Review: <i>Baker Street Irregulars</i> Review: Baker Street Irregulars Amber Keller Read Amber Keller's review! <i>The Lost Order</i>: New Excerpt The Lost Order: New Excerpt Steve Berry The 12th book in the Cotton Malone series. Review: <i>The New York Times Book of Crime</i>, Edited by Kevin Flynn Review: The New York Times Book of Crime, Edited by Kevin Flynn Jenny Maloney Read Jenny Maloney's review! <i>The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency</i>: New Excerpt The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency: New Excerpt Mandy Morton The 1st book in a new series that turns the traditional British cozy on its head.
From The Blog
March 23, 2017
Review: Personal Shopper (2017)
Peter Foy
March 21, 2017
Q&A with Gretchen Archer, Author of Double Up
Crime HQ and Gretchen Archer
March 17, 2017
Passionate About Pulp: A Conan Double-Feature (Is What Is Best in Life)
Angie Barry
March 16, 2017
Research Ride-Along
kristen lepionka
March 16, 2017
Q&A with Lyndsay Faye, Author of The Whole Art of Detection
Lyndsay Faye and Ardi Alspach
Showing posts by: Dave Richards click to see Dave Richards's profile
Mar 24 2017 3:30pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 1-4

Hello, and welcome back the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! My name is Dave Richards, and I was your guide in Criminal Element's look at the 2nd season of Netflix's television adaptation of Marvel Comics' Daredevil and the streaming network's 1st season of Jessica Jones. Now, I'm back to examine the latest Netflix Marvel series, Iron Fist, which lays the final groundwork for The Defenders series, where the stars of the four various Netflix shows will unite into an Avengers-style supergroup. 

In this piece, we'll look at the first four episodes of Iron Fist: “Snow Gives Way,” “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight,” “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch,” and “Eight Diagram Dragon Palm.” I'll examine the action and prominent characters, look at how the series knits together threads from the other Netflix shows, and offer up my perspective as a long time Marvel Comic reader and fan of the friendship between the comic book incarnations of Danny Rand and Luke Cage. So let's begin!

[Who is Danny Rand?]

Feb 14 2017 2:00pm

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with These Criminal Couples

Love is an incredibly powerful emotion. So it’s no surprise that it’s a big motivating force in crime fiction. It sends broken criminals and lawmen on quests for redemption, and it can lead upstanding citizens on obsessive, self-destructive journeys. Sometimes, it can even do both. It also creates romantic pairings between some fascinating characters. 

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorite couples from crime fiction in several different mediums. I’ll talk a little bit about the pairing, the appeal, and—if it was featured in multiple stories—some good ones to check out. That way you can celebrate in your preferred medium of choice with some tales about the power of love and how it motivates some compelling criminals, antiheroes, and vigilantes.

[Love is in the air...]

Feb 7 2017 4:30pm

The Vigilantes of MTV’s Sweet/Vicious Need Another Kickass Season

In an earlier article for this site, I documented how MTV's Sweet/Vicious—a show about two female college students who become vigilantes to take down the sexual predators stalking their school—was a cathartic, socially relevant, crime fan's cocktail that mixed together great characters with elements of shows like Veronica Mars, Breaking Bad, and early seasons of superhero shows like Netflix's Daredevil and the CW's Arrow.

So I was hooked early on, and with the show having recently wrapped it's 10-episode 1st season, I'm happy to report that my interest in the show has not waned. In fact, Sweet/Vicious has only one real problem in my book, but it's the best kind of problem to have: they have so many more great stories to tell! MTV definitely needs to give the series a second season.

[Get on the ball MTV—renew Sweet/Vicious!]

Jan 13 2017 5:00pm

5 Gateway Marvel Comics for Crime Fiction Fans

Crime fiction is usually set in a gritty, grounded world where protagonists are often forced to engage in morally murky decisions. Superhero stories often go in a different direction, featuring brightly clad characters with fantastic powers locked in a struggle of good versus evil. Factor that in with the fact that many of the superhero comics published by the big two publishers—Marvel and DC—have decades of long, complicated continuity attached to them, and it can be quite easy to decide superheroes are not for you. But, you may be doing yourself a disservice with that decision.

