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Literature / Archvillain

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Archvilain and its two sequels, Mad Mask and Yesterday Again are middle-school superhero stories with a twist: they focus on the apparent villain of the story.

Local prankster Kyle Camden gains superpowers and super-intelligence in a strange blast of plasma radiation. At the same time, "Mighty Mike" Mathews, a mysterious boy with superpowers, arrives in town, and immediately becomes the local superhero and celebrity. But only Kyle knows the truth about him: Mike is an alien, who beamed down from space in the same plasma blast that gave Kyle his powers. Even worse, Mike has not only stolen the spotlight, he's also stolen Kyle's best friend Maira. With the help of his trusty Artificial Intelligence Erasmus, Kyle vows to expose Mike's secret and/or embarrass him publicly, and force him to leave Earth. Unfortunately, it turns out that attacking the local superhero with a laser gun isn't a good way to win public trust, and now everyone thinks Kyle's secret identity, the Azure Avenger/Blue Freak, is a supervillain...


Much of the story focuses on the possible Alternative Character Interpretation of Kyle and Mike: is Kyle the Villain Protagonist, a misguided anti-hero, or is he really the hero? And is Mike really the perfect boyscout classic hero he appears to be?


  • Alliterative Name: There's a few:
    • The Azure Avenger
    • Mighty Mike
  • Ambiguously Evil: The main question of the books: is Kyle good, evil, or just misunderstood?
  • Amnesiac Hero: Mighty Mike, who has no idea who, or even what, he really is.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Erasmus
  • The Cape: Mighty Mike is about as pure and idealistic a hero as you can get.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Mad Mask is openly evil (and insane). Averted with the Blue Freak/Azure Avenger, who doesn't think of himself as evil, even if everyone else does.
  • Child Hater: Sheriff Monroe and The Great Nemesis seem to be this, but it's doubtful whether they truly hate Kyle, or want to guide him towards the right path.
  • Advertisement:
  • Damsel in Distress: Maira needs to be rescued at least once per book, usually by Mike.
  • Driven by Envy: Kyle's primary motivation for trying to destroy Mighty Mike.
  • Enemy Mine: Blue Freak and Mighty Mike work together several times to save the day, although all the credit usually goes to Mike.
  • Flying Brick: Mighty Mike has flight, invincibility, super speed, super strength, freeze breath, and laser vision are among his powers. Kyle as well, although he only has flight, super strength and super speed.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: Kyle deciding to work with Mighty Mike after he finds out that Mighty Mike was a weapon created by Kyle's future self.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Kyle in particular comments on Maira's beautiful red hair.
  • Human Alien: Mike, although even he doesn't know it, being an Amnesiac Hero. Only Kyle saw him beam down from space. Subverted as of book three: Mike's not an alien, he's an artificial human created by Future!Kyle and sent back to help his past self.
  • Humongous Mecha: Ultitron
  • Job Title: One-Word Title variant. It's named for the Villain Protagonist.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Kyle's brainwashing machine can remove memories as well as control minds.
  • Love Triangle: While there are no official pairings, both Mike and Kyle seem interested in Maira. In-universe, most people think that Maira and Mike are a couple.
  • Mad Scientist: Kyle, thanks to his enhanced brain power.
  • Malaproper: Mike, thanks to the plasma scrambling his brain, often mixes up words.
  • Nice Guy: Mike, particularly in book three, where we get to see him from Maira's point of view instead of Kyle's. He really seems to want to help everyone as best he can. Though there are some hints that he's not quite as nice when it comes to his rivalry with the Blue Freak.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Mighty Mike makes a number of errors while superheroing, including blowing on a house fire and almost spreading the fire into the forest, and leaving radioactive containers unsealed.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: According to Kyle, anyway. He thinks that he's the real hero, while Mike is an alien who's probably here to eat our brains or something.
  • One-Word Title: Job Title with a Villain Protagonist.
  • Pet the Dog: In addition to saving kittens from trees, stopping forest fires and helping little old ladies cross the street, Mighty Mike literally pets a dog on live TV. Kyle, naturally, criticizes his dog-petting technique.
  • Photo Op with the Dog: Possibly why Mighty Mike keeps rescuing people on live TV.
  • Portmantitle: A fusion of the prefix "Arch-" for "highest in standing" and "Villain".
  • School Idol: Mike, to the point where students will literally fight over who gets to sit with him at lunch. Before Mike showed up, Kyle had been the most popular kid in school, and he doesn't appreciate being replaced.
  • Secret Identity: Kyle as the Blue Freak. Averted with Mike Mathews/Mighty Mike, who doesn't hide his identity.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Maira objects to her new nickname, "Mighty Mike's Girlfriend"
  • Significant Green Eyed Red Head: Maira has green eyes and red hair.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: Mighty Mike wears a green cape, which leads to capes becoming a popular fashion accessory at their school. The Blue Freak also wears a cape, since Kyle publicly hates capes and wants to throw people off his trail.
  • Technopath: Mad Mask isn't actually a techno-genius, it's just that he can control tech with his mind.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: When Kyle travels back to 1987.
  • Trapped in the Past: In Yesterday Again, Kyle gets trapped in 1987. Lundergaard also turns out to have been trapped in the past by his time travel experiments with Future!Kyle. In the end, Jack ends up stranded in 1987 as well. We never find out what happened to him, but its implied that he stayed in the past and took The Slow Path.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Kyle is this.
  • Villain Protagonist: Kyle, although he's the hero in his own eyes.
  • Villain Team-Up: Blue Freak and Mad Mask team up to take down Mighty Mike in the second book. As often happens, the insane villain betrays the sane one, forcing Blue Freak to help Mighty Mike stop him.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Everything Kyle does in the past, including chipping his grandmother's statue and burning down Lundergaard's lab, already happened in his version of the future.

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