Book Review: Greek Key by K.B. Spangler

 

GK Cover

Buy it HERE from K.B.’S A Girl and Her Fed Store (I imagine she gets more for it here).

Buy it HERE on Amazon (Because sometimes it is simply easier)

So, I have talked about the A Girl and Her Fed universe before. If you read any of my reviews about the Rachel Peng books, then you will be running into some familiar faces here.

We have Speedy and Hope as the primary protagonists this time around. Rachel’s not the focus here and we are, instead, introduced to the universe through Hope’s eyes and seeing her try to solve a mystery that has a lot more to do with the origins of how OACET and the ghosts work in the A Girl and Her Fed universe.

I’m not spoiling much in this review, but if you haven’t read A Girl and Her Fed yet, you might want to back out and go read it before you read on because some of this will go into spoilage as to how the rules of the Universe there work.

SPOILER TAG

SPOILER TAG

SPOILER TAG

The main mystery revolves around an artifact, a piece of the Antikythera mechanism, that is commented on in both the comic and in the Peng novels. They have a piece of a machine that is out of place and out of time for the development of the period. Hope, Speedy, and the Ghost of Benjamin Franklin (I’m not sure if that’s a title or not…maybe I’ll tweet the author to ask) have been discussing the limits of how a ghost can work and how time flows in the A Girl And Her Fed (AGAHF for short) universe.

It boils down to this: ghosts can move backward and forward in time. However, this requires a great deal of power. A ghost gets its power from his/her effect on the world. Also, a ghosts power appears to be limited to the culture in which it was created. This means that most ghosts are quite limited in their power.  Benjamin Franklin’s ghost is very powerful in the United States (as are the other ghosts of the Founding Fathers. And Lincoln…oh dear lord, Lincoln). However, when Hope travels outside of the U.S., Franklin can’t follow / can’t manifest  (side-note: given his years in Europe, I wonder if he can manifest there as well…).

We already know from AGAHF that Franklin can time travel. He did it to help Hope play the stock market so she didn’t have to focus on gaining money and could instead prepare for the coming of OACET and Sparky and a few other slightly more world shattering elements coming to the U.S. (and the world) than whether or not she could pay the bills.  Of course she originally thought he was a drug induced hallucination, but that would be getting off topic and into AGAHF rather than Greek Key.

Panel Post
I’ll just leave this here as an explanation Image is Copyright (C) K.B. Spangler

 

The point being, his power lets him jump forward in time and, unlike many ghosts, he can bring back elements of what he finds in the future. In the comic, he brings back a ring that is linked to OACET so she can call in help from Sparky whenever she needs it. This takes a tremendous amount of power and the ring is only a small thing.

The mechanism piece? It’s a bit bigger. Which means a lot more power would be needed. Not only that, but we’re looking at a time jump that would make Doc Brown jealous.

And without a DeLorean.

Or a Flux Capacitor.

This machine piece that they have found, however, appears to have come from someone a bit more…universal. Think mathematics. Like Universal mathematics.

It’s Archimedes. Yes, that Archimedes.

I told you it was Universal Mathematics.

This has everyone baffled and a bit worried as it was found in a stash that was being supervised by the main antagonist of AGAHF.

Hope, being one of the few who knows the ghost connection in OACET, decides to investigate and she takes along Mike. The pair are psychic and are able to use that ability to tap into the ghost spectrum – though neither is particularly good at it. You do what you can with what you have.

Then we run into an archaeologist, Atlas, (who’s probably not on the up-and-up) and his sister, Darling (who’s definitely not on the up-and-up) and they get involved in examining the mystery as well.

Helen of Troy also ends up entangled.

It’s…complicated.

The story is also a lot of fun. As a fan of AGAHF, I got a lot of satisfaction out of reading the story. Hope is a fun character and Speedy is a highlight as well. They play their typical roles, but those roles are written quite well.

Hope is a strong protagonist. It is immediately obvious that she is in charge of herself and her choices; there’s no damsel in distress here. No one is ‘letting’ her do the things that she does. She is doing them through her action and through her conscious choice. It’s a good message and one that shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m pointing it out because that message is often lost in other media and stories. Hope’s a character that is strong on her own and she happens to be female.

