Marvel 616 Review – Strange Tales #108 (A Story)

Strange Tales #108 Photo Credit: Marvel, Writers Robert Bernstein & Stan Lee, Artists Steve Ditko & Jack Kirby

While a lot of the rest of Marvel 616 has been chugging along, Johnny Storm in Strange Tales has had a bit of trouble finding an arch nemesis equal to his powers. He usually seems like he can just blow past these guys and if he really gets stuck, he can always call on the rest of the Fantastic Four to help out. So far, not many of the bad guys have really stood out, and neither does, The Painter. This is a bad guy who can paint anything in record speed and it will come to life.

The issue starts us off with The Painter drawing Johnny’s demise in an asbestos lined room fighting the other members of his team.

We next jump back in time to see a bunch of crooks having a rough time committing their crimes because Johnny is in town. Torch then stops a getaway car by melting the asphalt right under it. Not sure if Johnny is on the hook for the repairs but the bad guys are stopped. We see Johnny stop a bank robbery using smoke rings, and flame scissors to cut away the bags of loot. The police seem more than happy for the assists from Torch and everything is going his way. But Johnny knows this isn’t the end. He tells the cops, “Mark my words, right now some master criminal or evil genius is figuring out some so-called brilliant scheme to get rid of me! It’s happened before..”

Then, as you might expect we see a clip show worth of flashbacks of enemies Johnny has faced. He mentions The Wizard, The Destroyer, Paste-Pot Pete and Zemu, Despot of the 5th dimension. They’re all out of commission at this point but Johnny is still around. Johnny knows it’s just a matter of time before he’ll face a new villain.

Of course he is right and that’s where we see the criminal element come together. There is an organized crime leader named “Scar” Tobin and he is interrupted by, “Wilhelm Van Vile, the counter-feiter the Torch caught… but busted out of jail last week!”

This dude wants revenge and he has… a set of paints. He demonstrates his powers by drawing a three headed gorilla to intimidate the gangsters. He does this at lightning speed so they don’t even seem to have time to pull their guns. The painting comes to life and Wilhelm Van Vile is able to control it telepathically. The other bad guys try to stop him but The Painter just keeps painting stuff that stops them, including making one of their guns super heavy, and it crashes through the floor. Van Vile paints a magic carpet and he takes the gangsters along with him on it. This gives Van Vile the opportunity to narrate his origin story.

He was locked up first for making poor imitations of famous art and trying to sell them as originals and then he gets locked up again because he was making counterfeit bills but Johnny caught a mistake on the bills. He does have to turn into the Human Torch to get the job done and The Painter swears his revenge. The Painter then tells the tale of breaking out of prison and digging into a strange underground cavern. He finds a set of paints that look brand new but Van Vile is also aware of “ancient Egyptian picture-writing” and believes the pictures are saying the paints are magical. He also thinks these paints come from a group of aliens who traveled through space by using the paints. (What can I say, it’s a comic book. They have to have aliens or communists at this point right?) The Painter takes a chance and paints his way out of the cave.

We go back to the present where The Painter says he wants to be, “The King of Crime!” I do feel like parts of this issue are a precursor to the character who will become the The Kingpin. “Scare” Tobin kind of looks like him and this is the first real mention that there could be a “King of Crime” at all in 616.

We see The Painter toy with Torch for a bit. He draws a Fantasti-car and giant fire hydrants and he does manage to douse Torch. Johnny is safe but he definitely knows something is up. The Painter then makes some creatures at a carnival come to life. We get to see a couple of weird monster drawings from Jack Kirby which is always fun. Torch drives them into the sea and saves the day. Then The Painter draws a volcano of sand to stop Johnny but that doesn’t work either.

We finally come back to the point of the beginning of the story where The Painter draws Johnny losing a fight to his teammates. And we see him lose this fight. The crooks all hear on the radio this was the end of Johnny Storm and they are overjoyed and plan to take on the rest of the FF as soon as they can.

But The Human Torch suddenly shows up. Johnny burns up the the paintings and magic paints. Turns out Johnny had figured out who was doing this, waited until the bad guys were all asleep and painted a living picture of himself with the magic paints so he was never in any actual danger.

