Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Journey Into Mystery #86

Journey Into Mystery Issue 86 Photo Credit: Marvel

Journey Into Mystery has already run several stories starring the god of thunder, Thor, himself. In issue 86, there are several significant events that help shape the 616 universe for years to come.

We all know Thor has been on earth and hides in his secret identity of Dr. Donald Blake. Most of the stories so far have focused more on Blake than Thor. But this story is all about the Asgardian god and what he can do. In addition, it introduces some new powers Thor has and establishes both time travel and the possibility of different worlds.

Three centuries from now Earth has overcome all violence. They live in a peaceful and technologically advanced society. But one man, named Zarrko aka the Tomorrow Man, wants to rule the world. As any good evil scientist would do, he invents time travel to go back to 1962 when atomic bombs were being tested. Why he didn’t just invent his own weapon if he could invent time travel is beyond me.

It just so happens Zarrko goes out to the desert in New Mexico where Thor is helping the U.S. military to test missiles. The army wants to make a missile fast enough Thor can’t catch it. They fail of course.

Now if the New Mexico desert and bomb testing has you thinking of a certain green man who has gamma related powers you would not be the only one. While we never see Hulk or Bruce Banner, there is someone there in a military uniform who looks an awful lot like General Thunderbolt Ross from the Hulk comics. This is never confirmed though, as they don’t say his name. Also, having Thor even show up in this location just makes the reader wonder, “who would win in a fight between Hulk and Thor?” This becomes an age old question and one of the most hotly debated ones among Marvel fans.

Anyway, back to the story at hand. Zarrko shows up, steals something called a “cobalt bomb” and scurries back to his own time. After that is where things really start to get interesting. Thor knows he has to go follow this villain so he does something he has not done before. He summons his father Odin to ask for his advice. This shows the Asgardian gods taking more of an interest in the activities of Thor and they will come into play in future issues. Odin tells Thor he can spin himself and his hammer fast enough to travel through time. (Yes I know it sounds silly but hey, why not?) This vastly increases Thor’s power as the ability to time travel is extremely significant.

Once in the future, Thor meets with the innocent citizens of the world who want Zarrko gone. He devises a plan where he has one of them dress up like him while Thor himself follows behind in a black cloak. Zarrko easily traps the fake but then has to contend with Thor. He fires a, “delta-electron gun” which is supposed to send Thor into another dimension.

This confirms that not only does time travel exist in the 616 universe but so do other dimensions. Again, this is a hugely significant revelation. While Thor isn’t especially known for going to other dimensions or time traveling, a vast number of other 616 characters are. This just establishes the groundwork.

As big of a revelation as that is, we still haven’t seen the limit of Thor’s power. He is able to prevent himself from going to this other dimension by simply exhaling with “Hurricane Force!!” This prevents the dimensional door from closing on Thor and he escapes. This is a pretty big power increase once again for Thor. And it makes the reader who was wondering if Hulk or Thor is stronger think that perhaps Thor has a huge advantage.

Thor is not out of trouble yet as an army of giant robot monsters take his hammer from him. If we remember the old rules of Thor’s transformation we realize that in 60 seconds Thor will become Dr. Donald Blake who is no match for the mechanical monstrosities. It also begs the question of how the robots can lift the hammer considering it is only supposed to be lifted by those worthy of Thor’s power. Thor losing his hammer is a fairly frequent occurrence in the issues to come so we’ll leave that as a dangling question for now.

Of course, Thor does vanquish his foes, both the robot army and Zarrko himself. It’s not until after Thor returns and everyone is defeated that we see Thor change back into Donald Blake. This is somewhat significant because the reader gets the impression Blake is less necessary to the story. In fact, a secret identity never made much sense for Thor anyway but he has to have one because that’s how all the Marvel heroes start out. In time he’ll lose that and readers will get to focus just on the part they enjoy, Thor himself.

All in all, this seems like what would be a fairly standard Marvel story. There is a villain who is defeated by a hero and there’s a little bit of inventiveness in it with the time travel. I doubt the creators of the issue realized the amount of significance these events would have but looking back on it as a reader it is a vital issue.

Next up on the reading list we’re going to get hot under the collar again as we visit Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch in Strange Tales #102!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Tales to Astonish #36

Tales to Astonish Issue #36 Photo Credit: Marvel

Tales to Astonish has sort of become the Ant-Man show at this point. While there still are other features in this book, the biggest draw is Henry “Hank” Pym who has developed a serum capable of making himself the size of an ant. He also has a cypernetic helmet which allows him to communicate with the insects.

