Myths, Part II (Spawn #15) ★★☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Myths, Part II
Series: Spawn #15
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

The Clown’s story continues. Medieval Spawn survives the Violator’s blast, but he is horribly disfigured. Even in this state, however, he is able to best Violator with the help of his living suit’s imprisoning tendrils. The Violator’s severed head is hoisted aloft as a grisly trophy of their demonic battle. Ironically, the woman he sought to protect from the Violator is sickened by Spawn’s true form and flees in flight.

The Spawn lays in an alley peacefully resting. When the owner comes out mad that bums in his alley are begging and foraging for scraps, the owner physically pushes Spawn around. Spawn is fed up with people trying to tell him what to do. He beats the man down and barks that this is now spawn territory. The man cowers away.

In Queens, New York, Terry Fitzgerald lays awake, terrified as the mob’s men have threatened his family again and he doesn’t know what to do.

My Thoughts:

So this whole “Myths” story was standing St. George and the Dragon on it’s head. With the Violator being the dragon and Medieval Spawn being St. George. It really pissed me off that the Princess runs away from Medieval Spawn when he reveals his tortured form. I can understand that she doesn’t want to get all “Hugs & Kisses” with him but to run away from him after he’d saved her life and killed the Violator that was torturing her? It also raised the question, to me, of WHY was Medieval Spawn all burnt up too? It doesn’t happen to every Spawn because we saw the fat child killer who became a Spawn candidate still in “prime” condition. And speaking of Medieval Spawn.

Below is an illustration of the fantastic work that McFarlane can do, when he wants to. It is a great illustration of the talents he has. The problem with it is that it simply makes the times where he rough sketches things in that much more noticeable.

Part of me can understand not doing this level of work for every panel but at the same time, why not? Why isn’t McFarlane putting out his best for the whole issue? Why does this particular spread get the love treatment while Terry in his boxers looks almost like a crayon drawing at the end?

Between everything that I’ve experienced with this comic in these 15 issues, nothing has made me want to continue. I don’t like Spawn. I don’t like his human Al Simmons. I don’t like the 2 cops. I don’t like the badguys and I don’t like Wanda. I don’t like the city or the situations and I don’t like the universe portrayed. So I’m done with Spawn. 15 issues is enough of “testing the waters”. Any more testing and I’d be asking for Jaws to come chomp me up into little itty bitty pieces.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Myths, Part I (Spawn #14) ★★☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Myths, Part I
Series: Spawn #14
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

The Clown, being a master of self-promotion, tells the story of a long-ago clash with Medieval Spawn to a small lot of alley kids. He portrays the ancient warrior in the worst possible light and describing him as evil. He takes creative liberties explaining he was the hero of the story. During a battle, a kick from Spawn’s horse sends Violator flying, something snaps inside him and he unleashes a gout of mystical fire. The Violator cackles in triumph over the smoking form of his fallen foe.

Spawn curses himself for letting his emotions get the best of him. Now that Chapel knows he’s still alive, he can no longer remain a shadow. People may discover he’s still alive and come for him.

My Thoughts:

We get the Violator, still in clown form, telling a group of boys a story about his battle with another Spawn 800 years ago. The words he says are at complete odds with the pictures drawn so you know he’s lying out of his teeth. It would seem another Spawn had defied Malebolgia, thus giving us the hint that our Spawn might be treading in the footsteps of another like him.

I have to admit, I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of the year with this series. It is just too stupid. I’ve mentioned this before, but Spawn is supposed to be a Special Forces kind of guy. He doesn’t let his emotions rule him but so far, that is ALL he’s done in all 14 issues. One stupid mistake or decision after another because of his emotions. It’s not that I want him to be emotionless but I don’t want to see him ruled by his emotions and McFarlane doesn’t go down that route.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Flashback, Part II (Spawn #13) ★★☆☆☆

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Title: Flashback, Part II
Series: Spawn #13
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Spawn recalls playing a baseball game and breaking his ankle. All he can remember is how beautiful she was and how they made love until the sun came up the next morning.

Spawn decides to focus on finding the man who killed him, Chapel.