The Painter is baffled as to how Johnny figured this out but it turns out it was Van Vile’s own fault. He was careless in his paintings. He didn’t put nozzles on the fire hydrants, didn’t put any litter baskets in the beach scene, and didn’t even put a 4 on the uniforms of The Fantastic Four. So Johnny combed the area until he found The Painter.

The story ends kind of abruptly right there.

The story was pretty standard for the time but it is clear the creators are trying to find the right person to be the consistent bad guy for Johnny. He’s gone up against a few who will be completely forgotten but he’s also had a run in or two with some who will eventually become major players in 616 continuity. For now, it’s still kind of a bad guy of the week situation for this character.

Next up on the reading list, we’re actually staying on this issue for the D story. I thought it would be better to separate out the reviews, however because they are totally different stories. So next is Strange Tales #108 (D story)!

Marvel 616 Review – Journey Into Mystery #91

Journey Into Mystery Issue 91, Photo Credit: Marvel, Writer Stan Lee and Larry Lieber, Artist Joe Sinnott

Journey Into Mystery has thrown us quite a few stories involving Thor and his alter ego Don Blake. He’s fought communists, aliens, petty thieves and an assortment of other bad guys. But Thor always shines most when he fights Loki. Even when he doesn’t know he is fighting Loki.

This issue starts with Odin in Asgard holding what he calls a belt of strength. It belongs to Thor but so far during his time on Earth (aka midgard). This belt gives Thor even more strength and power than he usually has.

We shift over to Thor who is flying through the sky and sees a commotion below him. A bank building is floating in the air as the people below it watch. Thor forces the building towards the ground but it suddenly disappears. Strangely, all the people who where in the bank suddenly reappear unharmed. Thor turns back into his mortal form of Dr. Don Blake. He sees the crowd panicking but none of them seem to have any memory of where they went or what happened there.

Dr. Blake realizes this is not due to any physical issue and assumes Loki must be up to something. Interestingly, it seems Blake remembers what happens when he is Thor. Their personalities seem to merge a bit more frequently in this issue than in some others. This is not a Hulk/Banner dichotomy, Blake and Thor seem to have similar goals most of the time.

Blake changes back to Thor and calls to Odin to check that Loki is still in Asgard. Odin confirms Loki hasn’t left but Odin is not aware that Loki can get up to mischief even from Asgard. Thor figures he has to go back and find out who seems to be doing these odd things. He sees a bunch of cash floating in the air at the race track.

We flash over to Loki who is having the time of his life watching all this happen. Turns out a few days earlier Loki discovered a person with a mild amount of telepathic abilities who was making a living at a carnival. This person is named Sandu and he guesses accurately in seconds that Don Blake is in love with Jane Foster but he denies it. Jane gets a bit frustrated because she thinks Blake is too stuffy to fall for any girl. Blake, for his part knows Odin has forbidden him to reveal his identity to any mortal. At least he has a somewhat valid excuse. It’s tough to defy the command of a god and all.

Loki decides to boost Sandu’s powers and figures the guy would turn to pure evil pretty quickly. Loki was absolutely right about that. Needless to say, the guy goes on a crime spree stealing as much money as he can. He teleports money and banks and art and even a whole palace. Any people in the buildings he teleports he wipes away their memories. Most of it he teleports to the moon. Not sure how that will work for him but I guess we should just let Sandu be Sandu in this one.

Thor tries to stop the guy and Loki watches with sheer joy as Thor tries to fight Sandu. Sandu crosses the line when he teleports the United Nations building and demands that all the delegates make him the ruler of the world. As Thor tries to stop him, Sandu drops a bunch of steel on him and traps Thor. Thor asks for help from Odin. And as you can probably guess, Odin sends the belt of strength from the beginning of the issue.

A pair of Valkyries bring it to Thor. These are not the strong warrior women you might imagine from the MCU. These are ethereal beings who kind of float around in flowing gowns. This will change in future comics but it’s how we are first introduced to them.

Thor busts out of the trap he is in but Sandu tricks Thor into throwing his hammer and then teleports Thor into a dimension where he can’t reach his hammer. Sandu isn’t all that smart though because he realizes how powerful a weapon it is and tries to lift Mjolnir with his mind. In Asgard, Loki basically yells at Sandu because he knows there is no way this dude can lift that hammer.

In the end, Thor prevails and Sandu is defeated. But, no one seems to be wise to the fact that Loki caused all the mischief here.