Apparently, since we have seen him last, he’s been out adventuring and helping the public. In the first two stories of Ant-Man, it was pretty much just Hank Pym who knew he had these capabilities. In this issue, we see him free some bank robbers who are trapped in a time-lock vault. The cops are there to arrest the men once Ant-Man let’s them free so they don’t suffocate. While the public seems to know Ant-Man is a hero, that’s about all they know about him. He just shows up at the right place at the right time to do some good. Turns out when you can communicate with millions of ants you have a pretty good idea of what is going on in your city.

Meanwhile, “the commies” are learning about Ant-Man and devise a plan to use Comrade X to trap him. They, of course, want to know his secret so they can apply it to their army.

So, yes, this is once again, yet another story involving the cold war. We have to take into perspective that things were pretty frightening as far as the nuclear arms race went and people were legitimately fearful at the time. It stands to reason this would be reflected in popular culture, including comic books.

The story is fairly standard. Henry gets trapped but he uses his helmet to help escape. He also uncovers the fact that Comrade X is really a woman who claimed to have fallen in love with Comrade X. She was just in disguise. Hank had found her rubber face mask when he was hiding in her pocketbook at one point.

There isn’t much here that I would say is incredibly significant in this story but it does do a couple of things. It sets up Comrade X as a possible return villain and since Ant-Man doesn’t have a main nemesis yet, this could be a possibility. More importantly, the story does establish Henry as a public hero, albeit one the public doesn’t know much about. Down the road when superhero teams are formed, Ant-Man will be involved and that’s only the case because the public does know about him. After all, it would be pretty easy to never let the public see what you are doing when you are the size of a tiny insect.

Next on the reading list we’re getting mighty again with Thor in Journey Into Mystery #86!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Strange Tales #101

Strange Tales Issue #101 Photo Credit: Marvel

Sometimes when you have a hit comic book on your hands the stories in there get too big to be contained in just that book. This was the case for the mega hit superhero team the Fantastic Four. Up to this point there had been seven issues of the first family of heroes and while those were popular, Marvel also had a book of anthology stories that was not selling as well.

When you think back on it now, it seems like it was an easy call to have a prominent character or characters go from a best selling book into one that was only sitting on the shelves. Now, it’s not like there was no audience for Strange Tales prior to the introduction of regular superhero stories but it definitely wasn’t flying off of the shelves. The other problem with anthology books is that you have to think of something to put in there over and over to crank them out. Eventually there are only so many stories you can tell about aliens attacking, scientists creating formulas that go haywire, and communists attacking the population of the country. So what’s the solution? Toss in a superhero!

In this case the book is about Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch. He’s moved to upstate New York with his sister, Sue who is, of course, The Invisible Woman. We don’t really see her in this issue (or do we?) other than in a recap of how the FF famously came to be.

The story itself revolves around an amusement park Johnny and his pals are eager to frequent as soon as it is built. While they are there watching the progress of the construction it seems as if one of the rides being tested is about to kill someone on it. Luckily Johnny is on the spot (yes pun intended) and takes quick action to save the man on the ride. The audience knows this was going to happen because we got to see a threatening letter from someone called The Destroyer.

The people building the park ignore these threats and proceed with building. Each time Johnny is there to flame on and save the day. He comes up with more and more ridiculous ways to hide that he is The Human Torch with elaborate distractions so no one will notice the guy next to them literally lighting on fire and flying away.

Eventually, The Destroyer calls Johnny out to battle by advertising his challenge in the newspaper. Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing shows up believing this guy will be too much for Johnny. Johnny tells Ben it’s his fight (after all the story is literally featuring The Human Torch so he gets to shine here) and immediately walks into a trap.

He makes it out okay and then figures out the only amusement rides being tampered with are the tall ones so he flies on up to check it out. There he sees, “A commie sub!!” and knows he has to finish this fight. Which he quickly does. I mean, you try fighting a guy who is actually on fire, it can’t be easy. Turns out the publisher of the newspaper was feeding information to this submarine but if the amusement park was built, he would no longer have cover to do so.

