DC This Week: ‘The Legend of Wonder Woman’ Soars

It’s rare when Ray and I rave about a book for multiple issues, and for the same reasons. When that happens, it usually means we’re reading something extraordinary. That’s the case with The Legend of Wonder Woman #3, our book of the week, and those superlatives apply to the series. The series is so good, and so what Wonder Woman has needed that I basically teared up reading that.

Sounds silly, right? But Wonder Woman means a lot to many people. There’s a reason everyone smiles at me when I wear my Wonder Woman shirts or hoodies or shoes: people love her. It’s about time she has received a story deserving of that love.

Overall, it was good week for DC issues, too, including one of my favorite issues of Batman & Robin Eternal for a long time, Constantine musing on how awful fairies are, Superman getting to be Superman again in Action Comics #50, and some good stuff from Gotham Academy, Starfire, and Batman/Superman. Plus, the crossover between Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to work, even showing some character depth.

Yeah, there were a few that mucked it up for the rest. See the bottom of our list. Continue reading DC This Week: ‘The Legend of Wonder Woman’ Soars

Author Mishell Baker Geeks Out About Gaming

image courtesy Mishell Baker.

Mishell Baker’s urban fantasy series The Arcadia Project begins with the novel Borderline, just released this March. The series is narrated by Millicent Roper, a snarky double-amputee and suicide survivor who works with a ragtag collection of society’s least-wanted, keeping the world safe from the chaotic whims of supernatural beasties. Mishell’s short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Redstone Science Fiction, and Electric Velocipede.

When Mishell isn’t convention-hopping or going on wild research adventures, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two changelings.  When her offspring are older, she will probably remember what her hobbies are. In the meantime, she enjoys sending and receiving old-fashioned handwritten paper letters.

I always hesitate to call myself a “gamer,” since my tastes are so specific. But within the very small subcategory of “story-driven fantasy RPGs for PC,” the term “enthusiast” doesn’t even begin to cover my obsession or these games’ effect on my writing. Here are five RPG series I could easily play (and geek out about) endlessly:

  1. Quest for Glory – My first gaming addiction was Sierra’s classic Quest for Glory series, by Lori and Corey Cole. I grew up right along with the game’s hero as I played and replayed a tale that is by turns silly, suspenseful, and heartbreaking. I began the first installment—in which a naive young hero saves a small town from a curse—at age twelve. By the end of the fifth installment, I was in my mid-twenties, and my hero was king of a powerful nation. Talk about epic!
  2. Guild Wars – This one had me at the tutorial. I painstakingly discovered lush forests and fields, quest by quest… and then the moment I completed the introductory section I watched everything I’d just explored get blasted into noxious wasteland. I was traumatized… and hooked. Both the original game and its follow-up Guild Wars 2 gave me plenty of opportunities to crawl back through the ruins of that first memorable area and experience a strange mix of grief and nostalgia. I love trying to recreate this feeling in my work: trying to identify readers’ strongest first impressions, then finding ways to tease, twist, and distort those memories later on.
  3. The Elder Scrolls – The lore of the Elder Scrolls’ world of Tamriel has changed the way I approach world-building. Unlike the typical coherent mythology created by a singular author, the books and scrolls you find lying about in the Elder Scrolls games reveal diverse and uncomfortably irreconcilable views of theology and history that only suggest, never reveal, the truth. The second book of the Arcadia Project series owes a lot to my fascination with this startlingly realistic approach to world lore.
  4. EverquestEQ was the grandmother of MMORPGs, and it’s where I discovered online roleplaying. During my time in EQ and EQ2, I practiced my character creation and dialogue skills and met some amazing writers. Most importantly, it was while playing Everquest 2 that I first invented a deadpan gloved warlock named Caryl Vallo. She didn’t thrive in that world; too many other strong-willed characters steered her story in directions that didn’t satisfy me. So I plucked her out of Norrath, gave her a different backstory, and found her a new home in my debut novel Borderline.

    Image Courtesy Simon & Schuster. Available on Amazon.
  5. Dragon Age – Put off by the blood-spattered marketing campaign, I tried the first Dragon Age game only reluctantly. But within a week I was wholeheartedly immersed in the world of Thedas, and immediately after finishing the game for the first time I surprised myself by bursting into tears. All three Dragon Age installments differ radically in interface and design (a common criticism), but the world and characters consistently enrapture and move me to the point that I find myself irritated when I have to actually fight monsters to earn another 24-karat nugget of story. BioWare’s writers are astonishing; their games are master classes in how to set up and pay off emotional effect.

I’ve loved computer games as a storytelling medium all my life, and to this day it affects the way I construct story. As a writer I try to address what I think the readers will want to explore, not what I, as the Authority, feel the need to explain. The fun in plotting for me, as it may well be in game design, is trying to guess what the audience would choose. In deciding when it’s best to indulge them and when it will satisfy them more in the long run if I frustrate or subvert their desires. If I’ve learned anything from games it’s that when a story is well designed, losing can be almost as fun as winning.

Visit http://mishellbaker.com/ for more information about Mishell and her books!

One Green Lantern Shines But Not the One With 50 Issues

Before we begin reviews of this weeks issues, I wanted to mention that Martian Manhunter: Vol. 1: The Epiphany is now available. This is one of the unexpectedly awesome books DC has published lately and it stands alone as a great SF invasion story.

Also of particular interest this week is Omega Men #9, another terrific issue spotlighting Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in what’s fast becoming a modern classic, so much so that there’s a scene this week that Ray compares favorably to the classic The Watchmen.

Martian manhunter, mr. biscuits
Martian Manhunter’s multiple selves. Panel copyright DC Comics

As for the more well-known Green Lantern? Hal Jordan’s series hits issue #50, a milestone for the new 52 reboot. Ray finds that the whole series was rewarding but I’m not even close to Hal Jordan’s biggest fan.

Plus, Swamp Thing, more Bat-kids, and Batgirl has a trippy issue that is my favorite in this run. And don’t forget to check out the bonus Batman ’66 and Scooby Doo reviews. Continue reading One Green Lantern Shines But Not the One With 50 Issues

It’s Who I Am: Fantasy Author Tim Marquitz Geeks Out About Writing

Urban fantasy author Tim Marquitz joins us this week to talk about writing his Demon Squad series, and what it means to him to write in a genre alongside authors like Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, and more. Tim has a Kickstarter campaign going for his book Initiative, the tenth book in his popular series. There are backer rewards that include all ten ebooks of the series, so new fans can get in on the action. Welcome, Tim!

I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

Back in middle school I used to read these cheesy action novels about spies and secret agents and I loved the idea of creating my own, my thoughts swirling after each and every novel ended. And I did, sitting down and writing a three-page story, all guns, guts, and pure, snarky bravado. I was so proud of it, too.

Of course it sucked but I didn’t know that then. It was all telling, the details weak, the plot sketchy, and the writing was typical 4-5th grade drivel, buoyed only by my weird efforts at reading the dictionary to learn big words. And that really didn’t help much. But when I look back on it—and, believe it or not, I still have the story, saved in a page protector—it reminds me just how exciting crafting a story can be.