Speedy is still a hyper-intelligent Koala. I don’t really feel the need to elaborate there, but he is enjoyable. However, I’m a Speedy fan and I hear there are those that disagree with him. That’s your choice – I can assure you that he doesn’t care in the slightest.

The mystery of Archimedes’ machine is the central plot of the story and its practically a character in and of itself. The jumping and shifting of ideas and ‘OK, that didn’t work, next plan’ is a lot of fun.

For me this book had a lot to tell. It establishes quite a bit of the rules for the AGAHF universe. The world building is fascinating and I enjoyed those elements a lot.

My major complaint comes from only two elements. My first is Hope’s attraction to Atlas. It seems overplayed and not especially relevant to the plot. I get that it is part of the character of Hope to be easily distracted, but I just did not like the Atlas bit at all. It’s a personal element, but I feel it detracts from Hope’s character to have that be a focus of her distractions. The rest of her jumps, however, are hilarious and/or plot related and I enjoyed them, but the Atlas ones didn’t ping right for me. Maybe it’s my sense of humor.

Which brings me to Atlas himself. As a character and an antagonist (I won’t go far enough to call him a villain) he’s in the gray area. It could be argued that he’s not even really an antagonist so much as a stumbling point. He’s a pretty face and something for Hope to get distracted by given his amazing Mediterranean body and that’s pretty much it. There is some effort at characterization by having him have a rivalry with his sister, but it doesn’t come off as particularly effective. His reveal and subsequent plot related items come off as convenient and/or out of place when reading and that appeared to defeat the purpose of having him in play. He helps the plot along and gives Hope a few things to think about, but it doesn’t really bring out anything new or interesting in the characters and so he falls flat.

On the whole, though, Greek Key is a strong novel with an interesting mystery. Hope, Mike, and Speedy make up for the lack of a traditional antagonist by fighting with the mystery surrounding the Archimedes device. The solution is a fascinating twist and turn as Spangler develops her world and reveals new and fascinating bits about how the world works in her universe of ghosts and government. For AGAHF fans, this will be a lot of fun. For inductees and those new to the universe, it will be an exciting adventure with a strong protagonist and companions that will lead you into a complex and fun world.

Characters: 4.0 / 5
Plot: 5 / 5
Action: 4 / 5
Value: 5 / 5
Writing: 5 / 5

Overall: 4.2 / 5

 

 

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Book Review: Red Hot Steele (Daggers and Steele Vol. 1)

 

Cover Steele

But the book on Amazon HERE!

Things here have been a little bit crazy as of late, so I haven’t had a lot of time to write.

I have, however, had a lot of time to read. So, I grabbed up my tablet and looked through for something fun but different. The cover for this one caught my eye and it was on a promotion for $0.00 so I downloaded it.

It’s a crack!

This is a detective story that is playing with all of the tropes of a detective story while throwing in elements of fantasy. Apparently there is a movement towards fantasy-crime novels (something I didn’t know) and this was my first full dip into it.

The plot is, pretty much, a standard NCIS, CSI, etc plot. Someone’s been murdered and Jake Daggers (our narrator) has to solve the mystery. Unfortunately (at least according to his perspective at first) he’s just had his long time partner replaced with a newbie fresh from the academy. To make matters worse, the newbie is a woman and an elf. So he has to deal with the newbie and a murder. Lots of fun.

The plot is pretty much straight out of those style outlines, but that’s to make room for the characterization. Daggers is clearly the focus and it shows. He has a fantastic characterization and reading him is just like reading the old detective serials that used to be on the radio. I can hear Howard Duff’s Sam Spade as I read the novel and it’s fantastic. Daggers is not a fantastic role-model – some of his views and perceptions are out of that same era and it makes for him to be very much a throw back of the era. This is particularly true regarding his partner, Steele. And while his view of Steele changes over the course of the story and becomes somewhat better, that doesn’t happen for women in general. It’s a part of the character and the setting, so it makes for good characterization. Daggers has faults – lots of them (women just being one), but he is overall a likable character with a strong voice.

