Book Review – The Magician’s Sin by Alexander Thomas

The strange and wonderful world of superheroes and villains has always been a fertile field for new ideas to take root. From the original mortals that stood up to the gods to the Shadows and Doc Savages to modern mega-blockbusters, the idea of better than regular people fighting evil has been around since we first said, “Man, those gods are jerks. I’d love to kick that Apollo guy right in the balls.” Through those superheroes and villains, though they be better, stronger, smarter, more powerful than us, we get the chance to explore our own humanity.

The idea of flawed heroes is nothing entirely new, though modern mainstream movies are only just beginning to explore it. The Shadow was hardly a nice guy. Doc Savage may not have killed anyone outright, but he had no qualms about letting a temple fall on a bad guy.

It is kind of wonderful to see someone take a powerful character and expose their weaknesses. Not necessarily kryptonite, but those little things inside their heads that slowly break them down. The failures they can’t quite get over, no matter how much they drink.

They say the Golden Age of Superheroes was the 1930s. This was the era that brought us Superman and Batman, albeit slightly different than their current incarnations. This was also the stomping ground of The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom. It was a vibrant time and the panoply of colorful characters represented that time. But once you strip away the veneer, the world was a mess.

It’s into that world that Alexander Thomas drops us. Organized crime, honest cops, random violence, and very real magic. Our guide is Anson Walker, a stage magician with actual magical powers who got dragged into the role of a hero and found more than he bargained for.

Part superhero story, part love story, part mystery, The Magician’s Sin is a caterwauling romp through the weird and wonderful world of the Golden Age of Superheroes. A time when the ethics of one hero are being supplanted by the twisted ethics of another and right around the corner a magical anomaly is waiting.

This is a well-crafted story that deserves attention. It may be easy to throw a bunch of genres at a book and see what resonates, but it takes a gifted master to weave elements of heroism, failure, magic, detective noir, and romance into a single, cohesive story. And that’s what Alexander Thomas has given us in The Magician’s Sin.

Simply brilliant. Go buy a copy. Now.

Titan City: 1933

Anson Walker is a retired wizard who has spent the last two decades trying to put his past to rest. His cynical retirement is thrown into chaos when the daughter of his ex-wife hires him to rescue her mother from the dark forces who’ve taken her. The kidnapping is only days before the Aberration, a time every century when the rules of magic don’t apply. Anson’s investigation reveals an ancient conspiracy, the return of a decades-old nemesis, and feelings he thought long gone.

Will he rescue his old flame, or succumb to the forces against him?

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Book Review – Wychman Road by Ben Berman Ghan

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The world is glutted with superhero stories these days. Some are excellent, some are less than spectacular, most are about people in tights doing things to other people in tights. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good superhero story, especially when it breaks the normal routine of putting on tights and fighting crime.

I guess one of the major problems with a lot of superhero stories is they’re all fundamentally the same: good guys fight bad guys, there are lots of flashy things happening, good guys ultimately win. They trend toward an area of fantasy where things are black and white. In a way, that’s why I wrote Henchmen; it was an attempt to break the normal routines.

Other people are doing the same kinds of things. Actually they’ve been doing them for some time now; I’m hardly a groundbreaking author. What I like to see are the stories where the people with the powers aren’t out sacrificing themselves for the good of all mankind because, let’s face it, people usually don’t do that. Series like Jessica Jones (Alias – the comic series it sprung from – was better in my opinion), Daredevil, and Gotham are covering these areas now, but they still trend toward good guys and bad guys doing things to each other out of the kindness (or blackness) of their hearts.

Into this maelstrom drops Ben Berman Ghan’s Wychman Road, a tale about what’s really likely to happen to people with superpowers. The general gist of the story is there are people who can control other people, oftentimes causing irreparable damage to the people being controlled. The reaction to the damage their powers cause is what starts to define the Thought Walkers.and separate them into basically okay and probably pretty bad camps.

Wychman Road is partly a superhero yarn, but it’s also musings on what it means to be human and what regular people will do when suddenly granted amazing abilities. Now, if normal people would go off the rails when they found they had the ability to control others, those who’ve had the ability for a long time would have very different outlook on what’s okay and what’s not.

If I have one complaint about Wychman Road it’s the large amount of telling instead of showing. There are scenes that could have been extremely fun to explore but were simply told. The telling drug the story down in some places, but when Ghan rolls in the action Wychman really shines.

If you’re looking for something exciting, a new way of looking at superheroes, check out Wychman Road.

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Review – The Legend of Buddy Hero by Adam Oster

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I’ve always loved superheroes.  To most people who know me this will come as no surprise.  In fact, I think blinding flash of obvious would probably be an apt descriptor.  While my friends were learning, you know “facts”, and getting “useful knowledge,” I was reading Mad Magazine.  While they were studying to be better people I was learning about the heroes who saved the Earth again and again.

Yeah.  Who’s laughing now, suckers?

So, with that in mind it really should come as no surprise that I enjoyed Adam Oster’sThe Legend of Buddy Hero?”  No, not really.  It was a creative take on a genre that is wide open with possibilities but usually falls into the large guy in tights beats hell out of the other large guy in tights.  What we get instead is the human side of superheroism and a creative solution to a problem.  Rather than donning the cape (no capes!) and relying on his fists our hero has to work with a team and find a way to take down a bigger problem.  And that right there is a nice change in the traditional superhero model.

The story is well written, full of nice twists, good action, and no small amount of humor.  Is it for you?  If you like superheroes, yes it is.  If you don’t, well, it’s still a damn good story and well worth the price of admission, so yeah, it’s for you.  Also, as an added bonus, Damon Memphis is the kind of villain name I wish I could have come up with.

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