So, to sum up Strange Tales was a little tired of the same old stories about aliens and communists so they dedicated a feature story to a superhero who… defeats a communist. Still, this will not be the last appearance of Johnny Storm in Strange Tales by a long shot. And will absolutely not be the last time a hit superhero ends up in the pages of an anthology magazine published by Marvel. It was a bit original though, in that it was the first Marvel effort to get one of their big stars from a team to have a spotlight shined on them individually. It’s a sort of forgettable story but nonetheless has its proper place in comics history as a new innovation for Marvel that would work very well for them.

Next time on the reading list we’re getting micro once again as we check up on Henry Pym a.k.a. The Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish #36!

(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) – also note the affiliate links are NOT the MCDM links.

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Book Review – Pray Lied Eve 3: Tales of the macabre and untoward

Pray Lied EVE 3 by Lydia Peever

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

Macabre tales of alienation, terror, and the supernatural…

Take a seat in a darkened theatre for Wormwoods Final Cut, then cast a wary glance at the scarecrow Staked in the fallow field. Gaze across strange shores, All White and Jagged, and too far away from the safety of a library holding Grave Marginalia. Listen close for the Fading Applause in Quintland before Checking Out of the abandoned hotel rotting back into the ground, then stumble through city streets to avoid the Crocodile Rot.

Horror, weird tales, quiet stories of the dread… these seven stories serve as a following to the first three dark offerings of the Pray Lied Eve series. This third installment is dense, and as with the previous collections, we delve into realms, perhaps best left undisturbed.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pray Lied Eve 3: Tales of the macabre and untoward is an anthology of seven short stories mostly falling into the horror category. This is the third entry into the series but it’s not necessary to have read the previous books in order to enjoy this one.

Like all short story collections there are some stories that work better than others but each one here is an enjoyable read. Most of them have at least some gore in them but if you are a regular horror reader it won’t be anything you are not used to reading.

One of the strongest stories comes at the beginning in Wormwoods Final Cut in which a young woman hears something strange in an old film projector. She’s not the only one to hear it and it just gets more horrifying from there. Also extremely memorable is Grave Marginalia where a quiet library is disturbed when the staff finds a collection of books that contain things that definitely don’t belong in books. Stake is a quite short tale but it pulls off the story very well in a short amount of time. Fading Applause in Quintland is probably the story that works least in this collection but it’s still an interesting entry and worth reading.

Overall, if you are a fan of short stories, especially ones with a horror or supernatural theme of any kind you’re likely to find at least one good story here.

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Fantastic Four #7

Fantastic Four Issue #7 Photo Credit: Marvel

The Fantastic Four are generally well regarded by the public but there is a subsection of people in the 616 universe that don’t like them for a variety of reasons. Issue seven of the series sees an alien from “Planet X” who is able to amplify these negative feelings on Earth.

This is Kurrgo who is a mostly forgettable villain and basically somewhat of a fuzzy alien who simply wants to dominate his people into subjugation. He has a problem though. You see his planet is faced with an impending disaster. It’s about to be hit by another planet racing towards its orbit. The habitants of Planet X only have a limited amount of space travel and they’ve only built two space ships.

Bizarrely, Kurrgo, thinks his best method of saving his planet is to amplify negative feelings of animosity towards the Fantastic Four so that he can capture them and then bring them back to his home planet where they will save his citizens. I guess it’s not much fun being an authoritarian when there are no people to boss around. After a bit of a fight and some showing off of the fantasti-car, the superhero team does end up on Planet X. Johnny and Ben Grimm don’t take very kindly to being abducted but Reed Richards is more interested in the scientific reveals and problem facing him.

I think the most significant moment of the entire issue has to do with one short encounter where Johnny Storm, aka, The Human Torch gets frustrated and tries to melt the robot that had a hand in abducting the group. Johnny realizes since he is not on Earth he does not have to restrain his powers. He says, “I can match the fiery blaze of an exploding star… a super nova!!” This is the first time we see him get close to his most intense power. It shows he has the potential for incredible destruction and lets us know how hard it might be for him to keep those powers in check. The only reason he doesn’t fully unleash his power is because it would hit his sister Sue Storm. We know now that even in his most powerful state, Johnny will take caution not to hurt those he cares about. And we also see that Johnny, despite constantly bickering with The Thing, truly cares about his friend. Johnny only attacked because the robot had flung Ben Grimm to the ground.

