Tag Archives: erica henderson

Silent Superheroes, Grimdark Comics, and Alternate Histories: My Most Anticipated Reads

As per usual, I have fallen behind on my reading. Sure, there are plenty of recent releases (Tamora Pierce’s Tempests and Slaughter, Seanan McGuire’s Tricks for Free) that I haven’t gotten around to yet, but there are still plenty of forthcoming titles that I am itching to add to my ever growing TBR. Below, you’ll find a list forthcoming books and graphic novels that I am really jazzed about checking out. Every one of them has a 2018 release date.

Garrison Girl by Rachel Aaron (Science Fiction)– Tie in fiction is something that I’ve started to get into over the past year, which makes the timing of Garrison Girl, Rachel Aaron’s take on the Attack on Titan universe, pretty opportune. The summary promises plenty of action, and romance, two topics that Aaron has done very well with her original fiction in the past. Not to mention that cover art is just awesome. What’s the saying, again? Take my money! Release Date- August 7th.

Black Bolt, vol 2: Home Free by Saladin Ahmed (Superheroes)– The first volume of Black Bolt was such a pleasant surprise. I had never been a fan of the Inhumans before, never mind their silent leader, but Saladin Ahmed found a way to make his story, focused around a prison break, so compelling. Hell, he even made me care about Crusher Creel. I hope his second outing with the Midnight King will be just as intriguing as the first, now that we’ve left the prison setting behind. Release Date- June 19th

Competence by Gail Carriger (Steampunk/Paranormal)– The third book in the Custard Protocol switches perspectives from Prudence to Primrose, and I am jazzed to see what the results will be. Will we see a romance involving a particular werecat? This series (and it’s predecessor, the Parasol Protectorate) does a wonderful job mixing steampunk, humor, romance and paranormal elements. I’m glad it’s returning for a third outing. Release Date- July 17th.

Attack on Titan: Vol 25 and 26 by Hajime Isayama (Science Fiction)– I must admit, the Marley arc caught me a little off guard at first, but by volume 24, I was totally on board. The secrets behind the titans have been revealed, and it’s clear that things are winding down for a final encounter. I am very curious to see how that will end up. Release Dates- July 3rd, and December 4th.

The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal (Science Fiction)– These two titles are, without a doubt, my most anticipated releases of 2018, period. Written by one of my favorite authors, The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky take place in the same universe as the novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars,” where humanity starts it’s race to Mars in the 1950s. The novels focus on the women behind the space race, including the former WASP pilot/mathematician destined to become The Lady Astronaut. If these alternate history books are even as fraction as moving as the novelette it’s based on, I know I’m in for a real treat. Release Dates- July 3rd, and August 12th.

Monstress, vol 3 by Marjorie Liu (Fantasy/Horror)– Monstress is a series that’s received a lot of praise, and it’s earned every penny of it. Sana Takeda is my favorite artist working in comics right now, and the deliciously dark storyline is perfect for people who like their fantasy grim. Where does Maika Halfwolf’s journey take her next? We’ll find out soon. Release Date- August 14th.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol 8: My Best Friends Squirrel by Ryan North (Superheroes)– Now, for the lighter side of comics. When it comes to comedy series, nothing can dethrone the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. The next arc takes things up to a cosmic level and brings back Loki- a character that writer Ryan North handle so wonderfully. Sadly this may be the final arc to feature art by the amazing Erica Henderson, who is moving into other projects. I suspect she’ll get a good send off. Release Date- June 26th.

Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy)Lies of the Beholder is the third book in the Legion series, which will be released as a stand alone novella, as well as part of a collection of the entire series entitled The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. This series, which focuses on a man who hallucinates multiple personae for himself, that then teach him specialized skills, is one of Sanderson’s most unique series, and I’m glad that we’re going to get a proper ending to it. Release date- November 2018 for the stand alone, and September 18th for the collection (weirdly enough)

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (Science Fiction)– Speaking of Brandon Sanderson, he’s also releasing the first book in a brand new YA series this year, Skyward. According to his blog, it’s his take on the classic “boy in his dragon” storyline, only instead it’s a “girl and her Starfighter” which sounds all kinds of awesome. Sanderson is traditionally an adult fantasy author, but I have enjoyed both his YA work and sci-fi in the past (especially the Steelheart trilogy) so I suspect that this will be my type of read. Release Date- November 6th 2018

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi (Science Fiction) The Consuming Fire is the second book in Scalzi’s Interdependency series, of which the first book was one of my favorite reads of Winter 2018. However, it wasn’t a stand alone book by any stretch of the imagination, and I am really eager to see how things develop in book two. The summary doesn’t give too much away, but I predict (being a Scalzi book) that The Consuming Fire will involve fascinating sci-fi concepts, great characterization and snappy dialogue. Release Date- October 16th.

