The arrival next door of a villain bent on destroying the world adds further worries to a neurotic lad’s already long list.
Wilf is initially inclined to discount new neighbor Alan’s self-identification as “an evil lunatic.” He is forced to change his mind after rescuing little sister Dot from being loaded into a bazooka, getting a gander at Alan’s high-tech underground lair, and hearing him trumpet a scheme to blast the world with a Powerful All-Nuclear Terror System (“Just wait till I unleash the true horror of my PANTS!”). Thumb firmly on the laffs button, Pritchett, a TV comedy writer, pitches her “staggerblasted” young worrier into one “kerfuffle” after another. The feckless but monomaniacal malefactor repeatedly tries to unleash widespread destruction—only to be foiled by either a slacker minion or, twice, something sticky shoved down the barrel of his Big Gun Thingy. Along with typographical high jinks, the tale features both plenty of comically melodramatic cartoon illustrations and silly drawings that Wilf makes to defuse his many anxieties. By the end, said hang-ups have lost much of their old force. Alan may be fitted with a wife and other appurtenances of adulthood, but he’s really a tantrum-prone 2-year-old, and readers will easily see through the disguise.
A breezy mixture of low humor and high (if brief) suspense. (Farce. 9-11)