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Literature / Please Don't Tell My Parents I Work for a Supervillain

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There's a new antihero in town.

Please Don't Tell My Parents I Work for a Supervillain is another entry into the Please Dont Tell My Parents Young Adult Literature Capepunk series by Richard Roberts. It stars a new protagonist and several minor characters from the original series.

What do you do when you have the wrong super powers? Magenta's older brother is a superhero. She's starting high school at the school where kids with powers go, including the famous Inscrutable Machine. Except, Magenta's powers are no good for fighting. Her potions are useful, not dangerous. Her other power is just humiliating. What Magenta has plenty of is determination, and she tries fighting a supervillain anyway. She fails.

But for Magenta, failure is the beginning, not the ending. Suddenly she has a part-time job working for that same supervillain, who doesn't seem very villainous. She spends her afternoons buying mad science from smugglers, copying memories into a magic book, delivering messages to evil lawyers, and always, always, putting on a show. Soon, she's ducking heroes who want to save her from herself, and her best friends, who don't know the sidekick they're chasing is Magenta. Making sure her parents don't find out is the easy part.


This book contains the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Cleric is a kind, compassionate, and pleasant mentor to Magenta. So much so that she forgets that while affable, he really is evil.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Kay keeps his distance due to fear of misusing his power.
  • Antihero: Magneta wants to be a supervillain to be like her heroes, the Inscrutable Machine.
  • Ascended Extra: Marcia and Charlotte are both main cast members now.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Magenta is a huge fan of the Inscrutable Machine in-universe. She also becomes a supervillain that is actually a hero.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Tonika is one of the few people who can consistently identify Magenta due to her relying on cues not directly related to Magenta's identity.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Kay's power lets him find the easiest answer to any question. Unfortunately, "easiest" is not the same as "best." He mentions that sometimes the easiest way to jam a doomsday device is to shove his own arm into the gears, and later Cleric points out that the easiest way to free someone from mind control is to kill them, or rip out the mind control implants (which will likely kill them).
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  • Blessed with Suck: Magenta has two powers: Natural alchemical knowledge (which she loves, even if it's useless in combat) and an uncontrollable Perception Filter that makes it utterly impossible for anyone to ever recognize her. She spends the first part of the book being constantly asked by teachers if she wandered into the wrong classroom.
  • Born Lucky: Kay has this as his power. It's something he loathes given it can have horrible side effects on other people.
  • Chess Motifs: The Tyrant loves doing this. Hence why Magenta is known as Pawn.
  • Cursed with Awesome:
    • It is impossible for anyone to recognize Magenta from moment to moment, even among her family. It is, however, useful for keeping a secret identity.
    • Kay is happy that he's lost his powers because their only purpose was to be a superhero, and being a superhero puts him and those around him in constant danger. He's never told what would happen, only what actions to take.
  • Dare to Be Badass: What Cleric's philosophy is all about. It also has horrifying consequences.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Once again, Sue. She is not present in the book because her parents sent her to a finishing school for "unladylike behavior" such as "not being ashamed of having shadow powers."
  • Demoted to Extra: The Inscrutable Machine are barely present; Penny gets exactly one line, and Magenta doesn't even realize who she was until later.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Magenta failed to consider how many people would die if everyone in the city was suddenly afflicted with crippling headaches from their new knowledge. It was such an obvious result that Cleric genuinely didn't consider it worth mentioning; he explained the process to her and demonstrated it in the small scale, what did she think was going to happen?
  • The Dreaded:
    • Mourning Dove remains this among supervillains.
    • Tyrant terrifies both superheroes and supervillains alike.
  • Exact Words: Aikamieli has a spell that will let him teleport to a date with a girl. So Marcia plans a date for where they need to go.
  • Expy: Tyrant is one for Doctor Doom.
  • Fictional Disability: Magenta can't learn chemistry because her powers over alchemy are entirely instinctive.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Possibly Cassie and Penny Ak.
  • Kid Sidekick: Cleric offers to make Magenta his squire and teen henchman, which she accepts.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Tyrant is a villain who doesn't obey any rules because he's not from LA and genuinely is capable of conquering the world.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Tyrant is Cleric's master, even though we never meet him.
  • Meaningful Name: Pawn for Magenta. Because of Tyrant's chess motifs. She also doesn't realize Tyrant is really-really evil.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Marvelous is described as being famous for "beauty and elegantly minimal costuming."
  • Neural Implanting: This is Cleric's master plan, to download the knowledge and skills of as many people in Los Angeles as he can, and then broadcast them to everyone. It proves its worth with Sean, who gains superior fighting abilities and the ability to read and write Catlantian.
  • Perception Filter: No one can remember what Magenta looks like. End of story. Once she gets out of sight for thirty seconds, even her best friends find themselves completely unable to recognize her. They remember Magenta herself (and Marcia icily tells her "this seat is taken" when Magenta tries to sit in her own seat), but simply cannot connect this pink-haired girl with their pink-haired friend. Not even her family is immune; they get around it by expecting the "stranger" in their house to be Magenta. Cleric is experienced enough to muscle through it, Tonika is smart enough to identify when Magenta's power is working on her, and Aikamieli can usually figure it out because all his love spells point at her.
  • Perky Goth: Marcia has become this with her constant dangerous punk girl look, but it has made her much happier than she ever was as an Alpha Bitch.
  • Slasher Smile: This is Marcia's default expression these days.
  • Spell Book: Aikamieli and his spellbook from Wainamoinen. It turns out that all of them are related to Wainamoinen's romantic exploits.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Turns out that the ancient magical grimoire Aikamieli got is full of love spells. Such as finding a girl's contact information, matching up your schedules, and teleporting to her bedroom. The girls all call them "stalker spells," to his embarrassment.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Magenta is a mad ALCHEMIST not scientist who is a high schooler, not a junior high student. She is, however, also training to be a supervillain while being mostly a good person. Justified as she's a Penny Ak fangirl.
  • Villain Protagonist: Magenta takes a little too easily to being Cleric's sidekick due to the example set by the Inscrutable Machine.
  • With Great Power: Kay's power could get him literally anything he wanted. He uses it only for hero work, and absolutely refuses to use it for anything selfish. There was apparently an incident in his past that scared him out of using it selfishly, but even Magenta doesn't know the details.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Magenta assumes that Upper High is a X-men style school for superheroes. It's just a high school with a lot of powered kids.
    • The heroes assume that Magenta is Brainwashed and Crazy by Cleric and not there by free will.
    • Played straight when she realizes that most supervillains outside of Los Angeles really are genuinely evil and dangerous.


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