February 2021


Collects Fantastic Four issues 6-11.

44286862

Writer: Dan Slott

Artists: Aaron Kuder, John Lucas, Stefano Caselli, Paco Medina, David Marquez, Reilly Brown, Kevin Libranda

Publisher: Marvel

Right from Ben and Alicia’s wedding the FF hurry to Latveria because Doctor Doom has lured Galactus back to Earth. But Doom claims that he knows what he’s doing. He has a Herald of his own, Victorious, and a plan to imprison Galactus and siphon off his energy to benefit his people!

When Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny arrive, Doom accuses them of meddling. First, they must survive the confrontation with the Devourer of Worlds, then Doom imprison them to show everyone in the galaxy that he’s better than them. Of course, things don’t play out as Doom imagined.

Meanwhile, Valeria and Franklin are now teenagers. Reed and Sue told them to stay with Ben’s aunt Petunia, her husband, Alicia, and Wyatt Wingfoot. Val and Franklin are very frustrated and each in his or her own way tries to help their parents.

After the four part Doom story, we get a War of the Kings crossover. Val and Frank are having hard to fitting in and Ben realizes that they don’t know anyone. So, he organizes a Yancy street party where we’re introduced to a gaggle of supporting characters. Asgardian monsters crash the party.

In the final issue, the NY DMV goes after the kids for… driving extra-normal motor viechiles without licence. At the same time, weid things are happen all around New York.

This collection focus on the FF as superheroes rather than explorers and adventurers. Another focus are the kids and their inability to fit in. Franklin loses a bit of his powers every time he uses them and he’s unhappy that he’s going to be left out of all adventures after his powers are gone. Understandable, of course.

These are fun and light superhero stories and I enjoyed them. I’m hoping we’ll see more of Victorious, too. However, I love FF as explorers.

The third book in the Daevabad trilogy.

52166786

Publication year: 2020
Format: Audio
Running time: 28 hours 37 minutes
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Publisher: Harper Voyager

This is a good ending to this Middle-Eastern fantasy series.

This third book has the three familiar POV characters as the first two. But the ending of the second book changed the status quo. This book starts only moments after the end of the second book.

Nahri and Ali are exiles, struggling to survive and to return to Daevabad. But they’re alone. What can just two people do against the powerful enemy who has taken over the city? Especially when the conqueror has Dara by their side? Meanwhile, Dara is having more and more doubts about the person he’s serving when he sees how the people of Daevabad are treated.

This is a huge book, almost 800 pages. It’s full of twists, surprising revelations, and our heroes learn surprising things about themselves and others.

However, because of the ending in the second book, Kingdom of Copper, many of the political machinations which were such an integral part of the first two books, are mostly abandoned. In fact, since Nahri and Ali aren’t in Daevabad anymore, the story takes us to new places and introduces new characters, most of whom I enjoyed.

On the negative side, I didn’t care about some family revelations which I don’t think were foreshadowed but came out of nowhere. There was also a big difference in tone between some chapters (the desperation in Daevabad and Dara’s personal hell compared to the Ali and Nahri chapters). I also think that Dara’s arch was pretty brutal and he never did find out some very crucial things. Also, he should have seen what his master was doing wrong quicker. Ali also didn’t really face consequences for his attitudes and actions.

Still, I enjoyed this ending for the most part.

A stand-alone spy novel set in an alternate 1938.

Publication year: 2018
Publication year in Finland: 2019
Publisher in Finland: Gummerus
Finnish translator: Tero Valkonen
Format: print
Page count: 320

Rachel White is one of the few women in British Empire’s Secret Intelligence Service. She and a male colleague are handling a man who has defected from Soviet Union to UK. But the ex-Soviet doesn’t tell anything and in the end, he kills himself just after he has whispered to Rachel the codename of a Soviet mole in UK afterlife, the Summerland. She’s sure he has told the truth, but her hidebound, chauvinistic superior won’t hear of it and demotes her to desk duty for allowing the defector to die without giving any useful information.

