Monthly Archives: August 2017

“Parade of Fools” – Part 4

Fight Crime! BannerFirst time reading? Start at the beginning here.

A cool breeze carried the smell of hot dogs and popcorn from one of the street vendors, and Dave hoped his stomach didn’t growl on live television.

“—really have to commend both local and national law enforcement,” he finished up. “If it weren’t for the quick response of the Chicago PD and the DSA’s tireless efforts to track me down, I wouldn’t be here today.”

A pretty reporter held a microphone in front of him, and he looked at the camera as he spoke. The parade hadn’t started yet. They stood in a fenced off section of city street where the marchers and support teams were either sitting around waiting or frantically rushing to get things ready on time.

“Thank you, White Knight. I think I speak for all of us when I say it’s wonderful to have you back.” The reporter turned as the camera focused on her. “We’re less than twenty minutes from the start of the parade now. Tune in for continuing coverage throughout the day. Back to you, Karen.”

The camera lowered, and Dave relaxed. That was the hardest part of the day, and he’d made it through without sticking his foot in his mouth. Now all he had to do was smile and wave.

He shook hands and exchanged thanks with the reporter and cameraman before they packed up and moved on. Dave’s handler from PR, a tiny yet formidable woman in a business suit, checked her watch and told him to start heading for the float. Continue reading

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Turn Back the Pages: The Death of Captain America

Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Death of Captain America Cover

Rumor has it that Captain America is going to die in the next Avengers movie.

If that happens, I’m going to bawl my eyes out in the theater, but it’s not the first time Cap has kicked the bucket (or even the fourth). Let’s take a look at one of the best stories to come out of the Star-Spangled Avenger’s tragic demise: The Death of Captain America: The Burden of Dreams by Ed Brubaker.

Our Story So Far

The book starts with a handy recap: Cap is dead. His girlfriend, Agent 13, has been brainwashed by evil psychiatrist Dr. Faustus. Bucky was captured by Red Skull while trying to get revenge, and Iron Man, the Black Widow, and Falcon are attempting to launch a rescue mission.

Did I mention this happens right after Civil War? Half the superhero community is unregistered and on the run, and tensions are high. Bucky blames Iron Man for Cap’s death, and Falcon isn’t exactly thrilled with him, either. Black Widow is nominally on the side of registration, but predictably, it’s complicated.

The Next Captain America

Bucky attacks Iron Man in anger over Steve’s death, but after an emotional confrontation, Tony talks him into taking up the shield. Red Skull, Dr. Faustus, Arnim Zola, and a whole slew of other bad guys have set in motion a plot to destroy the US government, and the world needs Captain America.

With Black Widow for backup, Bucky Cap leaps into action to stop their plot. But Steve Roger’s shoes are hard to fill, and there’s a steep learning curve when it comes to being Captain America. Unfortunately, Bucky doesn’t have a lot of time to figure it out before Red Skull’s master plan destabilizes the entire country. Continue reading

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“Parade of Fools” – Part 3

Fight Crime! BannerFirst time reading? Start at the beginning here.

Val stood inside a payphone booth in front of gas station outside San Diego, California. It was one o’clock in the morning—or make that three o’clock Central Time, which was what she’d been living in for the past several weeks. Combine that with the four-hour flight from Chicago, and it was no wonder she was tired. But tiredness was a luxury she couldn’t afford right now.

“—extremely concerned,” her father said over the phone.

“I know, but—”

“Evelyn spoke with me,” he went on. “You realize every action you take reflects back on my reputation. This is an embarrassment. I’m not happy.”

Val wanted to hang up on him. She wanted out of the phone booth, with the wads of old chewing gum stuck to the sides and the dirty receiver that was probably giving her at least two different diseases. She wanted away from his dry, disapproving voice.

“Don’t worry about Evelyn, Dad. I’m about to solve that problem. Trust me.” Continue reading

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Last Week in Superhero Fiction (8/10/17)

Superhero Fiction News Graphic

Fans of teen superhero fiction should note R.J. Ross released a new side story in her long-running Cape High series. Announcement here.

Fanbase Press has a thoughtful review of Russ Linton’s Motherland, book 2 in the Crimson Son series, if you’ve been thinking of checking that book out.

