Last week I wasn’t completely honest with y’all. Although Part 4 of the Bit by Bloody Bit Corrupts Absolutely? edition was titled “The Final Chapter,” there are actually a couple more stories to go before we wrap this up. I hope you can find it in your horror lovin’ hearts to forgive me.
This time it really is the end *tear*
The second to last story in this dark metahuman collection is “Gone Rogue” by Wayne Helge. This yarn is about how one sidekick finds his arch-nemesis and has one of my favorite endings among the 21 stories in this anthology. Z-pack is the trusted sidekick to the city’s hero Zooster, but when Z-pack has to step up to fight villain The Midshipman alone he proves to be more than capable. From then on, Zooster leaves the fighting to Z-pack so he can spend his time wooing the Athena sisters. That doesn’t mean he lets Z-pack take the credit for keeping the city safe, oh no. Z-pack does the dirty work and Zooster is there to take the credit giving interviews and smiling for newspaper photos. So where does that leave Z-pack? You’ll have to read to find out. “Gone Rogue” is one of the funnier stories in the bunch, mostly due to the hilarious punch line ending. Helge has a dark sense of humor that I think any reader will be able to appreciate. Short, sweet, to the point, and an ending that made me giggle out loud. “Gone Rogue” is a winner.
Corrupts Absolutely? ends on a bit of a sad note with Andrew Bourelle’s “Max and Rose.” While it’s not revealed explicitly how, Max has recently acquired superpowers and continues to get stronger. He has physical and mental strength, even able to control people with his mind. He hopes he can fly soon. Bourelle’s short gets at the heart of what Corrupts is all about. Max has newfound abilities, but he is not compelled to use them for good. He’s not stopping muggers from attacking innocent old ladies or disrupting bank heists. Instead Max is mind controlling women to have sex with him, using it to gain riches, and when this story opens he is manipulating the maître d’ of a fancy hotel restaurant to give him and Rose the best seat in the house. This may not sound so bad, but could this be how supervillains are born? Rose seems to think so and suddenly at this dinner at the fancy hotel, she has that epiphany which has recently been building. Everyone knows a true villain can’t find true love. In fact, it’s usually the loss of love that finally turns them completely to the dark side. Bourelle’s “Max and Rose” is the story of their relationship coming to an end, but in typical Corrupts fashion it is with a dramatic finale. This is a heartbreaking love story, the prologue to what could be a great supervillain’s tale and one of my favorites in the entire collection.
Corrupts Absolutely? opened strong, with Tim Marquitz’ “Retribution,” and ended with the equally strong “Max and Rose” by Andrew Bourelle. While there were a couple stories that I didn’t connect with as much as others, Corrupts represents a diverse group of dark metahuman fiction from a host of talented writers, rookie and veteran alike.
I was immediately intrigued when I first heard the concept for Corrupts Absolutely?. The collection quickly exceeded my expectations and what I thought would be an anthology of fun, lighthearted stories about evil supervillains turned out to be deep and often very personal. Childhood abuse, rejection from society, greed, power hunger, political corruption are all flavors offered in this anthology. A person corrupted by extraordinary ability is the perfect backdrop for some delectable mayhem, but Corrupts offers much more. While it’s impossible for every story to be a homerun for all readers, I think you will find that there are more RBIs than strikes. Did I say that right? My husband is making me watch a lot of baseball this summer. Thought I would throw that analogy out there.
If you’re like me, you will pick up this anthology because it has an interesting concept but after a few stories find that you were missing this type of superhero prose all along.