Sensational Superhero Short Stories

Sci-Fi Superheroine running at super-speed

Hey, guys! Fight Crime (A Love Story) is taking a break between episodes this week, but I don’t want to leave you without reading material. Here are four excellent superhero short stories to brighten your Monday.

Falling by Susan Jane Bigelow is a short story in Bigelow’s Extrahuman Union universe, but you don’t need to read the other books in the series to enjoy it. Instead of following the superhero, this story is from the point of view of the cool old lady who nurses the injured hero back to health and inspires him to get back in the fight. The futuristic and slightly dystopian setting hints at an awesomely bigger narrative, but this self-contained short story will leave you entertained and inspired. You can read it at the Book Smugglers.

Doctor was a Madman, Family Man by Paul Blonsky is a very short, very funny story written in the style of an obituary for a supervillain. It’ll take less than five minutes of your time and will leave you laughing. Check it out at Daily Science Fiction.

I tweeted about The Terrible by John Wiswell a few months ago, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s a great, punchy little story about a supervillain who learns his nemesis was never quite at his mercy like things appeared. There’s a fantastic twist at the beginning, lots of hilarious dialogue, and a wonderfully uplifting ending. Read it at Flash Fiction Online.

The Ways Out by Sam J Miller is another one I mentioned on Twitter. It’s a moving story about a crapsack world where people with superpowers are second-class citizens closely monitored by the government. It has a fantastically creative format, presented as surveillance clips summarized by the agent spying on two superpowered subjects. I won’t spoil the twist at the end, but it’s great, and there’s a beautiful theme of resistance throughout the story. You can find it at Clarkesworld Magazine.

ETA: If you liked these stories, don’t miss my lists of More Sensational Superhero Short Stories and Even More Sensational Superhero Short Stories.

“Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 4

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

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 “Everything is Perfectly Fine” – Part 4

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

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 “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

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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