<i>The Red Storm</i>: New Excerpt The Red Storm: New Excerpt Grant Bywaters The debut novel by a former private investigator. <i>Riot Most Uncouth</i>: New Excerpt Riot Most Uncouth: New Excerpt Daniel Friedman The first in a new series featuring Lord Byron. <i>Crooked Brooklyn</i>: New Excerpt Crooked Brooklyn: New Excerpt Michael Vecchione and Jerry Schmetterer Clean up, aisle Brooklyn. <i>Harbour Street</i>: New Excerpt Harbour Street: New Excerpt Ann Cleeves Can you tell me how to get to, how to get to Harbour Street?
From The Blog
November 24, 2015
The ZINNG: "You Like Me! You Really Like Me!"
Crime HQ
November 23, 2015
Set Sail with Steve Berry!
Crime HQ
November 20, 2015
“You’ve Come a Relatively Middling Distance, Baby”: Signs of Shift in Female Fictional Detectives
Janice MacDonald
November 18, 2015
The ZINNG: The 10 Commandments for Crime Fiction
Crime HQ
November 4, 2015
Christopher Golden and Josh Boone Talk The Stand and The Fault in Our Stars
Christopher Golden
Showing posts tagged: Supervillain click to see more stuff tagged with Supervillain
Nov 24 2015 11:00am

Jessica Jones Review: Season 1, Episodes 1-4

Hello! Welcome to my recaps of Marvel's Jessica Jones. I'm Dave Richards and I'll be your sort of guide as we look at the latest offering from Marvel Studios and Netflix—a series adapted and inspired by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos's Marvel Comic series Alias, which ran from 2001-2004 and examined what happens when the world of the hardboiled shamus intersects with the fantastic realm of super powers. That's an especially fascinating combination for me since I love both super heroes and detective stories.

I was originally a fan of the ALIAS comics, and I'm huge fan of the genres it combines, so that love will of course filter into my perspective on Jessica Jones. For this initial recap, I'll be looking at the series’ first four episodes: “AKA Ladies Night,” “AKA Crush Syndrome,” “AKA It's Called Whiskey,” and “AKA 99 Friends.” I'll break down some important plot points and offer insights and observations from my perspective as a lover of both the Private Detective genre and Marvel Comics.

[Let's binge...]

Nov 20 2015 3:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.10: “11:53 to Odessa"

With 3 episodes left in this “event” miniseries, we break for the holiday season being no closer to saving the world than when we began. Tommy is still without his memory or real allies, and Malina is stuck with our mass-murdering psycho, Luke. Okay, he’s reformed now, but I’m with Noah—no reason to trust this dude (though Zachary Levi is at least making me feel his pain).

“11:53 to Odessa” is more about moving pieces into place than pushing the story forward. That’s more than a bit frustrating after all the momentum of the flashback Odessa episodes.

So, where do we stand?

[Let's find out...]

Nov 13 2015 11:30am

Heroes Reborn 1.09: “Sundae, Bloody Sundae”

Last week, I wished for more character development from the mustache-twirling villain of Heroes Reborn, Erica. I’m not sure viewers got that, but we sure got something.

In a scene straight out of Game of Thrones, Erica shot and killed a deer and was later seen butchering it.

I guess this was meant to show the depths of her commitment to letting the worldwide disaster take place and thus ensure the survival of a hand-picked number of the human race but it was so weirdly out of place that it colored what was mostly a fine episode.

Why did a deer decide to wander in front of Erica’s home? Why did she happen to have a rifle handy? Isn’t there a law against weapons discharge in a public place? And what the heck was the overall point of the scene, save to inspire me to a possible Erica/Tywin Lannister fanfic in my head? (They bond about irresponsible children and the joys of killing and butchering one’s own food.)

[She better lock her bathroom...]

Nov 9 2015 4:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.08: “June 13th – Part Two”

As I was watching the second part of “June 13th,” it occurred to me that the date has a double meaning, not just referring to the bombing, but also to Nathan and Malina’s birthday.

