||I'm not sure how many people have contributed to the design of comic books over the years. Whatever their number, these talented men and women have spent countless hours wracking their brains to create new and interesting adversaries for our favorite intrepid heroes. When an idea sticks, the world gains an interesting and memorable badguy. When an idea fails, on the other hand, the results are often ridiculous (and sometimes hysterical).
When Villains Attack is a kind of tribute to the less inspiring super villains that have graced the pages of comic books through the years. There are seven super-powered bad guys presented here, and each is ridiculous in his or her own way. My favorite is probably Prawn the Destroyer. The text lavishes on mighty Prawn (who's real name is Lord Tyrant Alasander Prawn XXIII, High Psionicrat), going into some detail about the might of his space fleet and the incredible psionic powers he possesses. Prawn himself is a beefy PL 20, with an impressive list of mental abilities. The catch to all this is that Prawn, despite his towering mental statue...is a 6? shrimp, a tiny fish-man that lives in a floating glass bowl. I have images of Mr. Crab's nemesis Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants, except with terrible cosmic power.
Each character is given a lot of detail. In addition to game stats, the entries list the character's origin, personality, and fighting tactics. The book also gives advice for using the villains in your campaign. Finally, there is a single picture for each, which I think is very important in a game based on a visual medium like comic books. The art itself is only average as far as comic book art goes, but it serves its function.
In the past, I've been a little hard on The Le games for their often muddled writing. I'd be remiss, then, if I didn't mention that the author of When Villains attack does a great job. Typos (and just overall poor wording) are minimal, and the writer seems to know and appreciate his subject manner. When Villains Attack is an entertaining and interesting read.
LIKED: This is a fun little PDF, with a nice spread of villains who are all silly in different ways. From the unfortunately named Cleavland Steamer to the surprisingly powerful Flashlight, you're bound to find a C-list villain to your liking. The stats (though I didn't run much of the math) seem to jibe with the Mutants and Masterminds rules, and the character writeups contain enough detail and advice to easily drop any of these guys into your game. A pretty good mix of PLs means you're more likely to find someone you can use in your home campaign.
DISLIKED: Obviously, if you aren't looking for goofy villains for your supers game, you aren't going to find this book to your liking. You could probably salvage a few of these guys without too much work, but doing so would require the removal of the traits that make them so much fun.
Also, I thought the PDF was rather short. There are 7 villains here, meaning you're paying about $0.50 per character. Not a bad deal, but it would have been nice to see more. As it is, the book seems to end kind of abruptly.
[3 of 5 Stars!]