Some things to note in this issue are the integrated personalities of Thor and Blake, they seem to be one person, but how that’s possible isn’t yet explained, Loki for the first time here not only causes trouble but gets away with it without being caught at all, and the connection between Thor and Odin is made more direct than before. It seems Thor can call dear ol’ dad whenever he needs to and there is a pretty instant reply.

The end of the issue shows us Loki saying he will find a way to defeat Thor because he’s got all eternity to scheme. We’ve definitely not seen the last of him and he’ll prove to be more of a threat than just to Thor once the Avengers finally assemble. For now though, we leave him seething as always and just itching to get back at Thor.

Next up on the reading list, we’ll be checking in on Johnny Storm in Strange Tales #108!

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Challenge Wrap-Up!

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. At the start of 2022 I created some challenges for reading, movies and TTRPG fun. 2022 is over so now it’s time to see how I did on all of these challenges. Also, heads up I will be posting new challenges for 2023 sometime in January so keep an eye out if you want to follow along!

If you did any of these challenges I would also love to hear how you did. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Reading Challenge

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Book Challenge! Click the image to download your own copy!

I re-read the first book I remember reading, Cat in the Hat. Still a good book. I actually read a few books longer than 500 pages long. I read some books with magic in it but I’m not sure it was a complicated magic system so I think I have to give myself a partial checkmark on that one. I did not read a book where the main character dies. I also missed the read a book you were assigned in school but didn’t read. I also missed on a book written by a famous author that I have never read. I did read several books less than 500 pages long and I absolutely read independently published books. I really didn’t read any non-fiction this year so I didn’t complete the non-fiction book about a subject I don’t know much about challenge. I read books on best seller lists so that one is covered. I also read more than one series with a large cast of characters and most of those books didn’t take place on earth so I got that one as well.

FINAL SCORE: 7 1/2 out of 12.

Movie Challenge

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Movie Challenge! Click the image to download your own copy!

I watched The Princess Bride which is definitely about love and an amazing movie. It’s always been one of my favorites. I saw Don’t Look Up which is more of an allegory about climate change than a movie about climate change but I am still counting it for the second challenge. I watched Drive My Car which I had never heard of. I’m really glad I did but boy it sure is a long movie! I ended up watching Violent Night which I would consider a horror/comedy. There’s definitely enough gore to count as horror and they were obviously trying to be funny. I’m not sure I would recommend it to just anyone but if you ever wondered what a cross between Die Hard and Home Alone would look like if the Bruce Willis character was the real Santa Claus, that is hands down the movie for you. Power of the Dog was all character driven and really doesn’t have any action to speak of and I watched that. The best picture for the year I was born happens to be one of the best films ever made, Godfather II, and it also counts for a sequel that is better than the original. (In my opinion anyway) I definitely watched that one. The first movie I watched in a movie theater was The Great Muppet Caper and I watched that on Disney+ this year. I actually watched several movies with great musical scores but I think the one I thought was most impressive this year was Dune. I’m looking forward to the next entry in the series. We Need to Do Something is a pretty interesting horror flick and it takes place in pretty close to a single location. I wouldn’t say I completely loved it but it was an interesting watch for sure. I watched It’s a Wonderful Life around Christmas and that was made in 1946 so I got that one in as well. As far as a Razzie award winner I don’t think I watched one this year but I did watch several movies that might end up winning a Razzie. I’m not going to give myself the point but if one of the ones I watched wins, I’ll update that score.

FINAL SCORE: 11 out of 12

Read, Watch, Play Challenge

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Read, Watch, Play challenge! Click the image above to download your own copy!

I started reading a book set in Ravenloft from Dungeons & Dragons but I did not finish it so I can’t quite count that one. I watched Stranger Things season 4 so I will count that as a movie where the characters play D&D. I definitely played the first role playing game I ever played, which would, of course, be Dungeons & Dragons. I didn’t actually come across a book where the characters play a role playing game which is a little surprising because for the last few years there’s always ended up being at least one book I read where that happened. As mentioned above I watched The Princess Bride and that has rodents of unusual size so that counts as a fantasy creature so I get that one. Recently I played Star Wars: Force and Destiny and had a blast doing it. It counts for two of these challenges. It was a tabletop roleplaying game I had never played. It was also a sci-fi tabletop role playing game. I read the rulebook for the Marvel Multiverse Role Playing game which is fully launching later this year. At some point I will do a review for that on this blog but I need to take a few more notes first. Would we consider Westley to be on a quest to rescue Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride? I think the answer is yes so I am counting that. I definitely read books with magic in them. I also watched several Star Wars movies because I do that without fail every year and we wouldn’t have Star Wars: Force and Destiny without it so I am covered there. I did not, however, play a one page TTRPG this year. It can be hard to get a group together sometimes.

FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 12

In Conclusion

2022 was a busy year for me both on the blog and personally. I had a lot of fun trying to do these challenges and I’m honestly kinda surprised I ended up with as good of a score as I did. I’m looking forward to throwing the gauntlet down for next year and seeing how everyone does. If you took my challenges and want to tell me about it, don’t forget to comment below.

Challengingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Marvel 616 Review corrections

Hey all, this post is a little different than most of my Marvel review posts. I knew this would happen at some point in my reviews but there are a few issues I missed in the reading order. What can I say, the list changes all the time and there are so many of these comics it’s easy to overlook sometimes. For the next few reviews I’m going to be doing the ones I missed. In each post, I will tell you where they should be in the reading order but otherwise the reviews will be as you have seen before.

To make a long story short, I did an audit of my Marvel 616 reviews to make sure I hadn’t missed any and it turns out I did. So, here are the ones I have missed which you will soon see reviews for.

  1. Journey Into Mystery #91 goes after Amazing Spiderman #1
  2. Strange Tales #108 goes after Journey Into Mystery #91
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man #2 goes after Strange Tales #108

After that my reviews are back on track with Fantastic Four #13 and the rest should be good after that. Apologies for missing these but I hope you’ll keep reading my reviews anyway!

Happy New Year!

Hello internet and Happy New Year! Slick Dungeon here back to welcome you into the year 2023. Today I thought I would do a more casual post wrapping up a bit of last year and letting you all know what to expect in the dungeon for this year.

Above you can see some of my posts from last year so if you haven’t checked those out please do.

2022 was a great year for this blog. I had an increase of views of 116% from 2021, an increase of visitors of 140%, an increase of likes of 77% and an increase of comments of 127%. If any of you reading this contributed to that increase, thank you! It’s genuinely appreciated and I hope you’ll stick around.

Here are links to the top 5 most popular posts on this blog for 2022. These go from least viewed to most viewed.

  1. An Interview with Zamil Akhtar, Author of Gun Metal Gods and Conqueror’s Blood
  2. Top 5 Tabletop RPG’s to play in 2022
  3. How to Play Call of Cthulhu Part 2 – Creating an Investigator
  4. Top 5 Campaigns for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition
  5. Top 5 Horror One Shots for Dungeons & Dragons

Going down this list above, Zamil Akhtar will be publishing new books this year and I fully plan to review them, so look forward to that. I will be posting a top 5 list of tabletop RPG’s to play in 2023 so keep an eye out for that. I will also continue my How to play Call of Cthulhu series. And I am sure I will have more top 5 lists related to Call of Cthulhu and Dungeons & Dragons this year.

I’m hoping to have an even better year in 2023 but of course that depends on you and it depends on what kind of content I deliver.

Here are a few of the things you can expect this year.

  1. More movie reviews
  2. More book reviews
  3. More Marvel reviews
  4. More TTRPG content
  5. More short fiction written by me
  6. A new challenge list for books, movies, and TTRPG’s
  7. Reviews of Star Wars content
  8. Announcements of upcoming projects
  9. Surveys about what direction to take this blog
  10. Random stuff that comes up I just want to talk about

There will be more coming which you have not seen yet but I’m not quite ready to talk about but I will keep you updated throughout the year.

I’m really excited about all of these things coming up and I hope you’ll follow along with me. Also, I am always looking for fellow blog writers to follow so if you have a blog that might line up with some of what you see here, let me know in the comments. I only follow those who have similar interests to mine but I would love to see what everyone is up to in 2023.

Have a great year everyone!