Given that these are the kids who will save the world, that’s not a coincidence.

I expected this second part to provide a number of answers to what’s gone before in this series. I had no expectations that it would include revelations on the level of the twins but, still, the episode managed to include several surprises and throw just enough confusion on the present that I wish I was binge watching the show rather than viewing it week-to-week.

Part 2 also provided some lovely character moments, including Noah mourning future Molly while past Molly is working with him, Otomo and Miko’s parting, and Hiro’s sacrifice for his newfound family.

What did we learn?

[Let's find out...]

Nov 2 2015 12:45pm

Heroes Reborn 1.07: “June 13th – Part One”

I had several theories about what would happen when Hiro and Noah went back in time to Odessa on June 13th.

One, I doubted they would stop the bomb. Two, I thought that Noah was the one who mind-wiped himself.  Three, I hoped Claire would be alive.

Right on one. Two remains to be seen but the Magic Eight-Ball tells me it’s likely. Three?

There, the show threw a total swerve.

Claire was dead. But she was pregnant. With twins. Which she died giving birth to.

These kids are totally Tommy/Nathan and Malina aka the kids who will save the world from epic catastrophe.

My next question: Who’s Daddy?

[And have we met him?]

Oct 23 2015 11:00am

Heroes Reborn 1.06: “Game Over"

“Game Over” was the best episode of the reboot so far, and not just because it reunited Noah and Hiro.

It’s because the storylines finally overlapped, collided, and the stakes became even higher. The fact that the two deaths this episode felt more like side issues is indicative of how much was packed into this hour. Halfway through the mini-series, all is in motion.

Noah and Quentin attacked the secret Renautus facility looking for answers after a little waterboarding of Harris. Ren and Miko also converged there after determining that’s the real world location for the person Miko must rescue. Of course, that person turns out to be Hiro, as speculated since the beginning.

[Welcome back!]

Oct 16 2015 2:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.05: “Lion’s Den”

Quick cuts between multiple plotlines seems to be one of the trends in episodic television, the theory being that viewers might forgot about one of the main cast members if they’re ignored for an episode or two. Or perhaps they’re worried viewers might tune out if the episode doesn’t focus on their favorite.

What’s lost is the ability to dig deeper into a character. Lost did this so well, memorably with the episode focused on Locke in season one, perhaps one of the best episodes of network television ever.

That’s the problem Heroes Reborn had for me last night. I was most invested in Noah, Quentin and Taylor’s attempt to confront Erica and Erica’s plans to commit genocide but that’s primarily because I’m invested in Noah from the previous incarnation of Heroes. Part of the reason I’m so invested is Noah? Because he received one of those spotlight episodes early on in that series.

For instance, take our Jedi and Padawan. The fact that I have to keep looking up their names (Farah and Malina) and instead refer to them as their function is a clue that they’re not fully realized characters. They’re plot devices with clichéd dialogue to toss out to the audience, like “When the moment comes, you will be ready, I promise.”

Once that line was said, I turned to my husband and said, “Well, that’s it. The mentor’s gone this episode.” And, of course, the pair was separated, with Farah’s fate in doubt, though the padawan has a mysterious letter with instructions about said saving of the world. Why these instructions couldn’t have been passed along during the trek in the Northwest woods is not made clear.

[That might have made more sense...]

Oct 9 2015 2:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.04: “The Needs of the Many”

The visual of humans being hooked into part of some machine has become cliché. How do I know this? Because the Heroes Reborn scene last night immediately reminded me of similar scenes in two recent films.

One, in Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, is played as horror. The other, in The Lego Movie, is played for laughs.

Not having a big budget like Scorch Trials, Heroes Reborn went with a sterile white room. The reveal should have had emotional resonance, given Molly Walker’s self-sacrifice to avoid being cog in the Machine. Alas, I’ve seen it before.

