“Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 5

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Blueblood paced up and down the study, his steps clipped and jerky. Outside, the wind pushed against the house, flinging heavy raindrops against the windows. Val settled herself on the leather couch and followed Blueblood with her eyes. His hands were folded behind his back, his head bowed, and every so often his mouth would twitch. He reminded her of a pot of water that was just on the verge of boiling, the surface trembling and about to erupt at any second. His men had been smart to rush out of the room.

“You should have sensed White Knight escaping,” he spat, stopping suddenly in his tracks.

“And you should have had better security,” she replied coolly. Was this it? She had expected a much bigger explosion.

“This isn’t about me,” he snarled.

“No. It’s about—”

“It’s about you. You know, I almost think you had something to do with him getting away.”

Val’s stomach flipped completely over, but she hid it, curling her lip in disdain. “And what would I possibly gain from that?” Continue reading

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Last Week in Superhero Fiction (7/13/17)

Superhero Fiction News Graphic

Samantha Bryant, author of the Menopausal Superhero Series (which has been on my to-read list forever), has an interview up at Mrs. Average Evaluates.

Heroine Worship, sequel to Sarah Kuhn’s YA superhero novel Heroine Complex, came out last week to phenomenal reviews. Here’s one at FANgirl Blog.

Superhero Novels has a review of Indigo, a book written as a collaboration between ten authors(!). I can’t imagine working with so many people on one book.

If you’re in the Lexington, KY area, Matt D. Wilson, author of Supreme Villainy: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Most (In)Famous Supervillain Memoir Never Published (which looks absolutely hilarious), will be doing a book signing on July 15th. (Via Twitter)

And in personal news, Almost Invincible, the third book in the White Knight & Black Valentine series, now has an official release date of September 30th. Stay tuned for a cover reveal and more info soon.

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

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“Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 4

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Dave had been conscious for about two hours when a small woman with curly, graying hair walked into his hospital room. The sight of her surprised him so much that he cut off mid-sentence in his conversation with Moreen and Harris.

Harris turned around, saw her, and jumped up. “Hey, lady, you can’t be in here.”

He hurried forward to usher her out, but the woman didn’t slow her pace by a single second. She walked straight at Harris and passed through him like a ghost, not stopping until she reached Dave’s beside.

“Oh, David,” she breathed. She usually looked good for her age, but now her face was waxen and every wrinkle seemed to have grown deeper. Guilt hit Dave like a freight train. His capture had been all over the news, and it must have been horrible for her. She reached out a trembling hand and took hold of his.

“We’ll give you two some privacy.” Moreen stood up and grabbed Harris, who was staring down at his body and patting his chest as if to assure himself he was still solid. She muttered something angrily as she pulled him from the room, and Dave caught the words “—his mother, you ninny.”

“I’m fine, Mamá, really. You didn’t have to come all this way.” Continue reading

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Turn Back the Pages: Spider-Girl

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.

Spider-Girl swings forward on webbing between skyscrapers

Confession time, Internet. I’m not that big of a Spider-Man fan. I like him well enough, and I’ll be seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming on Saturday, but he doesn’t make my top 10 list of favorites superheroes—or even my top 20. That being said, I totally dig Spider-Girl.

Who’s Spider-Girl, you ask? Well, that would be May “Mayday” Parker, teenage daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. She’s from an alternate future where Peter and MJ’s first child wasn’t stillborn and that whole Spider-Man selling his marriage to the devil thing never happened (Ugh, I hate that storyline so much). And she is amazing.

The Spider-Girl series (plus The Amazing Spider-Girl and The Spectacular Spider-Girl) has a lot going for it. There’s the consistently good writing and art, for one thing. The supporting cast is a nice mix of old Spider-Man characters and new faces, and there are the great villains you’d expect from a Spider-Man rogues gallery. (Honorable crime boss and supervillain Black Tarantula is a standout—and also who I ship with Mayday. But then, I have a thing for hero/villain romances, which is probably obvious to anyone who reads my books.) But the best part of the series is Mayday herself: an incredibly likeable protagonist who, like her father, is often conflicted about being a superhero and makes great personal sacrifices to do the right thing.

If you’re a Spider-Man fan, you’ll enjoy the familiar blend of high school drama and superheroics. If Spider-Man isn’t your thing, you might like that Mayday focuses more on avoiding pointless fighting and trying to reform her foes, and that she has a support network in her family that Peter never did. The Parker family dynamic is my favorite thing about the series. I love seeing happy, supportive families in superhero fiction (or any fiction, really). Peter and Mary Jane continue to be an awesome couple, and reading about a retired Spider-Man being an overprotective dad is just plain fun.