My Brother’s Husband: Vol 2 by Gengoroh Tagame (Contemporary)– Speaking of favorites, volume one of these wonderful manga series will be showing up on my top books for Spring post (whoops. Spoilers?). My Brothers Husband tells the story of a stay at home dad named Yaichi. When his deceased brother’s husband comes to visit, Yaichi must confront his own hidden homophobic feelings. is a really touching about family and love and I can’t wait to see how things turn out in this concluding volume of the series. Release Date- September 18th.

Saga vol, 9 by Brian K. Vaughan- So many favorites! The wonderfully weird Saga continues its story about a family on a run this fall. I love how volume 8 dealt with the aftermath of a miscarriage (such a grounded subject from a comic that’s literally out of this world), and really like the family portrait-style cover that artist Fiona Staples did for volume 9. Release Date- October 2nd.

Ms. Marvel, vol 9: by G Willow Wilson (Superheroes)– The eighth volume of Ms. Marvel was another one of my favorite books of Winter 2018, and it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger with (spoiler alert!!) Kamala Khan apparently stepping down as Ms. Marvel! What will happen to Jersey City next. Apparently I’ll find out this summer (on my birthday, no less!). Release Date- July 31st.

And that’s it! Those are my most anticipated readers for the rest of 2018! Any thoughts on the titles above? Is there anything I missed? Please let me know in the comments!

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Rodent-Based Crime Fighters and Super Administrators: Our Favorite Superheroes

Who’s your favorite superhero? With Infinity War on the horizon, we discuss some of our favorites on Speculative Chic.

Infinity War is coming, Infinity War is coming! To say that some of us are excited would be an understatement. With this in mind, I asked our contributors something simple: who’s your favorite superhero? It doesn’t have to be one of the obvious heroes. I humbly submit that Buffy Summers is a superhero, for example.…

via Roundtable: Our Heroes — Speculative Chic

Everything I Read in January, 2017

January was a really good month for reading, so I thought I’d chat about it for a bit. I’ve broken down what I’ve read into three categories: books and audioboks. graphic novels, and single issue comics. First off, books~

Books/Audiobooks
1. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
2. The Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty
3. The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron
4. The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin
5. Batgirl at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

Clearly, my book reading in January was all about knocking a few books off of my 2017 TBR, and that seemed to work out well. Calamity was the third and final book in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series. I liked it quite a bit, even if I feel like the book didn’t quite live up to the (admitted sky high) level of quality I came to expect from the first two books- Steelheart, and Firefight. Ghost Train to New Orleans is the second (and so far, last) urban fantasy novel in Laffery’s Shambling Guide series. I felt like the book did a nice job expanding the mythology of the series, even if the overall plot line wasn’t quite as interesting as the first book’s- which focused on Zoe becoming an editor for travel guides for the supernatural community. The Spirit Thief was the first book in Rachel Aaron’e Eli Monpress series, and it was a really fun read, albeit not as strongly written as some of Aaron’s later works. I’ve heard the author describe the series as a fighting anime in book form, and The Spirit Thief totally nails that motif. So if you’re a fan or Naruto or Bleach, make sure you check this one out.

The Obelisk Gate is the second book in The Broken Earth Trilogy, and delivered the same high quality writing and characterization that I’ve come to expect from NK Jemisin after seven novels. It was a pretty dark book though, so I took a mental break by delving into the latest book in the DC Superhero Girls series (Batgirl at Superhero High). This was another charming installment to this fun middle grade series, although I didn’t like it nearly as much as I did the first two. I’m somewhat concerned that the books (all which have focused on a new student finding their place at Superhero High) are becoming a little formulaic.