But Rachel is determined to dig out the mole. She just doesn’t know whom to trust. Her husband is a war veteran, but not a “normal” war but one where men ate each other’s’ souls and it has changed him permanently. He doesn’t work for the SIS and Rachel must keep secrets from him, which is slowly destroying their marriage. She has made a lot of sacrifices to get a career.

The other POV character is the mole, Peter Bloom, who is dead and now works for the Secret Service in the afterlife. Ironically, Peter hates lying and tries to keep to the truth as much as he can. Through the whole story, we see glimpses of his life, what made him, a middle-class young man to turn to his country’s enemies.

This is not a James Bond –type story. It’s more like a cat and mouse game with very high stakes. The plot isn’t a simple one.

The world has lots and lots of very interesting ideas. When live humans found a way to communicate with the dead souls, it changed the world. The souls who don’t have a Ticket simply fade away. So, most people only care about getting a Ticket, which allows them to flourish in the Summerland. Then, death isn’t the end and there’s no need to grieve. In fact, some people kill themselves after getting a Ticket.

I was a bit disappointed that people can’t get away from dreary work even in afterlife. It wasn’t explained what sort of jobs most do and why, but I think they’re paid with energy which keeps them from fading and able to visit living humans. And apparently, Queen Victoria is still the head of the Empire, even if she rules from the other side. There’s also some very interesting stuff on how religion can support this afterlife and who people are worried that the living will have to support an ever increasing crowd of dead.

The Soviets, on the other hand, have engineered a group mind, the Presence, which is trying to destroy Summerland.

This is marketed as science fiction, but personally I put it in fantasy. Even though some (if not most) of the ideas in the book are based on real, if old scientific ideas.

Collects issues 5-8.

43909526

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Dan McDaid, Ethan Young

I liked this second volume better than the first because we’re shown a little of what Zoe and Mal did during the war.

At the end of the previous volume Alliance’s bounty hunter (called Unificator) Boss Moon arrested Mal for war crimes and flew off with him. Zoe wants to go after him, as soon as the engine is repaired. On the other hand, Jayne think it’s good riddance but follows Zoe, at gunpoint. Also, the crew has picked up a handsome and well-mannered bandit general who is flirting with Kaylee. Simon, of course, is only now noticing Kaylee.

Meanwhile in space, Mal is talking with Moon who has a mighty big chip on her shoulder from Unification War. He tries to fight with her, but during the fight the ship crashes to a planet which has very hostile animals. They just might have to rely on each other to get out alive.

While picking of gossip, Zoe meet a group of Browncoats who want to help her. So, she decides that it’s too dangerous for the rest of the crew to go after Mal. And she leaves with the Browncoats, leaving the rest of the crew behind.

At the end, the collection has a short story about how Moon became a bounty hunter. There’s also a cover gallery and a couple of pages of the script.

Of course, because this adventure happens before the movies, we know how things are going to turn out. The crew ends up very divided. Especially Jayne’s greed and self-serving nature turns him against the others. (On the other hand, there’s a hilarious subplot about him which I throughly enjoyed.) Also, it’s almost painful to see Kaylee starting to fall for the bandit when we know that he’ll die dramatically or something. Also, Inara, Simon, and River don’t have much to do. But, Boss Moon is growing on me and I enjoyed her and Mal’s interaction. I also enjoyed the crews interactions a lot.

Still, I enjoyed this volume a bit more than the first one. But I still don’t care for the art. I can’t recognize anyone.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have another great Kickstarter project:
Colliding Worlds volumes 1-5.

It’s five volumes of science fiction short stories from Rusch and Smith. The stories cover just about every nook and cranny of the science fiction genre. From time travel to space opera to social science fiction. From hard science to parallel worlds to alien invasion. From historical to near future to far future worlds.

100 science fiction short stories from two of the best science fiction writers of our time.

It just need another 600 dollars to reach the fifth stretch goal and then we get volume 6! Three more days to go.

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