Will Jayce be like his father to the max?
An elderly one-time notorious supervillain living in a retirement home tracks down his long lost son and asks to help him find a bank robber.
Transformers The Movie (1986) original Trailer, dirrudy
I feel I’ve superhero fatigue after watching every superhero film ever in the recent Marvel franchise. This started with Iron Man (2008) and ended with Avengers Endgame (2019). There’s been good, bad and ugly… the good such as Thor 3: Ragnarok (2017) and those Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2007 finally injected some much-needed humour into this franchise. And it really was about time they realised Thor could be a funny guy!
For bad, I was bored during Dr Strange (2016) and the ugly, all that internet hype around Captain Marvel (2019) put me off even watching it. In fact, to cover bad and ugly once more in one film, I also watched The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014). I found it more a drama of a moody teen whose girlfriend is Emma Stone (and a really annoying Emma Stone character) made me root for the bad guy (whoever he was).
Those Marvel bad guys, Thanos, Loki, Jeff Goldblum’s character (c’mon do you remember his name? Goldblum is like the Rock, always remembered as the actor and not the character) and Starlord’s dad whatsisname aka Kurt Russell really appealed to me much more. They are just as charismatic, delightfully evil or as mesmerisingly memorable as Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor from his Superman (1978) stint. Obviously, not all of them are, and I rest my case with Yellowjacket (bet you looking him up now on the internet).
Anyway, after watching Avengers EndGame, I discovered that when one of the original Avengers superheroes grew old, he returned to his first love by time travel. Then they lived happily ever, making you wonder WTF happened in all those other Marvel movies he appeared in due to this change in the timeline. Then I wondered what happened to other old superheroes and then what happened to those older villains. Surely these bad guys didn’t all rot in jail or escape leading to a sequel.
By sheer chance, this question had been also pondered by my blogging and now author friend Brian Cave. He’s featured once before in this blog in a guest post on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). Cave is a huge 1980s cartoon fan and he knows everything and anything about Transformers past and present (see HERE). He can be followed HERE on Twitter with his website HERE!
Cave wrote about a possible solution to what happened to those bad guys in this first novel, Old School Evil. The story has two main characters. So I’ll tell you a wee bit about them but from their point of view.
Max is an old man who unhappily resides in an assisted retirement home for elderly villains. He daydreams of his eventual escape and of killing his fellow inmates in gruesome ways. Max was at one time known as the feared supervillain Major Max Malice the Menacing. He has a long lost son, Jayce that he’s trying to track down with the help of his henchman, Fangrow.
Major Max Malice the Menacing was head honcho of those bad guys, the Muttants. These bad guys were the enemy to the good guys, the Hurricanines. Max has werewolf tendencies, which he feels he has to suppress daily (but he is tempted to use his alter ego occasionally). After Max hears about a fellow resident’s daughter robbing banks, Max sends Fangrow to hunt down Jayce. Max then asks Jayce to find her… but does he have an evil motive? You bet he does…
The other main character is Max’s long lost son, Jayce. Jayce has been homeless for some time after his vivid memories of killing his foster parents. He only has his loving memories of his favourite 1980s cartoons and his trusted action figure called Roadblock for company. Jayce has no friends and depends on soup kitchens and charity, and like his dad turns into a wolf when provoked.
Suddenly Jayce’s life changes after a deadly encounter with a mysterious man with a dog’s head, Fangrow. Fangrow tells Jayce that his long lost father, Max wants to meet him. Jayce’s life will never be the same after he visits his father in the Hidden Brook assisted retirement home. He visits Max and Max offers him a substantial amount of money to track down a wanted criminal… But as Jayce learns more about his father and the nature of his quest, will he assist him with his favourite memories of those heroes on Saturday morning cartoons…???
Cave’s novel Old School Evil tells their two stories, and both tales are told in the first person. As these two protagonists tell their own stories, these characters use their own unique styles of writing. Their stories are told concurrently and Cave’s different writing styles make it easy for the reader to follow their stories. I felt Cave easily juggled his writing of these characters and the entire story unfolds in a natural and engaging manner.
I loved this book and these characters, and it feels like two books for the price of one with the two protagonists telling their own stories. The characters and their two very separate lives merge and then separate until those final chapters. Along the way, we meet some always wonderfully imaginative and likeable characters who are both good and bad, but all of which were made real with Cave’s vivid, strong descriptions.
Their compelling backstories are added to the story, as Cave’s writing deftly combines their origin story with the then-current goings-on. Cave succeeds in building up his characters by making you learn and get to know them as the protagonist does. This is much more effective as it is in a natural and realistic way rather than relying on flashbacks.
Cave’s characters each have their own stories, quirks, and dreams and Cave’s writing complements these in a logical way. The story was imaginatively and creatively told by Cave, as it often pulls your emotions. There are times that will make you laugh or cry. The story is engaging, compelling and fun and at times appropriately and a wee bit cartoon style violent.
Jayce is made real as his storytelling is interspersed with some affectionate remembrances of those cartoons of the 80s. It is here that Cave shows his strengths as a blogger on this subject. There are some touching nods to some familiar cartoon names and films of the past with She Ra, The Transformers Movie (not the one with Megan Fox but the 1986 film) and many more. Max, with more villainous motives, reminds you of those villains who you’ve booed at in pantomimes or in those 80s Saturday morning cartoons.
You can buy this book – the first of a series – on Kindle or paperback HERE. And I have it on this author’s authority that the second edition of this book is coming out later this month… so you won’t have long to wait. This book has the whole of this reviewed book and a wee bonus first chapter of the second in this book series. So now you know just what to spend your money on as a Christmas pressie for you or your cartoon and superhero loving pal or relative…
I could easily see this book made into a successful fantasy superhero film or a graphic novel. Cave has created an authentic new universe with more unique and credible characters. I, therefore, recommend that you read this book as it takes you to a world of good vs evil, heroes vs villains, origin stories combined with present-day adventure, and fathers and children as you ponder if villains ever make good…
A disclaimer and personal thank you to Brian Cave for asking me to write this post. Financial compensation was not received for this post. However, I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own. If you are involved in the entertainment industry and would like to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.