action heroine


Collects Superwoman issues 1-7 (Rebirth).

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Writer: Phil Jimenez

Artists: Phil Jimenez, Emanuela Lupacchino, Jack Herbert, Joe Prado, Matt Santorell, Ray McCarthy

When the original Superman of this timeline died exploding, Lana Lang and Lois Lane were near him. The women got powers from the explosion. Lois got powers similar to Superman and Lana got electricity powers. Lois wants to be Superwoman, to continued Clark’s work but Lana doesn’t.

However, Lois convinces Lana to train her. Then Lois starts her career as Superwoman.

Lex Luthor is Metropolis’ new Superman. He uses an armored suit and he has built a huge battleship called the Gestalt to battle (other) supervillains. But when he unveils it to the people in Metropolis bay, someone takes over it. Both Lois and Lana are needed to try to prevent the mysterious person from taking over Gestalt and perhaps the whole world.

I really liked the dynamic between Lois and Lana. They aren’t friends, they don’t even like each other, but they’ve lost Clark. Lois wants to protect the world to keep up his legacy. Lana doesn’t want to do any superhero stuff but she agrees to train Lois. In the end, Lana does take up the mantle of Superwoman and help Lois. I was really interested in seeing what happens between them. That’s why I was very disappointed with the end of the first issue, hoping it wouldn’t be true.

So instead of the (more interesting?) storyline I was expecting we got a story about how Lana’s powers are killing her and she must overcome her fear to function. After Clark’s death, she started having panic attacks and she’s afraid that everyone she loves will die. She’s an engineer but is now a science reporter. However, that wasn’t really relevant to the story. She’s in a relationship with Steel, John Henry Irons. She clearly loves him but she’s also afraid that he will die and she’s trying to push him to the side to protect him. Or her own feelings.

I really enjoyed Lana’s supporting cast of Steel and his genius inventor niece Natasha. I also rather enjoyed the ghost. Traci 13 seemed interesting but I don’t know her. Maggie Sawyer appears as the Captain of Metropolis’ Special Crimes Unit. Lex’s newfound obsession with becoming a superhero was interesting.

The storyline jumps some days or weeks forward at one point. I think that could have been clearer. Also, at some point, Lana was telling us (in recap boxed) about things she couldn’t know, which was really strange. Also, it ends in a cliffhanger.

Most of the art is done by Jimenez and I love it. The fill-in artists weren’t too different, either.

While I didn’t like everything about the comic, I enjoyed it.

Collects Uncanny X-Men (2018) 17-22.

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Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artists: Salvador Larroca, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Villa

Publisher: Marvel

This is the culmination of six months of comics for the mutants who aren’t in the Age of X-Man alternate world. Cyclops and his team face increasingly desperate times. Also, one mutant is working without their knowledge and yet using them are puppets. The team is Cyclops, Wolverine, Mirage, Magick, Havoc, Karma, Chamber, Multiple Man, Hope Summers, Banshee, and Juggernaut. However, Karma leaves the team and so does Wolverine. The team has decided to use Dark Beast as their scientist. Not everyone is comfortable with that decision.

This is a very dark comic. All of the characters are struggling with the deaths of their teammates, friends, and lovers. Cyclops suggested that they would take care of their deadliest enemies before the X-Men themselves are killed. The team agrees on that mission but not much else. They fight and bicker amongst themselves while talking about issues such as leadership and trust.

Also, the US government wants to get rid of mutants and so they’re issuing vaccinations for children. The vaccine will stop mutations. The whole next generation of mutants is in dire danger.

This is meant to be the end of the X-Men, with the characters making a fateful decision very near the end. Of course, Hickman’s new run changes, not just the teams, but the mutants’ place in the Marvel universe. If the X-Men had ended here permanently, I probably wouldn’t have been satisfied for the simple reason that there are so many mutants and they all didn’t get their ending. That would have taken several issues, of course. So as it is, this was a fine ending to the series, for now.

A stand-alone urban fantasy book.

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Publication year: 2018
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 hours 21 minutes
Narrator: Kevin T. Collins

I’m a huge fan of Brust’s Vlad Taltos books so I guess I was expecting something similar. The Good Guys isn’t a Taltos book.

Donovan Longfellow, Marci, and Susan are a field team for the Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to keeping the existence of magic a secret from the regular people. They also train magic users and hire them for minimum wage. The trio considers themselves the good guys.

