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Upcoming Read Along Schedule for White Knight, Black Valentine Series By Kristen Brand

Hello readers! To celebrate the recent release of Kristen Brand’s final installment to her epic superhero series, One Book Two is hosting a read-along that’ll feature every book from start to finish, including the new Superhuman Disaster.

Since the start of my adventures here at One Book Two, I have been a huge fan of superheroes and villains alike. Comics and the new comic cinematic universes really bring out the fangirl in me, so when author Kristen Brand approached me about her first book, Hero Status, I jumped at the chance to read and review it.

I’m happy that I did because these stories, characters, and themes have become a huge part of my favorite go-to reads. There’s so much action, suspense, romance, and humor. I’ve read most of them several times each and can’t wait to read the entire series again now that it has been finished. Will there be a happy ending? Guess I will find out!

Check out the schedule we will be following below, plus descriptions of each book in the series.

Dates: April 1-7, 2019
Title: Hero Status, Book 1

Description: David Del Toro used to be a superhero. Now he’s retired and happily married—to his former nemesis, Valentina Belmonte, better known as the Black Valentine. The two have settled in sunny Miami and left the past behind them. No more masks, capes or handcuffs. At least, not outside of the bedroom.

But then the famous hero Supersonic turns up dead, and Valentina is arrested for the murder. Dave knows she’s innocent, but he has to find the real killer if he wants to prove it. Investigating on his own, dodging the law, he gets tangled in a web of conspiracy that will take more than super-strength to break. If Dave wants to save his wife, he’ll have to cross lines no hero ever should…


Dates: April 8-14, 2019
Title: Villainous, Book 2

Description: Valentina Belmonte isn’t evil anymore—honest. She’s hung up her supervillain costume, retired to Florida with her family, and hasn’t committed a crime in years. (Well, not a felony. What’s a misdemeanor here and there if you don’t get caught?) This time, she’s not the one in trouble with the law—her goody-two-shoes, former superhero of a husband is.

He saved her life two months ago but committed a spectacular amount of assault and property damage along the way. The feds plan to press charges…unless Val does something for them in exchange. Apparently, an old friend of hers is importing a deadly drug that gives people temporary psychic powers. The feds want to send in Val with a wire to get evidence to bring him down. Sounds simple enough, but things turn deadly fast, and Val finds herself up against another supervillain—one who can out-play her at her own game.

Val’s worried she’s gone soft since retirement, but if she doesn’t get the feds the evidence they need, her husband will end up rotting in one of the most hellish prisons in the country…


Dates: April 15-17, 2019
Title: Best Man, Book 2.5

Description: Harris Holt has one job: to make sure his best friend’s wedding goes smoothly. But when his friend is a retired superhero marrying a former villainess, that involves more than just remembering the rings and making a good speech at the reception. Especially when a guy with a gun turns up at the wedding venue.

Now Harris has to keep a supervillain with a grudge from offing the bride and groom—and keep it quiet, or else the cops will crash the ceremony. With his own rusty superpowers and a murderous maid of honor for help, Harris needs to stop the bad guy before the happy couple gets cold feet…on their corpses.


Dates: April 18-24, 2019
Title: Almost Invincible, Book 3

Description: A theme park turns into a death-trap of sadistic supervillains…

White Knight is the most popular superhero in the country—which is bad news for David Del Toro, formerly White Knight, who retired from heroics years ago and just wants some peace and quiet. When the White Knight ride at a superhero-inspired theme park has a grand reopening, Dave is more than happy to give his complimentary tickets to his daughter and her friends and spend the day at home. But then the park gets taken hostage by supervillains.

The man known as Bloodbath spent the last decade in a maximum-security prison and blames White Knight for putting him there. He’s given an ultimatum: the hero comes to face him, or he’ll kill every tourist in the park. Dave barely managed to beat Bloodbath while in his prime and doesn’t like his chances now that he’s old and busted. But unless he does something, every innocent person in the park is going to die…including his daughter.


Dates: April 25- May 1, 2019
Title: Kill Them All, Book 4

DescriptionThey messed with the wrong supervillain.

Valentina Belmonte walked away from her supervillain career years ago. Having peaked at the top of the national Most Wanted List, she now lives a quiet life with her husband and daughter, enjoying the Florida sun. Sure, she has to curb her criminal instincts to stay under the radar, but her family is worth it.