Steele, his partner, does a fair job of standing up to him and its pretty obvious that the rest of his team (there are four total agents on Daggers’ task force) don’t share his archaic views. She even calls him out a few times but, unfortunately, they don’t stick. The rest of the team just let it pass, so it Daggers does come off as a bit of a bully that the reader is expected to excuse. For the most part, I am a forgiving reader and I am anticipating that this will change over the course of the series. It’s an easy place to have character growth and development and I cannot imagine that the author won’t take advantage of it.

But back to the team. The team is interesting, though most of our experience is with Daggers and Steele (imagine that!). Steele gets some screen time and it becomes clear that she’s not going to take Daggers lying down – yet she sometimes lets things slide that make this inconsistent. It’s a significant flaw, and, again, I’m assuming the author is going to fix it eventually.

The answer to the puzzle becomes a bit obvious as the novel gets close to then end, but its still a good solution and fun to reach. The ‘getting there is half the fun’ trope really holds sway through the novel, and the novel is a lot of fun to read.

Despite the flaws of the story, this is a fun book to pick up and read if you enjoy shows like NCIS or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For the price of free, you really have no excuse not to.

Characters: 4.5 / 5
Plot: 3.5 / 5
Action: 4 / 5
Value: 5 / 5
Writing: 4 / 5

Overall: 4.2 / 5

 

 

 

Book Review – Concealed Power

Concealed Power

Click HERE to buy Concealed Power on Amazon.com

K.J. Colt’s premier novel in the Healers of Meligna is a solid start with a few hiccups along the way.

You have to give the protagonist Adenine credit – if I were thirteen and had to deal with the series of tradgedies that she faces at the beginning of the novel, I think I would have lost my mind. Add on to it that I’m blind (or at least treated that way – more on this in a bit) and I have full justification for curling up in to a ball and crying. Adenine, however does not do so and, instead, manages to find ways to adapt as life throws curve ball after curve ball at her. I won’t spoil too many here as the curve balls make for the majority of the fun of the story, but make sure you’re thinking and being as suspicious as our protagonist.

The world setting is, unfortunately, somewhat generic. We have a town that doesn’t especially stand out in terms of fantasy literature. We’re in a nation recovering from a war and a death plague, but there isn’t a lot of detail given to those events to make them stand out from other such starters. If there is any weakness to this story, it is that the setting feels generic for a good 1/2 the book. We start to see some unique details begin to emerge, but the story finishes (I won’t say ends as there are a pair of sequels) just as we begin to get in to the uniqueness of the world.

Fortunately the characters make up for it. Adenine herself is a round and fully developed 13 year old and entirely believable in that role. Similarly, her broken mother, her Doctor, and her friend/Dr’s assistant, are all given opportunities to develop and be explained. Each of them has a unique personality and, more than that, are given opportunities to screw up/make significant mistakes that Adenine is able to pick up on that first alert the reader/Adenine that something funny is going on. These hints all cascade around you and when the puzzle finally breaks your brain goes AH! and wants to re-scan it to see if it was really set up that far back. You’re even more satisfied when it turns out that “Yes, yes it was.”

The characters are the selling point here, and the major tool that the author uses to engage the reader. There are some graphic scenes and some parts that are a bit scary (13+ please, at the minimum) but, on the whole, this is an enjoyable piece of fiction/literature that you should enjoy especially at the ‘free’ price it is currently listed.

NOTE: This story is also available in a pair of bundles linked at the end of this review.

Characters – 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Action: 3/5
Value: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Total Rating: 3.95/5

Click HERE to buy it as a part of the EPIC Bundle (14 Fantasy Novels for $.99)

Click HERE to buy it as a part of the Healers of Meligna Boxed Set ($5.99)

White Tower

Click HERE to buy The White Tower from Amazon.com!

I bought the paperback version of this novel from a local vendor (sorry Amazon. I love my little stores too) and finally had a chance to sit down and read it. On the whole, this is a good story with a lot of fun elements to it.

The story opens in a classic fantasy opening with Damion being tasked by his father with a quest that, at 11 years old, he doesn’t really understand. However, that there is terror and Dad involved, he commits to the promise of delivering ‘The Key’ to the White Tower.