Reed does come up with a solution for the citizens of Planet X. He makes a “shrinking gas” that allows the whole population to fit on their two rocket ships. He also says he has an enlarging gas antidote that can restore these aliens to their original size. Kurrgo ends up trying to keep the enlarging gas for himself so he can still dominate his subjects. He’s out of luck though because they take off without him. I have no idea how they figured out piloting the ship when they were the size of ants but we’ll leave that question for now. Also, the shrinking gas is very reminiscent of Henry Pym’s formula that allows him to shrink to about the same size. It makes one wonder if Reed was aware of Pym’s research.

Reed seemingly outsmarts Kurrgo because there never was an enlarging gas. It was a little unclear why Reed would lie about it but it seems he knew Kurrgo would make the move to grab this gas and that the rocket ship would leave without Kurrgo. The most ironic thing about this is that when we get the big reveal of Reed tricking Kurrgo, there is a misprint and Reed says there was no reducing gas. We know for sure there was because earlier in the issue Reed had tested it. It leads for a moment of confusion as a reader but I guess we just chalk this one up to Reed being distracted as usual?

Fantastic Four Issue 7 Photo Credit: Marvel

Mostly, other than the incredible power Johnny displayed, this is a forgettable issue but there will be tons of adventures similar to this one as we go along.

Next on the list we will be stepping away from three quarters of the Fantastic Four as we look in on Johnny Storm on his own in Strange Tales #101!

(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) – also note the affiliate links are NOT the MCDM links.

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Book Review – Afterworld

Afterworld by James G. Robertson

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

Death comes, and misery follows. As a man in his early twenties, Leon never genuinely contemplated what would happen after his death. Like those before him, he never understood the truth of our universe. After his sudden demise, the terrorizing reality of a mysterious dystopian afterlife begins crushing him as it has those prior. Men have started enslaving and killing each other to sate their greed while enigmatic creatures oppress the masses. Only a select few have shown the courage that is needed to challenge their supremacy.

Through this eclipsing darkness, there is hope. But will that hope prove to be enough to save this turbulent cosmos? The revelations of advanced science, magic, human savagery, and even our gods will be showcased. Both in a new light and disturbing darkness, will the verities of Earth and Afterworld give him a greater understanding of our universe; or in turn, begin to break him as they have done to so many before?

REVIEW

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Leon has met with an unfortunate accident. He awakes falling through the air with no parachute to soften his impact. This turns out to be the least of his worries as what happens after is larger than anyone might imagine. He’s in a place called Afterworld where gods, men and women, and monsters all fight for power and supremacy.

Afterworld has an interesting premise in which all of the worlds religions have been preparing man for one thing and one thing only, to be able to fight dark gods from another universe. There is a fair amount of action and a bit of gore in the book. We see most of the action from Leon’s perspective. While a lot of the action and story is intriguing, it would have been nice to see Leon taking a bit more of an active role in the book.

The gods and creatures are fairly unique and so is the premise so that may be enough to keep readers going. Leon gets to interact with people who have incredible powers and learn from some of the most brilliant minds humanity has ever known. He is thrust into a sprawling universe that is full of danger at every turn possible. Only with help from the few people he can rely on will he be able to endure.

The ending leads nicely to the next book in the series and it will be interesting to find out where it goes from here. If you like books about alternate worlds, that tackle philosophical questions, and have a bit of blood in them, Afterworld is worth reading.

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Challenge Yourself! Books, Movies and RPGs for 2022

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. 2021 was a year full of challenges for most of us. Instead of the kind that life throws in our way I thought we could have some fun with challenges I made myself. Rather than the challenge of just muddling through life, let’s have a book, movie, and tabletop RPG challenge!

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

This is the second year I have thrown down challenges but I would love to know what you all think of them so please let me know and also, feel free to play along all year. Each list has 12 challenges so one per month should be doable but if you are an overachiever, feel free to knock these out in 12 days or less. If you do take up the challenge let me know how it went. And if you happen to post it onto your blog, let me know, so that I can link to your challenge on my blog.

Below are the rules as far as I am going to follow them. You don’t have to follow the same way I do but these are the rules I set for myself. They are the same rules I followed last year.

