The book had to happen, of course, because I was contracted for a total of three Archvillain books. But the story didn’t have to be the one I turned in. I decided on introducing the Mad Mask because of something my brother said to me.
When I was first debating whether or not to write the series at all, my brother pointed out — as I mentioned last time — that I could have a lot of fun parodying the comic books I loved so much. And he was right! That’s why, for example, most of the teachers at Kyle’s school are named after various super-hero secret identities.
“You could totally have fun making of Dr. Doom,” he pointed out, and in that instant, the Mad Mask was born.
Read the Mad Mask’s dialogue. Change some proper nouns and it’s pretty much Stan Lee Dr. Doom dialogue. My only innovation was shoving the egomaniacal blathering of a genius scientist-cum-European despot into the mouth of a 14-year-old brat.
I was channeling Stan the Man something fierce and loving every minute of it. (It’s no accident that the Mad Mask’s creation — Ultitron — is a portmanteau of two Marvel robotic villains, Ultron and Ultimo.)
Anyway, once the villain was settled, I realized that I could have a lot of fun playing off the idea that Kyle was now in the middle of a horrible spectrum, with Mighty Mike — dumb do-gooder — on one end and the Mad Mask — wily lunatic — on the other.
And of course no matter what he did, Kyle would still end up hated and feared by the population in general. Poor kid can’t catch a break.
I wrote this one fast. Not because I had to — it just flowed out of me. And when it was done, it needed very little work, just some light tweaking. Man, I wish they were all like that!
(Oh, trivia note: With this book, a new editor came on-board the series about halfway through. Her only request: That I please stop naming characters with the initials M. M. — she was getting confused by her own notes! I agreed that the joke had gone on long enough.)