“In this world, the lines of good and evil are not so stark. Here, heroes are remembered, but villains never die,” is the establishing notion behind Nick DeWolf’s third book, Villains Never Die. In a world where heroes are remembered, the villains never die. There are so many starting points that set the path of this story in motion: a warehouse explosion, a battle between all of the heroes and the Triad of Evil when Japan was almost destroyed, and the moment Doctor Dendrite became the most feared man in the world. None of these though is the crucial moment, but rather there are three people find themselves drawn into a world where history is coming to a head.
The government is moving behind the scenes and while evil was thought to be gone it has reemerged and centuries old plans are set in motion. An old villain, a new hero, and a wayward girl who is in completely over her head will all be brought into the hurricane that is the culmination of years. Danny Endwright is exceptionally bright, so smart in fact that growing up he enraged people through his smarts. As a young black man full of knowledge he was seen as a threat to the established world around him. Now fifty years after all of this he has become the feared Doctor Dendrite, but he never planned to become villainous. He never planned that life for himself and finds that not all villains truly fit the mold of what they are expected to be. Candi has found herself confronted by loss in an unexpected moment with a member of the former Triad of Evil. She suddenly finds herself trying to understand what is going on and this panic is nothing she ever expected. Antonella Garcia knows she has powers and knows she needs to keep her cool. As a member of new form of fight against evil she has a special military role that has her using her powers for the good of all. Their stories will all come together as they examine how they’ve come to be where they are and as they try to deal with everything that is going on around them as the world seems to be changing.
The representation in this book is the first thing I want to comment on. While yes, a black man is the villain the fact that there is a character of color taking up a major element of the story is something lacking from a lot of modern hero narratives. Doctor Dendrite is an exceptionally smart man and he never really planned to be a villain. He was just smart and indulging in his intelligence. Antonella also shows another element of representation. She uses Spanish easily in her dialogue and is Hispanic, which again shows another person of color as a primary voice in the narrative. The fact that something isn’t right in this world keeps you guessing at what exactly constitutes a villain or a hero. DeWolf is able to keep his characters from being one sided, but rather they are complex and curious. They are trying to understand their own role in what is happening in the world around them. I was completely engaged during this read and I also found Candi’s own journey interesting to see. She is not confident in herself, but slowly begins to grow into herself and move through the dangers that she has been forced to confront. You can get Villains Never Die today.