Donovan is told about a new murder possibly done with magic because it was done in bright daylight in a restaurant and nobody saw a thing. When the trio gets to the site, Marci finds out that very powerful magic has been used to murder the victim. A time-stopping spell from an artifact. Donovan and the team must find out who the killer is and where do they get their magical artifacts. However, when the team realizes that the killer is after quite bad men, they start to wonder if they are, indeed, the good guys.

This was an entertaining read. The characters are quite distinct but for some reason, I just didn’t connect with any of them. Donovan has some FBI training so he’s very good at police work. He’s also black. Marci is a new sorceress but unlike the other two, she has a personal life. Susan is an experienced sorceress and quite formidable with both her magical talents and physical skills. I wanted to like them more.

However, I don’t think the format of the book was best for audio. The story has many, many POV characters. One of them is in the first person and the rest in the third person. The scenes are quick and the POV character changes often. It was a bit difficult to follow in the audiobook for me.

The world was interesting and I feel there could be more stories in it. Brust plays around with quite a few tropes. For example, Donovan knows that torture isn’t an effective way to get reliable information, so the team simply talks with people, even those who try to kill them. Also, Susan is the team’s muscle.

The sixth book in the Invisible Library fantasy series.

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Publisher: Ace

Publication year: 2020
Format: print

Page count: 336

This sixth book in the Invisible Library series is just as entertaining as the previous books and I’m looking forward to the next.

This time our Librarian/spy/book acquirer Irene Winters is sent to retrieve the only copy of a book written in Ancient Egypt (a scroll, really). The Library needs the book so that they can stabilize a world that is important to Irene, so she’s anxious to get it. However, the current owner of the book is a powerful Fae, a canny negotiator who owns a lot of precious items. In exchange for the book, he wants another item, a painting. Irene, Kai, another dragon, and a group of Fae must steal the painting from another world. Of course, things go wrong.

Kai, who is a dragon prince, isn’t too happy about working with the Fae. In this series, dragons are order incarnate and the Fae are chaos. Each Fae personifies an archetype from stories and behaves according to their archetype. The group also includes another dragon but Kai doesn’t care for her at all.

This was a fun and fast-paced heist story. Unlike the previous books in the series, it doesn’t have much politics, so it’s a change of pace. We also get to meet Irene’s parents, if only briefly. However, from the end, it seems that politics will continue to play a larger role in the next books. I’m also surprised that nobody has strongly objected to Kai and Irene’s relationship, so far, given their important roles in the current politics between the dragons and the Fae.

The cast of characters is mostly new, but they are rather distinctive. I hope we’ll meet them again.

This is a really fun series with dragons, the Fae, many, many alternate realities, and fast-paced adventure. On the other hand, the adventures don’t leave time for character development. Also, this book hints at a larger plot, but I’m not sure if Cogman will ever return to it because she has left previous larger plot hints open. I enjoy the worlds and the characters enough that I don’t really mind that, though.

A prequel novella to the Kana Cold urban fantasy series.

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Publication year: 2018

Publisher: AOE Studios

Format: ebook
Page count in GoodReads: 148

Mark and Alice McNeil have a terrible problem: no doctor or psychologist can find out what’s the matter with their little girl. She has bruises all over her little body and screams so much she’s hoarse. One night in front of Mark’s eyes something invisible seems to attack the girl. She falls and breaks her arm. Desperate, Mark decides to contact a supernatural investigator.

Kana Cold is just starting her work investigating the supernatural. But all the cases she’s had so far have been hoaxes or misunderstandings. So, when Mark tries to hire her, in a seedy biker bar, she’s skeptical and not really interested. But a bit reluctantly she agrees.

This is a mystery story with a little bit of horror elements.

Kana is young but already a hard drinking tough girl, and she really wants to get concrete proof of the existence of the supernatural. We find out a bit about her reasons later in the story. However, a lot of her background is still left unexplored, as is usual for a prequel. She’s half Japanese. She’s pretty distant and cold towards the clients. Her partner AJ is a gadget man and also usually handles the clients, because Kana is too blunt. AJ approaches the supernatural from a science angle and he uses a couple of tech devices he’s built himself.

This was a good introduction to the characters and the setting. The biggest problem I had was with the framing story. Mark is telling the story to a reporter but the main POV character is Kana, and she certainly didn’t share her emotions with him. So it felt a bit strange. Otherwise, this was a quick, enjoyable read.