That's because what makes the shared universes that Marvel and DC Comics characters inhabit so interesting and fun is the diversity of elements that exist side by side. Plus, the Marvel Universe has prided itself on being “The world outside your window.” It's a place where the problems of our world collide with the fantastic elements of imagination and genre fiction. Over the years, a character like Spider-Man has battled costumed supervillains, mob bosses, vampires, and even threats from outer space while trying to balance things like having a personal life and making ends meet. 

[See what comics you should be reading!]

Dec 7 2016 2:00pm

Sweet/Vicious: A Socially Relvant Crime Fan’s Cocktail

If I told you that there was a new crime show that was both funny and socially relevant and successfully incorporated elements of other acclaimed shows while still treating its subject matter with utmost respect, what network would you guess it was on? It would have to be something like a Netflix Original series right? WRONG! HBO? NOPE! AMC or FX? Uh-uh. Believe it or not, the network in question is MTV.

The show is called Sweet/Vicious, and it's a cleverly blended cocktail of Veronica Mars and Arrow with a hint of Breaking Bad.

[A winning recipe...]

Dec 2 2016 5:00pm

5 Current Crime Comics You Should Be Reading

Superhero comic books are just as popular as the blockbuster films they inspire. So when you enter a comic store, you’re guaranteed to be bombarded with a whole host of titles featuring the adventures of heroes, from mainstream companies like DC Comics and Marvel to independent publishers. Similar to their onscreen counterparts, comics are in the middle of another golden age, with a range of diverse and quality titles. Thanks to the growth of major publishing imprints like DC Comics’ Vertigo line and independent publishers like Image Comics, there are comics for fans of almost every kind of genre—especially crime fiction. 

Of course, crime fiction is a very broad genre that can accompany a number of different stories and tones. So in this article, I’ll give you the low-down on several diverse and current crime comics, giving you a breakdown of the titles, who they’ll appeal to, and how to get caught up with each.

However, before we get into that, I'd like to provide readers who might be new to the world of comics with some tips to help you get caught up and stay current on the great books I’ll be discussing.

First, create yourself a pull list. Most reputable comic shops are happy to keep a pull list of titles for their regular customers. It’s a way of pre-ordering. Essentially, you let your retailer know which comics you’d be interested in buying, and they set aside the new issues of those titles for you when they become available. If, at any point, you decide a title is no longer for you, just let your retailer know and they’ll remove it from your pull list.

Second, immerse yourself in the burgeoning world of digital comics. It's not always easy to snag each new issue and carry them around all day—that's where sites like comiXology come in. Digital comics allow you to download your favorite issues and read them on any of your digital devices. All of the titles I’ll be discussing are available in both single issue and graphic novel form as digital comics via comiXology.

[See what comics you'll be reading next!]

Nov 18 2016 1:00pm

Dear Frank Castle: Waging Dinner Table Warfare Against Unruly Holiday Guests

This week’s guest columnist is former Marine Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher—a heavily armed vigilante with a fondness for shirts with death’s head skulls. He knows a little something about family and waging a one-man war against threats people are too polite ... or too civilized to confront directly.

Dear Frank,

The holidays are here again. That means I’m once again facing at least two family gatherings with my uncle and aunt. They hijack peaceful family dinners by bringing up divisive topics like religion and politics. Then, they go on to berate the career and family choices my sister and I have made with our lives. I can tell it upsets my parents, but they’re too polite to say anything about it.

How do I take back the dinner table and end my aunt and uncle’s reign of holiday terror?

—Harry, the Holiday Hostage

[Read the Punisher’s advice!]

Oct 28 2016 3:30pm

Four Color Criminal Nightmares: Comics to Get Crime Fans in the Halloween Spirit

October is upon us, which is the season where we celebrate ghosts, goblins, and all things scary. October is a great time to be a horror fan, but it’s also a pretty good time to be a crime fiction fan as well because tales about criminal and supernatural underworlds blend together like chocolate and peanut butter.