How Does This Work? The Rules

  1. There are three separate challenges, one for books, one for movies and one for books, movies and RPGs lumped together. I will tell you a little more about each one and give some potential suggestions for what I think I will do to complete the checkboxes.
  2. Once I finish a challenge I plan to check it off and then post about it on my blog. If you just want to do this for fun and not post on your blog, that is totally cool. If you do post on your blog, let’s compare notes!
  3. These can be done in any order. Feel free to skip to the bottom, go to the middle or meticulously hit each one as they are listed.
  4. I am not in the camp of double dipping so I will not be doing that. (Although there may be time constraints and I reserve the right to change my mind!) If you want to, you won’t get any judgement from me.
  5. If you complete any one of my challenges and post about it on your blog, I will let you choose any one thing in that list’s category for me to review (within reason). For example if you complete my movie challenge and you want me to review The Emoji Movie, I will do it. If you complete my book challenge and want me to read and review a book that you published, I will do it. If you complete my Read-Watch-Play challenge and you want me to play an RPG that you think is really cool, I will play and then review it. Side note: I won’t review anything that I think is too extreme and I have ultimate veto power over what I post on my blog but otherwise, you can tell me what to review.
  6. This is not a rule but these are all downloadable PDF’s so feel free to download and print them or pass them on to friends, relatives, neighbors or office mates looking for something to do! Share, share, share!

Challenge 1: Book Challenge

The book challenge should be pretty straightforward. Pick one of the challenges and find a book that matches. Or if you are reading a book and realize that it fits in one of these categories, check it off once you have finished the book!

Some examples of what I plan to do are as follows. The first book I remember reading is Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. That should be a pretty quick read. I am reading Revival by Stephen King and that one is definitely more than 500 pages long. I’m not sure what I will do for the rest yet but you get the idea.

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Book Challenge!

Challenge 2: Movie Challenge

This one should also be pretty straightforward. Watch a movie that matches the category and check off the box once you have finished watching. I watch a lot of movies so for this one I might just watch first and then see if it fits the category after, although I do have some ideas for some of these. For a Horror Comedy I might go back to the Toxic Avenger series. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was The Great Muppet Caper where the muppets try to steal the “baseball diamond”. I’ve had an intense love for film, and puns, not to mention muppets, ever since. I will likely watch The Godfather II for a sequel that is better than the original but I have a couple other ideas in mind for that one as well. Remember, you get to decide if the movie you are watching fits into your category so you do you.

Challenge 3: Read-Watch-Play Challenge

Out of all my challenges, this is the one that I will most likely do in order. It’s pretty easy to find books and movies to fit these categories but I realize that not everyone is familiar with good Tabletop RPG choices so I am going to tell you the ones I plan on doing and even provide you with helpful links if you need a suggestion. (These are affiliate links and if you do buy anything there it helps this blog out immensely at no extra cost to you. No pressure though, never buy anything from a website that you don’t want)

For the first role playing game I remember playing, it is of course Dungeons & Dragons and you can get started on it for free using the basic rules.

For a Tabletop RPG I have never played before I have three that I am thinking about. I may end up playing them all but we’ll see. If you have played any of these, let me know what you think. The first one I am considering is Cyberpunk Red. While the video game release was a mess, I’ve always thought Cyberpunk made more sense as a tabletop game anyway. I wanted to play this last year but I never quite got around to it. The second I am considering is Traveller. This is a space role playing game and it has been around forever but I have not yet played it. I’m curious how it would compare to something like the several Star Wars, Star Trek and Alien role playing games since this one is not set in a licensed movie or television world. The third one I am considering is The One Ring, the TTRPG based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. For as much inspiration as other role playing games take from those books, it has not been often that LOTR has gotten involved in tabletop gaming with the actual franchise. I’m very curious how it compares to the sword and sorcery heavy Dungeons & Dragons.

For a sci-fi role playing game I plan to play Stars Without Number: Revised Edition. It’s a game about humans returning to the skies after their empire has fallen. I played it a little bit last year and had a blast so I’m ready to go back!

For a one page Tabletop RPG I plan to play Crash Pandas. The reason I want to play it? I’m just going to let the description here speak for itself: “You’re a bunch of raccoons, all trying to drive the same souped-up sports car, desperate to make a name for yourselves on the cut-throat LA street-racing circuit. But: why?” Yeah, who wouldn’t want to play that?? Seriously.

I hope you enjoy the challenges I have come up with. Don’t forget to let me know if you plan to play along and how it goes if you do.