My newest short story is available on Amazon! I wrote this one, too, for the Dereclict anthology. It turned out to be a spy story:

A secret mission in the Alps. Inexperienced MI6 agent Iz Carter and her new partner.

Freezing wind whipping Iz’s face when she hang glides between snow-covered mountains. Below her, homes lighted like jewels. She must land on one of them. To the stronghold of a chemical weapons dealer.

She must focus on the mission. Or she dies.

A fast-paced short story full of unpredictable turns, Wreck of the Armitage follows the traditions of the best spy stories.

The first book in the Chaos of the Covenant science fiction series.

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Publication year: 2017
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 hours 16 minutes
Narrator: Jeff Hayes

This is military SF set during a war between the Republic and the Outworlders. The Republic has a lot more resources that the other side. We get POVs from both sides of the conflict but our heroine is a Republic soldier.

Lieutenant Abigail Cage is a breaker, a hacker. She’s also a mother, looking forward to retiring and spending time with her daughter. She’s assigned to a team which is dropped to enemy territory. She does have some experience with combat so she’s more worried about the couple of less experienced soldiers. But during the mission, something goes wrong and she finds a code she can’t break. Soon after they get back, the whole team is arrested. Abby protests that whatever the others might have done, she’s not part of it. Very quickly, the whole team is sentenced to a maximum security prison called Hell. And she’s put on one of the most difficult levels on the whole prison. She must fight constantly to survive.

However, the book moved on quickly to a point where it became more interesting to me.

In addition to Abby we have several other POVs. This world has aliens but they seem to be Star Trek types rather than completely alien aliens. Abby is a capable fighter and becomes even better during the book. She’s a patriot but she mostly just wants to get back to her daughter.

This was a fast-paced story with both fierce combat scenes and a complex scheme in the background which one of the other characters is trying to solve. The Republic has recently finished building two starships, Fire and Brimstone, which are so powerful that nothing can stand against them. But they have been stolen and of course the Republic is frantic to get them back.

I have the first four books in audio and I’ll likely continue to the next one. This first book ends in a huge cliffhanger.

Collects Trinity issues 17-22.

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Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Patrick Zircher, Jack Herbert, and Tyler Kirkham
Publisher: DC
Publishing year: 2018

The collection has two storylines. The first one is No Home for You Here where the Trinity is sucked to another dimension, essentially a fantasy world. It has enough magic that Superman loses his powers and Wonder Woman is struck blind. I was prepared to really like this story because they would need to use their wits more than powers. But nope. The only difference really was that Clark’s costume was torn during fighting.

The second story continues the first one and is the titular search for Steve.

I like lost worlds. I’m not familiar with Skartaris and the warlord Travis Morgan. It’s apparently DC’s equivalent of Marvel’s Savage Land or Burroughs’ Pellucidar. However, it does look very dated with women wearing only fur bikinis. Admittedly the Warlord himself only wears a loin cloth, metal shoulder pads, and a helmet.

Diana, Bruce, and Clark must battle their way through the fantasy land to Morgan’s city so that his sorceress daughter can send them home. Very battle heavy story, even though Bruce gets to play a little of detective near then end. The framing story is that someone is interrogating the Trinity for everything they know about this fantasy land.

In the Search for Steve Trevor, fantasy comes to our heroes’ world. Bruce, Diana, and Clark track down a mysterious “security organization” and find out that Steve and many other people have been transformed to mindless fighting machines. Of course, they must investigate further and try to return him to a human.

This collection feels much grimmer to me than the first two. There aren’t many moments between our heroes, it’s mostly just mindless fighting. Too bad.

Collects X-Men Gold issues 13-15 and X-Men Blue issues 13-15.

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Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Cullen Bunn
Artists: Jorge Molina, Mike Mayhew, Marc Laming, Diego Bernard

The X-Men teams unite against a invading monoliths which turn to be Mojo’s trick!

I think this is a storyline readers will either love or hate. It’s Mojo rehashing all the X-Men’s greatest hits to boost his ratings. It’s a love letter to X-Men history, spinning it for us old fans one more time. But it’s not new readers friendly, which I find very interesting. Despite Dark Phoniex on the cover, she only appears in a few background pictures.