Jump forward and Damion is now a young man working on a farm when his promise to his father comes back to his mind, setting him off on a quest to finish what it was he was supposed to have done more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, things don’t go especially smoothly as a number of complications arise. For one thing, the farmer’s daughter has a son who decides to follow Damion. For another, he has absolutely no idea where the White Tower is. Add on to that a rather sinister figure hunting for him and a little bit of young adult attraction and you have all of the elements of an excellent story popping up.

Damion is an interesting and fairly well developed character, especially for a premier novel. Some of the ‘first’ books that I read on my Kindle forget that ‘first’ is often ‘last’ and will forget to have an identifiable protagonist. Not so in The White Tower. Damion is a pretty well rounded character who reminds me, more than anything else, of Peter Parker – he is determined but flawed with a great deal of heart and concern for others. He’s not an excellent swordsman or a lone-wolf adventurer; he is an every man with the flaws that entails. And those flaws do actually matter – the cost him opportunities and respect in many cases when he meets someone with a greater skill set than his own. Damion recognizes that and works with what he has. His determination to ‘always keep his promises’ is noble, but also comes in to conflict with the story as well and creates for some good character dynamics.

The secondary cast, on the other hand, is a bit less rounded. The Princess and her bodyguard are memorable, but not as well developed as our protagonist. She reminds me far too much of Princess Leia in ‘A New Hope’ when Luke and Han show up and she doesn’t really move on from that state very well. There are some moments of character development, but they feel a bit forced to me. Our main antagonist (I won’t spoil the book with specific names here because it is somewhat important to the plot) is similarly evil. How do we know he is evil? Well, he uses mind control and crushes windpipes right at the get go and only gets worse from there. So, he is easily identifiable as evil and we know not to like him.

The world, on the other hand, is very well developed. It appears to be a sort of post apocalypse world. There are instances of the old world occasionally – broken down roads, some bits and pieces of electricity, even a minor villain named Holland – to hint at the fact that *something* happened in the past that resulted in the downfall of humanity that has left us in a sort of lurch. There are hints and some good revelations in the story (again, I try not to do plot spoilers in reviews) but that really only deals with the layout. The culture and societies all have unique elements and interact believably. There is a lot of the depth to this world and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Given the ending, I am assuming a sequel at least.

On the whole, this was a fun read. I strongly encourage readers to pick up a copy of ‘The White Tower’ for an excellent Holiday read. 🙂

Characters – 3.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Action: 4/5
Value: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Total Rating: 3.95/5

Book Review – Blades of Magic (Crown Service #1)

Book Review – Blades of Magic (Crown Service #1)

Blades

By Terah Edun

Click HERE to buy it on Amazon.com

I grabbed this book as a part of the promotion when book two launched. The author had it up for free as an enticement to check out the sequel. I’ve been busy with my students and conferences, but I managed to find some time to do some reading and this is one of the books I was determined to get through. Of course, that meant that I missed the sale and grabbed it at $2.99.

Totally worth it.

The story is fairly simple – we have Sara, the daughter of a disgraced imperial commander. Her father was killed for deserting and, given what she knows of her father, this has always bothered her. This leads her to develop her sword skills and make some living wages to support herself and her mother for much of her early life.

When she comes of age, and a few tragedies, she finds herself working with the Mercenary Guild and beginning to unravel what really happened with her father and the Emperor. There are a number of sub plots and loose threads introduced and expanded on and it’s well balanced between resolution and mini-mystery.

I’ve always enjoyed Edun’s work and this is no exception. Sara is a fine main character and fun to follow along with. I also enjoyed Ezekiel as a bit of a challenge to Sara and her developing skills. That a ‘Battle Mage’ can transform in to a Berserker – like a classic Berserker – is also interesting and makes her accessing her abilities feel like there is some actual consequence to her magic use.

The other secondary characters felt a bit more static than I generally enjoy, but it comes off to me more as her getting things established than any kind of laziness on her part. To put it simply, this is a new aspect to her world and she is getting it prepared for the future. That static-ness makes it so that she can focus on Ezekiel and Sara and the mystery of Sara’s father while introducing elements that can grow in the future. Sara and Ezekiel are charming enough that I’m willing to be patient with those characters and I look forward to grabbing the sequel when I have a chance.