If you’re interested in the book cover design process, author Dale Ivan Smith recently shared the initial cover mock-up for his novel Empowered: Agent and compared it with the second mockup used for the final cover.

T. Ellery Hodges, author of the Never Chronicles, has launched the Never Store, an online market where you can purchase posters, mugs, and other merchandise from his popular superhero series.

I mentioned this on Twitter, but book blogger Christy Jane posted a video from San Diego Comic Con of her and Sarah Kuhn opening a FanMail box of really cool swag from Kuhn’s novel Heroine Worship.

Any news I missed? What superhero fiction are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments!

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“Parade of Fools” – Part 2

Fight Crime! BannerFirst time reading? Start at the beginning here.

Dave took three days off from work—not voluntarily, but because his entire chain of superiors insisted he needed time to rest and recover. A good idea in theory but awful in reality. Dave loafed around his apartment with no direction and no focus. He tried reading a few things but didn’t make it past the first chapter before tossing the books back onto his shelves. The TV couldn’t hold his attention, and when he’d turned to model-building (a hobby he’d picked up as a teenager to challenge his control of his strength), he’d crushed the tiny plastic ship pieces in his frustrated grip.

He didn’t get a single full night’s sleep. But nightmares weren’t surprising. It would be stranger if he didn’t have them. It didn’t mean he needed professional help.

Finally going back into the office was a relief. Walter might not have approved him for active duty yet, but that didn’t mean there weren’t reports to write, meetings to attend, and papers to sign. It would be nice to be busy, not to mention having people to talk to. Or so he had thought. Once he walked through the doors, it was a different story. Continue reading

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Turn Back the Pages: Batgirl

Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Cover of Batgirl Graphic Novel

Cassandra Cain is my favorite Batgirl.

I love Barbara Gordon, but honestly, I think she’s better as Oracle. And don’t diss Stephanie Brown in front of me, because she’s awesome, and I’ll probably write a review of her time as Batgirl at some point. But in my humble opinion, Cass will always be the best.

What’s so great about Cassandra Cain? Heck, where do I start? She was first introduced in the Batman: No Man’s Land story-arc. The basic premise was that after a major earthquake, the government evacuated Gotham City, cutting off those who chose to stay from the outside world and any kind of help.

Yeah. Take Gotham, which is a crime-infested hellhole on the best of days, and turn up the danger to post-apocalyptic extremes. It’s that bad.

The Girl

Enter the precious cinnamon bun that is Cassandra Cain: a mute, homeless girl who saves Commissioner Gordon’s life. She becomes Batgirl with the blessings of both Batman and Oracle (AKA the original Batgirl), but there’s more to her than meets the eye.

The Assassin

You see, Cass is the daughter of a notorious assassin. Her father raised her without ever exposing her to spoken language. Instead, she learned to read body language.

She can take one look at someone and know what they’re feeling—and exactly how they’re planning to attack. On top of her skills in hand-to-hand combat, being able to anticipate her opponent’s next move makes her one of the best fighters in the DC universe.

The Hero

So that’s the dichotomy of Cassandra Cain. She was raised to be a deadly assassin and can fight Batman to a standstill, but at the same time, her upbringing was so isolated that there’s a strange innocence about her.

Early on in her solo title, a psychic rearranges her brain so that she can process spoken language (which accidentally handicaps her combat skills for a while), but it isn’t an insta-fix. A lot of her character arc involves learning different words and how to read and write. Even once she can speak, she struggles to find the right words, and her sentences are halting and awkward. That’s something you don’t see a lot in comics—or any media, really.

The Bat

The best reason Cass is my favorite Batgirl is that she brings something unique to the Bat-family. Her mentor/mentee relationship with Barbara is nuanced and lovely. She has Batman’s respect and a nice dynamic with Robin (Tim Drake). Nightwing is the big brother figure, and she’s besties with Steph, and—well, there’s a lot to like here. If you’re a fan of characters choosing their own families, you’ll enjoy Cass’s book, because her real parents are total jerks.

And that’s Cass Cain in a nutshell (before the awful character assassination that happened later, but I won’t get into that). No Man’s Land is worth a read, but I’d recommend starting with her solo title. It’s a great introduction to the character and was the first Batgirl comic I ever read.

Are you a fan of Cass? Babs? Steph? I’ll fight you over who’s the best Batgirl in the comments!

I'll fight you gif

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