School bully Jake Hunter receives a mysterious email inviting him to join a scheme for world domination. With unlimited power and wealth at his fingertips, how can he resist? But to get it he has to become an arch-criminal, entangled in a plan that threatens the planet. And that could just be a step too far...
Sister series to Hero.com
- A Simple Plan: As Jake observes in the third book, something always goes wrong.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: It's noted in the first book that Jake is quite popular with the girls at his school, including Lorna, one of the protagonists of Hero.com, whose feelings he reciprocates.
- Anti-Villain: Jake, which makes sense as a kids' book can't have a bad guy protagonist be really bad.
- Blessed with Suck: The feedback loop problem gives Jake the ability to combine powers in new ways (even teleporting most of Air Force One, which most who knew about powers thought impossible) and effectively raises the upper limit on the max powers he can have at a time, but the Hero Foundation wants to experiment on him, and he's actually addicted to the powers from the site.
- Cloning Gambit: Basilisk's regeneration ability not only allows him to live much longer, but it changes his DNA to match whoever he took it from. He decides to cover some of his crimes by molding Jake into a scapegoat, but then he discovers that Jake's got plenty of potential, and decides to keep him around. Jake has other plans.
- Dating Catwoman: Jake is the metaphorical "Catwoman" in this case.
- The Dreaded: Necros. To put it plainly, the Council of Evil has no official leader. The role is meant to cycle periodically through its 8 members. Necros though, is so terrifying that he has held the position over the allotted time and looks set to continue doing so, and the other 6 seats on the Council (as in, several of the most powerful villains on the planet), are unwilling to oppose him and wary of him to varying extents.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Losing his family via mind-wiping on the part of the good guys is a large part of what spurs Jake on to become a full-fledged villain.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Jake may be a bully, but he tries not to involve innocents in his plans.
- Evil Knockoff: The titular website itself, which was pirated off Hero.com by the Council of Evil, so not even the Council is 100% sure how it all works. Heck, a lot of Council tech is either outright stolen from the Hero Foundation or a knockoff of some kind.
- Evil Mentor: Basilisk.
- The Faceless: Basilisk, courtesy of a sufficiently scary hood. Turns out, he looks just like Jake, as he used an infant Jake's DNA to regenerate his body.
- Flying Car: The aptly named SkyKar.
- Holding Back the Phlebotinum: Jake can only download four powers at the time, and they have an unspecified time limit (but less than Hero.com's powers, as this version trades off some of the time for extra intensity).
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Jake becomes physically addicted to whatever energy Villain.net gives off, to the point that if he goes too long without it, he'll die. This is explained by the fact that Basilisk's powers are in the site, and since Basilisk used Jake's DNA to regenerate himself, when Jake downloaded from the site, his DNA already being in the system created a sort of "feedback loop".
- In the Blood: Basilisk tells Jake that villainy is in his blood so often that it's practically the Arc Words of the first book, and seems to be pretty obvious Foreshadowing of Luke, I Am Your Father or something similar. Turns out, Jake's blood runs through Basilisk, rather than the other way around, because Basilisk came across him as an infant and used his DNA to regenerate. He then decided to manipulate Jake from the shadows, turning him into a callous thug.
- Irony: It is lampshaded a few times the the Council of Evil does more to restrict villainy than the Hero Foundation, due to their Pragmatic Villainy mindset: the council approves and shoots down villain schemes, the idea being that the plans don't screw each other up, but since the council gets a cut of the profits from the plot if it succeeds, they promote more bank robberies than doomsday devices. In fact, Jake comments at one point that it would be total chaos without the Council keeping things in check.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Chameleon in the later books. His hatred and obsession with Jake cause him to leave the Foundation and start downloading powers from the sites, causing him to become increasingly insane and obsessed.
- Meta Origin: The Core Powers. These 6 powers are the original abilities from which all other powers in existence are just a weakened, mutated blend of, and although second 2 introduced have been divided, only one person can wield the full amount at once. One is a Time Master ability, another is a Gravity Master power, and the other grants power over life and death.
- Nice to the Waiter: At one point in the first book, Jake gives up his chair for an older henchman of Basilisk's.
- Oh, Crap!: Jake after he realizes what could happen with an incomplete Gravity Master Core Power.
- Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Council of Evil, though we know its purpose is to make sure supervillains' plots don't overlap or anything.
- Pet the Dog: Jake rescues his teacher after he accidentally sets fire to the classroom, and spares the scientists at the Indian Institute of Advanced Technology when Basilisk asks him to take care of the situation (as in, leave no witnesses). He also saved the crew of the ISS.
- Powers as Programs: The basis of the plot, as the powers are actually downloadable!
- Rage Against the Mentor: Jake finally decides he's had enough of Basilisk's bullshit near the end of the first book and not only calls him out on it, but thwarts his evil plan.
- Really 700 Years Old - Basilisk has a regenerating ability that allows him to get an extra few years by borrowing other people's DNA. This leads to Jake's DNA being all over Basilisk's crime scenes, or at least his most recent ones. Necros, Kirby and Kirby's brother Leech all possess a portion of a Core Power that allows them to become younger.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Upon meeting The Chameleon, Jake assumes he's also a villain. He's wrong, though Chameleon seems to come off as a bit ruthless. Of course, considering the point of view we're seeing him from...
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Basilisk decides that shoving Jake out of the SkyKar is the best way to teach him how to use his downloaded flying abilities.
- Stock Superpowers: The fact that these are downloadable is the driving force behind the plot. There are too many different ones used to list them all here.
- Take a Third Option: if you have superpowers, you have to choose between the Council of Evil and the Hero Foundation. Jake and Forge disapprove.
- Teach Him Anger: As Jake's villainous mentor Basilisk tells him, "Controlled anger is the mightiest weapon."
- Two Lines, No Waiting: This and Hero.com are mostly separate stories, but make occasional references to each other.
- Unmasqued World: Jake concludes at the end of the last book that the public must know about superheroes and villains after everything that happened.
- Villain Protagonist: Well, duh.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: What happens if a Prime downloads from one of the sites, if they don't die outright. Also, the Core Powers tend to have this effect, with only those of strong will, like Jake, Kirby, and Necros able to resist their lure.
- What The Hell Here: Jake's not happy when he learns that the Hero Foundation has brainwashed his family, especially when Chameleon tries to justify it as "saving them from the heartache you would have caused."