When Heroes first arrived on television, it offered something different. Now, the world’s caught up to its stories. That’s crystal clear by the use of the word “inhuman” at the end of the show, the same word that’s being used to describe the people whose powers are evolving in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“Forget the past, save the future” would be good advice for the show overall, because it seems too much of the same instead of going for something new.

I’ve enjoyed watching the revival but I remain uncertain what it has to say.

[And that's a slippery slope for a TV show to stand on...]

Oct 2 2015 10:00am

Heroes Reborn 1.03: “Under the Mask”

If the two-episode premiere was mostly setup, the third episode took those seemingly random plotlines and turned up the pressure. In the process, the show has started to overcome the problems that plagued the original series: cohesion and lack of forward momentum.

And this episode did it well enough to overcome the “people with powers hunted even though they didn’t do anything” trope. If the rest of the season retains this quality, I’ll be impressed and pleased.

I’ve been familiar with the above trope since I started reading X-Men comics in 1980 and mostly it bores me. Yet by the end of last night’s episode, I was at the edge of my seat, horrified by what happened to Molly Walker.  Kudos to Francesca Eastwood for making me care. (And, yes, she’s the daughter of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fischer.)

[She wasn't feeling lucky...]

Sep 30 2015 2:30pm

Netflix and Marvel’s Jessica Jones: A Primer

Marvel's Jessica Jones brings the dangerous world of a super-powered private detective to Netflix. The feature film and television adaptations of Marvel Comics characters like Iron Man, Captain America, the Avengers, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been thrilling viewers across the world for years, primarily as science fiction tales or techno-thrillers where valiant heroes battle high-tech terrorists. Recently though, Marvel Studios has begun spinning tales with more appeal to crime fans. The film Ant-Man was pretty much a heist comedy, and the Netflix television series Daredevil took viewers to the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen, where a blind lawyer-turned-titular-vigilante with super senses battles a powerful crime boss.

This November 20th, Netflix airs its 13-episode Season 1 of Jessica Jones, a series with even more appeal to crime fans, chronicling the case of a costumed superhero-turned-private-detective and her battle with a monstrous villain from her past who’s resurfaced to torment her in the present. The fantastic comic series it's based on and the great cast means this is a series crime fans should get excited for.

[It shouldn't be too hard...]

Sep 25 2015 1:30pm

Heroes Reborn: Good Enough to Pull Viewers In

The first season of the original Heroes rightly became a phenomenon. It contained a cast full of appealing and multi-cultural characters, a central mystery, a freaky villain, and a wonderful finale that tied up all the disparate plot threads.

Alas, Season 2 arrived and instead of a continuation, it was more like a reset, as characters who’d grown instead reverted to where they were at the start of Season 1. I bailed at the end of this season with a sad sigh.

But I’m totally on board with a reboot that might fulfill the promise of the wonderful first season.

Does Heroes Reborn do that?

[Click through to find out!]

Jul 28 2015 12:00pm

The Essential Jim Gordon Stories, Or, When Gordon Became Batman

In the current storyline in DC’s Batman and Detective Comics, Jim Gordon’s shaved his mustache, ditched the overcoat, and done some serious body sculpting for his new job—the pilot of a new robotic Batman suit that is protecting Gotham, because the real Batman is feared dead from a final confrontation with the Joker.

I thought Jim Gordon had reached the height of popularity when an entire show, Gotham, was built around him.

No. Not even close.

Because now he’s Batman.

It’s quite a pinnacle for a character introduced in 1939, who stayed in the background for decades, and then was shown as an ineffective bumbler in the Batman (1966) television show.

[Every bat has its day...]

Jun 30 2015 12:00pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Push (2009)

By now, Chris Evans is a bona fide Hollywood star. Everyone knows his name and face, and he's made a big mark in pop culture with his roles in four comic book adaptations: The Fantastic Four (where he was Johnny Storm, the Human Torch), Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (Evil Ex Lucas Lee), The Losers (Jensen), and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Steve Rogers, aka Captain America).