Positively yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Ravenstones: Prophecy Fulfilled

Prophecy Fulfilled by C.S. Watts

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Eirwen, a lonely polar bear, and Fridis, a feisty Eider duck, have teamed up on the adventure of their lives, transported from the far North to a parallel world. There’s no way back; to survive and prosper, they must reinvent themselves and accept every challenge. The epic saga of The Ravenstones, an exploration of friendship, courage, sacrifice and faith not only deals with deeper themes of prejudice, vanity and lust for power but also provides readers with an exciting adventure story, full of mystery, magic and high stakes. Through the first six volumes, Eirwen and Fridis have encountered danger, intrigue and a lifetime of surprises, as well as a host of intriguing characters, animals all, from wolves, lions and bears to noble birds of prey with codes of honor that must be followed. Meanwhile, the mysteries of the magic stones and the future that is foretold hang over their lives.

In Volume 7 the adventure comes to an end. One final confrontation. Either good or evil will prevail. The stakes could not be higher – no coming second, no avenues of escape, no reserves waiting in the wings to provide rescue. It’s win or die. The prophecy must be fulfilled.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Eirwen and Fridis, a polar bear and Eider duck set out on an adventure seven volumes ago. They’ve encountered magic, friends, enemies, scheming diplomats. warmongering forces, hopeful peace negotiators and a cast of characters as massive as any you would find in a George R.R. Martin book. All of the players have been set, all of the stakes have been raised, and one way or another the expansive story is wrapping up here. Eirwen and Fridis are about to find out if all of the danger they have gotten into, all of the intrigue that has gone on around them, and all of the political maneuvering will pay off. Will a prophecy be fulfilled? Or will it all come to naught?

C.S. Watts had his work cut out for him in this final volume. There are a ton of story lines to wrap up, questions to be answered and, action to be delivered. At the start of the series it was questionable to the reader whether or not Watts could deliver but in the end he’s answered that question in remarkable fashion. Like the rest of the volumes, there is intrigue, rumors, legends, magic, and fierce battles. This final book is just as engrossing as the rest and pays off in droves for the reader.

There are story lines from previous volumes that pay off in amazing fashion here. It may seem like a seven volume series staring talking animals would be too much but the end here makes all of the reading of the previous volumes an even richer experience.

If you have read the books up to this volume, you’ll know how charismatic and interesting the characters of Eirwen and Fridis are but it’s still a wonder how Watts balances such a large cast of characters in such a meaningful way and delivers on story at the same time.

This is a series I would recommend any fantasy fan give a read. If you love sweeping epics full of magic, interesting politics, memorable characters, and a plot that will keep you guessing, read this series. You definitely don’t want to start with book 7 so make sure to start at the beginning so you can accompany Eirwen and Fridis on all of the twists and turns that take them to this most impressive ending.

Marvel 616 Review – Tales to Astonish #42

Tales to Astonish Issue 42 Photo Credit: Marvel Writer: Stan Lee, Art: Don Heck

There are a number of heroes in Marvel 616 who are not well liked by the public. The Hulk is almost universally hated, Spider-Man has a decidedly split opinion even in his own neighborhood, and even the Fantastic Four have on occasion been the subject of public ire. Not so for Henry Pym, aka The Ant-Man. Later in his career there will definitely be things he is hated for doing but in this story, it’s important to remember the public either likes Ant-Man or is indifferent to him. To have a crowd turn on this hero would be unusual.

Yet that is exactly what a man named Jason Cragg does. Jason Cragg has a special power. He is introduced to us as he steps on a soap box and begins to speak, proclaiming, “I, Jason Cragg speak truth! Truth!” The crowd instantly trusts him. As Cragg does this, Pym just happens to be passing by as Ant-Man and seems completely unaffected. He’s wearing his cybernetic helmet and figures that must be somehow blocking whatever this voice is doing to the crowd. Cragg stirs up the crowd and tells them they should drive Ant-Man from the city.

We then get a flashback to a few weeks prior. You see, Jason Cragg was a radio announcer who was not good at his job. After delivering an ad one of the executives at the station says, “He sounds as convincing as a wet sponge.”

All super villains have to have origin stories. Some are amazing and super interesting and mind blowing. This… this is not one of those. At a nearby atomic experimental laboratory there was an accident where radiation levels were getting too high. Some of the particles seeped out before the scientist regained control and those radioactive particles apparently… went into the microphone Jason Cragg was speaking into at the time. Yep, supervillain via radioactive microphone. Why the particles went to that particular spot on the planet is in no way explained so, yeah radioactive mic is about all the backstory we get here.