Until they’re attacked. With her husband—a retired superhero and the closest thing she has to a conscience—hospitalized and on the brink of death, she’s done playing nice. She doesn’t know who attacked them or why, but she’ll wreak bloody destruction until she finds out. Nobody does revenge like a supervillain, but as her single-minded pursuit grows more violent, it threatens the only family she has left…


Dates: May 2-8, 2019
TitleSuperhuman Disaster, Book 5

DescriptionA hero awakens.

Retired superhero David Del Toro has just woken from a coma—or at least, that’s what the black-market doctor watching over him in an off-the-grid safehouse says. The doctor can’t tell him what happened, but that’s alright. Dave figures he can just ask his family. Except they’re nowhere to be found, their phone numbers are all disconnected, and when he goes home, he finds a hole the size of an elephant smashed into the front of the house and nothing inside.

A villain returns.

Frantic to find his family, Dave calls on all the contacts he made over his superhero career. He learns that his wife has apparently gone back to being a supervillain, and his former sidekick has become a rogue vigilante. Something rotten is going on in the DSA, the law enforcement agency that handles superhuman crime. What does it have to do with Dave’s family? And with such a late start, still suffering the aftereffects of the coma, does Dave have any hope of stopping it?

Nightwing, Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes by Kyle Higgins

It’s a long convoluted story how DC started over and relaunched 52 titles, this being one of them. I won’t claim to understand it. I was drawn to it because it was starting over, with issue number one, and going forward. I knew that Dick Grayson, the original Robin, had moved on to being Nightwing decades ago. I hadn’t read a title until now.

Title: Nightwing, Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes
Author: Kyle Higgins and illustrators
Series: Nightwing (2011)
Publish Date: October 1st, 2012 by DC Comics
Genre: graphic novel, superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics – The New 52 event of September 2011, Dick Grayson flies high once more as Nightwing in a new series from hot new writer Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and artist Eddy Barrows (SUPERMAN)!

Haley’s Circus, the big top where Dick once performed, makes a stop on its tour in Gotham City – bringing with it murder, mystery, and superhuman evil. To uncover more clues as to why a mysterious assassin is targetting him, Nightwing joins the circus’s tour. But as Dick becomes reacquainted with the big top he once called home, he learns there are darker secrets to be discovered.

Collects NIGHTWING #1-7.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This blew me away.  It was just that good.  It moves things forward in Dick’s life while taking a step back and looking at his past, where he came from, and those he left behind. It starts with a murder, and soon Dick finds that he has inherited the circus where his parents worked. While trying to figure out that murder, it turns out there is more going on than he thought.

The circus was more than a traveling entertainment venue. It has hidden secrets for over a century! And as Dick Grayson digs deeper, it brings up memories and forces him to look at things in a new way.

This was a great story that could only work with Nightwing and how it dealt with his past. It felt like a mystery for him and served the story well. The art was clean and there are some good appearances by others that fit without overshadowing Dick’s own story.

I highly recommend this. 5 stars

Other New 52 reviews…

I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino

Another title of the new 52, a reboot of sorts from DC.  However, don’t ask me to explain all of the things DC has done in the past twenty years, with three different storylines, as I don’t think I can explain it.

Title: I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love
Author: Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino (illus)
Series: I, Vampire
Publish Date: October 9th, 2012 by DC Comics
Genre: graphic novel, superhero, horror
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: As a part of the DC Comics – The New 52 event of September 2011, I, Vampire is reborn in this new ongoing series!

For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree – and she plans to start with the heroes of the DCU! Their past behind them, they find themselves ready to battle to the death…but only if those feelings really are all gone. Knowing the difficult battle before him, Andrew will have to work with John Constantine and Gotham’s Dark Knight, Batman!

Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino mix the world horror with super-heroes in one of DC Comics’ most exciting new series!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

In this collection, it really is a story of Tainted Love. Andrew Bennett made a vampire out of Mary, but while he isn’t a killer and feeds to live, Mary took to being a vampire like breathing. And she reveled in it—in the hunt, the kills, the feeding—to a level Andrew doesn’t like. Now, some of this is in the flashbacks, and I get the sense that maybe the two of them traveled well together, but she slowly embraced the violence more than Andrew. I don’t understand why he didn’t act on this sooner.