(He likes to say that he was never big into comics and it's just a coincidence that he's starred in so many adaptations, but we know better. As the folks at Tumblr like to say, it's no coincidence that he has the perfect superhero shoulder-to-waist ratio.)

But before he was the superpowered soldier with the star-spangled uniform, he played another guy with superpowers in the little-known film Push.

Nick Gant (Evans) is what's known as a Mover, which is just another way of saying telekinetic. Like Jean Grey, he can move things with his mind. Which makes life difficult for Nick, because there's an organization very interested in people like him called Division. Division has been “collecting” superpowered folks for several decades now: testing them, classifying them, and doing their best to weaponize them for the good of the government.

[Sounds recognizable enough so far...]

Jun 3 2015 2:00pm

Now That You’ve Watched Daredevil, Read These Comics

Daredevil’s thirteen-episode season was a non-stop crime noir thrill ride populated by characters that stayed with me long after my binge watch ended.

The bad news: a second season won’t happen until sometime in 2016.

The good news: the comics listed below will help pass the time until then. It’s no coincidence that the first four creative runs are similar to the television show. The television show drew heavily on these stories for inspiration for storylines, atmosphere, and characters.

The last run listed? It’s just pure comic fun that should be read anyway.

[Let's start at the beginning...]

May 14 2015 1:30pm

Batman Eternal: The Only Gotham Story You Need

Setting is character. The iconic image of Batman on the rooftops of Gotham City, protecting his dark, violent world tells the reader all they need to know about what kind of person this masked man is.

The television show Gotham has, to mixed success, attempted to make the city as much of a character as any of its citizens, though it labors under the handicap of not being able to use Batman or any of the city’s costumed heroes.

For that, readers need Batman Eternal, a 52 chapter story published in weekly installments last year. This year-long story, written by all the talent currently writing the Batman books, creates and epic story about Gotham and all its myriad facets.

Batman Eternal features every aspect of Gotham: the mob, costumed heroes, the colorful villains, the GCPD, the press, and the supernatural corners that lurk in the darkness. While an ambitious a story with a large cast could seem intimidating to a newcomers, each plotline has a tentpole that hold the elements together and provides its own point of view the city and its citizens.

[You'll be tearing through the pages in no time...]

May 5 2015 3:55pm

Gotham Season Finale: 1.22: “All Happy Families Are Alike”

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz ) has so much to learn about his own parents./ courtesy FOX

It started, as the Batman legend does, with the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne in front of their young son, Bruce.

What Gotham promised to viewers in the premiere was a story about Jim Gordon’s fight to bring order to a chaotic city, Oswald Cobblepot’s quest to become Gotham’s crime lord, and Bruce Wayne’s dedication to finding justice, if not for his parents, for his city.

The season finale brought these plotlines full circle, with Gordon desperately trying to save Gotham from being a war zone, with Penguin confronting his rivals, with Selina possibly taking a step away from Bruce and to the dark side, and with Bruce and Alfred discovering part of his father’s legacy.

Unfortunately, the season-long journey to this point meandered, sometimes into utter ridiculousness. Promising ideas, such as Gordon recruiting detectives Allen and Montoya as allies, fizzled.  Penguin’s arc eventually stalled. Everyone but Bruce and Alfred forgot about solving the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

I wondered if the finale could possibly be good enough to redeeme the season and bring me back next year.

[Drum roll please...?]

Apr 23 2015 9:00am

Day of the Destroyers: Exclusive Excerpt

Gary Phillips

Read an exclusive excerpt of Chapter 1 of Day of the Destroyers, a linked-prose anthology starring Jimmie Flint, Agent X-11 (available April 28, 2015). Comment to enter for a chance to win a signed copy!

