerous innocents and are much further down the scale than Gary.
  • Antivillain: Namechecked. Gary says this is what he aspires to be after a long period of soul searching.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Reaper's Cloak is this, though Gary and the Nightwalker are both able to use it for good.
    • The Book of Midnight in The Games of Supervillainy is a possessed spell-book which can destroy the world. It also acts like a dog. No, seriously.
  • The Atoner: Most of the supervillains working in the Shadow Seven.
    • In Games, it is revealed the Nightwalker is one of these and a former supervillain.
  • Ax-Crazy: Cindy is literally this once she gets a fire ax. Psychoslinger is a much darker version of this.
  • Badass Gay: The series has a number of gay and bisexual superhero and supervillain characters. These include the protagonist's wife, his henchwoman, his wife's ex-girlfriend (one of the strongest supervillains alive), and a Fragile Speedster who is married to an even more famous and powerful Speedster.
  • Badass Normal: Mandy and Cindy are both these. Mandy becomes a Badass Abnormal in Games but this proves to be a bad thing.
  • Big Bad: Tend to alternate between books.
    • In The Rules of Supervillainy Tom Terror is the closest thing they have, being a villain who doesn't have any of the quirks the others do.
    • In The Games Of Supervillainy the Nightmaster is the head of the Brotherhood of Infamy and trying to summon Bigger Bad Zul-Barbas who will destroy the world and remake it.
  • Big Good: The Society of Superheroes fills this role in the setting. Which sucks for Gary when he draws their ire.
    • The Nightwalker used to be this before Falconcrest City. He's a Posthumous Character in The Rules of Supervillainy Except not.
    • Mandy and Gabrielle both become this for Falconcrest City during the month Gary is missing between Rules and Games.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Gary is a supervillain-in-name-only who fights evil superheroes and even more evil villains. Averted with the arrival of Ultragod, Ultragoddess, and the Society of Superheroes who are every bit as good as they are believed to be.
    • Gray and Gray Morality: Gary's conflict with the Society of Superheroes is this as he's clearly in the wrong but they're a little too repressive for their own good.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Gary rapidly develops into one of these amongst supervillains. He's shockingly dangerous.
    • Sunlight turns out to have been one of these as well, proving himself to be quite competent in Games despite his Lawful Stupid and Wrong Genre Savvy tendencies.
  • Cape Punk: The books Deconstructs the '90s Anti-Hero and The Dark Age of Comic Books by having Gary disgusted by heroes who kill and overly psychopathic villains. It also serves as a Decon-Recon Switch because Gary, himself, is a well-written '90s Anti-Hero. The book, notably, treats Lighter and Softer superheroes significantly more sympathetically than most examples of the Capepunk genre.
  • The Cape: Ultragod is this sort of hero to the world. Gabrielle is viewed as one but she's more a Pragmatic Hero.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Gary proudly proclaims himself to be a supervillain. Other villains find this quite weird.
  • City of Adventure: Falconcrest City is certainly full of this, even if it's also a Wretched Hive.
  • Conversational Troping: One of the hallmarks of the series is Gary causally chatting about superheroes and pop-culture while living in a superhero world. Learning which tropes are and aren't true is where the first book's title comes from.
  • The Cowl: The Nightwalker was one of these. Gary is actually one as well, though he'd never admit it.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Gary is revealed to be suffering from one of these. His brother was murdered in front of him by Shoot-Em-Up despite the former having reformed. Gary then tracked down the villain and killed him—at the age of fourteen.
    • Cindy has one of these too, which is only alluded to. At one point, having been forced to serve as a prostitute in high school.
  • Dark Chick: Cindy fills this role in most of the supervillain teams she's on. Also qualifies as a Not So Harmless villain when she reveals she's closer to The Lancer of the group.
  • Dating Catwoman: Both Mandy and Ultragoddess consider their relationships with Gary to be this way.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gary is this in spades. Almost every word out of his mouth is unaudulterated pure sardonicism.
    • Qualifies as a full-on Snark Knight once you realize Gary's opinion of himself isn't much higher than his opinion of anyone else. Mandy, Ultragod, Diabloman, and Ultragoddess are about the only people he seems to respect.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Despite being from the perspective of a man who idolizes supervillains while disdaining superheroes, it becomes very clear that villains are bad people and superheroes are (generally) good.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy! The cloak gets a lot of mileage out of making fun of Gary for this.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Ultragoddess for Ultragod. Justified given she's his daughter with the same powers. It also annoys her to no end as she was raised to be this rather than allowed to assume her own identity.
  • The Dragon: Diabloman settles into a combination of this role and The Mentor.
    • Eventually, Cindy gets to the point of being Co-Dragons with Diabloman.
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: Gary's reaction to Iron Cross' "ironic" use of Nazi paraphernalia as part of his battlesuit.
  • Expy: Tons, as befitting the medium.
    • Gary Karkofsky is one for the Hood crossed with Peter Parker.
    • The Nightwalker is one for Batman as the Society of Superheroes reflects archetypes of the Justice League (Ultragod for Superman/Green Lantern, Guinevere for Wonder Woman, Prismatic Commando for Captain America).
