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Literature / Blackjack

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Just a plain dealing villain.

Blackjack is a series by Ben Bequer which chronicles the adventures of Villain Protagonist Blackjack. Possessed of a genius-level intellect, incredible strength, and immense skill at archery, he is mostly regulated to doing small-time heists due to the continued attacks of his Archenemy Atmosphero.

Blackjack's life changes when he's recruited by a mysterious group that turns out to be working for the infamous Doctor Retcon. Made part of a team which is going to commit super big crimes that superheroes can't stop, he soon finds himself guilty of (accidentally) murdering a superhero and involuntarily paired with a superheroine who used to be his teammate. Now he's really starting to reconsider his career choices.

The book series consists of:

  • Blackjack: Villain
  • Blackjack: Wayward
  • Blackjack: Dead or Alive

This series contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Precursors: The Lightbringers give superpowers to mortals but brutalize the races they enslave, destroying the worlds they conquer but keeping a fragment for themselves.
  • Action Girl: Apogee and a lot of other female superheroes and villains.
  • Antihero: Blackjack gradually morphs into this as the series progresses.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Atmosphero earns Blackjack's ire early on, but quickly becomes Out of Focus.
    • Mr Haha 2000, a rogue AI that was originally part of Dr Retcon's team, but eventually decides to make ruining Blackjack's life his new project.
  • Archer Archetype: What Blackjack was before his power up. Later he combines it with his abilities.
  • Big Bad: The Lightbringers serve as this in the original novel.
    • Zundergrub becomes Blackjack's in Wayward.
    • Doctor Hamm takes Zundergrub's place in Dead or Alive.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Almost all of the books end on this.
    • The first book ends with Blackjack locked away on multiple life sentences but having saved the world.
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    • The second book ends with Blackjack having saved the world a second time and this time on camera but not having persuaded Apogee to forgive him. Worse, it's revealed Mr. Haha was a False Friend the entire time and was just setting him up for the fall.
    • The third book ends with Blackjack saving the life of his worst enemy and averting the trend with everything looking better for him.
  • Boxed Crook: In the Distant Finale, Blackjack goes to work for the local Iron Man stand-in as a hero.
  • Cape Punk: Falls into this category of storytelling genre. It has an antihero, a peak into the way supervillainy works, and Gray and Gray Morality.
  • Cartwright Curse: Blackjack has a minor one of these as while Apogee remains his primary love interest, he tends to lose many minor ones between their breakups.
  • Chronic Villainy: Blackjack notes he could have easily succeeded via Cut Lex Luthor a Check but his temper as well as poor impulse control resulted in him becoming unhireable.
  • Copkiller: Blackjack becomes this to superheroes when he (accidentally) kills Pulsewave.
  • Copkiller Manhunt: Blackjack becomes subject to one of these due to the final battle against Doctor Retcon at Hashima.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: One of Blackjack's defining traits is he really loves the life of being a supervillain. It's shown off, especially, when he briefly retires to Romania on his millions and builds himself a literal castle.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Mr Haha 2000's main robotic body can shift its parts into a number of configurations, including a variety of weapons and even a working forge.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Blackjack has superhuman strength and durability that only grows as the series continues, to the point where he's in the running for the most powerful superhuman in the world, but he still prefers to fight with gadgets and a bow when possible.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Blackjack combines this with his archery skills ala Green Arrow.
  • Heel Realization: Blackjack has one of these when he discovers Apogee and Pulsewave were former lovers.
  • The Lost Lenore: A non-romantic example, as the death of Cool Hand Luke at Zundergrub's hands is one of the reasons Blackjack picks up his grudge against Zunergrub.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: This is the way the Utopia prison works: supervillains are put in beautiful dreams to keep them imprisoned.
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: This is basically the beginnings of Blackjack's romance with Apogee. Zundergrub places a psychic compulsion in her mind that will kill her if she gets too far away from Blackjack before Blackjack is separated from the team.
  • My Greatest Failure: Blackjack considers killing Pulsewave to be this. Though he's not fond of any of the accidental deaths he's involved with.
  • Nice to the Waiter: What separates Blackjack from other criminals, to the point he doesn't even mind them stealing from him as long as it's "reasonable" skim.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Blackjack has this reaction after he finds out Zundergrub killed 200 people.
  • One-Man Army: Blackjack gradually gains this reputation after using a giant monster to destroy all of the Mist Warriors on the Shard planet.
  • Planetary Romance: The Shard World has this attitude, especially during Blackjack's second visit which was all a hallucination.
  • Posthumous Character: Most of Pulsewave's development occurs after his death.
  • Smug Super: Most of the superheroes have a mild case of this even though they're otherwise decent people.
  • Space Pirates: While locked up in Utopia prison Blackjack spends time as one of these.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Blackjack goes from being a mid-level supervillain to one of the most feared on Earth.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Doctor Retcon turns out to be one of these and has devoted his entire life to opposing the Lightbringers.
  • World's Strongest Man: Epic is considered to be this by most superheroes. Blackjack may actually be the real one by the end.


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