Also last year I was pleased to score a further bite of the Kalamity Press cherry by being included in This Mutant Life: Bad Company, the second This Mutant Life anthology of NeoPulp superheroic fiction to arrive just in time like a streak of light, as it were.
This time around the focus is on the villainous side of the equation, which made it a perfect home for my little supervillain joint, aka “Heroes and Civilians”, a tale of a lovesick henchman coming up in the world.
There are some rocking stories in this collection, including:
- Frank Byrns’s “No Chance”, about a superpowered spy infiltrating supervillain gang and finding out who the real baddies are
- Susan Jane Bigelow’s Kick-Ass-meets-a-hero-with-actual-powers “Don’t Save Me”
- William Akin’s “Menace of the Metal Men”, an odd poetry/prose mashup that’s nevertheless kinda cute and very vivid
- Mark Floyd’s impeccable “The Return of The Imperion”, which is reminiscent of Austin Grossman at his best
- Kathryn Hall’s emotionally gripping and sleekly written “Immortal”
- Ben Langdon’s claustrophobic “Scratch That”, which admittedly reads more like a horror story than a supervillain piece
- Eric Scott de Brie’s saucy and playful “Curse of the Bambino”
To be honest I wasn’t as wowed by Bad Company as I was by This Mutant Life. There’s just as much standout writing, but the weaker stories seem shakier and hokier and more lacking in focus than the album tracks in TML #1.
The other thing is that quite a few of the stories – even some of the standouts – don’t actually seem to be truly about the supervillain experience so to speak. Sure there are mad genii and monsters and world conquerors here, but you’ve also got a few antiheroes and straight-up knock-down drag-out tales pitting goodie v. baddie with no particular focus on either side of the struggle. there are even a couple – “Immortal” and “Curse of the Bambino” – that are really about superheroes.
That’s a minor point, though. Bad Company is another great anthology from the mind of Ben Langdon, but it works best as a companion volume to the first TML anthology. If you’re thinking of picking up only one of the two volumes, the first is a safer bet, but your NeoPulp collection would be well served by having both books on your shelf. If you’ve got the first one, Bad Company is a must. If you’re yet to pick up either then you should grab both together.
This Mutant Life: Bad Company is available as a paperback or ebook – choose your favourite format from the Kalamity Press store.
For more about the series, stay tuned to This Mutant Life.
Thanks to Ben for once again including me in a great little book, and for continuing to promote the NeoPulp cause.