Mid-30s geek type with a houseful of pets, books, DVDs, CDs, and manga
Linsey Miller charmed me with her cutthroat, fantastical debut novel, Mask of Shadows, featuring a gender non-binary protagonist fighting for a spot as one of the Queen’s assassins. When I received the opportunity to review her latest stand-alone tale about two young women who trade lives to attain their true dreams, I jumped on it, hoping for something unique and timely in a fantasy setting. Ms. Miller did not disappoint.
The main premise of Anderson Cowan’s debut feature film, Groupers, sounds simple: Psychology grad student Meg kidnaps two barhopping young men (Brad and Dylan) to use as subjects for her thesis experiment on whether homosexuality is a choice. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that there is much more at stake than a simple test, and as Meg’s careful plan spirals out of control, the only constant is that homophobia is so totally ridiculous.
What does one do when an entire country comes calling? Penny White faces her strangest challenge yet, when representatives of Les Etats Units (Daer’s equivalent of the United States) arrive on her doorstep with a unique request: They need Penny to negotiate with bees from Earth and convince the buzzing insects to return to their native world. The disillusioned vicar steps up to the challenge even when an opportunistic praying mantis with a penchant for Southern sayings becomes part of her entourage. Can Penny successfully solve political issues between nectar-loving species? Will negotiating with distinctly non-human inhabitants of Daer be the last straw?
Monster Matador #11 departs from the gritty, monster-of-the-week (or issue) format and focuses on the danger of humans in a post-apocalyptic society. Ramon and Adelita attempt to get home (somewhere in Mexico) with the help of their Han Solo and Chewey-esque pilot and furry copilot only to be shot down by members of the Guapo Cartel. (Is guapo ever used as a name, or is this literally the “handsome cartel?”) Ramon’s fame as a matador works both as a blessing and a curse with the cartel’s leader, since he isn’t condemned to immediate death or imprisonment. He’ll get a chance to fight something… even if El Chango feels sure that our hero will die after a final fight in the ring.
Geek-Girl: Series 2 #5 starts with the revelation that Ruby has joined forces with local businessman Johnny Carlyle to become the face of The Kaye Foundation, Carlyle’s charitable organization that is sponsoring a new superhero team. Of course, it will be led by its namesake, the one and only Geek-Girl! Some of the other capes enticed to join up seem to have some rather… odd abilities, though. What will Ruby and Summer think of the new HQ? Can Johnny Carlyle drop his business to be with his wife in the delivery room? Is a random mash-up of super abilities a great idea? Only time will tell.
Jalisco is an uplifting story of a young girl taking tragedy and rebuilding herself into someone who is not merely a victim. When a young girl’s mother disappears during a family outing, she discovers that no one, not even the police, care enough or are brave enough to help her. Fortunately, a group of female vigilantes (or Adelitas) find Jalisco and help her to transform the gift of beautiful, traditional dance into a powerful form of attack and self-defense.
The most important thing to remember with any Watt O’Hugh novel is that time is not linear; in Watt’s case, it’s not even sequential most of the time. It’s been several years since I read the first two installments in Watt’s adventures as reluctant Western hero, time roamer, and member of the movement against the Sidonians, so re-entry into his quirky, time-defying story was a bit like participating in a polar bear swim: slightly terrifying, a little disconcerting, but ultimately refreshing and memorable.
Penny White always loved crossing into Lloegyr, but being trapped into the alternate world adds a new set of challenges to the already exhausted Anglican priest. With Peter out of her life, Raven (the charming search dragon) presses his suit more seriously. The groups of humans trapped in the alternate world need shelter and a means of support (Penny included), and Clyde finally pushes forward with his desire for ordination. Ministering to not-weres, facing the harsh prejudice against snail sharks, and an unexpected marriage proposal don’t help our protagonist find time to reconnect with God, and she may hit rock bottom before seeing what matters most.
Steven Prince, the creator of Monster Matador - the epic saga of a faith-based man fighting the monsters attacking our world to protect his daughter - decided to invite fellow creator Ryland Grant (Aberrant) to write a very different type of story in the Monster Matador universe. When a monster attacks Hollywood, who better to face it than the many aspects of comic book, TV, and movie legend, Batman? The only problem? The actors who portrayed the Caped Crusader don’t have any of Bruce Wayne’s gadgets; they just have his ego and money!
Visitations #4: Victrola of Doom, Scott Larson’s latest installment in his comic tribute to old Chicago, returns to a slightly lighter tone than the previous issue. It’s still darker than previous events such as the balloon race, but there aren’t as many heartbreaking societal issues in the foreground of the plot. (It may be a commentary on myself that I find murder less traumatic than sex trafficking.) At the center of the story is the titular Victrola which allegedly has a demon locked inside that will kill anyone who uses it to listen to a record. Given the main story is presented as a radio drama on vinyl being played for readers/the characters in the frame story, are we safe from the curse? It’s up to you to decide.