I’m going to link to the first volume (which is super affordable at only a few bucks for a manga book-sized collection), but the nice thing about Spider-Girl is that it was a long-running series. So if you like it, there’s a ton of material to read. Plus, Spider-Girl is part of the bigger MC2 universe, so you’ll meet lots of other heroes like A-Next, the future Avengers team that came together when Loki (Who else?) attacked, and the X-People, a new version of the X-Men led by Jubilee.

If you’re looking for more web-shooting and wall-crawling after watching the movie, you could do a lot worse than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Girl.

Do you have a favorite Spider-Girl storyline? Want to share your thoughts about Spider-Man: Homecoming? Let me know in the comments.

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“Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 3

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JB sat on the dusty chair and listened to the sound of rain hitting the roof. Thunder rolled occasionally in the distance, and wind made the old house creak and moan. It was deceptively peaceful, and he enjoyed it while he could. He especially enjoyed that he was sitting in the warm, dry house while Cleto had been sent outside to dump a body in the lake.

“Hey, kid,” said the Black Valentine. “I found where my dad stashed the wine bottles. You want some?”

JB thought about ignoring her. He was still angry, but there was no denying that talking to her was about a hundred percent better than interacting with anybody else around. She only pretended to care about him, but at least she put in that much effort. Nobody else even bothered to pretend.

“Sure,” he said. Then he felt suddenly cold. “Wait. Your dad’s here?”

“No. He owns the house, though. Stocked it up with some pretty good vintages, too.”

She pressed a cool, smooth glass into his hand. JB took a sip, finding a dry white wine that was actually pretty decent. He’d gotten a lot better at telling apart good wines from bad ones since he started underage drinking. Maybe it would come in handy one day. It would be nice to have a useful skill to put on his resume now that he’d essentially dropped out of school. He could be a bartender or something.

Yeah, right. Outliving Blueblood and getting a normal job was a fantasy. As long as he was dreaming, he might as well picture being an astronaut. Continue reading

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“Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 2

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This time, the meeting was on Val’s turf. And by turf, she meant a lakefront house that her family owned and used to visit when she and her sisters had been children. She stood in the living room in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the lake. On a bright summer day, it held a beautiful view: the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan, white sailboats drifting across the distance like clouds. Today, though, it was dark and gray, and the only view she had was of sheets of rain pounding against the lake’s surface.

The furniture was covered in white sheets to protect from dust, and the heater hadn’t been turned on long enough to warm the place. At least the heating worked, though, and so did the electricity. Yet the house remained eerily silent and empty-feeling, and Val felt like a ghost within its walls. How many years had passed since the last time she’d been here?

Her thoughts went back Dave, as they’d been doing all day no matter how much she tried to think of something else. She’d wanted to go check on him in person, but she’d already taken one stupidly huge risk today, so she’d settled for tracking him down and sending flowers. Northwestern Memorial Hospital was the best in Chicago. He’d be okay.

Except no, he wouldn’t be okay for a long time, no matter how good the medical treatment. Val should have gotten him out of there a lot sooner. She should have never allowed Blueblood to torture him. He probably hated her, and he had every right to. Val had stood by and done nothing but watch as he got hurt. How could he ever forgive her for that?

The floor creaked as Joey approached her from behind. But even if she hadn’t heard him, she would have sensed his general aura of grumpiness before he spoke. Continue reading

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Turn Back the Pages: Agents of Atlas

Turn Back the Pages is a new 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.

Agents of Atlas Cover

Superhero comics are like Nutella—they go with everything. You can mix superheroes with science fiction, espionage, urban fantasy, or even 70s kung fu movies, and it works. On a superhero team book, genres get thrown into a blender (Superman’s sci-fi roots plus Wonder Woman’s mythical origins, with a dash of Batman’s crime noir, for example). But few teams encapsulate that delightful hodgepodge of different elements better than Agents of Atlas.

The Agents of Atlas were the Avengers before the Avengers. Formed by the government in the late 1950s, they saved the world a few times and disbanded soon after. Now, over fifty years later, they’re pulled back together to face a shadowy new threat. The team is as follows:

  • Jimmy Woo: FBI agent and team leader. Got old, nearly died, and got young again, but lost his memories in the process. Figuring out who or what nearly killed him is the driving force of the plot.
  • Venus: Self-proclaimed goddess of love. Sweet and adorable. Often topless. Voice can mesmerize people and make them stop fighting.
  • The Uranian: Dude with a complicated backstory from the planet Uranus. Kind of mopey, but has a cool spaceship.
  • Namora: Cousin of Namor, prince of Atlantis. Swims, flies, and punches things really hard.
  • M-11, the Human Robot: Mysterious yet helpful robot. Doesn’t talk much.
  • Gorilla Man: A man who got turned into a gorilla by a curse, and as a side effect is immortal. Can shoot guns with both his hands AND feet. The best.

