Mid-30s geek type with a houseful of pets, books, DVDs, CDs, and manga
Visitations #6: Death on the Elevated, Scott Larson’s latest installment in his comic book series about the paranormal influence on the history of Chicago, jumps forward to 1987 to frame several mayoral deaths as the work of Wadjet’s The Cult of the Snake. Blending historical events with the happenings from previous issues creates a unique look at old Chicago while helping review key points from the first five volumes.
Steven Prince teased that the titular Monster Matador would be facing a fierce, new threat in Africa in the final pages of Tango of the Matadors, and Ramon is finally back to prove he is not just a protector of the New World. He joins an elite team of monster hunters to take down the xidachane, a variation of zombie native to several South African cultures. This danger isn’t always visible to the naked eye, and it might even be an airborne virus. How can the team face off against a menace they can’t easily see, especially while they’re still struggling to work together?
Zetian has always struggled to be the ideal of Chinese femininity. She loathes her useless bound feet and how her family values her brother, father, and grandfather over any of the women. When her older sister becomes a concubine to a war lord pilot and ends up dead, Zetian’s rage focuses on the system of using young women to help fuel Chrysalises (giant robots that fight against strange alien creatures outside of human civilizations) and help young men obtain military fame. Her natural mental strength propels her to the highest concubine ranks, where she successfully overcomes her male partner while mind melded and earns the name Iron Widow, a concubine who kills any Chrysalis partner. How will the government react to Zetian’s intense abilities, and will she be punished for the crime of murdering a war hero? Can a young woman from the provinces rise to power in a society that prizes city-bred, educated men over everyone else? Only time will tell.
Lorena Adler specializes in keeping secrets and using half-truths to keep the world from knowing her true self: an individual possessing the ability to utilize elements of both aspects of the ancient gods [the Vile (destruction) and the Noble (creation)]. Only the Queen of Cynlira is also dually wrought, and it’s a dangerous legacy to share. Hiding as the undertaker of tiny Felhollow seems safe until extraordinary events bring the Crown Prince, one of the few Vile bound of Cynlira, to her doorstep, threatening Lore’s found family unless she agrees to help in his quest. But she quickly learns that she’s not the only one who has hidden the truth and that sometimes the best way to save the innocent is by destroying everything.
Anyone who has ever lived with a young, active cat knows the challenges of getting adjusted to his or her particular quirks. Will you have to devote two hours after work to playing with a fishing rod toy? Will kitty only be satisfied by chasing the red dot? Or is the key to feline happiness the ultimate kitty crack, catnip? Creator Victoria Douglas presents a slightly fictionalized example of their learning process with their cat in Cinnamon, a slice-of-life tale about the joys and hazards of sharing our homes with a furry overlord.
When I reviewed Jalisco in 2019, I was unaware that the plucky, determined young dancer would be the first member of a superhero team representing young women from different countries and backgrounds along the Latinx spectrum. Phoenix Studios saw the need for more representation in the genre (and they are not wrong!), and I presume loved Jalisco so much that one book wasn’t enough for her story. Santa and Loquita are the latest additions to this universe where young women possess powers to change the world, often through connecting to their cultural roots and loving their familias and compatriots.
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.