For me, that was the tip of the proverbial iceberg of issues I had with this story. Andrew knows what Mary has become . . . so leaves her for decades and only reappears when she might give away that they exist. I don’t get that. In a world of aliens, caped crusaders, and powered people, who would blink at vampires? And wouldn’t it be better to let the general populace know about them? When several other DC heroes are brought into the story, I don’t understand why vampires aren’t made public. Further, having waited so long, now she has created so many, it’s not easy for Andrew to just get to her. He created a problem and is trying to deal with it, but it’s all too forced.

Not knowing anything about vampires in the DC universe, their powers made no sense to me. It’s as if they have any power ever mentioned by any source. Turning to mist, strength, speed, senses, shapeshifting into animals, even flying just seems to happen as needed for the plot, which doesn’t work for me. Then there is a twist at the end with a big reveal, but again, with no foreshadowing, it all fell flat.

Finally, the art was not good. There were times where it didn’t direct me in the correct direction to read, which didn’t help. I should have gone across both pages but read down one because it wasn’t obvious which way to go.

The only reason I am giving this a two instead of a one is that there are some good moments and some standout art. However, it was a close thing. Further, I don’t even see how this story could have been improved. It was too cliche.

Other New 52 reviews:

Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos

This was my first foray into Jessica Jones in the print medium. I enjoyed it. A solid four.

Title: Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1
Author: Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos (Illus.)
Series: Jessica Jones: Alias
Publish Date: September 22, 2015, by Marvel
Genre: Graphic novel, superheroes
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Meet Jessica Jones. Once upon a time, she was a costumed superhero… but not a very good one. Her powers were unremarkable compared to the amazing abilities of the costumed icons that populate the Marvel Universe. In a city of Marvels, Jessica Jones never found her niche.

Now a chain-smoking, self-destructive alcoholic with a mean inferiority complex, Jones is the owner and sole employee of Alias Investigations – a small, private-investigative firm specializing in superhuman cases. When she uncovers the potentially explosive secret of one hero’s true identity, Jessica’s life immediately becomes expendable. But her wit, charm, and intelligence just may help her survive through another day.

COLLECTING: Alias 1-9

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

There are two stories in this trade. In the first, Jessica finds herself being used. I took it that she is early in her career because she gets caught in a “trap” and used by several powerful people. It’s a character piece as she wrestles with what she should do.

The second story is about her learning how to check out her clients better and trying to help people. And dealing with some very strange circumstances. A wife wants her lost husband found. He was a sidekick to several heroes, but can’t seem to settle down. It ends with a really good talk about psychology that I liked and still think about.

What stopped this from being a five was a bit of the art. I eventually got used to it, but I think it needed a bit more to elevate it. As good as the stories were, I think they needed a bit more dialog, maybe narrative text, to explain a few things better. 

Turncoat by Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus

I picked up a couple of titles from the TPub Comics booth at Wizard World Chicago. Here’s my review of the first.

Title: Turncoat
Author: Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus
Publish Date: December 6th, 2016 by TPub Comics
Genre: Graphic novel, superheroes, comedy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Turncoat follows the story of Duke, the world’s worst superhero assassin, and his constant battle with his ex-wife and rival assassin, Sharon. Duke is always one step behind Sharon, constantly missing out on the “big hit” that will set him for life (it certainly doesn’t help matters that he only ever seems to go up against D-list superheroes like “Bug-Boy” and “Freedom Fighter”). So when Duke receives a contract for the most famous superhero team in the world, he realizes his time has come, not just to finally make the big hit, but to finally move on from his ex-wife.

If only it were that simple.

Turncoat is a collection of the entire six-issue run of the popular webcomic of the same name (www.turncoatcomic.com). Created by Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus in 2014, despite the two of them never having met. Ryan is from London, England, and Klaus is from New York.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is a title that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s dark and anti-heroic, if not downright villainous. Before they get to the “big hit,” they do several smaller ones that truly show how bad Duke is. And it’s hilarious. In all the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons. He betrays. He’s petty. And I kept laughing.

He wants to be taken seriously but he is never the one who makes the big kill. When the “big hit” comes, he thinks he’s ready. He’s not.

I don’t want to spoil things here because I think this one is a solid four and worth a read. They eventually reveal Duke’s motivations and backstory, and it works well. And there are a few twists as it gets to the ending, which I did like.

There were several minor things here and there that didn’t work for me or I would have given this a five. Still, a good story and fun read.

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