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.

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.

“Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 1

First 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 “Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 1

Top 5 Wonder Woman Comics You Need to Read

Wonder Woman is awesome. You know it; I know it. But when it comes to looking through her seventy-plus years of comic history for a book to read, it can be hard to know where to begin. Hundreds of writers and artists have worked on her over the years. Some of their stories are excellent, but simple probability states that some are… well, some are pretty awful.

You don’t want to read the awful ones, but don’t worry. I’m here to help with a list of Wonder Woman comics that are–incoming pun–absolutely wonderful. 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 might be Diana’s greatest foe. 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 Top 5 Wonder Woman Comics You Need to Read

“FUBAR” – Part 7

Dave was starting to like the concrete floor. Sure, it was hard against his skull and back, pressing each link of chain further into his flesh. And yeah, it was filthy. But letting his muscles go slack as he rested on it felt like a little slice of heaven.

He didn’t know how long he’d been lying there. He didn’t know how many times Giordano and Werecat had dunked him. It felt like it had been a lot of times, but he didn’t want to think about it. If he could have found the strength to lift his head and look at the tub, a shudder of revulsion would have passed through him. He forced himself not to think, not to remember in excruciating detail the feeling of water up his nose and rough hands on his head. He wanted to lie on the floor in a haze and think of nothing at all.

He hadn’t talked. Or at least, he didn’t think he had. He would remember, wouldn’t he? So he had to brace himself. Because when Val came back and tried to get into his head again, he was going to be tempted to tell her everything as long as they stopped, as long as they never brought him anywhere near water again. He couldn’t let himself do that. They were going to kill him anyway, and he didn’t want to die betraying everything he stood for. David Del Toro might dread what came next, but White Knight was strong. He had to be White Knight. Continue reading “FUBAR” – Part 7

“FUBAR” – Part 4

Dave had been ready the first time. Even half-conscious, it hadn’t been hard to figure out their plan when he saw the tub of water they’d brought into the room.

Dave wouldn’t call water his “weakness” exactly, but it was something his super-strength didn’t protect him from. Beating him was a good way to break your knuckles, and trying to cut him was like attacking a tree trunk with a butter knife. His skin was fairly burn-resistant, too, and bullets famously bounced off of him. But he needed to breathe like everyone else.

The tub was big and metal, its sides smeared with dirt. Giordano and the other one—the cat man, Dave couldn’t remember his name—grabbed him and dragged him towards it. Dave didn’t resist, his legs dragging limply across the floor. Part of that was because Madame Morphine had made his limbs feel stiff and distant, but also, he knew he should save his strength.

They dropped him into a kneeling position in front of the tub, the chains around him clinking together at the sudden movement. Dave’s head bobbed unsteadily, and he stared into the tub, seeing individual dirt particles moving in the water. Then hands gripped his shoulders and head, and he took a deep breath. Continue reading “FUBAR” – Part 4

“FUBAR” – Part 3

Val was a telepath, and telepaths who survived learned to control their emotions. Dave’s gaze found hers, though his eyes were unfocused. As she took in the purple bruises on his face and the way he swayed even though he wasn’t standing, she ruthlessly stomped down on the emotion welling up in her stomach. She pursed her lips in a thoughtful manner, hyper-aware of Blueblood and the Fox Woman watching her reaction.

“Well,” Val said, “That’s not what I was expecting.”

She could shoot Distortion. Shoot Distortion, take out the others telepathically, and free Dave. No, she didn’t know the whole situation yet, and besides, that was…that was a huge sacrifice to make for someone who didn’t even want to kiss her.

“Grabbing unexpected opportunities when they come up is the secret to success,” Blueblood said cheerfully.

Val looked at the Fox Woman. “You disagree?” Continue reading “FUBAR” – Part 3

“Don’t Let David Puebla Die” – Part 7

Dave opened the stairwell door to find Joey Giordano, Madame Morphine, and another goon coming up the steps. The four of them stared at each other for a fraction of a second before all hell broke loose. The goon started shooting, and Dave yelled at the others to run.

Chung and Attwater pulled Puebla back down the hallway as a bullet stung Dave’s side. Giordano charged up the last few steps, and Dave braced himself. The sleeve of the other man’s suit jacket had a bloody tear (Moreen? Was she okay?), which would make him stronger than normal. Dave sidestepped when Giordano swung at him, trying to use the man’s own momentum to throw him. But Giordano was too good a fighter; he didn’t overextend the punch. When he missed, he pivoted and threw another.

Dave raised his arm to block, then used the fist of the same arm to pop Giordano in the jaw. Giordano lurched back and hit the doorframe, knocking the door off its hinges. Judging by that reaction, he wasn’t as strong as Dave yet. But this was no time to play nice. Dave aimed another punch at this head, but Giordano jerked out of the way at the last second. Dave’s fist hit the wall—and went straight through it.

Dave wrenched his hand out of the hole, but it cost him a precious second. Giordano brought down both fists onto the back of Dave’s head. Dave’s vision went white, and he staggered. Pain spiked through his skull, and he tried to shake it off, but Giordano didn’t give him a single instant. He socked Dave in the stomach. Continue reading “Don’t Let David Puebla Die” – Part 7

You’re Invited to a Wedding

The Best Man Banner

Today’s the big day! The Best Man is out on Amazon, and you can download a copy for your Kindle here for only 99 cents. It’s a fun, quick read with super-speed chases, snarky supervillains, and a wedding on the beach. Check it out!

Harris Holt has one job: to make sure his best friend’s wedding goes smoothly. But when his friend is a retired superhero marrying a former villainess, that involves more than just remembering the rings and making a good speech at the reception. Especially when a guy with a gun turns up at the wedding venue.

Now Harris has to keep a supervillain with a grudge from offing the bride and groom—and keep it quiet, or else the cops will crash the ceremony. With his own rusty superpowers and a murderous maid of honor for help, Harris needs to stop the bad guy before the happy couple gets cold feet…on their corpses.

The Best Man is an action-packed short story prequel to The White Knight and Black Valentine Series and is available to buy for Amazon Kindle now.

Cover Reveal: The Best Man

Drum roll, please.

The Best Man, a short story prequel to Hero Status, will be released on March 31st. If you’ve ever been curious about Dave and Val’s wedding and whether they made it through the day without a supervillain attack (Hint: they did not.), then this is the book for you. Plus, Lady Nightmare has a big role, so if you read How Lady Nightmare Stole Captain Alpha’s Girlfriend and want more of her, this is a good place to start.

Check out the cover and blurb below.

The Best Man Cover

Harris Holt has one job: to make sure his best friend’s wedding goes smoothly. But when his friend is a retired superhero marrying a former villainess, that involves more than just remembering the rings and making a good speech at the reception. Especially when a guy with a gun turns up at the wedding venue.

Now Harris has to keep a supervillain with a grudge from offing the bride and groom—and keep it quiet, or else the cops will crash the ceremony. With his own rusty superpowers and a murderous maid of honor for help, Harris needs to stop the bad guy before the happy couple gets cold feet…on their corpses.

The Best Man will be available on Amazon Kindle March 31st. Follow my blog by email for a reminder on release day!