    • Cindy Wakowski a.k.a Red Riding Hood is one for Harley Quinn and Diabloman is a down-on-his-luck combination of Deathstroke and Bane.
    • Ultragoddess is one for Supergirl w/ Green Lanterns powers and the Shadow Seven are stand-ins for the Suicide Squad.
    • Tom Terror seems to be a combination of the Red Skull, Doctor Sivanna, and Golden to Silver Age Lex Luthor.
    • The Extreme seem to be one for Youngblood, X-Force, the Authority, and every other 90s Antihero superhero team.
    • Sunlight seems to be a parody of the Burt Ward Robin from the 1960s Batman series.
    • Zul-Barbas is Cthulhu with the serial-numbers filed off. Also comes with his own cult and Necronomicon with The Book of Midnight.
    • Nightgirl seems to be one for Spoiler/Batgirl/Barbara Gordon.
    • The Backwoodsman seems to be a Canada, Eh? send-up of Wolverine from his brief description.
    • The Brotherhood of Infamy combines the cult of Cthulhu and Brotherhood of Owls.
    • P.H.A.N.T.O.M and the Founderation for World Harmony appear to be ones for Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • President Omega is a combination of Handsome Jack and the Red Skull with Kang the Conqueror.
    • Other Gary seems to draw from the Justice Lords in the Justice League cartoon and villains in Injustice: Gods Among Us, particularly the portrayal of Superman. There's also some Superboy Prime and Alex Luthor in his desire to bring back his old world.
  • Fantastic Racism: A Downplayed Trope example as Supers, robots, and aliens are all said to be discriminated against but one of them was popular enough to be elected President of the United States.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Tom Terror appears to be a Wicked Cultured mentor-like figure to Gary. He's not.
  • For Want of a Nail: Tom Terror Lampshades this by stating that despite the existence of superheroes and countless amazing events, their version of Earth's pop culture is almost identical to the ones without superhero. Which is a Handwave as to all of Gary's pop culture references are the same ones as in our world.
  • Freudian Excuse: Played with. The death of Gary's brother and the traumatic consequences including killing his brother's murderer at age fourteen, certainly contributed to Gary becoming a supervillain. However, it's also clear Gary always admired supervillainy and had extremist political vies as well.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Foundation for World Harmony is frequently namechecked and appears to be the government agency which deals with all manner of weirdness in the world.
  • Happily Married: A first in superhero literature as both Gary and Mandy seem to be quite content in their relationship. Tragically interrupted by her turn into a vampire.
    • Diabloman and his wife appear to be this as well.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Gary is an enormous geek who references everything from Star Wars to video games to comic books.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: It's implied Gary suffered this as a child, reading much-more advanced books than is normal for his age while hanging around his supervillain brother instead of kids his age.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Gary has a number of minor (by comparison to the setting) abilities. Minor fire, ice, levitation (not flight), durability (not invulnerability), and insubstantibility powers. He can also see ghosts. Gary turns these all into a massive advantage.
    • Subverted when he makes a pact with Death and becomes a master of fire and ice throwing.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Gary is a definite example of this. Cindy is definitely Jewish and UN-Nerdy.
  • Kaiju: Enough of a problem the Nightwalker had a special gun for dealing with them.
    • Gary has to deal with two at the end of Rules.
  • Knight Templar: The Extreme are a collection of these. As is Shoot-Em-Up and other in-universe antiheroes.
    • It turns out the Brotherhood of Infamy is a group of these as well too.
  • The Mentor: Diabloman plays this role to Gary. As does Cloak to a certain extent.
  • Mission Control: Mandy takes on this role with Gary, providing him valuable intelligence through the power of the internet.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cindy Wakowski a.k.a. Red Riding Hood deliberately cultivates this role as a henchperson.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: P.H.A.N.T.O.M is mentioned on numerous occasions. Doubles as a shout-out to SPECTRE.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Not Gary but Shoot-Em-Up. An Anti-hero in the Nineties who wanted to kill supervillains to make sure they stopped menacing people, targeted a bunch of reformed and mostly-harmless ones in front of their families. The effect of this is, after killing Gary's brother Keith (a B-list supervillain named Stingray), he sets Gary on his path to supervillaindom. Which results in Gary shooting him in a hotel later that year, despite the former being only fourteen years old.
  • Nineties Antihero: The book shreds these mercilessly (no pun intended). Shoot-Em-Up is the first and he inspired Gary to become a supervillain by murdering his brother after he reformed. The Extreme, an entire team of them, are even worse.
    • Gary is deeply troubled when he starts to realize, after killing numerous villains and getting praise for it, he's morphed into one of these himself.
  • Nominal Hero: The Extreme and Shoot-Em-Up don't do anything good but kill supervillains. Reformed or harmless or not.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Most supervillains assume Gary is a Harmless Villain due to his laid-back demeanor, Card Carrying Villainy, and rambling. He really comes off more as a demented cosplayer than a supervillain. Then the bodies start dropping.
  • Police Are Useless: Gary thinks so. Given there's 400 supervillains in the city and many have superpowers or super-tech, it's more like, "police are completely outmatched." we eventually discover in Games this is because the police are controlled by the Brotherhood of Infamy.]
