I’m thrilled to report that School Library Journal has braved both evil geniuses and reported back on Archvillain #2: The Mad Mask!
Endowed with extraordinary strength and brainpower by a mysterious “space plasma,” sixth-grader Kyle (aka the Azure Avenger) continues his efforts to unmask the alien Mighty Mike. As in Archvillain (Scholastic, 2010), superpowered Mike is still the darling of the populace, even though his heroic efforts often have unfortunate consequences. He has taken over Kyle’s spot as the most popular kid in Bouring Middle School and is center stage in every class. Still suspicious of Mighty Mike’s ultimate plans, Kyle is working on a new device to expose him when he is contacted by yet another would-be archvillain. Calling himself the Mad Mask, the newcomer claims to have been disfigured by the same cosmic event that brought Mighty Mike to Earth and gave Kyle his enhanced abilities. He needs Kyle’s help to finish his Ultitron robot and promises assistance against Mighty Mike in return. At first Kyle is delighted to have another superfriend in the mix. However, he begins to notice that his new ally has a rather cruel streak and is decidedly unreliable in crisis situations. Is the Mad Mask really all he seems? Readers familiar with the first adventure will find that Kyle shows considerable character growth in this installment. While he is still not above manipulating others for his own benefit, his experience with the Mad Mask’s truly malicious plotting shows him the limits of cynicism and selfishness–perhaps moving him closer to being a genuine superhero. Filled with mock heroic dialogue and sly jabs at popular superhero conventions, this book will be welcomed by adventure fans.