If you enjoy the content I make please give a like and a follow on my wordpress blog site!

Challengingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Slick Dungeon’s 2021 Recap

Happy New Year everyone! It’s me, Slick Dungeon, and I thought it would be nice to do a little recap of things that happened on my blog last year. I’ll give you a little glimpse into what is coming for next year as well.

2021 was an interesting year no matter how you look at it. A lot happened in the world and a lot happened right here on this blog. I made some plans, wrote some articles, completed some goals and left others unfinished. Let’s take a look at some of the significant things that happened on this blog last year shall we?

In terms of numbers I wrote 104 posts this year. There were 77 comments made by myself and other amazing bloggers and readers of the site. There were 875 likes, 3,781 visitors and a total of 5,766 views. So close to 6K! Oh well, maybe this year!

My top post by far was this one about the Top 5 Horror Tabletop Role Playing Games. I stand by my selection here and this helped October to be my best month for views with 1,124.

I gave away some free stuff. There were over 30 downloads of my 2021 Read-Watch-Play challenge and my 2021 Book Challenge. There were over 50 downloads of my 2021 Movie Challenge. And for those of you wondering, yes I will be publishing challenges for 2022 as well so I hope some of you will follow along with me on these. Keep watching this blog in the coming days for more on that. I was able to meet my 2021 movie challenge for myself. The books and read-watch-play were a bit out of reach for me last year but I’m going to really make the effort this year to make it through all of my challenges.

But the real hot ticket for downloads was my 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for kids with over 300 downloads. I hope someone out there found them useful and was able to get a kid into role playing with some of that advice. It’s a fantastic hobby that has lead to a lifetime of fun for me and my son.

As far as content goes, I continued to review lots of books and movies. For books I did a lot of reviews for Reedsy.com which I think is a fantastic website and a great way to find excellent independent authors. Two of my favorite books from that site this year were from the Ravenstones Saga which I started reviewing in 2020 with Eirwen and Fridis. These books happen to be about talking animals but they are genuinely complex and interesting. There is as much political intrigue here as any fantasy series I can think of and I am really hoping that author C.S. Watts is able to complete the next entry soon.

I also really enjoyed the sequel to Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar. Conquerer’s Blood is a sequel but with all new characters and a new point of view. It’s an impressive follow up to the first book and I even got to do an interview with the author himself. He was very thoughtful in his responses and it was a fantastic experience.

As far as movies go, I reviewed all of the Evil Dead movies and otherwise watched a wide variety of things. I still need to finish watching the Saw movies but I did see the first two for the first time this year. I promise I won’t only review horror movies in 2022 but it’s a genre I enjoy a lot so there will be plenty of those to come.

I started a series of posts about the Marvel 616 universe. I am going to review every issue that I can, one by one, in order. I’ve made nearly 20 posts in the series and I have not come even close to starting to scratch the surface of the surface so there will be plenty more where that came from. I love the Marvel comics not just for the big name heroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk, and The Fantastic Four. I also love the weird stuff like Mole Man, Typeface, and Paste-pot Pete (who I still think has the most epic and fantastic super villain name of all time.) I have no idea how far I will get in this experiment but it’s a great excuse to read and reflect on comic books.

I also continued my series Kids Kill Monsters where I give advice on how to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids. I haven’t forgotten the series and more will be coming this year as far as that series goes. We still have a long way to go so if you have kids, I hope you’ll check these out and get your kids role playing. It’s an activity that is super beneficial for children and seriously fun for both kids and adults.

This year I found what I think is my favorite Dungeons & Dragons product of all time and it’s not even made by the makers of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a magazine reminiscent of the Dragon magazine of the 1980’s and 90’s where a lot of us used to pick up advice, tricks, tips and adventures. The magazine I am talking about is of course Arcadia by MCDM. The best thing about this magazine is that there are a host of writers, artists, and contributors so the content stays fresh and is highly inventive. No matter what kind of Dungeon Master you are, there is something for you in each of these issues. And the art is mind-blowingly good. I don’t think I can oversell the artwork here so even if you don’t like a single word in the magazine, I promise you, there is at least one picture you will love. I’ll be reviewing more issues in the future. I even ran one of the one-shot adventures from the first issue and it was fantastic because my players were young enough not to see the twist coming and had to get really creative to deal with the situation. It was a ton of fun. I may do a blog entry all about that at some point as well.

