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
 
 
 
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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.]

Short Story Review: “Superhero Girl” by Jei D. Marcade

3 of 5 stars.

Superhero tales serve a great purpose. Yes, they are escapist, but they also show humans as bigger, stronger and more capable than they are in the real world. At times, superhero tales also remove the shades of gray in the world, dividing the good from the bad and the wrong from the right. Things that happen, happen for a reason.

These are all reasons why one might want to lose themselves in a superhero tale. And all of them matter in “Superhero Girl.”

The narrator of the tale dated a quirky girl full of tales of her secret Superhero lifestyle that she worked around her load of classes. The narrator doesn’t question her interesting disguises hiding her bald head, nor her long and random absences. She has interesting tales to explain away all aspects of her other life. But when she disappears from the narrator’s life for good, the speaker must decide what truth will be accepted.

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

Short Story Review: “Tonight We Fly” by Ian McDonald

2 of 5 stars.

This tale turns the standard superhero tale a quarter turn by showing the inherit loneliness in the role and the eventual problems of growing old as a superhero that has left the life. There’s a nice truth and humor in the relationship between the superhero and his nemesis devolving into one of Missed Connections in the newspaper. Two people who’ve spent so much of their lives trying to thwart each other end up knowing each other better than anyone else.

The relationships between the superhero and a) his life-long love interest, and b) his nemesis both deserved more exploration than provided.

This tale appears in the anthology, Superheroes edited by Rich Horton. I’ve previously read this author’s Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan”.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Short Story Review: “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” by Daryl Gregory

3 of 5 stars.

In a world of superheroes and supervillians, monster robots and steampunk automated men, this is the tale of a simple girl. She’s one of the few seemingly not semi-automated, nor animal-hybridized. She works on a crew welding together the next mega robot. Unfortunately for her, she lives and works in a country under the leadership of Lord Grimm who’s deemed a supervillian by the American superheroes who declare war against the small island nation every so often much to the detriment of the everyday folks who reside there.

The true theme of the tale is the civilian fallout from war. They’re the ignored pawns doing what they can to avoid being crushed in their homes by forces bigger than them. They rally around the injured and irradiated. And, try to restore a semblance of community at every peaceful opportunity.

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

Short Story Review: “Secret Identity” by Kelly Link

2 of 5 stars.

Identity and identity disassociation, recurrent tropes in many superhero tales, center this tale of a 15 y.o. girl that’s run off to NYC from Iowa to meet a much older man, 20 years her senior, she met online. They met as avatars within a game playing chess. But Billie actually used three different avatars, all leaning into different tendencies of hers, in the course of the game. She also lied about her age and much of her life story [borrowing from her much older sister] as they got to know each other allegedly outside of their respective avatars.

Coincidentally or not, the hotel where the two are to meet in NY is host to a Superhero convention. Everyone there has layers of identities. Many of the superheroes are also looking for sidekicks that are willing to lose their independent identities in favor of a new one based on their association with their respective superhero.

Convoluted? Indeed. It doesn’t help–but it gets the point across–that Billie flips between telling the story of her weekend in the third person with the first person and frequent references with her avatar identities as independent of herself. . .

This tale appears in the anthology, Superheroes edited by Rich Horton. I’ve previously read this author’s “The Cinderella Game”, “The Game of Smash and Recovery”, “I Can See Right Through You” and “Monster”.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]