I still get that feeling today when I sit down to write my Demon Squad novels. It doesn’t matter that I have over twenty-five published novels/novellas and a bunch of short stories floating around out there, I still get a kick out of sitting down and watching my creations take shape, flowing from my brain to my fingertips and onto the page. There’s something primal about creating something from a spark of an idea and nothing more, crafting a world full of characters and places that seem to live and breathe, that readers want to experience over and over. It’s surreal, too, and it’s something I never would have pictured being able to do for a living even just a few years back. Continue reading It’s Who I Am: Fantasy Author Tim Marquitz Geeks Out About Writing

Geek Speaks… Coloring Books! With Natalie Zaman and Wendy Martin

This week’s post is from GeekMom writer Natalie Zaman, who is also a writer of fantastical fiction and magical non-fiction. She’s joined by her co-author, illustrator Wendy Martin and they’re going to talk about their process in creating their project, the Totem Animal Mandala Coloring Book with Reflections for Relaxation:

Nat says…

I’ve always loved Wendy Martin’s work. I’ve watched it evolve from her Pagan-themed picture books (portraying character diversity in age, size, and ethnicity—check out Smoky and the Feast of Mabon penned by New York Times Bestselling author Cathrynne M. Valente) to wickedly detailed Art Nouveau single illustrations. Plus, we’re pals, so I was excited as well as intrigued when she suggested we do a project together.

Smoky and the Feast of Mabon tells the story of a little girl's magical Autumnal Equinox adventure.
Smoky and the Feast of Mabon tells the story of a little girl’s magical Autumnal Equinox adventure.

Sales of her ABCs of Lesser Known Goddesses coloring book had seen a surge with the adult coloring book trend. I know there are tons of coloring books on the market now, but for me, coloring has always been a “thing.” When I was teaching, I used Dover’s Cathedral Stained Glass Windows coloring book as supplemental material for the Renaissance unit that was part of the high school curriculum. Coloring unleashes creativity. It’s comforting because anyone can do it. With these pages, we turned our classroom into a cathedral, and the activity helped my students get comfortable with the period, and as a result, the poetry and plays we read seemed a little less daunting. Continue reading Geek Speaks… Coloring Books! With Natalie Zaman and Wendy Martin

Lois & Clark Rule This Week in DC

This is an odd week for DC. First, an alternate universe story featuring classic Lois & Clark is our favorite, Frank Miller seems to have a more hopeful view of superheroes than many of DC’s current comics, Neal Adams goes back to 1970s style storytelling and the big Darkseid War saga is falling flat, even for Ray, who loves his Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern.

Perhaps some of it is the creative teams being shuffled before DC goes into its Rebirth event. We don’t know that much as this event, save for the continued statements that it’s a not a reboot. Methinks DC doth protest too much?

In any case, pick up Superman: Lois & Clark. You won’t be sorry.

Superman: Lois and Clark #5 – Dan Jurgens, writer, Neil Edwards, penciller, Scott Hanna and Edwards, inkers. 

Ray: 9/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Love This Couple.

Ray: This is Superman. This is the purest Superman comic I’ve seen since the Johns/Frank run, and it does an amazing job of reminding everyone who reads it exactly why this guy is DC’s greatest hero.

So why didn’t it catch on? I blame Convergence, the “AU stigma” of the book not really mattering (although that certainly didn’t hurt Spider-Gwen), and the relative lack of hype. Well, let’s just hope that this is simply a low-selling teaser for a big presence for the real Superman in Rebirth. This issue continues its interesting format of showing us both snapshots of the older Superman’s early days on this world, as well as his adventures in the present day. A segment where he watches this world’s Batman (who is still beginning his career) and rescues him from a dangerous situation without ever being seen is great for people who like these two heroes acting like friends and respecting each other, rather than being at each other’s throats.

As always, every scene involving Clark and Lois and their relationship is top-notch and makes me hopeful that DC will realize this is the only relationship Superman fans really want to see. In the present day, Blanque and his unwilling partner Hank Henshaw continue to hunt Superman, but make the mistake of taking the fight to Lois and Jon – something that Superman will not tolerate. After defeating Blanque, we see a nice display of Superman’s compassion – both towards Henshaw and some of his other residents in his fortress. And the last issue brings a big but sort of expected status quo change for the family. This reminds me a lot of the weekly Superman era, much of which was by Jurgens, and that’s an excellent model to build on. I hope Jurgens gets a shot on Action Comics come Rebirth. Shouldn’t it be vintage Superman who crosses that 1K barrier?

Corrina: How do you write Superman? Like this! Just like this. Quick, someone shove these comics into Zach Snyder’s hands. Okay, that’s probably not going to happen but could we force the Superman Group Editor for DC comics to admit that this is the kind of Superman that works, not that crazy-angsty hero over in the other books? I would say maybe it’s just old-school me but it’s not like the regular Superman titles have been setting the sales world on fire. Continue reading Lois & Clark Rule This Week in DC

Geek Speaks Fiction: On Researching Prosthetics

Lizbeth Selvig lives in Minnesota with her best friend (aka her husband), and a gray Arabian gelding. After working as a newspaper journalist and magazine editor, and raising an equine veterinarian daughter and a talented musician son, she won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® Contest in 2010 with her contemporary romance The Rancher and the Rock Star. In her spare time, she loves to hike, quilt, read, horseback ride, and spend time with her new granddaughter. She also has four-legged grandchildren—more than twenty—including a wallaby, two alpacas, a donkey, a pig, a sugar glider, and many dogs, cats, and horses (pics of all appear on her website www.lizbethselvig.com). She loves connecting with readers—contact her any time!

Geeking Out on Prosthetic Legs

Hi, GeekMom readers! I’m so honored to be here today—this is such an amazing, smart blog site, and I thank you so much for inviting me to be part of it.

I’d like to start by admitting that I know how unromantic the title for my guest post sounds—especially when I’m here to talk about a romance novel! But when I was working on my newest book, The Bride Wore Starlight, I understood I was trying to write a love story built around a difficult and generally un-romantic subject: the loss of a limb. I knew, too, that I had to get my research right or risk writing a story about a hero that was, at best, cliché and, at worst, insulting. Naturally, I didn’t want either to happen.

The Bride Wore Starlight is about two people dealing with both emotional and physical wounds: Joely Crockett, a former beauty queen, who has recently been injured in a serious car accident, leaving her permanently lame and scarred, and Alec Morrissey, a former rodeo champion who lost a leg in Iraq.

Lizbeth Selvig, image copyright LIzbeth Selvig.
Lizbeth Selvig, image copyright LIzbeth Selvig.

Although the issues they face are difficult, the book is not too serious and definitely not sad! In fact, some of the things I discovered while researching for Alec, especially, were not depressing but quite uplifting and led to some fun in the story.

But I did have to start from ground zero when it came to writing about a hero who was missing his leg from just below the knee. Here’s just a little of what I learned. Continue reading Geek Speaks Fiction: On Researching Prosthetics

This Week in DC: Harley Quinn and the Joker Have It Out

This week in DC Comics, Harley and the Joker have an epic throwdown, Martian Manhunter turns into a giant Earth-saving machine, the Secret Six and Batgirl make nice, there’s another installment of Max Landis’ origin of Superman and Doctor Fate goes topical.

