Short Stories 366:329 — “Even Villains Have Standards,” by Kelly Goodman

Okay, this story has my favourite set-up of the entire Powered Up! An Earth Prime Anthology. We meet Velocipede, a speedster villain, as she waits with another villain (who is here from a parallel universe) for two more villains to arrive because she wants to offer them a job to work together. Teaming up as villains isn’t necessarily any of their particular fortés, and none of them are remotely willing to even consider it, especially when Velocipede points out the mission came from, well… the good guys. But she manages to get them to look inside the folder in question, and at a glance, they’re all in.

I don’t want to ruin the reason—which is the core tenet of the story—but the interplay between the four villains (Velocipede is a trans woman, Blackbird is Black, and the other two are a gay couple who seem to be on-again and off-again with alarming regularity between doing crimes) is just perfect, and more to the point, this lovely shade of queerness that you don’t often get to see. It’s like the embodiment of “be gay, do crimes!” but dressed up in superheroics—pardon me, supervillainy—and then brought to a real-world place at just the right moment for the reveal.

I really, really can’t praise Goodman enough for this story, which rests so completely on characters rather than any specific moments of action in the plot. It was the perfect story on a perfect day in my case, too, when the news about something far too related was in play, so a little bit of fictionalized comeuppance was just the thing.

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