I enjoyed it. Mojo was used in equally silly way as the Secret Empire in X-Men Blue vol. 2. Mojo takes over Manhattan and every TV set and smartphone in it… and in the end he and his tech just disappear.

On the bad side, Longshot makes an appearance… and he’s more concerned with his ratings than battling Mojo’s robots. That’s not the hero I remember from 1990s X-Men comics.

The story starts with the teams playing baseball. Kitty already mentions that someone will attack when they play… and mysterious monoliths drop down from the sky to Manhattan. The X-Men dive in and find themselves in different battle scenarios. Their surroundings and enemies, even the costumes they wear, change when the scenario changes. Team one is Kitty, Prestige (Rachel Summers), Bloodstorm, and Cyclops who are fighting against future Sentinels from the Days of the Future Past comic. Kitty’s X-Men costume changes to prisoner’s fatigues and Rachel’s costume to the Hound. Team two is Storm, Old Man Logan, Iceman, and Angel fighting Ice Giants in Asgard. Storm is the only one who gets to wear her cool Asgard costume. Team three is Marvel Girl leading Nightcrawler, Colossus, Beast, and Jimmy Hudson fighting demons in Inferno. Jean is in Goblin Queen’s costume and Hank changes to a demon. Of course, the scenes change for each team at least a couple of times.

The cast of characters is pretty large and most of them, such as Ororo and Kurt don’t get to do more than look cool. Rachel, at least, must face her trauma about the future where she came from and Jean fights her scenario’s Goblin Queen.

This was lots of cheesy fun for me.

Currently the first book in the Sabel Security thriller series.

Publication year: 2015
Publisher: Machined Media
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 365

Jacob Sterne is an Army veteran. Now, he’s employed by Sabel Security, an international security organization. He has some problems, though. He hears the voice of Mercury, the Roman god of messages in his head. Mercury usually warns him about danger but sometimes he just makes snarky comments about how soft Jacob is, unlike tough old Romans in the good old days. Jacob knows that Mercury is most likely a reaction to trauma but they still banter. He also has problems with women: he wants to sleep with all of them.

Pia Sabel is a former Olympic level soccer player. Now she’s a multimillionaire and runs the security company. She has her own problems because she saw her parents murdered when she was very young. Her adoptive father owned the security company, among other firms, and gave it to her. She’s headstrong and used to getting her own way. But she also wants to do what’s right, no matter if that’s cutting off body parts from rapists or tracking down corporation which are trying to poison millions of people. Jacob is in love with her but considers her way out of his league.

The story begins in Borneo where Pia Sabel is building a school. But she and her team manages to get on the nerves of the local tough guys and they must leave quickly. On the road, Pia meets a young girl who is carrying her sick younger brother. Pia insists that they stop to help, even though Jacob is against it. The team finds a place they think is a hurriedly built hospital full of local sick people. But the place has guards with guns and the medics are too nervous. Jacob steals three vials. Jacob, Pia, and the team are forced out and to leave the girl and her brother behind. Later, they hear that everyone in that camp are dead. Worse, someone tipped off the media that Pia and her company were there.

Pia is determined to find out who killed the people and why. Also, killers are determined to get back the vials Jacob took.

This is a fast-paced story with lots of violence but the plot is surprisingly complex. Sabel Security seems to employ almost exclusively former soldiers so they also swear like soldiers. The hunt for the bad guys takes Jacob all over the world. However, it does have a couple of gruesome torture scenes. And a lot of people are shot. Sabel Security actually uses dart guns with tranquilizers but their enemies don’t and Jacob and the others change to regular weapons when needed and when Pia isn’t around.

Jacob is a first person narrator for most of the book, but there are two other POV characters in third person. One of them is one of the bad guys so we get a pretty good picture of how they operate and bit about why. Still the full explanation for the reasons of all this came as a surprise to me in the end.

Surprisingly many of the secondary characters are women, in addition to Pia. Two of them are actually Jacob’s ex-girlfriends and he isn’t very comfortable working with them, at first.  Many of the women are former soldiers who are just as good in a fight as Jacob and the other men.

This was like a summer action flick with lots of action and some humor. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters but it was entertaining.

While the book is labeled as the first in the series, there are references to past events. In fact, near the end one plot point is dependent on them.  Apparently, this is the third book about these characters. The first two books are now called Sabel Origins series. But that’s a pretty minor point.

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