Which ones should you buy? Read on to find out!

Secret Six #11, writer, Gail Simone, artists, Dale Eaglesham and Tom Derenick

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Most. Fun. Dysfunctional Family Ever.

Ray: This is a breather issue in a lot of ways after the big magic-based arc that just wrapped, but in many ways it feels just as significant – and even better – than any of those issues. Because there’s nothing more enjoyable than watching this weird band of misfits interact and become a bizarre family. We’ve got Porcelain and Strix arranging a trade of skills, as Strix tries to teach Porcelain to fight (in a scene that reminds me a lot of Cass and Steph’s old “training sessions” that lasted a few seconds) and Porcelain gives Strix a makeover. This is the first time we get to see Strix without her bandages, and much like Damage in the last Justice Society of America run, the truth under the mask is far less horrific than what was hinted by the time of the unveiling. She’s got scars, but the structure of her face is far more intact than I assumed. Meanwhile, Ralph/Big Shot gets a phone call from Sue, claiming she’s starting to remember and asking to come home. I’m hoping this is genuine, but this book tends to be twisty, so who knows. The makeover scene is sort of sweet, but as usual, Ventriloquist is the spanner in the works, convincing Strix that she should be proud of her scars. Continue reading This Week in DC: Harley Quinn and the Joker Have It Out

DC This Week: Bruce (Batman) Wayne is Back

It was an excellent week for female heroes at DC, with new issues of The Legend of Wonder Woman, the best thing to happen to the character in years, a new issue of DC Comics Bombshells, and a team-up story with Vixen and Black Canary that delves into Canary’s past and the mystery surrounding her missing mother.

Oh, yeah, and this guy named Bruce Wayne took back the mantle of Batman. Plus, Constantine continues to be a magnificent bastard and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have fun in the Batcave.

As always, we review all the DC titles published this week. I’ve put them in order my preference, rather than Ray’s ratings, so you may note that I’ve pushed the latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal down a bit. Mind-controlled teammate fights are not my thing.

The Legend of Wonder Woman #2, creators: Renae De Liz and Ray Dillion

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Fantastic Story.

Ray: This reinvention of the Wonder Woman origin continues to be the best thing to happen to the character in years. It’s two oversized issues in, and we’re still on Themysrica, which is very refreshing. I’ve never seen more than a few pages devoted to the formative years of Diana’s character.

That’s not to say there’s not a lot of action and suspense in this issue, though. The first segment focuses on a young Diana’s training with the mercurial Aclippe, as Diana struggles under her teacher and demands to know where Aclippe’s hostility comes from. The answer lifts the curtain on a lot of the political intrigue in Themysrica, something that only continues after a time jump. Diana is about eighteen in the second segment, and danger is starting to build as forces begin to plot against Queen Hippolyta. Antiope and Melanippe, the high priestesses of Ares and Hades, are planning to oust the Queen in their favor, and make for compelling new villains – something Diana is very much in need of.

As Hippolyta faces this uprising, she prepares Diana for the possibility that she may need to step up as queen – something that will include petitioning the Gods for infinite life. The arrival of Steve Trevor on the island only complicates things, and gives the evil Antiope her opening to put Aclippe in a coma and move her plan to depose Hippolyta up. The classic elements of Diana’s origin are starting to slip in, but unlike so many other origin retellings, I don’t feel like I know where things are going. Highly recommended.

Corrina: Absolutely agreed, this is the Diana that Wonder Woman fans have been wanting for years. Now, I can only cross my fingers that it sells. However, while De Liz’s story is obviously original, I see echoes of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman: The Circle arc in some of the concepts, especially that of Amazons who resent Diana’s creation. But the best part of both stories is, like The Circle, it focuses on individual Amazons, instead of making them some faceless horde behind Queen Hippolyta. Continue reading DC This Week: Bruce (Batman) Wayne is Back

DC Comics: Buy ‘Midnighter’ Before He’s Gone

This week in DC Comics, we might be seeing the last gasp of a few titles. In some case, like Batman Beyond, it’s not a huge loss, but in other cases, such as Midnighter, it’s a damn shame. But Suicide Squad fans, here’s your chance to check out Midnighter with an issue that shows how unique this run has been.

What else should you grab? If you like horror, Swamp Thing. Batgirl fans, the new issue is out and Black Canary’s back. Fans of Scott Snyder’s run on Batman should check out Batman & Robin Eternal, as there are major doings with Harper Row. But Ray and I won’t limit ourselves to just those comics. We read them all.


Swamp Thing #2, Len Wein, writer, Kelley Jones, illustrator

Ray: 8.5/10

Corrina: Great Start Especially For Swamp Thing Newbies

Ray: I was a bit disappointed with the first issue of the relaunch, since it seemed to pull back all the development the character’s world went through in the previous series and set him back to the lone monster he used to be. Fortunately, this issue makes it clear that the goal is to pull Swamp Thing back into the sphere of the dark, supernatural characters in the DCU. When we last left off, Swamp Thing had been ripped in two by a rampaging zombie, a vengeful victim of a resurrection experiment gone wrong. Continue reading DC Comics: Buy ‘Midnighter’ Before He’s Gone

Shoebox Time Machine: Jeff Salyards Geeks Out About the Past

This week I invited epic fantasy/grimdark author Jeff Salyards to GeekMom to tell us what made him geek out while he was writing his Bloodsounder’s Arc series. The third book of the series, Chains of the Heretic, is out today in e-book (it can be found in hardcover on 2/9/2016)!

I’ve been a knucklehead my whole life (or “assclown,” if I’m being less charitable to myself). I still have the occasional outburst or episode now and then, as anyone who knows me even remotely well will testify, but back in my teens and twenties, I did ridiculously dumb things on a routine basis. Sometimes hourly. Continue reading Shoebox Time Machine: Jeff Salyards Geeks Out About the Past

Custom Made Disease: Geeking Out About Mutants With William C. Dietz

This week, New York Times bestselling science fiction author William C. Dietz joins us to tell us about what made him geek out while writing his Mutant Files trilogy!

Image: Ace/Roc Books
Image: Ace/Roc Books

Geeking Out is a natural part of writing science fiction, and vice versa. So when I wrote Graveyard, which is the third volume in the Mutant Files trilogy, I was in the full-on geek mode.

The book’s main character is a Los Angeles police detective named Cassandra Lee. The story takes place in 2069, a time when the entire world had been divided up into a patchwork quilt of green zones (where the norms live,) and red zones (where the mutants live.)

That’s the McGuffin, and to justify it I knew that it would be necessary to get some science on. The mutants had to come from somewhere, right? Continue reading Custom Made Disease: Geeking Out About Mutants With William C. Dietz

Poison Ivy: Plant, Human Or Something Else?

