Basically, this book is a 'monster manual' for Mutants & Masterminds. Without good supervillains to battle, those poor old superheros would be sitting about waiting for natural disasters and the odd petty crook. So here is a collection of cracking villains to pit against your heroes, complete with plots to thwart, minions to get in the way and so on. They are presented in two groups: the supervillain teams to pit en masse against your superhero team and individuals who may form temporary alliances or just wander around doing their own thing. While the backgrounds are written for the Freedom City setting, they can adapt fairly readily to one of your own, if you prefer.
Each of the supervillain teams is carefully thought out, with detailed background of how they came to be what they are, how they interact with each other and with the world in general: all the things that go to make well-rounded characters rather than a mere bunch of stats to defeat in combat. While the backgrounds themselves give plenty of scope to develop plots or just weave them into your adventures, each group comes with several 'capers' or specific ideas for things they could be planning that will bring them to the attention of the local superheroes. Much of the background material weaves through the already rich history of Freedom City and of superpower use that has already been developed, giving an air of alternate reality and continuity.
Next comes a similar section of well-detailed individual supervillains. The particularly interesting thing about all of these is the detail of the backgrounds, which lends itself to whatever style of play you and your group want. Naturally, straightforward plot-thwarting combat, epic brawls across the city, is an obvious option; but there is scope for those who prefer more intense role-play to try to understand where these 'bad guys' are coming from, perhaps try to reform them... or be led astray by them. When violence is the means for imposing your will, are there really 'heroes' and 'villains' or is it a case of super-powered individuals who must be judged by their motivations and actions on a case-by-case basis - this is an excellent resource for gamers who like to think as well as enjoy combat.
The book rounds off with a quick-reference guide to all the villains, to aid in picking just the right challenge for your heroes. This is followed by a nice touch: notes on each of the writers and artists involved and an indication of which characters they worked on.
Overall, this is a beautiful supplement, with scope for whatever kind of game you and your players prefer from pure costumed brawl to deep role-playing and involvement in major story arcs worthy of any comic-book.
Return to Freedom's Most Wanted page.
Reviewed: 13 December 2008