Sometimes they combine in subtle and delightful ways like the Slasher sub-genre (which includes films like the Halloween and Scream series), where normal people—often teens—must contend with rampaging serial killers. Other times, it's a full on collision where cops and criminals must confront forces of unspeakable evil.

These crime/horror mashup tales can be told via a number of a different mediums, but for my money, some of the most effective and fun tales that mesh the two highly compatible genres together are done via the four color world of comics. So here are four crime/horror comics to get you into the spirit of the Halloween season!

[See which comics you'll be buying on your next trip to the comic store!]

Sep 19 2016 4:30pm

Head Back to School with the Adolescent Assassins of Deadly Class

I haven’t attended school for some time now, but every year, without fail, I start to feel a bit of gnawing anxiety when it becomes clear that summer is over and fall is about to begin. I imagine that anxiety is even greater for kids headed back to high school. But what if there was a high school where tests and peer interactions didn’t just feel like life-and-death matters because of teen angst, they could literally kill you?

That’s part of the premise of Deadly Class—a creator-owned Image Comics series by writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig that transports readers back in time to the ‘80s and takes them to the clandestine halls of Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts, a secret school for teenage assassins.

The series, with its unique blend of slice-of-life-style adolescent angst and explosive violence, is a must for crime fans who enjoy both cinematic action and graphic fiction that explores the physical and emotional consequences of a life of violence. Plus, it’s about to return from a hiatus and a television adaptation is in the works!

So, if you’ve never heard of Deadly Class or have never had the pleasure of reading it, now’s the time to get acquainted. To help you catch up, I recently spoke with Rick Remender to help create this handy primer about the series.

[Where sleeping in class is a little more...permanent.]

Jul 27 2016 1:30pm

Review: The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson

The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson takes us to the front lines of the battle against small-town drug abuse in an unnerving tale of addiction, loss, and the battle to overcome the darkest parts of ourselves (Available August 2, 2016).

I grew up in the 80's during the “Just Say No” era, so the earliest crime fiction stories about the drug war in America that I saw and read were morally black-and-white tales about maverick cops fighting to bring down evil drug cartels. It wasn't until I got much older that I started to understand that when it came to stories about drugs, cops and criminals are only a small part of a much larger story—crime fiction that examined America's drug problem through many different lenses was much more powerful, haunting, and true. 

[Read Dave Richards's review of The More They Disappear...]

Jul 18 2016 2:00pm

Have Mercy: Never Too Young to Die (1986)

Let’s travel back in time to 1986—a magical time when blockbuster, over-the-top action movies ruled American cinema. That year saw the release of a number of big action movies, including one about a gun-toting, second-generation super spy out to save Los Angeles from an evil terrorist’s scheme to poison the city’s water supply.

Who do you think would have starred in this movie? Somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, or Chuck Norris?

Nope, the answer—believe it or not—is John Stamos!

[Watch the hair!]

Jun 19 2016 12:00pm

Celebrate Father’s Day with 5 of Pop Culture’s Awesome & Ass-Kicking Single Dads

Being a parent is a herculean task, even when you have a wife or husband to help you out. But, successfully raising a child on your own is a task worthy of a legendary hero. Many of the labors single parents face are mundane and don't involve mortal peril, but everyday they're called on to employ an extraordinary amount of courage and selflessness to provide their children with the life they want them to have. Although, some of pop culture's legendary single parents do regularly risk life and limb in order to save the day, city, world, and sometimes the galaxy, while still providing for their kids.

So, in honor of Father's Day, I thought we might pay tribute so some of the greatest single fathers in TV, movies, and comics with a look at five awesome and ass-kicking single dads. We'll examine what makes these guys great fathers and provide you with some viewing material that showcases them at their best, so you and your dad can celebrate Father's Day with TV & movie marathon.

[See which dads make the list...]

Apr 13 2016 5:00pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 11-13

Hello, and welcome back to the final installment of this edition of Binge-Worthy, where I'll look at the final three episodes of Daredevil Season 2 from my perspective as a longtime comic fan. We'll talk character arcs and choices, take a look at some of the many lingering questions that the finale raised, and I'll share some clues and Easter eggs you may have missed.

