Never trust a guy in spandex.
In Abby Hamilton’s world, superheroes do more than just stop crime and save cats stuck in trees—they also drink milk straight from the carton and hog the television remote. Abby’s older brother moonlights as the famous Red Comet, but without powers of her own, following in his footsteps has never crossed her mind.
That is, until the city’s newest vigilante comes bursting into her life.
After saving Abby from an attempted mugging, Morriston’s fledgling supervillain Iron Phantom convinces her that he’s not as evil as everyone says, and that their city is under a vicious new threat. As Abby follows him deeper into their city’s darkest secrets, she comes to learn that heroes can’t always be trusted, and sometimes it’s the good guys who wear black.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, The Supervillain and Me is a hilarious, sweet, and action-packed novel by debut author Danielle Banas that proves no one is perfect, not even superheroes.
Praise for The Supervillain and Me:
"Get ready for a wild ride in this zany, high-action thriller." —Booklist
"Banas adeptly keeps readers guessing about Iron Phantom’s identity and provides plenty of romantic tension, which will satisfy even die-hard fans of the genre." —School Library Journal
"Hilarious ... A zany, action-packed adventure." —VOYA
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|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
They never stood a chance.
Tires screamed as the van sped around the corner. It hopped the curb, and the vehicle jolted, the back door swinging open, spilling a sack of priceless artifacts — paintings, sculptures, anything and everything the thieves could snatch from the Morriston History Museum. Not that it mattered. They would be apprehended quickly. They always were.
A golden platter slid from the back of the van, spinning like a top in the middle of Fifth Avenue's busy intersection before falling still. Rotor blades flapped as a helicopter hovered overhead, a cameraman dangling out the door, filming the scene for the world to see.
But the real show was just beginning.
It started with a shadow — long and narrow, stretching over the river where the wharf met the city. The shape grew, widening as it torpedoed to the ground. Blink and you'd miss it. A red blur shot through the air into the back of the van, stopping it from traveling down the ramp to the riverbank, where a boat waited at the docks. Brakes screeched. The van spun in a tight circle, coming to a crunching halt against a guardrail. Dozens more relics fell through the doors, landing in a heap at the side of the road. The camera feed from the helicopter shook as the man inside struggled to get closer.
Smoke curled into the air.
The passenger door opened slowly.
The hero who emerged wore a bright red suit, paired with a mask that covered the cheeky grin likely unfolding across his face. As he forced the thieves — a young man and woman — toward the onslaught of police officers, the crowd on the sidewalks erupted, cheering his name.
"Red Comet! Red Comet! Red Comet!"
I wanted to barf.
"Abby, wasn't that the coolest thing ever?" My best friend, Sarah, put away her cell phone, silencing the video clip of Red Comet's latest rescue as we took our seats in the school auditorium for a Friday-afternoon assembly.
"Anyway," she continued, "do you want to go out somewhere tonight? I just bought a new Taser." She unzipped her purse to show me. "You can't go wrong with glitter and pink."
"Well, at least it's better than the can of pepper spray you accidentally shot in your eye last month."
"Hey now. My screams of agony kept that guy from stealing my car out of the mall parking lot. I call that a win."
I wished I could laugh, but in reality the crime rate in Morriston had grown to such a height that we would be stupid to step outside without some form of protection. Gangs and muggers ran rampant, and then there was that one guy who robbed the mini-mart on Bay Street every Thursday evening like clockwork. After a while, people started making light of the situation just to spare themselves the pain. The pickpocket stole my homework was a common joke among students. The police and the supers were stretched thin, and my father, Morriston's longest-tenured mayor, was running himself into the ground to contain it.
Taser or not, I couldn't give Sarah a definitive answer. I was too busy dreading the upcoming assembly. According to Principal Davis, Morriston High had managed to wrangle a famous surprise guest. Surprises had a tendency to make my stomach sour and my palms sweat.
What a shame that Morriston was full of surprises.
It started and ended with the supers. All things did. The nationwide obsession with the heroes had existed far longer than the seventeen years I'd been alive, and would no doubt live on for decades after. Some called them celebrities, others called them gods, but it couldn't be denied that their inhuman abilities had led them to become somewhat of a saving grace throughout the country. Literally. They worked in conjunction with the police forces, but everyone knew the supers stopped crime faster, more efficiently, and ... they did it while wearing tights.
Only two were currently active in Morriston. The ever-charismatic Red Comet held the top spot in the superhero hierarchy, followed by Fish Boy — an aquatic hero with shiny blue flippers and a gas-guzzling motorbike. Fish Boy showed up late to every crime scene that took place on land, appearing only marginally sooner to those taking place on water. Understandably, he didn't garner much press coverage.
No one could explain how their powers came to be. There were theories, of course. Overexposure to radioactivity, genetic manipulation, popping out of the womb with the ability to use more brainpower than the average human, but none were ever proven true. How did Chicago's favorite hero, the Force, control the weather to strike down criminals with lightning bolts? How did Seattle's Chameleon shape-shift into any animal she desired? Why could Red Comet fly faster than the speed of sound while I was stuck sitting on the bus for thirty minutes on my way to school?