Last week, I talked about some of the books that star the lesser-known DC characters need more love. That’s even more evident this week, as Martian Manhunter, Titans Hunt, Poison Ivy, Secret Six and Doctor Fate come out this week with good issues. Yet Ivy is only a miniseries, Doctor Fate’s sales have bottomed out and the rest aren’t doing the sales that their quality indicates they should.

Then I read that the seventh issue of my fangirl favorite, Titans Hunt, will be written by Scott Lobdell, who wrote the awful Doomed and made a mess of the regular Teen Titans title. Worse, it appears the book will be ending the month after. Nooo…..

Which brings me to why readers may not be buying these quality books: if their cancelation is inevitable, why get invested in these characters? A cynical way to look at it but given that DC has a habit of using its lesser-known characters as cannon fodder in crossovers, understandable. But, I have to say, ya’ll are missing great stories.

As always, I’m joined in the recaps by Ray Goldfied, where we have a serious disagreement about an issue of Batman that includes a big turning point in the life of the new Bruce Wayne.

Happy comic reading!

Page 4 of Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics
Page 4 of Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #1, written by Amy Chu, pencils by Clay Mann, inks by Seth Mann

Ray: 8/10

Corrina: Everyone loves the Joker most of Batman’s villains but I’ve always the female antagonists more interesting, starting with Catwoman. However, Poison Ivy is in a class by herself, a villain motivated not by money or power but by scientific curiosity and her strange ability to commune with plants. She’s creepy and I had no idea if she would make a good protagonist. But she does, mainly because all her many facets are on display in this book, from her fascination with science to her boredom with humanity and, even, surprisingly, her relationship with Harley Quinn.

I’d not expected I’d be so intrigued but I am. That bodes well for this miniseries.

Ray: I’m a sucker for stories about villains trying to turn over a new leaf. They can be dark, like Magneto’s accounting for his violent past in Cullen Bunn’s run, or lighthearted like Riddler’s Detective agency in Paul Dini’s books. This new Poison Ivy miniseries seems to fall right in the middle of that spectrum, and delivers an entertaining story in the process. When we open, Ivy and a friend of hers are in Africa to obtain a rare specimen of an ancient long-lived plant, only to be accosted by local soldiers. Ivy makes short work of them and the plant returns safely to her new base, the Gotham Botanical Gardens, where she works as a scientist under her mentor, Dr. Luisa Cruz.

Cover to Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics
Cover to Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics

The Gotham Academy kids drop by for a tour, and we see Ivy settling into her new role as a research scientist – until a more noticeable visitor shows up. It’s Harley Quinn, who isn’t quite sure how she feels about her girlfriend’s new direction in life. I felt like anything here involving Harley was probably the weak link. I enjoy their banter and it’s always fun to see them beat up goons together, but the conflict felt very forced. Harley’s done the secret identity/normal job thing in her solo title – in fact, it’s the main thrust of her book – so her questioning of Ivy’s decision to go back to her old line of work was weird. And Ivy throwing Joker in Harley’s face just felt like a way to force a breakup. But Amy Chu has a great voice for Ivy, and does the perfect balance of smart and sinister. The issue ends with a sudden death that sets up an new miniseries involving the mysterious genetically engineered plants that Ivy’s been working on. There’s a few rough edges here, but it feels in line with the stronger work done on Poison Ivy, and I’m glad to see her finally get her spotlight.

Titans Hunt #4, Dan Abnett, writer, Stephen Segovia, pencils, Art Thibert, inks, Scott McDaniel, adult coloring book variant cover.

Corrina: My Titans!

Ray: 7.5/10

Corrina: I can’t separate my inner fangirl from my reviewer self with this one, so..::My Titans, SQUEE:: Continue reading Poison Ivy: Plant, Human Or Something Else?

The DC Comics You Should Be Reading

Each week that we recap the latest offerings from DC Comics, we invariably gush over a B-list book or character that deserves a much wider readership. That’s true this week too, as Constantine: The Hellblazer, Gotham Academy, and Starfire all are given high marks but all except Starfire are at the back of the pack in sales.

In print, Deathstroke‘s ‘meh’ title is selling more than Grayson, DC: Bombshells, Black Canary and We Are Robin. Martian Manhunter, Secret Six, Doctor Fate and Omega Men are bottom sellers. Gotham Academy, one of the freshest and most interesting ideas in the Batman mythos in ages, is selling only 16,000 print copies a week, which boggles my mind.

Either regular DC readers are unwilling to read anything even slightly  different than their basic superhero story, non-DC readers haven’t gotten the word that these non-flagship titles are inventive and fascinating, or people are buying a bunch of them digitally and, hence, the sales aren’t reflected in print.

It could be a combination of all three but I hope it’s the last reason because that means more people than it seems are reading the lower-selling print books. (Comixology.com doesn’t release exact sales numbers.) But, otherwise, some of my favorite books are going to be canceled. No! If you haven’t tried any of the above, please give them a shot.

(These figures are from November 2015, with a few sales figures taken from the October 2015 rundown. Let’s hope, at least, that the Robin War crossover spurred some interest in the lower selling Bat-books.

Now back to our regularly scheduled reviews….

Constantine: The Hellblazer #8 – Ming Doyle & James Tynion IV, writers, Riley Rossmo, finishes and cover, Brian Level, breakdowns

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Buy It!

Ray: This book is absolutely at its best when it’s delving into the dark and creepy underworld of the DCU and balancing it with some twisted humor. When we last left off, Papa Midnite had Constantine’s new flame Oliver held hostage in order to get his attention. Turns out Midnite’s dark magic club has been taken over by some corrupt demons who stole it from under him, and he needs Constantine’s help to get it back. To “motivate” Constantine, he has his Basilisk bite Oliver, necessitating an antidote that can only be found in the Club. Although I don’t particularly like a same-sex rehash of the same old “love interest in peril” spotlight, one scene where Oliver refuses to take the Basilisk’s bait and condemn Constantine was good.

However, the issue really takes off when the two anti-heroes break into the Midnight Club. Rossmo is SO good at creating elaborate, creepy settings, and with Constantine and Midnight under glamours as demons, they’re able to have the run of the place. I loved how Constantine was able to figure out a near-impossible problem using his street-wise guile – the building is built over a non-magical shell, so it’s possible to bypass the dangerous magical traps by…taking the stairs. And on a personal note, I am thrilled to see one of my favorite ’90s villains, the pompadoured demon Neron, back in a major role. This feels like a fascinating horror twist on Ocean’s 11, and I can’t wait to see how the two reluctant allies get out of this. This is one of DC’s most underrated books.

The MIdnight Club, image copyright DC Comics
The MIdnight Club, image copyright DC Comics

Corrina: I spent a good five minutes examining all the artwork in the Midnight Club, hoping to spot easter eggs. Alas, I’m not steeped enough in Constantine’s mythology to have recognized any but I bet there are some in there. The story also, as Ray says, highlights John’s intelligence and outside-the-box thinking. He’s human, he’s sort of a demon, and he belongs in neither place. His disguise as a fun-loving demon with an agenda is a good metaphor for Constantine himself and the beauty of the character is that he knows this himself. Continue reading The DC Comics You Should Be Reading

Swamp Thing Oozes Into a Zombie Mystery in This Week’s DC Comics

Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. As always, Ray Goldfied handles the plot recaps, while I riff on the highlights and lowlights. (Looking for last week? Look here!)