The world and society that Edun has built is interesting. It appears to be linked to her Courtlight series (which I am a huge fan of (I still need to finish the last book)), but this area and part of the world feels unique and distinct in comparison to what we read in the other series. It’s much more Roman/Greek-ish (for lack of a better phrase) over in these cities and for Sara. I also like the Mercenaries and their role and reaction to Sara. I don’t want to spoil it, but it makes significant sense given the world and the way Edun has established their purpose.

On the whole, this is an excellent new world from a great author. I encourage everyone to give it a shot when they have a chance. It’s completely worth the price asked at $2.99. I see there is a print price and, if Edun ever comes to my area for a convention or something, I’ll probably grab a print copy to get it signed.

Characters – 3.5/5

Plot: 3.5/5

Action: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Writing: 4/5

Total Rating:  3.75/5

Book Review: Megatokyo Endgames: The Tower of Kartage

Tower

Click HERE to buy the book from Amazon.com

So, for those of you that aren’t aware, Megatokyo is a webcomic/manga (depends on who you ask) that follows the adventures of Piro and Largo when they get stuck in Japan with no money to return (I swear, I’m not making that up). It was one of the first ‘big’ webcomics and it has since, for the most part, fallen in to obscurity. This is most likely due to the Artist/Writer, Fred Gallagher, updating at a glacial pace. I still strongly recommend the webcomic. The art is fantastic and the world he is working on in it is a lot of fun to visit – there are very few places that have zombie godzilla, magical girls, origami ninjas, and others all co-existing.

One of the key elements of the backstory, however, is the mystery of what happened in Endgames – an MMO that Fred has made up for his world. It is the WoW of the Megatokyo world and an event caused the entire game to shutdown. Piro, one of the main characters, and his character, Pirogoeth, were involved somehow in stopping it. So was Largo’s character. It has been hinted at and examined a few times, but we’ve never really gotten in to the nitty-gritty of the event.

The Endgames novels, however, are beginning to crack that nut.

Even if I were not familiar with the Megatokyo universe, I would still have enjoyed the story. The Tower of Kartage focuses on Pirogoeth – a young magic user from the Free Territories. She has been brought under the tutelage of Socrato ; a powerful magic user in his own right so that she can learn how to better harness her abilities. Through the course of the novel, we get to see Pirogoeth struggle with mastering her abilities as well as the flaws inherent in the system of government of the Endgames world.

At the same time, far out to sea (so far at least), the Void is creeping slowly towards the kingdom.Through the novel we learn that Socrato sees something in Pirogoeth that he believes will be able to help stop the Void from continuing forward and engulfing the world forever. We’re never really told what the Void is or why it is there, but we do know that, somehow, Pirogoeth is supposed to be helpful in stopping it.

Pirogoeth is…not the most likable protagonist I’ve ever read. She is extremely cold and she has social issues. She doesn’t react to things very well and, at times, can be downright mean. She has very little attachment to any of the other characters, and what little attachment she shows feels a bit forced. This is consistent with the way she is portrayed in the comic on which the Tower of Kartage is based, but it’s a difficult thing to become at all attached to or invested in her. She’s not fully developed and she does little to encourage a reader to come close.

I did like Socrato, for what we saw of him. He reminds me a lot of the Monitor from DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths; he is immensely powerful and is trying to find a way to stop untold destruction and has turned to finding others to help him. Unfortunately, we’re never really given any evidence that he really has a plan to stop the Void either, so the conflict feels hollow and misplaced. This knocks Socrato down a few pegs as well.

The pacing of the story is fine, and I enjoyed reading it as something to go with at night. It was nice to revist the Endgame world and play around in it a bit, but I can’t help feeling that there could have been more to the story. With the exception of solving one political issue, there aren’t really any victories to celebrate. Pirogoeth lacks the charm of Harry Potter at Wizard School , so that makes it harder to stick with than I eexpected I would still have read the book – the mystery was interesting – but I probably wouldn’t have been quite as devoted as I was without the Megatokyo label on it.

