Author – David H Reiss
Pages – 378
Publishing Information – Independently Published, 23rd March 2018
The One Sentence Review
An exciting, refreshing take on the superhero genre with smart ideas and a lot of heart.
For more than two decades, the sight of Doctor Fid’s powered armor has struck terror into the hearts of hero and civilian alike. But when a personal tragedy motivates Doctor Fid to investigate a crime, a plot is uncovered so horrific that even he is taken aback. Haunted by painful memories and profound guilt, the veteran supervillain must race against time if he is to have any hope of confronting the approaching threat. Every battle takes its toll…but the stakes are too high for retreat to be an option.
The Full Review
Fid’s Crusade follows Dr. Fid, supervillain with a conscience, and it was such an entertaining read.
Where we would usually have a cast of villainous adversaries for our hero protagonist to fight against, here the enemies are an avengers-like team of famous faces, with a smattering of up and coming heroes too.
You can see that the author David Reiss must have had a lot of fun thinking up their various personas and their powers. Of course, there are other villains too – some whose evil disgusts our titular Fid, others he has a mutual respect and even friendship with. I especially liked that there is a villain bar where all of the ‘bad guys’ accumulate to drink away the stresses of their weeks.
There are layers underneath a colourful, energetic façade and I found myself thinking deeply about some of the themes that make this book more profound than just a simple bad guy (this being one of the questions – is he truly a villain, is some of it society’s perception?) story. Our relationship with artificial intelligence, with the cult of celebrity, how we deal with our own personal trauma and how the world can be changed by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I really like how Reiss is able to give Dr. Fid believable motivations we can get behind. Along with his own personal trauma, Fid is determined to show up these avengers-like heroes for their own hypocrisy, which shares some parallels with the excellent comic and TV series The Boys, if you’d like something to compare it to. It’s also especially topical in a world in which our leaders and supposed role models are so often shown to have shady secrets, cover ups and actions to suggest they see themselves as above the law.
An aversion to this helps the reader sympathise with our protagonist, who you could argue is more of an anti-hero than an actual villain through much of the story. Of course, it’s not always to us, but to the world Fid lives in that he is seen as the villain; another parallel with our world in that the ones with the money and power are the ones who control the narrative. Fid is still flawed though, as all well written characters are and his anger and hatred towards these undeserving ‘heroes’ can become a battle with his better judgement.
He may have his own laboratories and create outlandish inventions but he never actually wants to be a villain for the sake of it nor is he that traditional 2D cutout of a bad guy; in fact, some of his work is actually used for good and this is another internal battle we see Fid fighting, as he knows some of his ideas could benefit society as a whole; one of the reasons his everyday persona owns a technology company – he just has to be careful that links between the man and the supervillain can’t be made.
You might imagine a story of this nature would be non-stop action. Whilst this is often entertaining, upping the pace would have also made the story feel more shallow and forgettable. The pace is often slowed admittedly, time which is spent getting to know Fid as a character. His thoughts and feelings and an insight into his mind are given time. With most stories, we see a lot of the villain from the perspective of someone else – we see their actions but we don’t know them. We don’t really understand who they are, we only care how to defeat them and sometimes that means not considering how they feel or what led them to their choices.
The further you get into the book, the more you appreciate this and admire the work the author has done so that you’re not merely entertained – you actually care aswell. This is overall so much more impactful and meaningful and gives us this new perspective.
I highly recommend this book and encourage you to give it a try, as it’s probably quite different to most things you’ve read and it’s incredibly thought provoking whilst also having that entertainment factor; a blend that’s pretty difficult to accomplish.
Thankyou to the author David H Reiss for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.