Short Story Review: “Dr. Death vs. the Vampire” by Aaron Schutz

3 of 5 stars.

This rather quixotic tale has superheroes-who-aren’t-superheroes pitted against vampires-who-aren’t-vampires. Either the narrator, Dr. Death, is a hero in wanting to rid the world of faux-vampires or he’s a psychopath. His friends seem to think he’s a bit of both.

Dr. Death’s superpower is the ability to really feel what others are feeling, both bodily and emotionally. Call it super-empathy. He has a morally questionable habit of killing those who he deems beyond saving from their own internal suffering. One could consider this assisted suicide if the victim was actually asking for help or relief, but there’s no indication that they do.

Vampires, in this world, are not bloodsuckers. They’re parasites of a different nature, feeding off of the emotional pain of others. They both keep the victims alive and in a constant state of suffering. Really, the superhero and the vampire clash in being 2 sides of the same coin . . .

This tale appears in the anthology, Superheroes edited by Rich Horton.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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Short Story Review: “The Biggest” by James Patrick Kelly

3 of 5 stars.

Equal parts American tall tale and period piece urban fantasy, this tale revisits depression era New York City in the days after an unnamed King Kong has fallen dead to the pavement below the Empire State Building. A rube from upstate with an extraordinary talent, ie superpower, makes his way to the big city to make a name for himself on the right side of the law.

The inclusion of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a character during his pre-presidential governorship at the time of his dedicating the Washington Bridge is especially nice.

The tale leaves the hero shy of a true self-exploration making it feel more like a tall tale than a superhero tale as may have been intended.

This tale appears in the anthology, Superheroes edited by Rich Horton. I’ve previously read this author’s “Someday”.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: Suspension

From the tiers of the river,
      a floe of fog shears
Chicago’s drifting citadels—

their buoyant bulk hovers
      like oscillating droplets
amid eddying vapors overflowing

the locks of the man-hewn Hennepin.
      Like Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge,
a smudged tint in suspended mist

on the opposite bank,
      my parents’ place, gains definition
as I silently slide away.
 
 
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Graphic Novel Review: Descender, Volume 3: Singularities by Jeff Lemire

Descender, Volume Three: SingularitiesDescender, Volume Three: Singularities by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This fully realized sci-fi space drama beautifully realized by artist Dustin Nguyen cashes in on all of its previously offered potential with this excellent third installment. The first two volumes of this series centered on a 9-planet star system rife with humans and aliens 10 years after an unnatural apocalyptic event wasted large portions of the planets and populations. In that short-lived but huge event, planet-sized robots called Harvesters laid waste to carbon lifeforms. In its aftermath, the survivors declared genocide on all robots working and living within their interplanetary collective despite the lack of evidence that Harvesters and the system’s robots had any connection.

The story centers on a naive, pre-teenaged companion bot named Tim-22 that survived for the 10 years in a sleeplike charging state on an outer mining moon while the populous was evacuated during a poisonous gas leak. His human “brother,” Andy, evacuated, while his mother died on the moon. Tim-22 is wanted by both robot scrappers and the government for his potential link to the decade-old event.

The episode takes a smart step to the side. The component stories each tell the 10 year back story of many of the filler characters, and it’s fascinating. One could sense the richness of the world and its development beforehand, but now it’s laid out clearly and many characters have stepped up from being mere fillers. Expect the story to proceed forward again when the 4th installment comes out.

This series is highly recommended.

I’ve previously read and reviewed:
     Descender, Volume 1: Tin Stars–4 stars
     Descender, Volume 2: Machine Moon–4 stars
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Short Story Review: “Wild Card” by Leah Bobet

3 of 5 stars.

Operating like a police procedural, this tale follows a highly specialized crime-busting team that handles especially hard to crack cases, like those involving supervillians. Superheros and supervillians exist–some even have true powers called gamma powers.

This case takes the team out to Chicago where a gamma-able supervillian enacts his origin story as a copycat to The Joker. The media and superheros are quick to dub the clown-makeup wearing bank robber, The Alchemist.

This enjoyable tale feels very strongly like an episode of Bones or Castle. The strength is in the group dynamic and the comfortable repartee of the team.

This tale appears in the anthology, Superheroes edited by Rich Horton.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Novel Review: Incorruptible by J. B. Garner

Incorruptible (The Push Chronicles #3)Incorruptible by J.B. Garner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The urban fantasy series with the heart, soul and humor of a self-aware comic book concludes appropriately and true to itself. Wishes became reality under the warped plan of an unsure, mad scientist in the series opener. At his mind’s bidding, superheroes and supervillians [“Pushed” and “Pushcrooks”] burst onto the scene. The eternal battle between good and evil was to be led unquestionably by neo-God, Epic–the former professor/mad scientist. Protagonist, ex-girlfriend Dr. Irene Roman [aka “Indy”] leads the charge in countering the comic-inspired madness. She’s one of the few [“Naturals”] that can see through the new reality to the old one.

This final installment sees factions of Pushed each battling to define what the new relationship between Pushed and non-Pushed will look like. The Pushed all too often ignore that the non-Pushed might have their own thoughts in this matter. Indy’s associates [the Atlanta 5] start off in one kind of trouble while she’s roiled in another. New friendly Pushed rush in to take up the mantle. Especially nice is the inclusion of non-Pushed civilians doing their part to rebel and organize while living in an occupied, blockaded city.

The series is campy fun and enjoyable.

I received my copy of this novel directly from the author through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com. I’ve previously read this author’s:
     Indomitable (The Push Chronicles, #1)–4 stars
     Indefatigable (The Push Chronicles, #2)–3 stars
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: Jazz Sonnet #2

This clear air crisping the high moon
a fuller shade deep with some blues
that radiates a new distinct hue
downward to neighborhood streets
of a lost town sleeping too soon
for any thriving jazz gliding beats
doubly so sweet when off-time
from high classy dandies stepping out
and dressed out prime—shuffling
that swaggering step to start the dance
about close-like, always pulsing without
known notice of the crooning mic
that surrounds all with a single glance
stands tall over this February night.
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]