Cragg finishes giving his ad over the air and suddenly everyone is buying the dog food he is advertising. My favorite line from this issue is a result of this ad, “We don’t even have a dog, but we can eat it ourselves!” That’s how persuasive Jason Cragg has suddenly become.

Cragg realizes his voice is what is causing this to happen and quits his job and just uses his voice to get free stuff like train tickets and steak dinners. That is until he happens upon Ant-Man in the middle of defeating some thugs. The police and public all praise Ant-Man and Cragg decides he has to test his mettle against Ant-Man. He figures if he can defeat Ant-Man he can defeat anyone. And with Ant-Man gone Cragg can basically rule the city.

Cragg goes on to tell such bold faced lies about Ant-Man as, “He pretends to be your friend, but he secretly despises you, as he does all who are normal-sized!” The crowd falls prey to these falsities and start to turn against Hank Pym.

Meanwhile, Ant-Man is getting an award from the police at their headquarters. Cragg interrupts and tells the police to arrest Ant-Man. They can’t resist and do try to capture our hero. Ant-Man uses a rubber band to launch himself away and avoids capture.

Cragg convinces the whole town to start looking for Ant-Man. Somebody gets the idea to use magnets so they can latch onto Ant-Man’s metal helmet. He has to remove the helmet, thus becoming susceptible to Cragg’s voice, in order to remain free.

Using his radioactive voice, Cragg demands Ant-Man reveals himself. Pym resists but ultimately is compelled to obey. Cragg wants to rid the world of Ant-Man but he’s no master villain. He literally has Ant-Man in the palm of his hand but instead of trying to smush him or anything like that, Cragg tells Pym to walk off the pier and make no attempt to swim or save himself from drowning.

Don’t worry too much though, this is an Ant-Man story and Cragg forgot one thing. Ants. Yeah, ants save Hank, even without a cybernetic command. They’ve gotten to know him and tend to show up whenever he is around so they get him out of the water pretty quick. Ant-Man escapes but Cragg vows to have one last battle with him.

Pym heads home where we get another diagram of his little elevator setup which allows him to get back into his lab even when he is small. Pym waits and watches until he hears Cragg is going to be a guest speaker on a television show. Pym decides that’s the place to confront Cragg.

We see Hank shrink down to ant size again and mention yet again his clothes are made of unstable molecules. He then uses his ants to infiltrate a building and grab a bottle of what Pym refers to as germs.

After that he heads over to the TV studio as Henry Pym. At some point he changes back to Ant-Man, although we don’t see it this time, so he can get his hands on a prop gun. As Cragg goes on the stage, Ant-Man climbs up his leg. Henry gets into Cragg’s ear and tells him to do exactly what he says. Pym reveals a gun pointed at Cragg, held by the ants. Pym basically tells Cragg to come clean and let the city know Ant-Man is on the level. Cragg doesn’t seem to care because he figures he can just contradict himself later. He clears Ant-Man’s name and Hank tells Cragg the gun was never loaded.

Cragg gets right back on the mic and tries to turn the crowd against Ant-Man but his voice isn’t working right anymore. See, Hank Pym arrived early and put microbes that cause laryngitis on the microphone. The crowd immediately turns on Cragg and drums him right out of town.

We end the issue with Henry Pym reflecting on the fact Cragg had a great power that could have been used for good.

So, to sum up the story here, a guy who was near a microphone got a super powered voice and tried to turn a city against its hero only to be defeated by a different microphone with laryngitis on it. Man, I love comics.

There’s not a lot significant in terms of the 616 universe that happens here. It’s mostly a silly story but it’s fun in its own way. It mostly just reaffirms Ant-Man as one of the good guys. It seems like Cragg was set up to be a repeat villain but I’m not sure if we do ever see him again. If so, I wonder if there will be any changes as to how he gets his power back.

Up next on the reading list we will be checking in on a brilliant inventor who has a suit of iron in the pages of Tales of Suspense #40!

The Ravenstones: The Winter of Discontent

The Winter of Discontent by C.S. Watts

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Winter has descended upon Heimborn. The armies are at a standstill, waiting for the spring fighting season to begin. But waiting does not preclude plotting and scheming, or new adventures and miscues. It does not discourage the ongoing search for the final Ravenstone or for the answers to outstanding mysteries. It does not hold back efforts to find new allies in the battle for supremacy between the forces of good and evil.

