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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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Kill Them All by Kristen Brand

Valentine Belmonte is back with a die-hard vengeance when her family is attacked on their vacation, leaving her former-superhero husband, Dave, in a coma. But without the morals of the White Knight to back her, will she fall back into her old and villainous habits?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Kill Them All
Author: Kristen Brand
Series: White Knight, Black Valentine, Book 4
Publish Date: September 15th, 2018
Genre: Superheroes
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionValentina 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 violent and illegal 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…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

The White Knight and Black Valentine books continue to be one of my favorite superhero series. There’s action, intrigue, lots of sexy innuendos, and plenty of superpowers to play around with. And in this particular book, it’s all about Valentina, a powerful telepath from a family with a penchant for psychic abilities. She’s sassy, sneaky, and damned near unstoppable – especially if she gets her mind-controlling hooks into you.

In Kill Them All, Valentina deals with the ultimate betrayal and the “loss” (Dave’s not dead, but he’s not exactly functioning and able to help) of her husband. With danger lurking around every corner and her past coming back to haunt her, Valentina is slowly being pushed back into her old life – back to committing crimes, back to dirty deeds, and back to killing people. The whole idea is that she’s gotta figure out what lines can be crossed on the path to getting her husband back… and which ones she can never come back from.

This has a lot of intensity as Valentina is faced with multiple foes and backstabs from her so-called friends. But she’s smart and sassy and she begins to figure out the game she’s apart of….which may end up being the death of her, but I won’t spoil too much.

There are plenty of other heroes and baddies that join the fray – like Freezefire, who is Dave’s best friend and former trainee, plus a goody-two-shoes who plays an important role in reminding Valentina who she is. Lady Nightmare, Valentina’s sister who can mentally trap people in their worst nightmares. Oh, and you get to meet Ember, who is technically a bad guy with obsidian armor and some pyrotechnic skills. A few others are mentioned but don’t play as big of a role (until the end, that is, for one of them).

Overall, I really enjoyed this! Can’t wait to read the finale!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try some other superhero favorites like Lexi Dunne’s Superheroes Anonymous, Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series, and the Heroine Complex series by Sarah Kuhn.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Catwoman, Volume 1: The Game

Another New 52 from DC.  Again, they had a reason for the reboot and new stories, but I just pick up titles that sound interesting. This one was very good.

Title: Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game
Author: by Judd Winick, Guillem March (illustrator)
Series: Catwoman (2011)
Publish Date: May 22, 2012, DC Comics
Genre: Graphic novel
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics—The New 52 event of September 2011, meet Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is—she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad and very bad at being good. But this time, Selina steals from the wrong man, and now he’s got her. He wants his stuff back, he wants answers and he wants blood. Writer Judd Winick begins a new chapter for CATWOMAN—hopefully, she makes it out alive!

This volume collects issues 1-7 of Catwoman, part of the DC Comics—The New 52 event.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This was another great story for me.

Selina Kyle, the Catwoman, is a bad girl. She’s just trying to survive in a world that is tough. There are super-powered people, altered humans, and aliens all running around. This isn’t a happy place. Corruption is real and everywhere in Gotham. Those who got to the step stepped on lots of people to get the top and continued to do so to stay there. So what if she steals a few of their trinkets? They won’t miss them!

Selina herself is a real character, not two dimensional. We know what drives her, why she does what she does, and why she makes bad decisions. What makes this story different is that she now has to face some of the consequences. And it’s brutal. I felt for her and what happened. I was sad for her, happy for her, and want to see her in a better place.

Part of this story is Selina getting to the bottom and what she has to do to get out of it. I didn’t feel like I got that full story in this one, and I wanted to know. I’m hoping my expectations aren’t too high now for the next volumes. I highly recommend this one for its art, its story, and its great main character.

Other reviews of the New 52

Deathstroke, Volume 1: Legacy by Kyle Higgins

I don’t understand why DC did what it did with the New 52. I think they had a plan, but I have just been picking up titles that interest me and seeing if they are good. This one is. Solid five.

Title: Deathstroke, Vol 1: Legacy
Author: Kyle Higgins and several illustrators
Series: Deathstroke (2011), Book 01
Publish Date: August 14, 2012, DC Comics
Genre: Graphic novel, superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionAs a part of the acclaimed DC Comics—The New 52 event of September 2011, Slade Wilson once ranked as the world’s greatest mercenary. But when his reputation starts to slip, and when a mysterious briefcase enters the equation, the man known as Deathstroke decides to carve a bloody, gory swathe across the DCU in a quest to show the world what exactly makes him the best.

Collecting: Deathstroke 1-8.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

It starts with Deathstroke getting a mission and being forced to work with a new team. He’s not impressed with the up and coming next generation and he makes his feelings known. He cuts ties with them and is back to being on his own.

Slade is a man that admires Achilles from the Illiad. He wants to be known as the best warrior and also have his own story last thousands of years. It’s what drives him to bigger contracts and to keep pushing himself, even as he feels the effects of aging.

While he is a villain, he is handled well. I felt sympathy for him but still knew he who is. It’s handled well. If anything, I think he spares a few too many people at times, as if the writer’s worry about that sympathy being lost, but I’m not so sure it doesn’t detract from his character.

