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From The Blog
October 17, 2017
Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Adam Wagner
October 15, 2017
Executed 100 Years Ago: Who Was Mata Hari?
David Cranmer
October 13, 2017
6 Eerie, Mysterious, and Unsettling Unsolved Mysteries
Angie Barry
October 13, 2017
Man Arrested for 28th DUI
Teddy Pierson
October 12, 2017
Celebrating Robert Mitchum’s Centennial: Mitch Goes to War
David Cranmer
Showing posts by: Dave Richards click to see Dave Richards's profile
Mon
Sep 11 2017 1:00pm

Review: Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham

Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham is a debut novel that blends magic and mayhem to create an edgy thriller perfect for fans of fantasy and crime fiction (available September 12, 2017).

The urban fantasy genre is full of protagonists who use keen detection skills and a multitude of supernatural talents and gifts to solve crimes and bring justice to weird and strange criminals. One mashup you don't see as often, though, is elements of fantasy with crime fiction's sister genre, the spy story. I think adding aspects of fantasy like wizards to an espionage story full of impossible heists, shifting allegiances, and morally murky missions makes for a pretty compelling tale. In Brad Abraham’s debut novel, Magicians Impossible, he does just that. The result is a fun and exciting story that could be described with the Hollywood elevator pitch, “Harry Potter meets the Mission Impossible films.”

One of Abraham's biggest strengths in the novel is his world building. In the opening sections of the book, he clearly defines how magic works in his fictional world and introduces readers to some interesting factions, characters, and competing magic schools. The reader encounters these elements through the perspective of Jason Bishop, a 30-year-old bartender who—after the death of his distant father—is introduced to the clandestine conflict between two magical factions: the heroic champions of order, The Invisible Hand, and the sowers of chaos known as the Golden Dawn. Here, Carter Block, the man who inducts Jason into the shadowy arcane world, describes the two different factions:

[Read Dave Richards's review of Magicians Impossible...]

Wed
Sep 6 2017 1:00pm

Marvel’s The Defenders Season 1 Review: Episodes 7-8

Hello, and welcome back to my look at Netflix's eight-episode miniseries, The Defenders, which serves as a culmination to the plot lines and character arcs introduced in the streaming service's other Marvel shows—Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist—and a launching point for new stories and directions. In today's installment, we arrive at the end with a look at the series’ final two parts: Episode 7: “Fish in the Jailhouse” and Episode 8: “The Defenders.” I'll give my perspective as a comic book journalist and longtime Marvel Comics fan and analyze what worked, what didn't, and what the big finale might mean for the individual Defenders and their supporting casts when we next catch up with them.

So let's go fight some ninjas!

[Read Dave Richards's review of Episodes 7-8...]

Wed
Aug 30 2017 1:00pm

Marvel’s The Defenders Season 1 Review: Episodes 4-6

Hello, and welcome back to my look at Netflix's latest Marvel adaptation, The Defenders, which is meant to pay off several seasons of television by bringing together the protagonists, supporting cast, and plot lines from the streaming service’s other Marvel shows—Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist—for one epic eight-episode miniseries. Last time, we kicked things off with a look at Episodes 1-3. Today, we'll cruise through the back half of the series and rocket towards the conclusion as we examine Episode 4: “Royal Dragon”; Episode 5: “Take Shelter”; and Episode 6: “Ashes, Ashes.” From my perspective as a comic journalist and longtime Marvel fan, we'll chat about what worked, what didn't, and some of the differences between the comic and screen incarnations of the characters.

So let's get going! New York won't save itself!

[Read Dave Richards's review of Episodes 4-6 of The Defenders...]

Wed
Aug 23 2017 1:00pm

Marvel’s The Defenders Season 1 Review: Episodes 1-3

Hello, and welcome back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe! After four seasons of great and highly entertaining television (Daredevil Seasons 1-2, Jessica Jones Season 1, and Luke Cage Season 1) and one season that was a complete stinkfest (I'm looking at you Iron Fist. You know what you did), Netflix and Marvel television have finally delivered the ultimate payoff series that brings all the protagonists of their programs together to form an Avengers-style supergroup, The Defenders. The question is: did it live up to the hype?

My name is Dave Richards. I was your guide in Criminal Element's look at the second season of Daredevil and the debut seasons of Jessica Jones and Iron Fist. Now, I'm back to examine the action and prominent characters of The Defenders, see if the eight-episode series lives up to the hype and exceeds what has come before, and offer up my perspective as a longtime fan of and journalist covering Marvel Comics. We begin with a look at the first three episodes: “The H Word,” “Mean Right Hook,” and “Worst Behavior.”

Let's get started!

[Read Dave Richards's review of The Defenders, Season 1: Episodes 1-3!]