Graphic Novels
1. Wonder Woman: Land of the Dead by Greg Rucka
2. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the Great Lakes Avengers by Various
3. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North/Erica Henderson
4. Wonder Woman, vol 9: Resurrection by Meredith Finch/David Finch
5. Wonder Woman: Missions End by Greg Rucka

For graphic novels this month, it was all about Wonder Woman and Squirrel Girl. The two works by Greg Rucka (Land of the Dad and Mission’s End) finished off Rucka’s fabulous run on Wonder Woman from about 10 years back. Mission’s End was a bit of a step down, as Rucka needed to weave in larger crossover elements into his own storylines, but, all things considered, I thought he handled that challenge better than most. I also read the final volume in Meredith Finch’s run (Resurrection), and through it was the strongest volume of her run yet. Unfortunately, the Finch run on Wonder Woman was plagued by problems from the beginning to the end, and I can’t honestly say how many of these issues were due to decisions by the creative team, and how many were due to those by DC at large. As a result, I’m quite glad to see them pass the torch to another team (which includes Greg Rucka again, ironically).

The Squirrel Girl graphic novels, on the other hand, were like friggen night and day. Volume 4 of the Ryan North/Erica Henerson run (I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It) was just as clever and enjoyable as I’ve come to expect from this creative team. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the Great Lakes Avengers collection on the other hand was um… not. Don’t get me wrong, this volume, which collects Doreen’s pre-North/Henderson adventures has some good stuff, but those good comics have already been collected in OTHER Squirrel Girl trade paperbacks, as bonus comics. The remaining comics would have been better left forgotten. It’s also contains content that’s pretty adult (lots of violence, gore, and humor with a real cruel streak) which made me wonder why the hell they gave the collection such a kid-friendly cover. Very glad I went the library route with this one.

Comic Books
Black Widow #7
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #30
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 #1
Lazarus #24
Lazarus #25
Paper Girls #8
Paper Girls #9
Paper Girls #10
Saga #37
Saga #38
Saga #39
Serenity: No Power in the Verse #1

January comic book reading was all about catching up on my single issues. And well… we’re not there yet. Maybe someday!

Top 10 of 2016: Comics and Graphic Novels

This is part four in a series of top ten lists. For movies, television shows, and books, check out their respective posts.

Out of all of the lists I made, this was the trickiest, because my comic book reading is pretty much all over the place. I read single issues, graphic novels, and the occasional manga series. Oftentimes, I read current releases, but I also dig into older runs. As a result, this list is kinda chaotic. I’ll try to be as honest about what I actually read without diving into information overload.

Without further ado, here are my top ten comics and graphic novels of 2016, leading up to my number one favorite.

10. Daredevil. Written by Mark Waid. Illustrated by Chris Samnee– This year I finished off the longest run on Daredevil by reading the final two trades, and even those last few issues were pretty freakin’ fabulous. The Waid/Samnee run on Daredevil was exciting, and fun, but not afraid to get serious as well (they gave Foggy Nelson CANCER!). The artwork was dynamic and unique, and the characters were oh-so-lovable. I have yet to dive into the Charles Soule run, which follows this, but it has some sizable shoes to fill.

9. The Private Eye. Written by Brian K Vaughan. Illustrated by Marcos Martin– The Private Eye is a self published webcomic by Vaughan and Martin that has been collected into this ENORMOUS hardcover collection. And I don’t necessarily mean enormous page count. The panels here are some of the largest I’ve seen. The Private Eye has a singularly unique concept. In the future, The Cloud bursts, sending everyone’s private information out to the wild. To protect themselves, everyone takes on a secret identity, complete with costumes and masks. Take this cool worldbuilding and combine it with a noir-esque storyline and you have a comic that’s really worth your attention.

8. Wonder Woman: The True Amazon. Written and Illustrated by Jill Thompson– In this graphic novel, Jill Thompson re-imagines the Wonder Woman origin story in a rather surprising way. Sure, it involves amazons, and ends with Diana leaving Themyscira, but it also suggest that maybe growing up as a spoiled princess had some… adverse effects on Diana’s personality. As a result, Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is less about Diana discovering her powers, as much as it’s about what inspired her to become a good person. What brings this to the next level is the fact that the hand-painted style artwork is so gorgeous, almost more like a storybook then a comic. Not all existing fans will appreciate this portrayal of Wonder Woman, but if you’re looking for a good place to start with the character, then this would be a great choice.

7. Monstress. Written by Marjorie Liu. Illustrated by Sana TakedaMonstress is a grimdark fantasy that takes place in a gorgeously illustrated matriarchal fantasy world, involving Lovecraftian level horrors, and chibi-style sidekicks. And if that description sounds like your type of book, seriously, why haven’t you read this yet? Writer Marjorie Liu has really hit her sweet spot with this one, and Sana Takeda is one of the best artists currently making comics. I’ve only read the first trade, but I am so ready for volume two.