So let's get to it! These final three episodes: Episode 11, “.380”; Episode 12, “The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”; and Episode 13, “A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen” bring an epic Season 2 to a close and really hammer home some of this season's underlying themes—like the inevitability of change, the cost of fighting wars and how they can change you, and how who you are is forged not by where you came from, but the choices you make.

[Heavy stuff for a superhero show...]

Apr 6 2016 4:30pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 8-10

Hello, and welcome back to the penultimate installment of this latest edition of Binge-Worthy. If you've been following my reviews, you know that the episodes I'm going to talk about here made me very happy. Not only did we get the emergence of the Hand as I had hoped, but we also get Frank Castle embracing his destiny and the triumphant return of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk! For me, these three episodes—Episode 8, “Guilty As Sin”; Episode 9, “Seven Minutes in Heaven”; and Episode 10, “The Man in the Box”—were my favorites, so far. So, let's dive into them from my perspective as a comic fan and chat about characters, comic Easter Eggs, and where I think things might go next.

[Binge-read this review of Episodes 8-10]

Mar 29 2016 3:30pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 5-7

Hello again! Welcome back to my look at Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil series, which just keeps getting better and better as it unfolds more twists and turns. Last time, I took a look at the series’ first four episodes, which introduced viewers to John Bernthal's Frank Castle (AKA the Punisher)—the vengeance-hungry vigilante that turned the lives of Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page upside down. In today's installment, I'll continue my look at the character arcs, Easter eggs, and events from my perspective as a comic fan, as I dive into Episode 5, “Kinbaku”; Episode 6, “Regrets Only”; and Episode 7, “Semper Fidelis.”

[Binge read this article on Daredevil Season 2]

Mar 23 2016 4:45pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 1-4

Hello! Welcome back to Hell's Kitchen!

My name is Dave Richards—I was your guide through Marvel's Netflix series Jessica Jones, discussing the show from my perspective as a comic fan. Now, I'm back for a look at Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil.

See also: Jessica Jones Review: Season 1, Episodes 1-4

I'm especially excited to be returning to the small screen, fictionalized version of the Kitchen because it means catching up with some of the great characters introduced and established in Season 1 of the show, and getting to meet some new ones—including the Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnations of the Punisher and Elektra, two characters I really enjoy from the comics.

So let's get started! In this initial installment, I'll be examining Episode 1, “Bang”; Episode 2, “Dogs to a Gunfight”; Episode 3, “New York's Finest”; and Episode 4, “Penny and Dime.” I'll look at some of the major events, offer my thoughts on characters, and point out some of the Easter Eggs for comic book fans like myself.

[Read Dave Richards recap of Daredevil Season 2: Episodes 1-4]

Mar 16 2016 4:00pm

Who Is the Punisher?

Before their film and television studios became entertainment powerhouses, Marvel Comics sold the rights to their characters to a number of different studios. Over the years, those rights have reverted back to Marvel, allowing them to introduce and incorporate a number of fan-favorite characters into their ever growing Cinematic Universe.

Last year, Marvel Cinematic Universe fans finally got their chance to meet blind-lawyer-turned-superhero, Matt Murdock, with the premiere of the gritty and gripping Daredevil series on Netflix. This week, Daredevil returns for a second season, and he's bringing with him the Punisher—making his triumphant return/debut to Marvel, after starring in other films.

So, in this piece, I'll get you ready for Daredevil Season Two by recommending some stories from the Punisher's 42-year comic history and sharing my thoughts on the previous Punisher films and one video game adaptation.

[Learn about the Punisher before Friday's release of Daredevil Season 2]

Feb 11 2016 1:30pm

Getting to Know Deadpool: Marvel’s Newest and Mouthiest Movie Star

The Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox films inspired by Marvel Comics feature a variety of very different super powered heroes and villains, but if there's one trait many of them share, it's the propensity to crack wise or offer up sarcasm in the face of danger. On February 12th, moviegoers will meet the one Marvel character whose tongue is as sharp as the two katanas he swings.