Swamp Thing is back, Hal Jordan and Parallax are both on Earth and Superman in the video game is still evil and now we have the full slate of reviews, including the latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, plus more Bombshells, and a fine detective story for Jim Gordon in the latest issue of Detective. 

Spoilers for all issues. 

Batman and Robin Eternal #14 – James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, James Tynion IV, script, Fernando Blanco and Roger Robinson, art 

Ray: 9/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Finally Sold on the Series

Ray: I know Corrina named this issue as her favorite of the series, and I’m really curious to see why. I’m partial to last week’s Cass-centric issue. That’s not to say this issue isn’t excellent, though. The story is split fairly evenly between flashback segments and present-day segments. In the past, Bruce and Dick take the fight to Scarecrow and Batman dispatches Robin to defuse a bomb on the roof – so he can confront Scarecrow personally. Scarecrow makes an attempt to surrender, saying Mother’s deranged plan to essentially lobotomize a generation of children with intense trauma goes too far, but Batman has other ideas. He agrees to give Scarecrow protective custody only if Scarecrow goes back inside Mother’s organization and reports back to him. It’s pretty clear at this point that Batman’s involvement with Mother is all a deep-cover operation, and any regrets he had are all about not being able to do enough.

Meanwhile, in the present day, Mother has set up the base to terminate with Dick, Harper, Cass, and the evil Orphan inside. Orphan, however, isn’t willing to cooperate to get them all out alive, as he’s still a true believer. Cass’ penchant for self-sacrifice becomes clear as she willingly takes a knife through the hand to protect Harper without flinching, and the bulk of the issue becomes a mad dash to escape an army of killer robot defenses that the lair has set up to take them out. In between the chaos, though, we get some great scenes between Harper and Cass and a fantastic speech by Dick Grayson about why he still has faith in Batman. It’s like Tynion wanted to put all the worries people had about the portrayal of Bruce to rest with this issue. If the person closest to Bruce still believes in him, shouldn’t we? It doesn’t have quite the emotional punch of last issue, but it’s another fantastic installment in one of DC’s best books. I’ve never seen a weekly that maintains this level of quality on all fronts.

Corrina: My fondness for this issues goes to this scene, and full credit to Tynion, because he is great with dialogue.

Dick Grayson, Nightwing
Panel from Batman & Robin Eternal, image via DC Comics.

Continue reading Swamp Thing Oozes Into a Zombie Mystery in This Week’s DC Comics

Women Lead This Week’s DC Comics

Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. As always, Ray Goldfied handles the plot recaps, while I riff on the highlights and lowlights.

It occurs to me that this week’s favorites feature women. Cassandra Cain is spotlighted in Batman and Robin: Eternal, Lois is the co-lead in Superman: Lois & Clark, and Black Canary, of course. Sadly, Superman/Wonder Woman and the Wonder Woman title suffer by comparison. On the good side, Plastic Man gets an excellent story that highlights just how dangerous he can be.


Note: We’ve updated the list to include Omega Men, Doctor Fate, Harley Quinn/Power Girl, and Superman/Wonder Woman.

The Omega Men #7 – written by Tom King, art by Barnaby Bagenda

Ray: 8.5/10

Corrina: I remain a staunch supporter of this inventive series.

Ray: One of the most straight-forward issues of this series, it made me realize there’s a perfect parallel for what this book is trying to be – it’s Star Wars by way of Quentin Tarantino. Less violent than he often is, but that same sort of dirty, suspenseful thriller set against the backdrop of another genre. The world that King and Bagenda create manages to be distinctly alien, but full of familiar things that show that no matter how far the cast travels, some things never change. This issue turns the focus on Kyle Rayner and Princess Kalista, who have formed a tight bond since they both wound up as captives of the Omega Men – with Kyle, of course, not knowing that Kalista is the mastermind of the entire group. I’m a bit iffy on Kyle being seemingly okay with Kalista’s main problem-solving technique being stabbing people to death, but I suppose being a space captive changes your view on things. This issue finds them planning to make an escape from the planet on a smuggler’s vessel, despite being the most wanted faces in the galaxy. After trading a family heirloom of Kyle’s for passage to a shady smuggler (and reminding the audience that Kyle’s latino heritage is still continuity!), they pass through an alien version of the TSA that makes ours look friendly, only for Kyle to be the victim of a rather nasty double-cross by his “team”. Another great issue, and King manages to work in some cool Grayson crossover elements in the process. This book was never going to sell well in this market, but with DC allowing it to reach its conclusion, I suspect it’ll do well in collections for a long time.

Corrina: I’ve always said this should have been an original graphic novel rather than a series because every issue builds perfectly on what has gone before. To describe it as intricate wouldn’t be doing the plot justice. It mixes complicated politics with similarly complicated characters on all sides of this rebellion.

That’s why I disagree with Ray’s comparison to Tarantino. His movies are many things but his characters never feel real to me, only over-the-top people put in over-the-top situations. The Omega Men, despite their alienn-ess, feel all too human. This is basically a look inside a terrorist organization that passes no judgment on their cause but pulls apart their methods.  I’m glad to see the focus spring back to Kyle this issue. We’ll see what he becomes by the end of the series.

Once this is in trade, it’ll be talked about in the same breath as Grant Morrison’s Animal Man and the other inventive, experimental comics that have passed the test of time. Continue reading Women Lead This Week’s DC Comics

DC Bombshells: The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. As always, Ray Goldfied handles the plot recaps, while I riff on the highlights and lowlights.

DC Bombshells is spectacular this week, as is the final issue of Gotham by Midnight, Ray and myself are in love with the Titans Hunt series (the less said of the regular Titans series, the better), The Robin War zooms toward an ending, Bryan Hitch gives us spectacular splash pages in Justice League of America, and Dark Knight III: The Master Race goes in an unexpected direction.

Warning: Total Spoilers for this week’s issues. 

DC Bombshells #7, Marguerite Bennett, writer, Mirka Andolfo, artist.


Corrina: So Much Fun To Read.

Ray: This is a full-length adventure and I can’t say enough about how excellent this book is. It’s not just the best issue of the series, it’s one of the very best single issues DC has put out this year. I don’t know the last time I’ve seen a comic that tackles so many serious issues – many of which are still very relevant today – while remaining a fun, breezy read that’s incredibly accessible to young readers. The issue opens with a Jewish family in Gotham being robbed and evicted by their cruel landlord and his thugs for hiding refugee family members in their apartment. The daughter, Felicity, speaks up – yes, it’s that Felicity Smoak! – but the landlord boasts that he has the law in his pocket – until the team of Harper, Kathy, and Nell show up, in full Batgirl costumes, and give him a much-deserved beating. He calls on a corrupt officer friend of his – who turns out to be the same officer who rounded up Harper and Cullen years ago and dragged Cullen off to an orphanage.

