Attack of the Mutant
Series number: 25
Number of pages: 117
Release date: November 1994
Tagline: He’s no superhero. He’s a supervillain!
Did I Read It as a Child?: Yes
The Story On the Back
He’s no superhero…. He’s a supervillain! Skipper Matthews has an awesome comic book collection. His favorite one is called The Masked Mutant. It’s about an evil supervillain who’s out to rule the universe! Skipper can’t get enough of The Mutant. Until one day he gets lost in a strange part of town. And finds a building that looks exactly like The Mutant’s secret headquarters. A building that appears and disappears! Has Skipper read one too many comic books? Or does The Masked Mutant really live in Riverview Falls?
The Story On the Pages
This is the worst kind of Goosebump book. It’s not scary, it’s filled with obnoxious characters, and nothing makes a lick of sense. It’s the perfect trifecta of terribleness! Let’s suffer through it together, shall we?
We open on Skipper, a twelve year old boy obsessed with comics as a collectable item. As if comics from the 1990s are worth even the paper they’re printed on. Skipper seems like a Rob Liefeld fan and ain’t no Liefeld work is going to be worth (and I quote from Skipper himself) “millions of dollars in twenty years”.
So Skipper, the adamant collector of comics, keeps his entire collection in plastic. Well, all of them but one series. Every month he has to read The Masked Mutant, a comic about a bad guy that can change himself into any solid shape. He fights a league of superheroes with members such as the Galloping Gazelle and The Sponge of Steel. You keep your X-Men under wraps for this, Skipper? This is the series you have to read each month?
In the latest issue of The Masked Mutant, readers were finally shown the Mutant’s secret lair. It’s shaped like a fire hydrant, it’s covered in pink stucco, and it has a green domed roof. Why are we getting so much detail concerning where the Masked Mutant hangs up his cape at the end of the day? Because just the next day, on his way to get his braces tightened, Skipper misses his stop on the bus and ends up getting off at a stop that’s adjacent to this very building!
Skipper’s two friends, Wilson and a girl he meet on the bus (who he claims caused him to miss his stop because he’s that kind of dudebro) named Libby are unimpressed with Skipper’s discovery. Libby because it’s just some ugly building that she lives near and doesn’t pay any attention to, and Wilson saying the artist of the comic probably just lives nearby enough to have used the building for inspiration.
A reasonable explanation, right? Doesn’t matter to Skipper. He’s more willing to believe that his favourite supervillain exists than he’s willingly to believe that the artist of a comic book might live in a small town. Of course since this is a Goosebumps book scary stuff starts to go down, like Skipper appearing in the next issue of the Masked Mutant comic. Some godly force is keeping an eye on that building and it knows Skipper was there.
So what does Skipper do? The only thing he thinks he can: he breaks into the building. I guess to solve the mystery but this kid is so obsessed with money that I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me he was actually going to jack some original pages to auction off.
Long story short, because this was painful to read so like fuck I’m reliving it here and now, the Masked Mutant is actually a living being and he is, in fact, using the ugly building as his lair. He tries to kill Skipper to preserve his secret but Skipper outsmarts him. Going by comic book logic, he says he’s from another planet and the only thing that can kill him is sulphuric acid. Why he chooses something so dangerous to actual humans I’ll never know, but it tricks the Mutant. He turns into a liquid, splashes himself all over the place, but then can’t put himself back together.
Skipper has saved his own life and goes home to celebrate with some chocolate cake. As he cuts the cake, he accidentally cuts himself. The story ends as, not blood, but comic book ink pours out of his open wound.
No, it’s never explained why he’s now a living comic. Skipper, thankfully, never comes back for a sequel. Because if you told me I’d have to sit down and read another of Skipper’s obnoxious, boring, waste of time, fuckboy adventures, I would cut you. And I would cut you deep. And guaranteed what’s coming out of you is not ink!
I hate every last person in Attack of the Mutant. That’s an ongoing trend in the really unreadable Goosebumps books. If I don’t have a single good character to latch onto, than everything else goes down with the ship, so to speak. Was the premise of this one interesting? Absolutely! Was Skipper any fun to read about? Absolutely not!
See, Skipper is a fuckboy. Plain and simple. He thinks he’s special for doing something that a shit tonne of people do (collecting/reading comic books). He thinks that only boys do the special task at hand and is surprised when a girl says she also does it. Fighting through an equal mix of jealousy and boner, Skipper will ask follow up questions and if you don’t answer correctly (which is a trick question because there’s no way to please a fuckboy) he is ready to put you down and tell you why you’re less important than he is.
When Skipper meets Libby and she says she collects comics, but then he finds out that it’s AU Archie digest comics, he’s disgusted. She’s not a real comic collector because those aren’t real comics! They won’t appreciate in value and they’re not filled with any action or muscly men in spandex!
And Skipper’s friend Wilson (who seems to be his only friend) doesn’t get off any better. He collect rubber stamps for the joy of it but Skipper is more than happy to tell him he’s wasting his time because rubber stamps aren’t worth any money.
Gee, what a fun kid to be around!
His family is just as awful. There’s the Stine-standard-shitty-sibling who takes the form of a nine year old sister named Mitzi. Mitzi loves to cause trouble more than anything else. Then their father and mother seem like the kind of absent parent that spoils the kids instead of physically being around. Skipper gets all the comics he wants with the ground rules of do your homework before reading them. That’s a rule he always breaks but is he punished for it? A few empty threats about throwing out his comic book collection is all he gets, and by this point, he’s calling their bluff every damn time.
The entitlement of this kid is evident from page one and never stops being annoying. I thought Stine’s prankster characters were the worst, but the fuckboy dudebro that is Skipper Matthews has them all beat!
Spooks and Scares
There is nothing scary here in Attack of the Mutant. Nothing. The main villain is a supervillain whose power is changing shape. Could be good, but it’s not because the make-believe comics of Goosebumps seem stuck in Batman ‘66’s time of campy terribleness. I mean, the Masked Mutant turning into a giant octopus to squeeze The Sponge of Steel to death? Nowadays the Mutant would just declare he was a Nazi and shoot him in the face.
Listen Stine, I understand who your audience is and I know you can’t go all dark and gritty, murderous supervillain. You can’t have an Alan Moore Joker, you need a Joker that releases laughing gas into a crowd and then maybe goes surfing.
But that’s just not a scary supervillain!
I’m more scared of the adult man that Skipper is going to grow up to be than I am of the thought that a supervillain capable of changing shape walks among us. Here’s why that’s scarier. Clayface from Batman is a shape changer, but when has he ever harassed anyone but the Batman? Now, an entitled fuckboy? I can picture Skipper in his “make America great again” hat now, sitting behind a computer on 4chan and looking for new ways to blame all his woes on woman that won’t have sex with him.
As long as I’m not Batman, the shape-changing supervillain is going to leave me alone. But a fuckboy? My vagina and its unwillingness to get anywhere near any dude that wears a trilby hat and says m’lady have already painted a target on me for broflakes.
Have Skipper writing a manifesto on Reddit, then call the book “Attack of the Alt-Right”. Because a guy shape changing into an octopus just isn’t cutting it.