On the whole, for Fans of Megatokyo, this is a solid read. New folks, however, may find the chill of the main character a bit much to deal with and a challenge to justify the price of the book.

Characters: 3.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Action: 2.5/5
Word Count 5/5
Price: 4/5
Overall: 3.75/5

Determination (Short)

Determination is well known in these parts. Often seen up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows, Determination is all about getting things done. When an obstacle manages to interfere with Determination, Determination will set about working it over, through, or under – be careful getting in the path of Determination.

Most often seen working at various progress, Determination sets a goal and then heads for it – sometimes with blinders on. While Determination is a positive group leader, there are sometimes problems when other points of view or spirits try to get Determination to listen to others. While Reason and Determination will often be seen in each others company, it is not uncommon for Determination to ignore reason in pursuit of Objective.

Determinations stubborness is both a great asset and a great downfall. It is not uncommon to find Determination exhausted at a current task. Assistance passes on this tale – “I was up at Determinations old hill back during the Rock moving project. Determination had to have been at it for hours trying to roll that rock up that hill. I kind of wondered if Determination realized that I was there so I said ‘need some help?’

Determination looked at me, eyes kind of wide. I’m not sure if my presence was known until then, “Nah. I got this. I don’t need any help.”

‘Can’t see how it would hurt.” I replied, stepping up next to Determination and the boulder.

Determination gritted some teeth, “If you insist. But I’ve got this.”

I nodded politely, “Maybe, but there’s nothing wrong with a little help.”

Determination is most often seen in the company of Goal and Plan. The three are known buddies and share tales and drinks each week at the Downtime Bar.

A Practice Solicit for My Book

A century has passed since the War of the Three Kingdoms was fought. A century since the arcane and the divine crossed blade leaving the world in the hands of the Gods. Born at the end of the conflict, Alista Traakard has been lead to ancient, arcane secrets by her Goddess. Standing against the changes to her church, Alista flees with only her sword and a tome.

Hard work and smart business are the trademarks of the Carlyle family and separate them from the other noble houses of Darien. As eldest son, Deacon Carlyle stands to inherit his father’s business empire. Princess Serena, however, appears to have other plans for the kingdom – plans which don’t include the Carlyles.

Vicor Traven is more like his elven bodyguard than any half-orc should be. His desire to see the world conflicts with the rigid structure and discipline his father, and people, demand. Trusting to fate, he and his bodyguard have escaped Vicor’s rigid life to experience more of the world than Traven’s father would ever allow.

When the three come together in one of Darien’s seaports, it appears to be coincidence, but is it? Or is someone seeking to alter the balance of the world as it stands and cause the pendulum to swing freely once more? “

Future’s End – Prediction and Challenge

I love me some Free Comic Book Day. Despite the long wait, and the fact that I am in my Local Comic Book Store pretty much every week buying stuff (gaming stuff, usually), it is a lot of fun to show up and support them. Not only that, but it gives my daughter a chance to be seen there and she LOVES the attention. She also got a Green Lantern Power Ring. It was win-win for everyone.

For my part, I always grab up a couple of issues. SPOILER: I’m not generally a big comic book fan. I find them expensive and when I read a story, I want the whole thing. Those of you who have read my book reviews KNOW that I hate major unresolved plots. Comic books do this perpetually so that you will buy the next issue in the series. I’m much more likely to buy a Trade Paper Back than an issue by issue for that very reason.

Free Comic Book Day, however, is my exception to the rule. I generally rely on the store employees for reccomendations and I have subscribed to a few things for storylines – I did the D+D comic when it was about a group of heroes who weren’t Drizz’t. I also did Marvel’s Civil War event and, with War of Light coming to Heroclix, I’ll probably pick up some of that as well to read so that I know a bit more about it than “Saint Walker is awesome.” I’m a fairly simple guy and I don’t have a lot of spending money, so I’m choosy when it comes to subscriptions. I loved the Avatar: The Last Airbender stuff and pick that up regularly. It’s in my pull box and everything!