Thu
Aug 17 2017 4:00pm

Marvel’s The Defenders Primer: Catch Up On Their Solo and Group Comic Exploits

In 2015, with the launch of the first season of Daredevil, Marvel television and Netflix began building their own corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since then, they’ve delivered a steady bit of payout as fans got to meet compelling characters like the title character of Daredevil, blind lawyer turned costumed vigilante Matt Murdock; superpowered P.I. Jessica Jones; and the bulletproof hero of Harlem, Luke Cage. (They also met the fairly underwhelming Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, but the less said about his show, the better, in my opinion.)

Now, they’re set to deliver the ultimate fan payoff with the release of The Defenders—an eight-episode Netflix series that brings together the title characters and supporting casts from the previous Marvel Netflix shows for an Avengers-style team up. Early buzz is saying The Defenders series is as good as—and perhaps even better—than Netflix’s previous Marvel endeavors (and in the case of Iron Fist ... way, way better). So it’s a good chance these episodes will go quickly and leave viewers wanting more.

But you won't have to wait for Netflix to release Season 2. Marvel Comics has plenty of fascinating titles featuring the group as well as several individual stories of each of the Defenders. In this article, we’ll take a look at those books and tell you how to get caught up on them.

[Catch up with The Defenders!]

Tue
Jul 11 2017 3:00pm

Review: Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente

Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente is a brilliant debut that is both an homage to the Golden Age of Mystery and a thoroughly contemporary show-business satire (available July 11, 2017).

When a comedian bombs on stage, it's said that “they're dying.” There's even a classic quote that states, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” So there's a natural connection between the worlds of comedy and murderous crime fiction. In his debut novel, Ten Dead ComediansFred Van Lente draws upon that connection to create a captivating, hilarious, and overall fun murder mystery/satire. What makes the novel truly engaging, however, is the superb character development of his cast.

Van Lente is a veteran comic book creator who's worked for companies like Marvel, Valiant, and Dark Horse. He's also self-published several books. He's written both fantastical tales and biographical ones about prominent philosophers and comic book creators. So he knows how to mesh genre details with grounded real-world issues.

[Read Dave Richards's review of Ten Dead Comedians...]

Wed
May 24 2017 1:00pm

Review: City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino is an edgy, gritty, mature YA mystery about a young woman's struggle to not only belong—but survive.

One reason why I'm drawn to crime fiction is that it shows so-called “bad” people at their best and “good” people at their worst. That nuanced look at humanity and the forces out to corrupt it makes for some powerful, poignant, and pretty dark tales. You have to be an adult to fully appreciate and understand those types of stories though, right? You can't do a gritty, street level, crime story as a YA novel ... can you?

It turns out you can. City of Angels, Kristi Belcamino's (author of the Gabriella Giovanni series) debut YA crime novel, proved I need to reevaluate my assumptions about YA novels' ability to tell gritty and powerful crime stories. 

[Read Dave Richards's review of City of Angels...]

Fri
Apr 14 2017 3:30pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 11-13

Hello, and welcome back! Today, we bring my look at Netflix's latest Marvel Comics adaptation, Iron Fist, to a close. In this final installment, we'll examine the last three episodes: Episode 11, “Lead Horse Back to the Stable”; Episode 12, “Bar the Big Boss”; and Episode 13, “Dragon Plays with Fire.” In addition to examining these episodes from my perspective as a longtime comic fan and pointing out some comic Easter eggs, I'll also talk about the lingering questions the series leaves for the next Netflix Marvel adaptation, The Defenders (where the various heroes of their four shows will join forces), and my thoughts on a possible second season of Iron Fist.

Let's begin!

[You are the worst Iron Fist...]

Fri
Apr 7 2017 4:00pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 8-10

Hello, and welcome back! It's time to begin our look at the back half of Netflix's latest Marvel Comics adaptation, Iron Fist. In this penultimate installment of my feature, we'll examine Episode 8, “The Blessing of Many Fractures”; Episode 9, “The Mistress of All Agonies”; and Episode 10 “Black Tiger Steals Heart.” I'll also offer up my perspective as a long time Marvel Comics fan on the differences between the source material and how it was translated in the show, as well as some of the Easter Eggs for comic fans that viewers might have missed.

Let's begin!

[Check out Dave Richards's review of Iron Fist, Episodes 8-10...]

Fri
Mar 31 2017 3:00pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 5-7

Hello, and welcome back to my look at Netflix's latest Marvel Comics adaptation, Iron Fist! Last time, we kicked things off with a look at episodes 1-4. Today, we'll reach the halfway point with a review of Episode 5, “Under Leaf Plucks Lotus”; Episode 6, “Immortal Emerges From the Cave”; and Episode 7, “Felling Tree With Roots.” From my perspective as a long-term Marvel Comics fan, we'll talk about what I thought worked and what didn't, examine some of the ties to other Marvel Netflix shows, and look at some of the comic Easter eggs that viewers may not have picked up on.

So let's get to it!

[Check out Episodes 5-7 of Iron Fist!]

Fri
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?]

Tue
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...]

Tue
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!]

Fri
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!]

Wed
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...]

Fri
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!]

Fri
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!]

Fri
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!]

Mon
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.]

Wed
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...]