The answer: The supers were exceptional. The rest of us had to work our butts off all day, every day, to get the slightest bit ahead.
"Attention! Attention, students!" Principal Davis tapped the microphone onstage with two pudgy fingers. A loud squeal echoed through the auditorium, ceasing conversations, raucous laughter from a group of sophomores sitting behind Sarah and me, and at least five make-out sessions.
"Who's this assembly for again?" Sarah whispered in my ear.
"Not sure." But I had an inkling.
"I know you're probably curious why we pulled you out of last period," Principal Davis continued. "The faculty has a very special treat for you today. It was hard to track him down, but we succeeded in the end. He's here to say hello and speak a bit about public safety in our fine city of Morriston...."
Oh God, I thought, wiping my palms on my jeans. Please no.
"Put your hands together and give a warm Morriston High School welcome to ..."
No. No way. He's not the only one in the city. It doesn't mean that it's —
I was fairly certain I was the only student who slumped in their seat and groaned instead of immediately jumping up and screaming. The junior and senior boys had decided to stomp and chant, "Com-et! Com-et! Com-et!" and nothing the teachers did could make them stop. Red Comet was the superhero every teenage guy wanted to be and every teenage girl (and a few boys) wanted to be with.
He was also my nineteen-year-old brother, Connor.
If Connor Hamilton was a hurricane, then I was a drizzle. He was popular and athletic, while I didn't care much for either. Where I was book-smart, Connor was street-smart — he never cracked under pressure and always knew what to do. While I clumsily stumbled my way through high school — just ask my PE teacher — Connor flew gracefully above the streets of Morriston, spending his days and nights saving the world.
"Oh my God, Abby! OH MY GOD!" Sarah began smacking my shoulder. "It's him! It's really him! Oh my God, I — I can't! I just can't!"
"Can't what?" I muttered. Connor wet the bed until he was eight, and no amount of muscles or spandex could make me forget the nights he barged into my room, his pajama pants still soaked with urine.
Sarah was too busy losing her mind to notice the scowl on my lips. She was Red Comet's biggest fan. She owned T-shirts and posters and wrote hideously sexual Red Comet fan fiction that I refused to read because thinking about my brother in that sense didn't do much for my appetite.
If Sarah ever discovered that the so-called "sexy superhero" in the red-and-gold suit was the same blond-haired dork who belched nacho cheese in her face at the summer festival, I knew she would immediately burn her Red Comet shrine and repent. But instead she, like so many other rabid fans, was busy snapping away photos of the famous Red Comet to sell or Instagram or masturbate to — whatever people did with his picture nowadays.
Despite the head-to-toe super suit covering every inch of skin, including his eyes and mouth, I could immediately tell when Connor caught my eye and smirked at my agony. He probably also threw a wink in my direction, just for good measure.
Go ahead, Connor. Soak it up, why don't you?
"Quiet! Everybody, quiet!" Principal Davis returned to the microphone, placing a hand on Connor's shoulder, unaware he was fondling the same kid who only two years prior spray-painted his Jaguar hot pink for a senior prank.
The students continued cheering until Connor calmly raised a hand in silence. One by one they resumed their seats, some kids in awe, some shaking, and others, like Sarah, with tears streaming down their cheeks.
"I can't believe he's here," Sarah whispered, sniffling into her sweatshirt. "I can't believe it."
"I am honored to be here today," Connor began, his voice deepening as part of his disguise. "A hero's job is never easy, and I would like to thank each of you for your support. Protecting a city is not a one-man job, and on behalf of all the superpowered men and women in Morriston and beyond, we are grateful for your vigilance and your devotion to keeping our streets and neighborhoods safe. A few things we can do to improve ..."
I ignored the rest of Connor's speech, which was probably written by our father, the great politician, and ran through song lyrics to the school's fall musical, Hall of Horrors, in my head.
Don't eat the flesh —
"Thank you, have a safe evening." Connor graciously bowed away from the microphone as Principal Davis shook his gloved hand.
"Abby, let's go meet him! I need his autograph! Do you think he'd let me interview him for the school paper? Or for my blog? Oh God, I'm so nervous! His voice is so sexy, I could listen to him talk all day!"
"I don't think he's doing a meet and greet. Come on, I really need to rehearse for my audition next week." Hall of Horrors had completely consumed my thoughts for the past month. The show was a rock comedy about a cannibalistic royal family and their servant, who falls passionately in love with the crown prince, and as a senior, I wanted a good part. Theater was my passion; it was my thing. Sure, Connor could surpass the speed of sound, but I could do a kick-ass pas de bourrée.
"What? No! You'll have tons of time to rehearse." Sarah latched onto my wrist and pulled me through the crowd forming at the edge of the stage to get Red Comet's autograph. "Does my hair look okay?" She desperately fluffed up her auburn curls while I contemplated five different means of escape, one of which involved projectile vomiting all over Connor's red suit.
"Hi, Red Comet!" Sarah squealed over the head of a short freshman girl. The girl moved away, tears clouding her eyes, and Sarah pulled us to the front of the line.
