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.
 
 
 
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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.]

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”.
 
 
 
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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.
 
 
 
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Short Story Review: “Heroic Measures” by Matthew Johnson

5 of 5 stars.

This beautiful tale speculates what old age and end-of-life care will look like for some very familiar characters. Without naming names, per se, the story depicts Superman, Lois Lane and Lex Luther in a stunningly moving tribute to a century’s worth of comics.

There’s a surprise in how relatable the scene is–a larger-than-life figure [a parent, grandparent, teacher, or older sibling] brought low and made frail by age and life. With both humor and love, this tale endears. It’s highly recommended.

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

Short Story Review: “Sunlight Society” by Margaret Ronald

3 of 5 stars.

Cyber thriller meets urban fantasy superhero tale when a “nethead” cyber master linked into the various world webs is able to gum up the computing power of an Avengers-like organization to scour for his own interests. They’re looking for a nethead to work with them for the greater good. He wants to know what happened to the girl he loved . . .

The gambits play out nicely with Superhero tropes filling in the scenery.

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

Novel Review: Indefatigable by J. B. Garner

Indefatigable (The Push Chronicles, #2)Indefatigable by J.B. Garner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The urban fantasy series with the heart, soul and humor of a self-aware comic book continues here after its impressive start with Indomitable. Wishes became reality under the warped plan of an unsure, mad scientist in the series opener. At his mind’s bidding, superheroes and supervillians 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 leads the charge in countering the comic-inspired madness. She’s one of the few that can see through the new reality to the old one. She’s accompanied by a ragtag band of loyal new superheroes that don’t necessarily agree that everything new, including their powers, is bad.

Another unaffected person takes center stage here, but his methods are too extreme for Irene and he either wants her help or her death. This new mega-foe has lost his moral compass as he coaxes corpses into zombie-like vampires to help bring down the superheroes.

Irene must decide whether everything about the new reality is bad, or if something redeemable lies therein. It’s this internal struggle that makes the series. That, and its sheer sense of fun. The series is recommended.

I received my copy of this novel directly from the author through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]