Agents of Atlas #1-6 tells a complete story, and considering that it’s only six issues, it’s amazing how writer Jeff Parker manages to make each character so well-rounded and pack the plot with so many twists and turns. It starts off with a flashback to the team’s golden age, goes to Jimmy on the brink of death in the present day, and then it’s off across the globe to get the team back together and track down leads.

This is a fun book. Not that there aren’t dark moments, and the characters are forced to acknowledge truths about themselves that they’d rather not face, but it’s wrapped up in action, adventure, and a twisty espionage plotline with an ending you won’t see coming. The Agents of Atlas just seem to enjoy each other’s company and saving the day, and it’s a treat for the reader to go along for the ride.

I’d recommend you buy the graphic novel, since it has cool extras in the back like character sketches, author’s notes, and reprints of the characters’ first comics from the 40s and 50s. Bonus material is important, because once you finish this story, you’ll definitely be wanting more.

Have you read Agents of Atlas? Interested in checking it out now? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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“Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 1

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

Dave drifted in and out of consciousness for a while. Every time he woke, he’d keep his eyes shut, feeling an overwhelming and nameless sense of dread. Then he’d remember that he’d escaped, that no one was waiting to torture him more. Eventually, he opened his eyes. The off-white, rectangular ceiling tiles of a hospital room greeted him, and he could hear muffled voices from the people in the hallway.

“Hey, man.”

Dave turned his head, which was cushioned by a thick pillow. Harris and Moreen sat next to his bed.

“How long—” Dave coughed, his throat scratchy. “How long have I been out?”

“A couple hours.” Harris tried to smile, but it didn’t quite stick. “Which really isn’t enough. You should get back to sleep.”

Sleep sounded nice. Dave’s head felt cloudy, and his limbs were heavy and numb. But something nagged at him. He was forgetting something, or there was something he needed to do and….

He jerked up. “They’re working together. Blueblood, the Black Valentine, and—” Continue reading

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Top 5 Wonder Woman Comics You Need to Read

In honor of the new Wonder Woman movie (and because it’s summer vacation and I have more time to write), I wanted to make a post about my top 5 Wonder Woman comics. This isn’t meant to be a universal list but just my personal favorites. If you loved the movie and are looking for more stories about Diana, Princess of Themyscira, these are great places to start.

5. Wonder Woman by George Perez

Wonder Woman Cover

Honestly, this one could make the list based on art alone. Perez’s art is stunning, even if you don’t read the words—and you should definitely read the words, because the stories are great, too. There are so many good ones, so I’ve linked to Vol. 1 for simplicity’s sake. It’s got the origin of the Amazons (or make that one of the many, many origins the comics have gone through over the years), our favorite god of war, and the supervillain Cheetah—who I’m hoping will be the antagonist in the next movie. Well, her or Circe. Both are great.

Perez’s run on Wonder Woman is a classic, and there’s a reason for that. Check it out on Amazon here.

 4. Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman

Sensations Comics Cover

Sensation Comics is a collection of short Wonder Woman stories by different writers and artists. There are good ones, great ones, and some that are pretty meh, but overall it’s a wonderful collection (pun intended). My favorite is Brace Yourself by Jason Bischoff in Issue #2. It’s about a young Diana’s quest to defeat her mother in combat and earn her Amazon bracelet, and it’s heart-warming and adorable. It you enjoyed little Diana on Themyscira in the first part of the movie, you’ll love this story.

There’s a huge variety of stories from silly to serious, but they all have something to offer. You can download it here.

3. Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon by Greg Rucka

Eyes of the Gorgon Cover

There’s only so much I can say about this storyline without spoilers: the richly developed supporting cast (Ferdinand is the best!), the fantastically-written Diana, the mix of myth and modern-day. But I need to spoil you to really sell it, so don’t click on if you want to be surprised. Continue reading

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“FUBAR” – Part 8

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Val didn’t pour herself another gin and tonic. She put the empty glass to her lips and leaned back her head, getting a small swallow of melted ice with just a hint of flavor. No more alcohol. She was going to need every fraction of her brainpower to stay alive. She gazed around the room, sizing up the few men who’d come to watch Joey and Cleto’s game, a crumpled wad of fifties waiting on the side of the table for the winner. She’d be able to mind-control one of them, maybe two, to cover her exit if things went south.

The heavy pool tables would make decent cover in the event of a firefight, and the cue sticks could be close-range weapons in a pinch. She’d already mapped the layout and knew about the man Blueblood had out front. That only left Blueblood himself, the most dangerous of them all. She had to keep distance between them at all costs.

Speaking of Blueblood, he walked jauntily out of the kitchen while munching on potato chips. “Ready to have at him?” he asked her.

Val set her glass onto the bar with a resolved thunk and stood. “Lead the way.” Continue reading

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