Mid-30s geek type with a houseful of pets, books, DVDs, CDs, and manga
Yan Ge’s hauntingly surreal novel, Strange Beasts of China, has been slotted under Science Fiction and Fantasy, but it’s a work that doesn’t fully fit into any single genre. The collection of interconnected stories centered on a failed cryptozoologist turned pulp journalist resonated as modern fairy tales, and I loved how each new section about a beast of Yong’an added to the author’s world building to reveal new facets about the nature of humanity.
The final installment in Steven Prince’s Tango of the Matadors opens with Ramon facing Miguel’s betrayal of their friendship bond while facing off against the terrifying Volgante and her hordes of children. How will he face down the monstrous enemy when everything he believes appears false? Will Ramon let his personal feelings override his faith-driven vocation, or can he move forward to protect the helpless citizens who depend on him?
If Ungent and Shol thought they’d be off the hook after saving the universe from the Quishik threat probability, the multiple threads of time and space have other plans. The Quishik’s prison is hardly infallible (especially when dealing with psychic beings that can harvest brain power/life), there are others who need Ungent’s sage advice, and Shol is trying to endure adolescence trapped on a space craft with a middle-age crustacean and an AI. The mysterious Ootray continue to hold the key to . . . well, everything, but they don’t seem eager to be found, even though they’re responsible for the biggest threat to all life as the cast knows it. All sentient beings need to band together to face the harsh truth that the Quishiks will be back, but can they overcome personal feelings and deep-seated beliefs to make a final decision?
I learned about the bravery of the University of Munich students who resisted the Nazis through publications that I read during my German class in high school. We watched the excellent film rendition, Die Weisse Rose, and I suspect that I aspired to be Sophie Scholl. Sure, she had a short life with a tragic ending, but she believed strongly in something and stood up for those beliefs. Visiting the University of Munich and seeing the pavement memorial left a deep impression on my seventeen-year-old psyche, so when Plough offered a review copy of Andrea Grosso Ciponte’s graphic novel about the group, Freiheit!, I jumped at the chance.
Penny’s finally tied the knot with Raven, her dragon suitor, and returned to Lloegyr, but life can’t ever stay calm for the world-hopping vicar. Sue Harkness continues to lean into her anger against the alternate world, and anyone tied to Penny may be at risk. To make matters worse, fellow clergy may be helping with Harkness’ plans to make Daer’s denizens pay for her maternal neglect, and the Rat Kings definitely are willing to broker deals with England at the expense of other species. Penny needs to come up with a solution for the refugees stuck in both worlds, but when one world is secret from the other, it’s a tall order. Is humanity ready for the truth about mythical creatures? Penny may have to take the gamble of her life and hope that faith is enough to save everyone.
I was a little concerned that I wasn’t the target audience for Geek-Girl #7 when I opened my review link to see an overly busty Summer as Geek-Girl plastered across the front cover. She looked flirty and confident, but her bust looked larger than normal, and it was clearly so male gaze-oriented that I felt taken aback (I’d also just seen a Facebook ad for a bra that could increase your breast size appearance by two cup sizes, so my brain was a little baffled.); however, the issue developed into a female bonding night out between BFFs Ruby and Summer and newcomer Kerry as they enjoy time as twenty-somethings in a college town.
Tango of the Matadors' second issue starts readers off with the sense that time has rapidly been passing in the monster-infested world. Adelita, Ramon’s young daughter from the original series, is old enough to tackle matador training under Arturo’s watchful eyes. Meanwhile, the Volgante’s children continue terrorizing the people of Guatemala as Ramon and his companions head toward her stronghold to attack the giant fly.
Ruby’s new venture as part of Johnny Carlyle’s superhero team gets temporarily put on hold while her new boss lets himself be a dad and husband before anything else. She and Kerry (a.k.a. The Minger) get the opportunity to bond as similarly aged young women by hitting up a costume night club with the ever-enthusiastic and supportive Summer. Some of Carlyle’s new team members are dropping out after the plane attack, though, and not all of Johnny’s team feel the unending loyalty for the complicated businessman…
We are currently living in a time where people who have been constantly othered feel more freedom to express their truths and know that others will be listening. Sayra Begum’s intensely personal graphic novel, Mongrel, examines the life of a young Muslim woman coming of age in modern Great Britain. Her path is doubly difficult, because her father is a white British Muslim convert while her mother is a traditional Bangladeshi woman, so she has ties to two worlds but cannot fully claim either as her heritage.
Issue #12 of Steven Prince’s Monster Matador closed one era for his bullfighter-turned-demon slayer Ramon, when he finally recognized that his beloved daughter Adelita would be safer with her uncle instead of traveling the road by his side. His mission has not changed, and Ramon’s adventures continue in Tango of the Matadors!