6. Saga. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Illustrated by Fiona Staples– This is one of the comics I read in single issue form- although I am a couple issues behind due to holiday shenanigans. It says a lot about the quality of Saga given that this year produced the storyline that I’ve been the least fond of (the prison storyline) yet it’s still this high on on my list. So instead of falling in love with every issue, I merely enjoyed the crap out if it. Saga remains the perfect place to go for a wonderfully weird sci-fi adventure that’s not afraid to step on your heart every now and then. I’m really looking forward to catching up on this one.

5. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. Written by Kathe Leth. Illustrated by Brittney Williams– I’m also reading this one in single issue format, although it couldn’t be any more different than Saga if it tried. Patsy is a wonderfully relatable protagonist. She’s trying to help out people with superpowers who don’t necessarily want to become superheroes or villains, AND juggle her complicated past, while dealing with the crazy machinations of the Marvel universe. The fact that this comic feels so grounded while totally embracing the crazy-cakes backstory of the protagonists is a real testament to the writer, Kathe Leth. This is a great selection for those looking for a light, fun read, starring a female superhero.

4. Ms. Marvel. Written by G. Willow Wilson. Illustrated by Adrian Alphona. This year, I read the 4th and 5th trades for G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel and damn it’s still good. Kamala Khan is everything I want my superheroes to be. Admirable, yet flawed. Well intentioned, yet still learning about herself. This year, Kamala dealt with her newfound fame as Ms. Marvel as well as the massive crossover event, Civil War II. As someone who usually despises crossover events, I’d like to hold up the Ms. Marvel comics as an example for how to incorporate crossover events while still keeping the storyline personal. Too often, crossovers feel like useless filler that detract from the protagonist’s current journey, but that was not felt here. Civil War II brought some massive changes to Kamala’s life, and I can’t wait to see what happens to her next.

3. Attack on Titan. Written and Illustrated by Hajime Isayama. This year, I’ve been keeping up with the manga, Attack on Titan, reading volumes 17-19, as well as the spin off, No Regrets. Last year, the manga, while still good, was caught up in a political arc that didn’t always play to Isayama’s strengths. Now, the emphasis is on character drama and action, which is where Attack on Titan shines the most. Attack on Titan is one of those series that 100% worth all the hype it gets. The spin off, No Regrets, which focuses on Levi’s backstory, is also really great, despite the fact that it wasn’t written by Hajime Isayama. I am both excited (and dreading) to learn what will happen to our cast of characters next.

2. Wonder Woman. Written by Greg Rucka. Illustrated by various. Now this is going to be the most confusing item on my list, because while everyone else is reading Greg Rucka’s current run on Wonder Woman, I’m reading the one he wrote ten years back. And why am I doing that? Because it’s awesome. I still have a few more issues to go, but time and time again, I have been impressed at how well Rucka manages to capture Diana. Wonder Woman is a peacekeeper, but also a warrior. A diplomat, but also someone that will kill when necessary. A woman who isn’t bound by traditional women’s roles, despite being from an ancient society. It can be difficult to capture a character who wears so many hats, and is seemingly full of conflicts, but Rucka always portrays her with dignity and grace. I can see why they invited him back for a second run.

1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Written by Ryan North. Illustrated by Erica Henderson– Please. You know me. What else could I pick for my number one? I only wrote an entire column praising Squirrel Girl, and this run specifically. There’s just something so lovable, so perfect, about Doreen Green. She’s feisty, strong, smart, and compassionate. The artwork by Erica Henderson is just suits the story so well. And it’s so nice, that in a world where humor is so often devalued and looked upon as lesser, that you have a comic that’s not afraid to put the lighthearted first, and is pretty much universally praised for it. Squirrel Girl is my favorite superhero of 2016, and my favorite comic book (I’m reading it in trade paperback form). I can’t wait to see what she gets into next.

Honorable Mentions: Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Run- last two trades), Paper Girls (current issues), Lazarus (current issues), Black Widow (Mark Waid/Chis Samnee run- current issues)

Anything I miss? I’d love to hear what everyone else has been reading for comics this year.

Next, for my final top 10 list, I’ll be talking about my random favorites. Think music, podcasts and anything else that didn’t fit into the previous categories. Hope to get that up soon!