After escaping, this chance encounter leads the girls to plan a break-in at the Orphanage, which has gone from a decent place for kids with nowhere else to go to a mysterious hellhole run by a cruel headmistress. To get in, they recruit a new ally who has history in the place – Alysia Yeoh, who is more than ready to strike back at the place that stole years of her childhood. In the institution, a boy named Tim Drake is starting up a rebellion, as the Headmistress is making the children build war machines which she plans to send abroad to help enemies of the US. One thing that impressed me here is the realistic way this book portrays Nazi sympathizers in the US – most of them didn’t actually see themselves as enemies of the US, but rather as “patriots” who were helping what they saw as the US’ true ally. That sort of twisted disconnect from reality is very accurate and rare to see. Pretty much every character in this issue gets a shining moment, from Bette Kane rising up in her cousin’s absence and using the power of her family name to make a difference, to Cullen Row being the tiniest one there and yet just as brave as everyone else. This issue has Alysia Yeoh finally getting to be the costumed hero she was meant to be in Gail Simone’s original plans, and her energy just lights up every scene she’s in. We get Nell and Kathy, two obscure characters who never really got to shine like they should have, making a perfect team. And Harper. Oh, Harper. Every line out of her mouth is a blast. Even this title’s Tim Drake is more likable than he often is in the main line!

My only quibble? Would have loved to have Steph and Cass added, but there’s still time! By the time I got to the last page of this issue, I was grinning from ear to ear. DC, there needs to be an ongoing title featuring these characters, in the main line in the present day. And it needs to be by this exact creative team. This may only be a one-off story in an alternate universe book, but there’s something special about this issue. This is the Bat-kids book I’ve been wanting to read for years.

Corrina: There’s not much add to Ray’s superlatives because this was an awesome issue from start to finish. This would be a great one-shot issue to give kids to get them into comics. It has the perfect blend of action and dialogue, plus protagonists to love and an antagonist to hate.

This is the perfect stocking stuffer for the kids. Get ’em hooked. Continue reading DC Bombshells: The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

This Week: DC Tackles the Question of Where Robins Come From

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC’s latest releases.

Batman and Robin Eternal and We Are Robin explore the issues around having Robins in the first place as Jason Todd and Tim Drake throw down, while Harley Quinn has no qualms about expanding her army of Harleys for her nefarious? purposes.

Alas, Superman: American Alien fails to live up to the promise of its first issue, while the Darkseid War segment proves confusing, at best, and the Secret Six features Aquaman as the guest-star. In another guest-appearance, Spoiler teams up with Batgirl.

As always, Ray Goldfied handles the plot recaps, while I riff on the highlights and lowlights. Warning: Total Spoilers for this week. 

Secret Six #9 – Gail Simone, writer, artist, Tom Derenick

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Buy It.

Ray: I never knew I wanted a comic where an offbeat gang of anti-heroes traveled the universe awakening elder Gods, but here we are. The fusion of the Secret Six with what’s left of the Dark line was a brilliant move, and has given this already-great title a new burst of energy. Ferdie, usually my least favorite part of the series, manages to get one of the best scenes of the issue as he narrates the opening while Catman and Aquaman fight in the background, as Porcelain eventually lands their killing blow on the pillar, showing how their “brittle” powers work in epic fashion. From there, it’s on to a small New England town straight out of Lovecraft, as the team is after the second pillar and are greeted by a particularly creepy starving child. It seems a shapeless monster that reminds me a lot of Lovecraft’s shoggoths is lurking in the mines. Catman finds a rather hilarious loophole to destroy the pillar and release the creature – while not actually letting him out into the world.

The issue in general has a great balance of action and drama, with such absurdity as Ferdie’s narration and Strix’s choice of attire as they head to the town. And I was definitely pleased to see the phone message Scandal got from her wives. However, the heart of the issue is in Black Alice’s segments. While Ragdoll and Scandal watch over her, her powers continue to spiral out of control and summon all sorts of monsters. Eventually, she comes to a grim decision, putting Scandal in an uncomfortable position. I doubt the book will go through with it, but this is still some seriously dark territory to go into with a young character. No slowdown here, and as a fan of cosmic horror, I am enjoying the hell out of this arc.

Corrina: Simone seems to have all the DC characters she wants for use in this story or, at least the ones that fans of the series will be happy to see. I know there had to have been a few happy moments among readers as Scandal’s wives were definitely placed in continuity.

I love the touch this series has on characters, even in brief appearances like Aquaman. I’m even warming to Black Alice, who I’ve never enjoyed much. About the only negative thing I have to say is that Catman’s trick on the monster seemed a bit too convenient to actually work. But that’s a minor niggle. Continue reading This Week: DC Tackles the Question of Where Robins Come From

Ninja Turtles and the Robin War Make Gotham the Place to Be This Week

Note: This article has been updated with reviews of Constantine the Hellblazer, Starfire (featuring Dick Grayson), Catwoman’s first issue with a new creative team, and some Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover goodness. c

Welcome to our recaps of this week’s DC Comics. Ray Goldfied is our resident prototypical DC Comics reader, while I pick and choose among my favorites and whatever quality story grabs me from week to week.

This week, as the title suggests, Gotham as the place to be. The Robin War goes down as the police get the upper hand in a series of issues that were an improvement (at least to me) from the beginning of this crossover event. Then the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hide out in Gotham’s sewers, still ordering pizza, while trying to stop the bad guys and get home.

Plus, more DC Comics Bombshells!

Batman and Robin Eternal #10 – James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, script, Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges, art.

Ray: 8.5/10

Corrina: Buy It.

Ray: Without missing a beat, this issue continues the story of Jason and Tim’s mission in Santa Prisca, in the Church of St. Dumas, as they come face to face with the new incarnation of fan favorite Azrael. Surrounded by powerful goons who can terminate their technology, Jason and Tim struggle to hold their own against the evil Priests while their temporary ally Bane goes up against Azrael – and quickly gets dismantled, his Venom strain severed before he is subject to Azrael’s strange brainwashing power that gives him a painful form of clarity.

Jason and Tim escape and dig into the Church’s computer history, finding the records of Jean-Paul Valley, one of Mother’s children who is now Azrael. Before they can decide on a plan, Azrael attacks, and Azrael gets the drop on Tim, subjecting him to the same form of brainwashing. This is a weird acid-trip of a segment, with bizarre visuals that leave Tim nearly catatonic and rambling about how they failed Bruce.

Continue reading Ninja Turtles and the Robin War Make Gotham the Place to Be This Week

Eric Smith Geeks Out On Video Games, YA Romance, and Steampunk

Welcome to our weekly Geek Speaks..Fiction series where authors talk about the geekdoms that inspired them.

You could call Eric Smith a renaissance man — for his interests run the gamut from corgi fashion, photography, music and teaching — but really, Eric’s more of a millennium man, for his dedication to supporting others at the Philly Geek Awards, as a literary agent, and in the on-point nature of his literary achievements. Eric’s here to talk about what he geeked on while writing Inked, his first novel* (and Eric recently announced there will be a sequel!).

Hi there GeekMom! Thanks for having me.