I also wrote a short short story of my own this year which was then featured in Flashbang Volume II on DriveThruFiction. I really had fun with this and in 2022 I am planning on publishing some more things. I will announce all of it here and if you are interested, let you know how you can get your hands on your very own copies. If everything goes according to plan (ha!) there will be lots of goodies coming in the next 12 months.

The whole year was great on this blog. I mostly write this for myself as an outlet for some fun but I love to see that there are actually people who take the time to read and respond to what I write. If you are one of those people, thank you so, so, so much. I know there are a million other things you could be doing so again thank you. Also know that if I have ever liked or linked to your content it is because I really enjoy your blogs. It was a good year here in the dungeon in 2021 and I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store for us all.

Gratefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

(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) – also note the affiliate links are NOT the MCDM links.

Book Review – The Huntsman of Corvinus

The Huntsman of Corvinus

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

An ancient evil descends on the Central European capital city of Budapest. A supernatural killer stalks its timeworn alleyways, provoking terror amongst its distraught population and leaving untraceable and shocking murders in its wake.

An estranged American family finds itself at the center of the unnatural violence. Confronting a vicious predator, they find they must band together if they are to survive its ageless and malevolent curse. But as they come to grips with their horrid adversary, their time and options for escape dwindle, and they can only hope that overcoming their wicked foe will not cost them everything.

REVIEW

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Erica and Laszlo Varga are going through a difficult period. They have divorced and their daughter Monica splits her time between Erica and Laszlo. Laszlo has not been the best of fathers or husbands and this is cause for plenty of tension in the little family. To make matters worse, they are living in Budapest which is a huge adjustment for Erica. As difficult as these troubles may be, they are fairly normal. But when strange killings start to happen around the Varga family their lives are turned upside down. The killer is brutal and vicious and it seems he is getting closer at every turn. The police have to figure out who he is and how to stop him while Erica, Laszlo and Monica all just want to go about their lives.

The Huntsman of Corvinus is tightly paced and the action keeps the reader interested. There is good character development and it feels like there is no wasted space in the book. The end of the book does have an interesting twist that makes it worth reading all the way through and will likely keep readers guessing.

It does take a long time to reveal the mystery of the Huntsman so in some ways the ending feels a bit rushed but it still has a good pay off. The setting of Budapest was a nice touch for the story and the descriptions of the setting fit well with the tone of the story.

At its heart this is a horror story and while it does have gruesome moments, they are not so over the top as to be shocking or off putting to the reader.

If you like books about gritty murders set in interesting locations or just a good, quick story, with a few scares in it and an intriguing family dynamic this book is worth a read.

Book Review – HELL: The Necromancer

Hell: The Necromancer by Tom Lewis

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

A wave of occult-themed killings sweeps across Los Angeles, leaving a grisly trail of corpses in its wake. The only lead is a mysterious young girl caught at one of the crime scenes. A girl who scares the hell out of the police and the guards at the prison where she’s being kept. A girl with a terrifying secret. The power to raise the dead.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

At its heart The Necromancer is a story about a pair of sisters. Hannah had a rough entry into this world but she’s a fighter. Natalie, her twin sister, has not had an easy life either. Both of the girls have supportive families but these girls are anything but normal. They see things that are not there. Sometimes glass breaks when either one of them gets overly emotional. And they can see things that are frightening and may mean the world harm. The only true protection these girls may have is one another.

In Los Angeles, a wave of grisly murders occurs. Hannah and Natalie are the key to unraveling the mystery of what happened. But finding out what these girls know is not easy and it could be downright dangerous. There is a force at work bigger than anyone can imagine and it’s ready to get out into the world.

While there are plenty of good scares in this book and the tone is decidedly dark, it is surprisingly emotional as well. Author Tom Lewis does a phenomenal job of keeping a tight cast of characters and giving the reader enough room to care about them. There are multiple sections which may make a reader tear up even in a story full of strange and supernatural events. The characters of Hannah and Natalie are especially well developed but even the minor characters feel like they have a depth to them. This is refreshing to see in a dark story like this. This is what kept me turning pages.

The plot develops nicely and comes to an impressive conclusion making this a consistently good read.

If you like stories like Carrie, The Shining, or The Hollow Man combined with a bit of grisly murder mystery this is definitely a book worth checking out.