Tag: Reviews

The “Other” Hero of The Peregrine Chronicles

Today I figured we’d spend a few minutes talking about the ‘other’ hero of The Peregrine Chronicles. Will McKenzie is introduced in the second Peregrine story and soon becomes not only best friend to our hero Max Davies but also a frequent companion on his adventures.

Some of the highlights include:

1937 – Will arrives in Atlanta and is introduced to Max by the mysterious Benson, a man who has risen above tragedy in his own life to become a hero in the employ of the government. The youngest police chief in the nation, Will has movie-star good looks and a fierce attraction both both the ladies and to danger. As we’ll see, the combination of those two interests is a particular problem for him! In his debut appearance, Will heads off into the Atlanta underground to help foil a vampire uprising “Kingdom of Blood”, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One).

1939 – Max and Evelyn become parents to a son that they name William, after their good friend (“Abominations,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One). Later in the year, Will and an ex-girlfriend named Violet Cambridge become embroiled in a horrific adventure surrounding a cursed object, an ancient cult and Aleister Crowley (The Damned Thing).

1940 – Will travels to Berlin with The Peregrine and The Domino Lady to confront the organization known as Bloodwerks (“Bloodwerks, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One).

1941 – Kidnapped by a Nazi agent known as The Iron Maiden, Will is able to not only escape her clutches but convince her that she’s fighting on the wrong side. Kirsten Bauer and Will are soon married (“The Iron Maiden,” The Peregrine Volume One).

Later in the Forties, we learn that Will and Kirsten are struggling to have a child. As of this writing, we don’t know if they ever succeeded or not. Will is actually in most of The Peregrine stories after his introduction but the above are some of the best. If you’re a big fan of Will, I’d definitely suggest you seek out “Kingdom of Blood” and The Damned Thing, both of which feature him very prominently.

Zot!

zot6I’ve always been interested in Scott McCloud’s Zot! having seen artwork during its heyday but I was never able to actually track down an issue. Recently I bought two volumes – one collecting the first ten color issues and another reprinting the black and white issues 11-36. Having now read the entire saga, I can say that I absolutely loved it… Zot himself is as close to a modern day take on Captain Marvel as is possible. That’s not to say there’s any similarity in superficial elements like powers, origins, etc. – I mean that the sense of whimsy, the character’s innate goodness, all of those are found in large amounts.

The characters… wow. I genuinely love Zot, Max, Woody, Terry and all the rest. The villains are fantastic, too – my favorites being Dekker and 9-Jack-9. The gist of the series is that an unhappy young girl named Jenny discovers that there’s another Earth out there… one that’s set in ‘1964’ but not the 1964 of our world. Zot’s world is like retro-future version of society… think Disney’s Tomorrowland or the old Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers type of thing with jetpacks and laser pistols. Jenny falls madly in love not only with Zot but also with his world in general, which seems so much better than her own home.

zot_terryThe final few issues feature Zot trapped on our earth and the storytelling changes a bit but remains very solid. Issue 33, which features Terry’s struggle with her sexuality, is one of the very best comic stories on the topic that I’ve ever read. It’s highly recommended.

If you haven’t come across Zot!, it’s not super easy to find… but it is soooooo worth the effort. I will be going back to these stories in the future and wondering what happened to these characters. I love it.

zot_world

The Halfway Point – or, the land of Meh.

camifinalfinalThe Liberty Guard novel is meant to be around 60k in length and I’m currently closing in on 32,000 words. That means I’m over halfway home… but this is also the point in every novel where I begin to loathe the project, I’m anxious to do something else and I’m questioning why in the hell did I agree to do this in the first place.

So what does a writer do? He soldiers on. He keeps adding words. He looks for things that could inspire a bit more passion.

When I was a young guy just looking to become that mythical creature known as an “author,” I would write until I got bored or some shiny new idea entered my brain and then I’d jump to do that. I left a string of unfinished manuscripts in my wake. I see that with my students all the time – it’s that dedication, that drive, that will that they lack now and that I lacked then. You have to say, “Sorry, I can’t write you, project X… not until I finish the current work.”

Wish me luck. These are the dark days. If I can just hit 40k… then 50… then the momentum will drive me to the finish line.

Accompanying this post is an image of Camila Mendes, the actress that plays Veronica Lodge on Riverdale.

 

Gravedigger 3 gets reviewed!

