Thursday, November 26, 2015


By Ian Thomas Healy
Local Hero Press LLC
350 pages

For the past three years, Colorado based writer Ian Thomas Healy has been writing some of the most entertaining superhero fiction on the market today. This subgenre of fantasy adventure is about bringing spandex wearing comicbook characters to the world of prose fiction. It is a growing field in literature today with a half-dozen notable New Pulp writers thriving in it; names like Van Plexico, Lee Houston Jr. and Nick Ahlhelm spring immediately to mind. Considering the amount of world-building that went into this novel, we’re amazed this book (series) doesn’t have a much larger following.  It deserves to.

“Just Cause,” billed as the first in the series, actually begins in the middle of the saga, in 2012, when Salena Thompson joins the premier superhero team, Just Cause, as their newest intern after having graduated from the renowned Hero Academy.  A third generation speedster, she calls herself Mustang Sally and is overwhelmed by how fast her life is moving, much like her own super-speed abilities. Both Sally’s mother, Faith, and grandmother, possessed similar powers and fought with previous teams dating back to World War II when metahumans first appeared.

Mustang Sally, as the protagonist, is our entry into this amazing world, and through her eyes we discover the rich and complex history of superheroes, and their villainous counterparts.  Sally’s father was killed weeks before she was born by a twisted scientific genius known as the Destroyer who continues to be Just Cause’s greatest adversary. Sally’s secret wish is to find him and have her revenge. But before she can do that, she must prove herself to the Just Cause which is led by the brilliant, but conservative Juice, whose powers to produce electric charges make him a formidable warrior.

Along the way Sally makes close friends with a Sondra Eagle, the winged Native American known as Desert Eagle and falls madly in love with Jason, the super strong young rock musician called Mastiff. All the while getting to know the other members of the team and learning to adjust to her new role as an adult superhero. Thus the book is really a coming-of-age tale decked out in a flashy superhero garment and it is to Healy’s credit as a writer, that his characterization of Sally and the others is as skillful as his ability to convey action sequences. For in the end, if we don’t believe Salena, the na├»ve, eager, loyal and courageous young woman then there is no empathizing with Mustang Sally.

“Just Cause” is a pure delight from cover to cover.  This edition is a heavily revised and expanded version. It is a most welcomed addition to our library and we recommend it highly.  If you grew up with your nose buried in Marvel and DC comics, as we did, then you are going to love “Just Cause.”  And as Mr. Stan Lee would say, “Nuff said.”

Thursday, November 05, 2015


By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(A graphic novel)
Editor Patrick Thorpe
Sequential Pulps &
Dark Horse Books

Since we first heard of this project, we were excited to see it come to fruition. The idea was simple enough, take Burrough’s own book, which relates the adventures of a young Tarzan in a collection of short stories and have them adapted to comic strips by various artists. Michael Hudson of Sequential Pulps was the driving force behind this super cool idea and he enlisted the talented Martin Powell to adapt those tales into comic scripts. Then it was a matter of recruiting the right artist for each segment.

Daren Bader’s cover art is simply stunning in both composition and execution. It sets a very high bar for the interior artists, some of whom proved to be its equal while others fall a bit short. The nature of any anthology is in the end a subjective experience between individual creators and their audience. Thus, of the twelve strips assembled here, there were some that simply bowled us over and we’d like to single them out as they were truly exceptional.

If we had to pick a favorite, it would be a tie between “Tarzan and the Native Boy” from Nik Poliwko and “The Nightmare” by Mark Wheatley. In the first, Poliwko ssems to be channeling the late/great Russ Manning. As a comic lover who grew up reading Manning’s Tarzan comics from Dell, this strip was a loving trip home. Whereas Wheatley’s style of art was perfectly suited to a tale about what is real and unreal, his colors blending in perfectly to add the proper mood. We’ve yet to see a bad piece of Wheatley art and have to believe none exist.

We’d also like to applaud artists Lowell Isaac, Will Meugniot, Terry Beatty who all turned in inspired work. Whereas we found Jamie Chase’s style moody and Steven Gordon’s cartoony, both worked beautifully with their stories.  Each is a joy to read and we truly appreciated the wonderful artwork on displaye in these pages.

As we indicated above, this is an amazing collection and will please any true Tarzan fan. One can only imagine the logistic chores of corralling all these various talents and pulling such a project together.  A tip of the pulp hat to Diane Leto for making it all come together.  This is a beautiful book we are happy to have in our library.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


An Infernum Novella
By Percival Constantine
Nifty Entertainment
139 pages

“Gentleman Rogue” is the third in a series about a shadowy spy organization and the mysterious man who operates, Dante.  The first was a mixed bag called “Love and Bullets” which evidenced the potential Constantine had as a writer.  With the second, “Outlaw Blues,” that promise was realized and now with this latest entry, he lets loose with a wonderful, sophisticated heist caper that hits all the classic beats readers expect from this genre.

The fun here is his protagonist Dalton Moore, a former British Spy turned thief who has left his past behind and adopted a humanitarian code of ethics wherein he does not kill; even his worst enemies. Not that easy an oath to maintain when being chased around the globe by some of the deadliest assassins in the world.  A criminal mastermind named Johnny Venom has obtained a drug that turns people into mindless savages and is about to auction it off to the international terrorist organizations.  Dante wants Dalton to steal the drug, called Fury, and deliver it to him. He manipulates Dalton by offering to tell him where his missing father is being imprisoned and upon the delivery of Fury, Dante says he will free the old man. Dalton reluctantly accepts the deal.

But as ever there are always wrinkles in these spy missions.  For Dalton it is being saddled with the sexy but deadly Tauna, one of Dante’s personal lieutenants. Dalton is none to happy to have her shadowing his every move.  Of course the bad guys are no slouches either when it comes to gathering intel and soon Dalton and Tauna learn that Venom has dispatched the silent assassin Vincente to find and dispose of them.
All the while, it becomes clear to Dalton that someone, either in his own camp, or Dante’s group, has sold them out; they have a traitor in their midst.

Part heist, part chase and totally one hundred percent action packed, “Gentlemen Rogue” is gem of a read.  Dalton Moore and Tauna are likeable characters and Constantine would be wise to bring them back soon.  As for the Infernum series as a whole, each new chapter is better than the last.  Thus you have to believe this reviewer is now most anxious for volume four.