So Inked is the first book in my little fantasy series for Bloomsbury’s digital imprint, Bloomsbury Spark. The second novel, currently titled Inked: Rise of the Unprinted (likely to change!) will be out in May of 2016. You can add that one on the ol’ Goodreads, to keep in the loop about it.

The short pitch? Inked takes place in a fantasy realm where teenagers are given magical tattoos that tell the world what they will do for the rest of their lives. And as a young teen named Caenum and his friends unravel the secrets behind the practice, the ruling powers of their realm come after them.

There’s a lot of magic and mayhem, complicated friendships and awkward romance… all the stuff we experienced as kids, just maybe minus the magic powers stuff.

What was I geeking out over while writing Inked? A lot of things.

Continue reading Eric Smith Geeks Out On Video Games, YA Romance, and Steampunk

We’re Thankful for ‘Lois & Clark’, Bat-kids & ‘The Omega Men’ This Week

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comics’ latest releases. Ray Goldfield is the proto-typical DC reader, while I’m the lapsed DC reader who needs to be pulled back in.

This week, when the stories were good, they were excellent but when they were bad, they were awful. The Batman line, of course, remains strong, but The Omega Men and DC Bombshells pull their weight. And we split on book of the week, with Ray going for Robin, Son of Batman while Superman: Lois & Clark is my favorite.

As for the worst, it’s good that Superman has the book mentioned above and that Wonder Woman has DC Bombshells because and the less said about their regular weekly books, the better.

Oh, and yet another sequel to the great Dark Night Returns came out. How doe sit stack up to the original? See below.

Robin, Son of Batman #6 – Patrick Gleason, script and pencils, Mick Gray and Tom Nguyen, inks,

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Not Book of the Week For Me But I Still Recommend It for the ‘Aww..”

Ray: The end of the first arc, before Damian heads back to Gotham to take part in the upcoming Robin War (which gets teased in another book this week as well). Surprisingly, the arrival of new Big Bad Den Darga actually takes a backseat this issue, with the villain fleeing to put his plan into motion, and the focus being on Damian and his odd supporting cast.

The opening segment shows one of Damian’s missions in the Year of Blood, which leads to him slaughtering a colony of Man-Bats. However, one young Man-Bat (who is sure to get all the fan art on Tumblr) survives, and Damian can’t bring himself to kill it. So he takes it back to his mother and gets approval to keep it as a warrior companion. It grows up into Goliath, natch. The powerful heart of the issue, though, is in Damian’s reunion with his mother now that they actually have time to talk. Continue reading We’re Thankful for ‘Lois & Clark’, Bat-kids & ‘The Omega Men’ This Week

Martian Manhunter Destroys Earth & The Secret Six Take on Aquaman in DC This Week

Welcome to our recaps of DC Comics’ latest issues. Ray is the prototypical DC fan. It takes a great deal for him to give up on a title. I’m the one who tends to have the quick hook, especially for titles are are just ‘meh.’

This week, the Bat-kids keep chugging along in Batman and Robin Eternal, the Secret Six get wet in a terrific issue featuring Aquaman, Martian Manhunter‘s many selves argue with each other about saving the Earth in a great whacked-out story, and the original Teen Titans try to get back together in Titans Hunt.

On the bad side, the title character of the Telos gets the most random origin ever, the aptly-named Doomed closes its run, and Jimmy Olsen gives in to the Dark Side in Earth-2 Society.

Batman and Robin Eternal #7 – James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Genevieve Valentine, script, Alvaro Martinez, pencils, Raul Fernandez, inks

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Buy the Series.

Ray: I was waiting for this series – which has been consistently strong since it started – to truly wow me with an issue. Valentine’s first issue as the script writer does just that as it turns the spotlight on Cassandra Cain and Harper Row and their growing friendship. The team is a bit splintered, as Tim Drake has gone off the grid and is following his own leads – accompanied by Jason Todd, who tries to get the young genius Bat to open up about his issues with Dick and Bruce in his own snarky fashion. I’ve really enjoyed the interaction with these two in this series, even though it’s a pretty clear indication that we’re wiping out their previous hostility.  The flashback segments continue to show us how Bruce got closer and closer to Mother in the past, but they’re brief.

The meat of the issue is in Harper and Cass’ undercover mission for Dick. Continue reading Martian Manhunter Destroys Earth & The Secret Six Take on Aquaman in DC This Week

Gremlins Galore! Geeking Out About Hideously Adorable Sidekicks

Magic, mystery, and romance are three things readers can expect in Beth Cato‘s steampunk fantasy adventure, The Clockwork Dagger. But what might not be obvious from the book’s description is that behind the airships and spies, there is another force at play: that of a race of little…well…read what their creator, Beth Cato, has to say about them! I’m very glad to know I’m not the only one who has a soft spot for little green “hideously adorably” critters!

I geek out over the gremlins in my Clockwork Dagger series. One of the amazing things about being a published author is that readers geek out over my gremlins, too. That made it all the more exciting to write a novella in my book universe that is all about these hideously adorable chimeras.

My gremlins are like green-skinned furless cats with bat wings. They are creatures melded out of magic and science, very steampunk stuff, and cobbled together from bits of other living animals. Most of them can’t speak with words, though they comprehend human speech and mew, purr, and use other means to make their opinions known. Continue reading Gremlins Galore! Geeking Out About Hideously Adorable Sidekicks

‘Secret Six’ Goes Mystical In an Excellent Overall Week From DC

Cover to Secret Six #7, image copyright DC Comics
Cover to Secret Six #7, image copyright DC Comics

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comic’s new releases. Ray is the prototypical DC reader and I’m the agnostic, lapsed DC fan.

When this week was good, as with Secret Six, Titans Hunt, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Gotham Academy, Batman & Robin Eternal, Doctor Fate and Justice League, it was very good. Also excellent was Clean Room #1 by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt, the new Vertigo mature readers comic, and that earned a bonus review at the end of this column.

When it was bad, well, it was awful. Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman hit new lows. Continue reading ‘Secret Six’ Goes Mystical In an Excellent Overall Week From DC

The Bat-Crew Is Back Together, Including Cassandra Cain

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comic’s new releases. Ray is the committed DC reader and Corrina is the somewhat lapsed DC fan.

This week sees the debut of Batman & Robin Eternal which also features the return of a fan favorite character, another chapter in the complicated and intense Omega Men story, the continued adventures of that crazy couple, Midnighter and Grayson, and indie legend Carla “Speed” McNeil delivers a fine Wonder Woman story in Sensation Comics.

Batman & Robin Eternal #1 — James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder, story, James Tynion IV, script, Tony Daniel, pencils, Sandu Florea, inks

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Buy It (But I have reservations)

Ray: The second act of the greatest DC comics weekly ever begins here, and it does not disappoint. With a new creative squad in place and once again headlined by Tynion and overseen by Snyder, all the pieces are in place for another runaway hit. While the issue does push some buttons that might upset people, it’s been very clear with Eternal that things are rarely what they seem, and in terms of character, the Bat-family is rarely done better.