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Cindy, Gary, and several other characters are very very nerdy as well as badass.
  • Psycho for Hire: Psychoslinger is, apparently, this. He's a spree-killer, serial killer, and all round lunatic the other villains use.
    • Plenty of other supervillains follow this policy as many work for the Brotherhood of Infamy despite the fact they're murdering an entire city of innocents.''
  • Refuge in Audacity: A large part of why Gary is so successful. People can't compartmentalize Gary more or less just walking up to people, announcing he's a supervillain, and then carrying out his plan without hurting anyone but fellow villains.
    • Cindy develops this habit as well.
  • Religion of Evil: The Brotherhood of Infamy. Subverted by the fact, while their methods are deplorable, their desire to rid the world of superheroes and supervillains makes perfect sense given how crazy they've made the world.
  • The Reveal: The series is very fond of these.
    • In Rules, Mandy was intended to have the Cloak, not Gary.
    • In Rules, Cloak was the Nightwalker's ghost all along.
    • In Games, that the Brotherhood of Infamy was founded by Arthur Warren a.k.a the Nightwalker before he became The Atoner.
    • In Games, that the Brotherhood of Infamy has actually controlled Falconcrest City the entire time and that's why it's a crime-ridden cesspool.''
    • At the end of Games that Mandy Came Back Wrong and no longer has a human soul.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Always there in the books but hits a new high in The Secrets Of Supervillainy where Gary stops an important conversation about how they're wanted by the government and the world's greatest superhero is dead to talk about why Cindy didn't love The Force Awakens.
  • Servile Snarker: Cloak has this relationship to Gary, constantly pointing out the flaws in his very twisted logic.
  • Shout-Out: The streets in Falconcrest City are named after famous comic book writers.
    • Ultragoddess is playing a clear homage to Injustice: Gods Among Us while wearing a Star Wars t-shirt.
    • The phone to the Chief of Police's office is an homage to the 60s Batman tv series.
    • Gary makes frequent references to the Alien movies when fleeing an extraterrestial predator.
    • Gary says his costume looks like a combination of a Sith Lord and Ring Wraith's outfit.
    • Sunlight is said to have done a lot of drugs with Hunter S. Thompson.
    • A blink and you'll miss it reference to Grant Morrison's X-men is Gary's fourteen year old self is described as dressing nearly identical to Quentin Quire.
  • Spicy Latina: Averted with Ultragoddess who is both black as well as Latina but the most sensible woman in the cast aside from Mandy.
  • Straight Gay: Bronze Medal has nothing camp about him whatsoever. This also applies to Mandy and the Black Witch.
  • Transsexual: The Human Tank is a male-to-female one. She's also The Atoner for her past as a supervillain and now a superheroine.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Revealed to be a code of ethics most superheroes follow. It's Justified when Ultragod points out it avoids a lot of problems both legally, ethically, as well as practically. Furthermore, it can be bent if there's absolutely no other resort. Those superheroes who don't care about murder are called antiheroes in-universe.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Gary, being Jewish, doesn't find a superhero who incorporates their iconography the least bit funny. He's even less fond of Neo-Nazis it turns out, though Nazi Robots are something he's positively giddy to blow up.
  • Tradesnark: Gary is ''Merciless: The Supervillain without Mercy™.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Gary isn't a very powerful supervillain but he has a lot of very versatile abilities he makes intelligent use of. He also then becomes MUCH more powerful once he makes a pact with Death.
  • Villain Decay: In-universe. Diabloman used to be one of the most feared villains in the world but health problems have reduced him to being a D-Lister's sidekick. Gary offers him a position as his Dragon and Diabloman never looks back.
    • Inverted for the Ice Cream Man and Typewriter who begin as Starter Villain types only to come back as superpowered zombies.
  • Villain Protagonist: It's in the title. Gary is a supervillain and proudly so. He, eventually, becomes an antihero instead.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: This starts happening with both the public and superheroes when they start to note Gary's "victims" are all evil.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: How Mandy stays in touch throughout the story.
  • Women Are Wiser: Mandy has elements of this, especially in comparison to the complete lunacy of Gary and his crew. As does Ultragoddess. Subverted by the fact it's really just Gary and his crew who are insane. We just see more of them (plus Cindy is arguably more deranged than Gary).
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Rules, a bank teller when he robs the bank within minutes of saving the employees from being killed. And then does it again the next day.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Falconcest City is revealed to be on the other side of Lake Falconcrest which is on the border of Canada.
  • World of Badass: Gary lives in a world where four hundred supervillains in one city is just really-really high.
  • Worthy Opponent: Gary seems to have this sort of feeling for the Society of Superheroes. They seem more confused why a non-psychopath wants to be a supervillain.
  • You Have to Have Jews: Both Gary, Cindy, and all of Gary's family (but Mandy) are Jewish. They also appear to be Jews of Polish descent.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: What will happen if Gary doesn't use his powers often enough. He thinks it's a minor disadvantage. We get to see a full-blown example of it in the second novel.

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