3 Books for a Better, Badder You

Reading Time: 3 minutes

villain books

I like to think of Halloween as not only a celebration of monsters, but as a holiday that truly gives the bad guys their due. Sure, not all bad guys are monsters, and certainly not all monsters are bad guys. Still, there’s just enough dark, delightful commonality to make villains the veritable toast of the season!

It’s been said that no man is the villain of his own story. The Supervillain Field Manual: How to Conquer (Super) Friends and Incinerate People, however, turns that statement on its ear.

Written by noted ne’er-do-well King Oblivion, PhD (with a little help from pop culture maven Matt D. Wilson) and illustrated by Adam Wallenta, The Supervillain Field Manual is the follow-up to 2012’s The Supervillain Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide to Destruction and Mayhem. Yet while that was a starter guide for burgeoning baddies this new volume offers advanced lessons in henchmen-wrangling, hasty escapes and poorly-concealed money laundering schemes.

Of course it’s the simple fact that the book (like its predecessor) is ceaselessly funny that truly makes it worth your while!

Wallenta’s vibrant color illustrations and regular allusions to archetypal villains like Lex Luthor and Dr. Doom pepper Wilson’s… er, King Oblivion’s scattered narrative of bad guy dos and don’ts. No villainous issue of the day is left unexplored with helpful guides to choosing the proper hairstyle, making the perfect entrance and spending your ill-gotten gains appropriately. It’s also likely the only book you’ll read where the footnotes are just as satisfying and perfectly realized as the core text.

King Oblivion isn’t the only renowned villain with a timely released new book. The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia: Inhabitants, Lore, Spells, and Ancient Crypt Warnings of the Land of Ooo Circa 19.56 B.G.E. – 501 A.G.E. was penned by none other than the Lord of Evil himself, Hunson Abadeer (under the guise of contemporary comedian/television personality Martin Olson.)

This expansive tome explores the various kingdoms of the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo and their notable (and less notable) denizens with an additional dash of dangerous magics and diabolical lore. This particular edition also includes gratuitous margin notes hand-written by Finn, Jake and Abadeer’s own daughter Marceline. Though not quite as cohesive or breezy a read as The Supervillain Field Manual, it’s a truly wonderful concordance of supplementary show canon in a lovely hardcover that’s sure to dress up the coffee table in your own secret lair or haunted castle.

The writing perfectly captures the spirit of the show, and the book is positively oozing with Adventure Time‘s unique charm. The presentation, from the layout to the illustrations, is engaging, and the tone of the principle text and bonus passages perfectly matches the voices you’ve come to know from the show.

Our last selection isn’t purely focused on the villainous, but the newly released Doctor Who: The Vault: Treasures from the First 50 Years is a massive hardbound collection that brings you “the full and official story of Doctor Who, from the show’s first pre-production memos in 1963 to behind-the-scenes material from the latest season.”

With interviews with cast members, notes from the creators and crew and a staggering selection of featured memorabilia, it’s a veritable love letter to the BBC’s ever-evolving epic, but it’s the attention paid to the series’ myriad of monsters and madmen that really drew me in. By now we all know the Cybermen, the Sontarans and the sinister Daleks, but The Vault puts their own evolution alongside that of The Doctor himself.

Ample production sketches flesh out this enduring story of a Time Lord on a mission and a staff perpetually stretched to its limits. Beginning with the eventual adoption of a proper Visual Effects Department in 1967 and continuing throughout The Doctor’s various incarnation (and through the show’s various hiatus), the villains became as much a part of the series and fan culture as the TARDIS.

From the earliest days of its fierce outsider production aesthetic to additional tales of the outrageously unexpected — it was the unprecedented response to the return of The Doctor’s fiercest enemies in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” that cemented the future of the series by affording it a second recording block — Doctor Who: The Vault is a dense but satisfying read boasting more than enough treasures to warrant the name. Not to mention more than enough Weeping Angels and killer Kandymen to make your Halloween night that much more terrifying.

Review materials provided by: Skyhorse Publishing, Abrams and HarperCollins Publishers

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