A rival to Queen Olwen has emerged. Vulpé wrestles with his conscience. Fridis, undeterred by hazard or impediment, returns to an old haunt. Temorwig and Rithild put aside their differences. The mythic black wolves reappear. Don Grimezel shows signs of life but faces a new threat. Meanwhile, Eirwen and Parthanyx, like two great chess-masters, execute moves and countermoves.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Winter has fallen. Eirwen and Parthnyx, both strategic military leaders have tried to best position their forces to gain advantage. But even as the snows fall, plotting, scheming, diplomacy, and coincidences favoring one side or another continue to play out. Eirwen and Fridis, the polar bear and eider duck who started off the series have come a long way. Fridis continues to learn more about the magical gems which have come into and out of possession throughout the series. She also learns some new and vital information regarding a missing stone.

While backstabbing, cover ups and military positioning continues, the weather is threat to both sides. Will the outcome of a long waged war be decided by calculated moves or through the waiting game of seeing who can survive a harsh winter?

The Ravenstones series continues to impress and fans of the previous books will find plenty here to continue to love. The most interesting aspect of The Winter of Discontent is not simply epic battles and grand bravado, but how diplomats and spies make the world of this series go around.

While most of this book is as good as the rest, the constant capture and then release of Fridis does seem a bit overdone in this volume. However, that’s not to say those scenes were not worthwhile. It just starts to feel to the reader that this will happen in nearly every book in the series. The interactions do lead somewhere but it starts to feel a bit repetitive at times.

The setting and expansive world created by C. S. Watts feels immersive and expansive and vibrant even when the snows come and the environment becomes desolate and events turn desperate.

With so many volumes in this series being so full of twists, turns and intrigues, if you are an epic fantasy fan and are not reading The Ravenstones books, you are doing yourself a disservice. Catch up while you can because the next volume is sure not to disappoint.

Deadheading – Book Review

Deadheading by Paul Cristo

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

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SUMMARY

Lewis’s life changes forever after waking up one morning to find the world’s population just gone. Stranded without food or water, he’s forced to use ingenuity to survive, foraging resources from the desolate city around him.

Until he discovers he’s not alone.

Lewis is threatened by a violent gang of gun-wielding scavengers led by a deranged madman. He learns these men are harvesting survivors, inflicting slavery and torture for a horrifying purpose. Outmanned and outgunned, Lewis and some newfound friends must band together, employing their collective wit and cunning against a deadly foe to avoid being killed. Or worse… captured.

DEADHEADING is a post-apocalyptic journey of survival, ingenuity, and a dollop of vengeance.

REVIEW

Lewis is an average loner. He’s living a fairly solitary life, hanging out at home, watching television, eating convenience meals and peanut butter cups. But around him, the world begins to change. A sickness permeates the globe and most of humanity dies off as a result.

Somehow, Lewis has survived on his own, unscathed watching it all unfold on television. Until there is no television. Or supermarkets. Or anything else you’d find in a modern civilized city. Including food and water. Lewis finally has to go out to scavenge food and water for himself in order to survive. It’s a difficult situation and potentially lethal.

It gets worse once Lewis finds other survivors. There are gun wielding lunatics who are oppressing other survivors through slavery and torture so they can live a comfortable existence. Lewis has found a way to grow his own food and take care of himself so these other people are a threat to everything Lewis has.

After an encounter with one of these groups, Lewis comes to find there are still some rational people left in the world. Now it’s on Lewis and this group of survivors to defend themselves from the gun toting madmen.

Overall, Deadheading does a good job of portraying what life would likely be like in a city devastated by illness almost to the point of zero population left. The beginning takes a little bit of time to get the story going but once it does there is plenty of action happening. A nice touch is that Lewis does not instantly go from being a couch potato to an action hero. The author, Paul Cristo, shows us how Lewis does his research and learns his way out of situations.

There are a few moments in the book that stretch the imagination a bit, but those are few and far between so they are ultimately forgivable.

If you like post apocalyptic fiction like The Walking DeadDivergent, or The Hunger Games but without any supernatural elements and a story more grounded in reality, Deadheading is the book for you.