Tuesday, June 6, 2017

REVIEW: Unlucky Seven

J. P. Bidula's Unlucky Seven is a self-published superhero comedy novel I picked up from the author himself at a local convention a few years back. It was a random gamble, I had no idea what I was getting into except the description on the back of the box and the author’s sales pitch. I couldn’t fathom what kind of adventure I was in for. Read on for my full review of Unlucky Seven.

Unlucky Seven opens in media res on an eerie scene after a mysterious tanker has crashed outside of a bar. A group of mid-20-somethings awaken to find themselves covered in black goo. They're taken off to some scary hospital to be detoxed and cleansed. They sign an NDE and get a briefcase full of cash, told that everything was going to be okay. A few days later they all wake up with superpowers.

Described by the author as Arrested Development meets the Avengers, Unlucky Seven is a dramedy about a bunch of geeks like us who are given superpowers and decide to embrace the completely random happenstance and take to costumed the vigilante life. Meanwhile, the bad guys who created the black goo are up to their own bad guy shenanigans.

When something like this has a number in the title, you're naturally going to spend the first chapter or so counting every introduced character. Well, there is about a dozen people caught up in the power granting accident and the initial "gang" is already more than seven. Some people go solo, others join the dark side, some get dumped. In the end, a complete stranger becomes the seventh member of the team. It's definitely the kind of book that you need to keep a page of notes to keep the characters straight. But eventually, it narrows down on the essential players in the second half.

Another thing you may ask going into this book is who has what powers and how are they played with? They’re all your standard X-Men style abilities, with the de facto main guy having fire power, which includes his hair. He has burning hair, or rather he has flames where his hair should be. There is also an ice girl. She also has ice for hair and she can control it and turn it into different styles and even helmets. Other generic powers are presented. Telepathy, technopathy, etc. But they're all explored in unique ways. The telepath has no qualms with using her powers on anyone for any purpose, very First Class Xavier. And there is a lightning guy who can drain energy from batteries. And the multiple man creates disposable clones specifically for murder practice. Also, you really get into the big rock guy's head. He doesn't get hungry or tired or even horny. He's just a rock, but he remembers what being a human is like. That's messed up. There's also this high school homecoming king sort of guy. He turns into Savage Dragon. That's awesome.

As the plot floats between introducing new characters and slowly building them up as a heroic force, there is little in the way of fight scenes and action. That's kinda the point. These guys get comic book superpowers, but in the real world where there are no super villains. It feels very Kick-Ass in that regard, but I feel like the ending sets up a sequel a bit closer to Samurai Flamenco.

J. P. Bidula is a great guy who created a cool story with fun characters. Unlucky Seven might not be as action packed as most superhero fare, but it's definitely funnier with superhero patrols going horribly wrong and powers being used to mentally abuse people. For fun. Unlucky Seven is just that, fun. It gives a group of geeks real powers, lets them build a secret base, and then gives them nothing to do with it. So while there may only be one big superpower battle at the climax, it is definitely worth it in the end.

Get your copy of Unlucky Seven now and get The Obligatory Sequel while you’re at it. After that, head over to the author’s website to check out a series of free short stories that take place after the second book.