Pulp Super-Fan Michael Brown is back with a review of The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume 3. He gave the book 5 stars and said the following:

Finally Barry Reese gives us the third and final volume of his latest New Pulp hero(ine): Gravedigger.

For those are not familiar with Gravedigger, she is a hero with a mission. One of a long line of sinners who have died and been given a second chance of redemption, Charity Grace has three years to take out bad guys or be condemned to hell. Set in the fictional Sovereign City (created by Pro-Se Press publisher Tommy Hancock), she has plenty to work with.

She is aided in this by a small group of agents she has pulled together, which included a past Gravedigger who mentored her. These characters are also part of the storyline as their activities with Charity are shown.

With The Adventures of Gravedigger, Vol. 3, we get the conclusion of the storyline. Charity will finish her three years as a Gravedigger, though we may (probably?) see another (or several?) Gravedigger in Barry’s universe of stories. At the end, Charity will be judged: She will either go to hell, or be allowed to move on to heaven. And like a few past Gravediggers, she may choose to stay on Earth, maybe helping a future Gravedigger. What happens? You’ll need to read this volume.

In the meantime, several things happen in this volume, which has one novel. Gravedigger goes up against a villain known as The King. The outcome of this mission leaves her associates in disarray, and The Dark Gentleman, Barry’s Phantom Detective pastiche, is killed. In the wake of this, Charity learns more about The Voice (we basically get the “origin” of the Gravediggers), the being or force that charged her as a Gravedigger, and stands in judgement.

So I’m glad this trilogy is concluded, but sadden to see the last of this character. But it will be interesting to see if we get another Gravedigger in future stories.

From the updated timeline in this volume, we should see an eighth Lazarus Gray volume, and looks like we will be getting a series of volumes focused on Gray’s group, Assistance Unlimited, but set in the “future” of the 1960s. There are also notations for a volume titled The Second Book of Babylon that looks interesting, as well as another. No idea when these volumes will appear, but I hope soon. No sight of any additional Peregrine volumes.

Thanks for the kind words, Michael! It was bittersweet ending Charity’s series but I think it turned out well. I’m glad you enjoyed the book and the overall trilogy.

New Pulp Recommendations: Brother Bones – City of Lost Souls

coverOne of my favorite New Pulp characters is Brother Bones, the Undead Avenger created by Ron Fortier. Bones patrols the shadowy streets of Cape Noire and is an excellent melding of The Shadow with Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider… he’s a fedora-wearing, skull-faced dispenser of retribution. I was lucky enough to get Ron’s blessing to feature Brother Bones in one of my Lazarus Gray volumes and it was a blast to handle the character.

City of Lost Souls is the newest volume in the series and it features five stories of varying length – the shortest is a scant five pages while the longest clocks in at 103 pages. The book is a bit different than the earlier Bones adventures in that there feels like a lot less Brother Bones than usual… a strong emphasis is placed on the supporting characters. In fact, Bones doesn’t even appear in “A Taste of Cherry Pie,” which is one of the strongest tales in the book!

The cover artwork is based upon “The Synthetic Man,” the longest story in the book, and that tale pits Doctor Satan against Brother Bones. It wasn’t what I was expecting, though, as there’s not really a whole lot of Satan vs. Bones in direct conflict… I did really enjoy the tale, though, and found the subplot revolving around a disfigured henchman and his mannequin girlfriend to be particularly strong.

As for the cover itself, I really liked it – Michael Stribling did a nice job on this.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the character, you’ll like this book. It deepens the vigilante’s world and makes it clear that the supporting characters are strong enough to carry the tales even without Bones.

Nightveil: The Quiet Girls gets a new review

nightveilwatercolour3Bobby Nash, noted writer of both comics and novels, has been gracious enough to leave a review of my Nightveil novel over on amazon. He gave the book 4 stars and titled his review “Another thrilling review of Nightveil.” Here’s the rest of his review:

Barry Reese writes good stories. I have enjoyed reading Barry’s other work and his Nightveil novel, The Quiet Girls was no exception. Barry and I share a few similar interests. We both write pulpy style action and adventure and we both have a soft spot for AC Comics character, Nightveil. That love shows through in this novel. Recommended.

Thanks, Bobby! You’re right that I really love Nightveil and I’m glad that my enthusiasm for the character came through on the pages of the book. She’s so much fun and I hope that her popularity will continue to grow.