2013’s Velveteen vs. the Multiverse is the second volume in Seanan McGuire’s Velveteen vs. series.
Velma “Velveteen” Martinez seeks refuge from her former crew, the Super Patriots, America’s paramount super-franchise. She moves to Oregon, the only state that hasn’t contracted with the franchise. She’s free to build a new life, with a new apartment, new adventures, and a new boyfriend. The Super Patriots’ predatory ways are behind her.
Just kidding. Cutting ties with the Super Patriots is an affront Marketing will never forgive. Harassment ensues.
Velveteen is dragged across the worlds of what-if to an alternate world in which she stayed with the Super Patriots. What might have been a minor side-quest is significant for one thing: Velveteen begins to realize that Marketing has played her and her friends for patsies
Superhumans are an inherent threat to the mundanes around them. The Super Patriots’ greatest victory was convincing the world that entrusting superpowered children to them was the safest way of managing the threat they posed. As long as the superhuman problem was managed, the public wasn’t interested in the ugly details. They would rather not know that the Superpatriots manipulate and brainwash their young charges, or that their victories against supervillains are Marketing cons.
Child abuse, legal harassment, psychopathic pursuit of profit and control; everyday stuff for a modern corporation. What she learns about Marketing’s secrets leads Velveteen to suspect there is something even darker hiding behind Super Patriot’s shiny corporate façade.
Velveteen is far more powerful than Super Patriots ever acknowledged. Still, one person against a corporation of superbeings is unlikely to prevail. Good thing for Velveteen that Super Patriots has made a lot of enemies over the years and that many of them call Velveteen friend….
Velveteen can animate plush toys. This might not sound all powerful. But it can be. Anything with a face that’s not living is potentially hers to command. She’s sent alternate versions of herself to some dark places while exploring the limits of her power.
How Super Patriots does what it does is dependent on superpowers, but what it does isn’t so remarkable. In fact, it seems downright familiar. The superkids are managed like media stars: Marketing picks their names, designs their costumes, tells them what religion to practice and whom they can date.
The book may sound rather bleak. Indeed, there’s a lot of loss and alienation in this installment of the series: dead significant others, terrible parents. Still, no light without dark; Velveteen’s losses are steppingstones to her final triumph, all told in the author’s trademark engaging manner.
Except this is a comic book universe and there’s a third volume so it’s probably not her final triumph at all…
Velveteen vs the Multiverse appears to be out of print.