Free Comic Book Day is all about me. The goal, as I understand it, is to get guys like me to subscribe by teasing stories. It’s what got me to grab up Avatar: The Last Airbender and the D+D comic. I grabbed up the Avatar Comic and then I saw DC’s cover.

It’s Terry.
Terry McGinnis.
You know, from Batman Beyond – one of the most amazing animated series’ of all time! And he’s on the cover of their FCBD merchandise. My daughter, who is only 15 months, wonders why I have stopped. I’m wondering if I am hallucinating. I loved Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, and Batman Beyond. Ask my wife – she’ll confirm my obsession. And here’s Terry and…..

The-New-52-Futures-End-full

….and a grotesquely illustrated Justice League with weird eye things on them. I run through my Heroclix knowledge and realize I recognize the O.M.A.C. bits and pieces and the Brother Eye sign. So, Brother Eye does exist in New 52 AND he’s out of control and making Justice League robots (I can see Superman and Wonder Woman and a…Gold Batman? Don’t know who that is. And what looks like a cyborg version of John Stewart) to take over the Future of New 52. Go time for the Justice League and Terry.

All right, FCBD, your goal is accomplished. I am intrigued. Slightly grossed out, but intrigued. I grab that one and put it in my bag as my daughter starts to struggle against me. That means it is time to go, so I thanked everyone in the shop and beat a hasty retreat home and put my daughter down for her nap and settled in to read my comic.

Please Note: I knew this was not going to be a whole story. It’s a teaser to get me to buy a series. Apparently a weekly series. That’s going to take a lot of convincing – comics are expensive and I have a toddler and a mortgage. I was not expecting the whole story and I knew the game going in.

Anyhow, I open up to Captain Cold trying to get some folks to keep a door open from some ‘bugs.’ We don’t know who he’s holding the door for, but they are coming from Budapest. Bugs are, apparantly, bad, as they’ll kill everyone. Anyway, they start to close the door and BAM! Really Old Flash makes it in. That is one HECK of a Beard there, Barry. Anyway, he’s exhausted, but he made it and scanned the area – only some small bugs. And then BANG!

Wonder Woman

Cyborg Wonder Woman. Complete with O.M.A.C. makeover and tentacle legs. Brother Eye has, apparantly, been busy since she speaks with Brother Eye’s vocal patters. The attack commences and now Captain Cold is working with Flash to fight them off.

Oh. These aren’t cyborg clones or robots. These are assimilated members of the Justice League.

Brother Eye appears to have learned something: cutting off a metahuman’s arms is a great way to disable them.

Anyway, Flash is killed by an unassimilated Frankenstein (some of the former heroes are working with Brother Eye) who has grafted Black Canary on to his chest.

Seriously.

We finally get to Terry and Bruce (after two more gruesome deaths) who are working out Time Travel to go back and stop this from happening. Terry is supposed to be the distraction so Bruce can time jump and go back to kill someone. Yup, this is serious enough for Bruce to break his no killing rule. He points out that, if they succeed, this horrible future will never happen. There is a fight in the Batcave (they had to lower shields to power the Time Travel device) and Bruce is killed, but not before handing off the time jumper to Terry so that Terry can carry out the mission.

They miss, and that’s supposed to draw me in. What is?

A) Can Terry pull of them mission to murder someone?
B) Who is the someone Terry has to murder?
C) How did things get to where they are?

The problem is: I don’t care.

See, I’m tired DC.

Death 2Death 3

I’m tired of you murdering the Justice League (or whoever is handy) to make your point. We get it – you’re ‘realistic’ and ‘gritty’ and ‘down to earth.’ You have complex stories with complicated characters and consequence to action, unlike those other guys at Marvel.

The problem is, you’re not. This isn’t realistic. You already killed the Justice League when you did Flashpoint to launch New 52. You did it prior to that in Blackest Night (sort of). You did it in Final Crisis.

I’ve seen the characters I enjoy murdered so many times in the last ten years that I am numb to it.
Booster Gold

You don’t need to kill everyone to have a dramatic story or an impactful one. You proved that in your Animated Series. You can have something fun, but still complex and interesting without spattering arms and body pieces everywhere. I know that Grant Morrison and The Killing Joke are some of your most iconic names and faces, but that was because they were unique. And different. And a change of pace from what we had. Now, everything is a Morrison Murder and it’s lost that impact.