"Ladies, how are we?" Connor reached for Sarah's phone, scrawling RC on the case with a permanent marker. Sarah looked like she was about to pass out, and judging by the amount of hypothetical if-I-ever-met-Red-Comet conversations I'd endured over the past three years, I knew she was either going to hit the deck or jump his bones.
"Want me to sign anything?" Connor turned toward me. Even though gold lenses covered his eyes, I could imagine his cocked eyebrow and lips smirking at me through his mask.
"No thanks, I'm good."
"Is it, um, is it hard to f-fly?" Sarah stuttered.
Connor shrugged, patting her shoulder. "Easier than breathing, sweetheart."
Lie. Connor put at least ten holes in our walls while learning to control the powers he discovered after his sixteenth birthday. Flying wasn't easy.
"Red Comet, could I — do you think maybe I could get a — a hug? Maybe?"
"Of course, come on up." He gestured for the teachers to let us onstage. A few students yelled in protest, but Connor didn't care. He led us toward the curtain and pulled Sarah into a hug that lasted far longer than he intended. Too bad Connor didn't possess super strength, because it took him three tries to politely extricate himself from Sarah's death grip around his neck.
"Ohmigosh, ohmigosh, ohmigosh!" Sarah was crying again, the ends of her shirtsleeves covered in tears and snot.
"I think I just ruined her life," Connor muttered in my ear as he pulled me to his chest, his voice no longer as husky as when he made his speech. "I was only trying to be nice."
"You definitely made her life, not ruined it. She'll be incorporating this moment into her fan fiction for years to come."
"Awesome," he chuckled, but his voice betrayed him. Connor was as terrified of Sarah's Red Comet fan fiction as I was. "Hey, what's for dinner tonight?"
"Depends. What are you making?"
"Nothing. I think Dad mentioned steaks as long as his press conference doesn't run over."
"You're actually going to be home for dinner?"
"Of course, as long as I don't ..." Connor trailed off, tilting his head toward the ceiling. I knew that look — his superhuman sixth sense for trouble was tingling. "Shit. See you later, Abby." His hands fell from my shoulders, and he took off, hovering above the stage to many oohs and aahs from the student body before he flew to save the day — leaving the door dangling off its hinges in his wake.CHAPTER 2
"Dad? Connor? Anyone home?" I called out when I entered my house later that afternoon. My voice bounced off the vaulted ceilings and didn't receive a response. Our house was far too large for three people who barely set foot in it, but it was secluded at the end of a quarter-mile-long private drive in the woods, which was exactly what we needed.
My parents purchased the five acres of land and the mansion that came with it three years ago, after Connor discovered his powers and needed a place to practice. I couldn't forget that day even if I tried. We had just returned home from Connor's sixteenth-birthday dinner. At first, he thought he was only coming down with the flu. His head ached from loud noises, and he felt like he would throw up every time he smelled food. Connor went to bed early that night without opening any of his presents, and when he awoke the next morning, his vision had heightened to the point where he no longer needed glasses and he flipped out because he was hovering four feet in the air above his mattress. My family moved to our new house the following morning.
But now Mom was long gone, which was the reason Connor decided to suit up and save the world and hardly eat a meal in our house, and my dad had been reelected mayor and was working around the clock to make Morriston the safest city in America. The large mansion with its tall windows and expensive electronics was only regularly home to me, but because of the secrets my family kept, I couldn't invite any friends over to enjoy it.
"Abby? You okay?" Connor found me in the kitchen an hour later, staring helplessly at some science homework. I was surprised he was home this early after his abrupt departure at school, but even more surprised that his super suit was dirty and ripped and he looked like he was about to cry.
"I'm fine. Are you okay? What happened to you?"
Connor shrugged, throwing his mask on the kitchen table. I was used to Connor wearing his Red Comet getup around the house, but sometimes it still startled me. For as much as I teased him about his nerdy powers or screaming fans, I often forgot that my charismatic, pretentious brother was capable of feeling normal human emotions like exhaustion or sadness.
"Bank robbery downtown," he finally said. "Hostage situation."
I gulped. Of all the terrible things that happened in Morriston, I always was filled with dread at the mention of a bank robbery. Too many bad memories.
"Is everyone all right? I mean, did anyone —"
"No, it's fine." Connor's blue eyes hardened, and he reached to pull me into our second hug of the day. The tang of sweat and smoke clung to his suit, but I didn't protest when he ran a hand over my hair. "You know I'd never let that happen again."
I knew he wouldn't dare lie about that. Connor lied about a lot of things — his secret identity, his grades in his online college courses, whether or not he spent the night fighting crime or in some girl's bed. But he would never lie about saving hostages. Not when our mother was shot and killed in a similar robbery three years ago. Her death was the catalyst for Connor's transformation into Red Comet. Mom had always been too afraid for Connor's safety to let him become a hero, but Connor had pleaded with our dad, suggesting that using his powers to save others and prevent another death like our mother's would be a good use of his time.
Dad never disagreed.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Supervillain and Me"
Copyright © 2018 Danielle Banas.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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