I'm talking, of course, about the title character of Fox's new Deadpool film, starring Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson—a smart-mouthed and sarcastic mercenary with cancer who volunteers for an experiment that transforms him into a manic, horribly disfigured, unkillable super soldier. Think Bugs Bunny with the fighting skills and healing factor of the X-Men's Wolverine.

Now, some of you unfamiliar with Deadpool's comic book background may be thinking, “Hey! We've seen this character before in the first Wolverine movie!” And you sort of did. Ryan Reynolds played Wade Wilson in the flashback portions of the movie, but the character he became in the present day—that definitely wasn't Deadpool!

Reynolds is actually a huge fan of the character, and a faithful Deadpool feature film adaptation, inspired by the character’s comic adventures, has long been a passion project for him.

Fans of Deadpool comics understand why, too. The character was introduced to the world twenty-five years ago this month, in the pages of “New Mutants” #98, by his creators, Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. Since then, a number of creators have had fantastic, imaginative, and incredibly hilarious runs on the character.

He's evolved over the years, too. He's still the same mouthy, manic, merc his fans have come to know and love, but these days, he's married to a demon queen, he’s a member of the Avengers, and he’s even a successful business man!

So, in this piece, we'll take a look back at the character's comic history, his core traits, and offer up some suggestions for readers looking to become acquainted—or reacquainted—with Deadpool’s exploits as a comic character.

[Shhh. My common sense is tingling...]

Jan 22 2016 5:15pm

Celebrating 75 Years of Captain America

I don't remember how young I was when I discovered reruns of the 1966 Marvel animation show on a local syndication network, but it had to be the very early '80s. What I remember most was Captain America's cheesy and incredibly catchy theme, which featured the lyrical refrain:

“When Captain America throws his mighty shield.”

That was my very first encounter with Marvel's Sentinel of Liberty, and it may be one of the reasons why I started collecting comics in 1984—I was drawn to Captain America. His nobility and ability to inspire instantly hooked me as a fan. Now, some 32 years later, Cap remains my favorite comic book superhero and he's become a worldwide icon. It's both a little surreal and really cool that the Star Spangled Avenger has become a part of the public zeitgeist—and this year, his role in pop culture will only grow larger.

That's because 2016 is the 75th anniversary of Cap's creation, and come May, Marvel Studios will release the third Cap film, Captain America: Civil War. The film will split most of the cinematic incarnations of the Marvel heroes into two warring factions; one lead by Chris Evans's Cap and one lead by Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man.

So, as a Cap fan, I have a lot to look forward to—but I never expected ABC to air a one-hour documentary style special on my favorite character! That special, Marvel's Captain America: 75 Heroic Years, did a pretty great job breaking down the history and appeal of the character, as well as, several signature story lines in about 45-48 minutes (if you count commercials). However, there's still some stuff they left out or could have expanded upon more.

[They say old soldiers never die, Volkov...]

Dec 23 2015 2:00pm

A Batman Christmas: The Yuletide Hero Gotham Deserves

The Holidays are supposed to be a time of peace on Earth and goodwill towards everyone, but as popular culture has shown us, some people view them as a season of sinister opportunity. So, some of the most fun and enjoyable Christmas tales are the ones where we get thrilling confrontations between valiant heroes and the vile villains looking to exploit, poison, and pervert the Yuletide season. It's why so many people consider Die Hard a Christmas film. It's also why when Christmas Eve arrives in Gotham City, Santa isn't the only one prowling roof tops.

At first glance, Batman seems like an odd fit for a story set at Christmas time, but over the course of the character's 76-year history, Bill Finger and Bob Kane's Dark Knight Detective has had plenty of Christmas set adventures. This Holiday Hero is not just reserved for the comics, but also appears in other media like television, film, and even video games. In this piece, we'll look at why the holidays are such an interesting time to set a Batman story and some of the more memorable and recent examples of the Dark Knight's Yuletide adventures.

[Holy holidays, Batman! Looks like it's almost Christmas...]