The story quickly becomes Slade being shown up and having to prove himself to keep his legacy going. It’s not trying to tell a tear jerker or heart-wrenching story. I understood what he was doing and why but it doesn’t mean I wanted him to succeed. Further, a lot of this story is his own past coming back to haunt him. And that’s what made him a villain and why the story worked. He’s his own worst enemy and his actions have consequences. What kept me reading was how it was all going to be resolved and I thought it was well done.

Other reviews of the New 52

Red Hood And The Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption

Former Batman-sidekick-turned-vigilante, Red Hood is an antihero with scores to settle. When he teams up with Starfire and Arsenal, the trio start taking out the bad guys while dealing with their bad histories and “family” drama.

Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption
Author: Scott Lobdell (Writer), Joshua Williamson (Writer), Kenneth Rocafort (Illustrations)
Series: Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) series
Publish Date: Aug 1, 2012 by DC Comics
Genre: superhero, graphic novel
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: No sooner has Batman’s former sidekick, Jason Todd, put his past as the Red Hood behind him than he finds himself cornered by a pair of modern day outlaws: Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal, the damaged soldier of fortune, and the alien Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war who won’t be chained again. As a loner, Jason has absolutely no interest in this motley crew of outlaws. So what’s he going to do when they choose the Red Hood as their leader?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

I admit I don’t read a lot of comic books. Bring on the boos and insults, I know. A lot of my superhero fandoms and knowledge stems from the MCU or DCU (movies) and other various sources. And then I get curious and read into them with the comic books. Plus, if I find a character I really love but isn’t in the movie universes, I tend to look up information on the character and go from there.

Red Hood (and Moonstone, but that’s another story) has always been different. Granted, I first came across his story by watching the animated movie Under The Red Hood. But after that, I became hooked. I recently attended the Wizard World Convention in Chicago and bought the entire Outlaw series (not 52) with glee.

Red Hood is the first DC character I truly adore and care about. Maybe it’s because I have an affinity for young characters who die and are reborn as something else. Maybe it’s because he’s got plenty of one-liners that make me giggle. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t suck *cough, cough Aquaman.*

Long story short, Red Hood was originally the second Robin, Jason Todd, a sidekick trained by Batman. He was murdered at a young age by the Joker and then came back (there are alternate versions of how he was reborn). He felt enraged that his death was not avenged and then donned the Red Hood, becoming a vigilante in the city of Gotham, promising to do better than Batman.

Regardless of the crimes he commits, Jason Todd is a hero at heart, protecting the innocent and getting the bad guys. His methods are far more justified than his mentor’s, even though he kills off the men he thinks are deserving—”let the punishment fit the crime.” He may not have the acute moral compass that Batman does when it comes to killing, but regardless, he mostly gets his revenge.

I’ve read Death In The Family, Under the Hood, and Lost Days, so now I figured it’s time to catch up on his Outlaw days.

I really enjoyed this first installment, too. Jason is smart, angry, and badass as he gets caught up in a rivalry between the All Caste (which is the assassin “school” he’s sent off to at the end of Lost Days) and The Untitled. While in the meantime, he’s teaming up with Starfire and Arsenal.

*On a side note, does anyone else hear Jensen Ackles’s voice as Jason’s? After watching Under The Red Hood, I totally still do.*

I don’t know much about Starfire beyond what I’ve seen in Teen Titans and other comics, so I wasn’t quite sure why she was hiding out on an island until she explained that it was because humans didn’t understand her, and vice versa. She’s quite a fire show with her emotions, pheromones, and powers.

I do know a lot of readers think the way she is portrayed by the writers/artists is sexist, but I don’t really buy into that. From EVERYTHING I’ve seen, Starfire has always been beautiful, has always tossed her feelings around, and has never been shy or uncomfortable about her body or feelings. She’s on an island where she’s free to do as she pleases and went there to escape restrictions. I don’t know what her sexuality has to do with sexism, because sexism is defined as prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women. So, how are the artists and writers being sexist? By drawing a beautiful woman who is a badass alien princess and has feelings? Come on, people. Be real here.

Arsenal is pretty damn funny. In one point of the story, Jason says something along the lines of Arsenal/Roy having the type of humor that is still funny but underlines a lot of things that are very true and very real, and I like that about him. Although I’ve never read the story where he does, I know that at one point, Arsenal goes up against the Justice League and Oliver Queen’s corporation. And I know that somewhere along the line, he loses everything—including himself. So he’s a sarcastic, sassy, angsty bastard, and I love it.

All in all, all these broken characters come in to team up and face down a series of undead, scaly, and very deadly foes and still come out victorious. Cue the applause.

Couple things before I wrap it up: I’d love to learn more about Essence. She seems like a badass too, and I’d never even heard of her before I read this series.

I’d love to see if this first book’s plots still has ties in the future books, or if it’s left unfinished. I guess I’ll find out!

And I love that, despite everything, Jason has learned, he’s still the same, angry person who wants to kill the Joker and who loathes Batman for not avenging his death. Learning new tricks and new saintly mantras doesn’t always make you a saint, and I like that Jason, though good at heart, isn’t going to be swayed one way or another. He’s going to do what he wants.

Overall, this gets a four from me.

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