Based on a real historical event during the Roosevelt administration! Guest starring pulp heroes The Green Lama, The Phantom Detective, and The Black Bat! Day of the Destroyers is an all-original, linked-prose anthology; each story is part of a larger arc wherein Jimmie Flint, Secret Agent X-11 of the Intelligence Service Command, battles to prevent the seditionist Medusa Council from engineering a bloody coup overthrowing our democracy. Written by pulp fictioneers Ron Fortier, Adam Lance Garcia, Gary Phillips, Paul Bishop, Jeri Westerson, Eric Fein, Tommy Hancock, Aaron Shaps, and Joe Gentile.


Abraham Zybriski fell on all fours, doing his best to make his way over the sand dune.  He got up and kept ascending.  It was a cold, moonless night in California’s Mohave Desert, though the sand had retained some of the heat of the day.  The temperature had crested 110 degrees then, now it was in the low forties.  He swallowed but his mouth and throat were dry.  He was tired and alone, but he kept going. 

[Continue reading Day of the Destroyers now!]

Apr 21 2015 10:00am

Gotham 1.20: “Under the Knife”

It finally happened. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) finally conduct an actual police investigation, though I’m still having trouble buying the premise. Their target is the serial killer with the secret bondage room, ala Christian Grey, who’s looking for the perfect woman, i.e. a woman who does anything he tells her to do.

In other events, the young Bat and Cat attend a ball and banter, Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) takes his first step into villainy, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) returns worried about a job (she has a job?) with a new twist that’s only vaguely more interesting than the blank slate she’s been previously, and Oswald’s mother is menaced by Maroni (David Zayas).

Oh, and Gotham puts Morena Baccarin in a bathtub for no particular reason other than it seemed to want a T & A scene.

[I'm sure that got your attention...]

Apr 14 2015 9:45am

Gotham 1.19: “Beasts of Prey”

Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) in the “Beasts of Prey” episode of GOTHAM.

This weekend, I was binge-watching a great superhero noir series set in a corrupt city where the only justice to be had was by skirting the edges of the law. The show also featured a magnetic, compelling villain with a plan for full control.

But enough about Daredevil.

In fairness to Gotham,  part of the reason Daredevil is so much better is that it’s only 13 episodes, creating a tight focus, doesn’t have network restrictions on subject matter, and doesn’t have the network interference which might be part of Gotham’s largest flaw: the lack of focus.

Gotham is so diffuse that none of its stories end up being compelling, especially when the characters stumble into things rather than being proactive. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Fish’s escape from DollMaker Island most this week: Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) not only has a goal, to escape, but a smart plan to accomplish it. Bonus: she even rescues the people she said she would rescue, while making sure she leaves dead enemies behind. Not to mention being able to play the Dollmaker for a fool and fly a helicopter after taking a bullet.

[There's only one Fish in Gotham's sea...]

Mar 3 2015 11:15am

Gotham 1.18: “Everyone Has a Cobblepot”

 Detective Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Dent (Nicholas D'Agosto) investigate a lead in the "Everyone Has A Cobblepot" episode of GOTHAM.

“Petulance and naiveté are a bad combination.”

That’s Police Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) telling Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) that he’s going about fighting corruption in the department the wrong way. But it might as well have been the audience rolling their eyes at yet another Gordon plan to stop corruption by yelling at people.

Perhaps Loeb’s comments stung because, in this episode, Gordon does a small amount of actual investigative work in an effort to find the evidence of murder and other misdeeds that Loeb has on, well, practically every member of the GCPD.

“Everyone Has a Cobblepot” also served up yet another offensive parody of the mentally ill, reassured viewers that Alfred (Sean Pertwee) will recover from last week’s stabbing, provided Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) with a new eye, and showed that Selina (Camren Bicondova) is attached to Bruce (David Mazouz), whatever she may claim. Oh, and Harvey Dent (Nicholas D'Agosto) shows up but he makes little impression.

The episode also featured Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor), which was good, and lacked Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), which is double good. But, unfortunately, the episode itself was mediocre, much like most of the season.

[Same old, same old...]