Continue reading The Bat-Crew Is Back Together, Including Cassandra Cain

Laura Anne Gilman Geeks Out on Muppets, X-Files & Leverage

Welcome to our weekly Geek Speaks..Fiction series where authors talk about the geekdoms that inspired them.

Our guest today, Laura Anne Gilman is the author of nearly twenty books, including the Nebula award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy.  Her next book project, SILVER ON THE ROAD, is the first in the Devil’s West series from Saga / Simon & Schuster.

I am a child of fandom. Be it the Muppets or Star Wars (my childhood favorites), or X-Files, (my first “adult” fandoms), I’ve been one of the quiet but dedicated fans, who may not wear my heart as cosplay, but was cheering those cosplayers along.

You will never hear me saying “oh, I don’t watch tv.” I think television has been one of the greatest storytelling devices of our lifetime, up there with the commercial printing press and digitally-adjustable font sizes. Is there crap out there? Absolutely. But theres also genius.

And when I look at my own work, I can see their influence, from the very earliest to the most current productions.

  1. The Muppets. There is nothing about the Muppets that I do not still geek over, from the opening number to the guest stars, to the way their scripts managed to remain true to the ‘reality’ of their lives without ever losing the madcap glee of being a muppet. It was my first real experience with an ensemble cast, seeing how disparate stories interweave and overlap, without ever getting tangled. I learned how to snark from Statler and Waldorf – the fine and surprisingly delicate art of cutting without drawing actual blood – and how to love characters that are utterly self-absorbed from Miss Piggy and Fozzie, each in their own delightful way. Farron, the east wind magician in SILVER ON THE ROAD, inherited those balances, and his interactions with Gabriel carry the same real “on the same team but not friends” vibe that the Muppet Show brought out, every single week.

Continue reading Laura Anne Gilman Geeks Out on Muppets, X-Files & Leverage

Rape by Deception in ‘Aquaman #44’ is Poorly Handled

Welcome to our recap of this week’s DC Comics releases. Ray is the seasoned DC fan, I’m the more cycnical and lapsed DC reader.

We usually focus first on our favorite issue of the week, and work our way down from there but we’re making an exception today. There was one comic with such a problematic plot element, a rape by deception, that we have to start there.

Sorry, Batman Annual #4, our book of the week, and Grayson Annual #2 with your team-up with Superman. We’ll get to you after.

Aquaman #44 – Cullen Bunn, writer, Alec Morgan, layouts, Art Thibert and Jesus Merino, finishes
Ray: 3/10
Corrina: There’s bad writing and then there’s problematic writing. This is both. Continue reading Rape by Deception in ‘Aquaman #44’ is Poorly Handled

Geekomancer: You’ll Totally Want This Power

Michael R. Underwood (aka: Mike) has traveled the world, knows why Tybalt cancels out Capo Ferro, and rolls a mean d20. He was raised in no small part at his local hobby game store, and he spent so much time helping out they eventually had to put him on staff.

He is the author the several series: the comedic fantasy Ree Reyes series (Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the Geek, Hexomancy), fantasy superhero novel Shield and Crocus, supernatural thriller The Younger Gods, and the forthcoming Genrenauts, a science fiction series in novellas. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books.

Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiancée and their ever-growing library. In his rapidly-vanishing free time, he plays video games, geeks out on TV, and makes pizzas from scratch. He is a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. Visit him at michaelrunderwood.com and on Twitter.

Last year, Fran had me on GeekMom for a special Cooking The Books/GeekMom crossover, where I talked about Attack the Geek, a novella in the Ree Reyes world. Now I’m very happy to talk about Hexomancy, which follows directly after the events of the novella.

cover courtesy Mike Underwood
cover courtesy Mike Underwood

The Ree Reyes series is about geeking out – Ree, the lead, is a Geekomancer, which means that when she geeks out, she can do extraordinary things – watching a favorite film or TV show lets her emulate the power of its heroes (watch The Matrix and do wire-fu, watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier and get Cap’s strength and speed, as well as a dose of old-timey righteousness), channeling the collective nostalgia for props to bring them to life (while emulating Captain America, she uses a prop shield and it comes to life as an actual vibranium shield), or using collectible cards like spell scrolls – tearing up a Green Lantern card to make a one-shot lantern construct to help her while chasing an enemy. Continue reading Geekomancer: You’ll Totally Want This Power

‘We Are Robin’–An Inventive and Unique View of Gotham

Welcome to our weekly recap of Wednesday DC comics issues. Ray is the long-time DC reader and fan, while I’m the lapsed and more cynical reader. This week, we enjoyed all of the offerings that include a Batman connection, particularly We Are Robin and Gotham by Midnight, Batman ’66 and Scooby Doo Team-Up. The last two make great use of Batman history.

However, best to avoid the titles featuring villains and Flash is becoming a serious disappointment.

We Are Robin #4 – writer, Lee Bermejo, penciller, James Harvey, insks, James Harvey with Diana Egea.

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Buy It.

We are Robin #4 splash page
We are Robin #4 splash page, copyright DC Comics

Ray: I’ve been loving this title since the start, but my one complaint is that we were introduced to a big group of original characters right out of the gate without any real setup, making several of the teen heroes besides Duke blank slates. We even lost one, Troy, without knowing much about him.

Fortunately, after last issue’s shocker, this title slows down and gives us a done-in-one focused on the first of our new heroes, Riko Sheridan. This issue takes place in the immediate aftermath of Troy’s death, and deals with the fallout not just among their inner circle, but in the world of social media surrounding them. Guest artist James Harvey gives this issue a distinctly manga-esque vibe, managing to seamlessly blend Riko’s excitable inner fantasy life with the mundane reality around her. We learn a bit more about her personal and family life, as well as what led her to decide to join the Robins. Halfway through the issue, we shift to Riko going on a solo mission on the roofs of Gotham, and it soon becomes clear that she’s very much a rookie. Continue reading ‘We Are Robin’–An Inventive and Unique View of Gotham

Measuring FTL Travel For Fictional Worlds

SF, space opera, SF romance
cover copyright Christie Meierz

Welcome to our weekly guest blog for science fiction authors, Geek Speaks…Fiction, where writers geek out about what makes them happy.

Space opera fans, we’ve got a treat for you this week! Christie Meierz is the award winning, best selling author of the Tolari Cycle, novels of intrigue, suspense, and romance set in the future amongst the stars. Today, she joins us to tell us what made her geek out while writing her new release, Farryn’s War, the first book in a new series!

She will also be hosting a Facebook release party for Farryn’s War on Thursday, September 24. GeekMoms Corrina Lawson and Fran Wilde will be guests, and books and other prizes will be up for grabs. 

I’ve been an astronomy geek since the age of seven, when my mother bought a coffee table book on astronomy with a big color picture of the Orion nebula on the dust jacket. I picked it up for the pictures… and stayed for the math. I had just learned multiplication and division, and somehow never learned that girls aren’t supposed to be good at math. I spent a very happy afternoon working out the distances from the sun to each of the planets. In light-minutes. And light-hours.

Continue reading Measuring FTL Travel For Fictional Worlds