When someone dies in DC (or Marvel for that matter), we know its a selling point. It’s a point I don’t want to support. I want a cohesive, fun, universe with dynamic characters and good storytelling. I can get that from your back issue catalog for $.25 a pop. Or the library and its trade paperbacks. I’d rather support you and my Local Comic Book Store, but I’m not going to pay money just for those things. I can support the store by buying other merchandise – games, Marvel comics, Munchkin, etc.

You’re unnecessary.

Now, I know what you are thinking – there’s no way to make that kind of story work with what we have set up? Wanna bet? Tune in on Wednesday, May 7th and I’ll have an outline of a story that would sell through the roof using your Batman Beyond characters and the premise of Brother Eye assimilating everyone that doesn’t require murder but will still be fun and, I can bet, would sell a lot of copies.

Book Review – Sunset (Book 1 of Pact Arcanum)

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Click HERE to buy Sunset – Book 1 of Pact Arcanum at Amazon.com

The world of Sunset (Pact Arcanum book 1) has an interesting premise. The world is our current Earth, but humanity co-exists with human appearing magical races – the Sentinels, the Nightwalkers, and the Daywalkers. Sentinels have magic and steel and are trained to kill vampires (the Nightwalkers); Nightwalkers are Vampires (with all that entails. Daywalkers are Vampires that now have a soul and have been reborn to redeem.

Being in the presence of a Sentinel can activate the innate magical potential an individual possesses. This is what happens when Jeremy Harkness is working as a part of Medusa. His abilities are activated by accident which forces Daywalker Nick Jameson (someone who isn’t fond of the rules anyway) to break their Pact’s general laws and reveal himself to the world in the midst of the Medusa terrorist incident. Deactivating the nuke doesn’t take too long and Nick uses Jeremy’s activation to convince the laws of the Pact to get out of having himself punished. Fortunately, Nick knows the person who is going to be judging him pretty well and makes his case, thus preserving him for future pages.

From there, we learn more about the world as it evolves with the knowledge of magic. We also find out what has occurred in the history of the pact and how magic works within the world and the various forces of the races. There is a lot of history to the world (that happens when some of your characters are over 500 years old) and explanations for how we got to where we are flow freely. The world building is interesting and some of the concepts are neat, if a bit overdone. The history is interesting enough, but it does start to drag on the story.

The other major drag, unfortunately, are the characters. None of them are particularly deep. Most of the characters are likeable enough, but they are too perfect. Nick gets away with consistently flaunting the rules and *almost* breaking the laws of his Pact; nothing happens. Even when he breaks their most sacred rule and reveals the presence of magic to the world, he gets a slap on the wrist and a ‘well, you were technically saving a citizen of our group and that makes it O.K’ sort of speech. The other main characters do similar things with similar consequences. This makes no sense with the aura of mystery and concealment that the author speaks of that the groups are trying to maintain.

The other major problem with the characters is their relationships. The relationships are unrealistic and either A) fantasized heavily or B) overtly unimportant. There is a warning on the Amazon page for the novel that the series contains references to homosexual relationships – O.K. , whatever. It’s not the first one that I have read, nor will it be the last. Unfortunately, it is one of the worst written relationships that I have read. Nick cannot fail in maintaining his threesome. He faces few choices that could consequence the relationship, and the few times where those choices would have mattered, they are blown off from the other characters. This is similar to the above issues with the law system – there are no significant consequences for poor decisions. The characters do not act like real people involved in real relationships in the slightest, and the drama of the scenes where ‘bad things’ happen is so over played, I skipped them until the next scene. Since there was little, if any, impact from said conversations this did not hurt my understanding of the novel in the slightest.

In short, the world of Pact Arcanum has a lot of potential to it, but the characters drag it so far down that I doubt I will invest in the next book in the series.

Writing: 2/5
Characterization: 1/5
Plot: 2/5
Flow: 3/5
Value: 2/5 (At Free)
Total rating: 2/5