At Youngblood headquarters, Badrock is on guard duty but distracted by video games. When Spawn trips a silent alarms, he finds Chapel along with teammates Diehard and Shaft. Spawn teleports himself and Chapel to Botswana to complete his fight.

Terry Fitzgerald finds it hard to fall asleep. Now that two men have harassed him, he knows he’s on a watch list which is hard to get on. Yet he can’t figure out why they’d be checking into him.

Twitch Williams and Sam Burke rejoice in their investigation finally being lifted for the murder of Billy Kincaid.

In Botswana, Chapel recalls the orders from Jason Wynn to take out his target when things got hairy. Snapping back into the present, he wrestles with Spawn and exchanges punches. Spawn drives the point home by disfiguring the Chapel’s face with a horrific brand, that resembles the facial warpaint he wore when he murdered Al. As Spawn leaves Chapel, he activates the Youngblood tracking mechanism.

Eight hours later, Shaft and Badrock arrive and ask what Spawn said to him. With a disgusted and angry look, Chapel simply replies with, “Nothing” as he gets on their plane to leave.

My Thoughts:

So Spawn hunts down the guy who killed him originally. He infiltrates the Youngblood’s headquarters (Youngblood’s were Image’s version of the Justice League or the Avengers), teleports Chapel back to where Chapel killed him and proceeds to pummel the ever living daylight out of him. Spawn uses his magic to give Chapel a skull face like his old costume and then leaves him to be found.

The fight boiled down to a couple of punches thrown and the two of them angrily exchanging macho “I’m tougher than you” stupid talk. It was actually kind of embarrassing to read. It also brought home the point that McFarlane is deliberately writing for teenagers. Instead of showcasing Spawn getting some good intel from the badguy the focus is them fighting and Spawn getting his revenge. I’m sure in future volumes Spawn will use the intel from this guy but it will be of the “remember when I beat the crap out of my old killer, well, he told me….” variety.

On a complete side note. I’ve never read the Youngblood comics but after this little introduction I definitely won’t be. I get the “grim and gritty” vibe from them and I’d bet my bottom dollar that the comics are filled with questionable morals about human life and heroism in general.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Flashback, Part I (Spawn #12) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Flashback, Part I
Series: Spawn #12
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Spawn is drawn to the top of the Church again. He ponders how the devil twists people’s souls with his secret weapon, people’s weakness to love. He recalls only being in a church once, which was to marry Wanda. He recalls Terry being there and how he was his best friend. How could Terry betray him and marry Wanda he wonders.

In Washington, D.C., CIA chief Jason Wynn is told by his henchmen that Terry is the number one suspect of compiling damaging information against his bosses and stolen goods. He orders his henchman to have several henchmen make the point clear that he knows about Terry’s secret dealings. He then tells the henchmen to watch him to see where he goes once he’s scarred.

In New York City, Spawn dresses in civilian clothes as he goes to visit Wanda’s blind Granny Blake. He tells her there is an afterlife and he expects her to reach Heaven. He leaves without the heart to tell her that he made it to Hell.

At New York City Police Headquarters, Twitch and Sam discuss how they are now on probation for what happened with Kincaid. Sam mentions it would be a good opportunity to follow up on the lead of the man in the red cape they spotted at Billy’s. He’s heard that he may have been involved in the bum incidents as well.

In Queens, New York, Wanda, Terry, and Cyan walk home to find several of Jason Wynn’s henchman waiting there. One remarks to Terry that he has a nice family and it would be a shame if anything happened to them.

Elsewhere, the bums celebrate the safety Spawn has given them. The celebration takes an ugly turn when a bum tries on Spawn’s mask, only to be nearly strangled by it. Spawn pulls it off and warns them he has no control over his suit and that the suit will attempt to protect itself.

Spawn suddenly experiences another flashback. He realizes that the American flag he keeps seeing in his visions represent his killer. The grim reaper he keeps seeing he realizes is the face paint of his killer. He keeps finding himself drawn to not just the church, but the chapel. He identifies his killer as Chapel.

My Thoughts:

Finally, things move forward a tiny step. I cannot imagine what kids went through who were originally reading this one issue each month. With this issue it would have been a whole year’s worth of comics, and for what? We know Spawn was a special forces guy who was betrayed and was brought back to life to work for a demon. Oh, and that he wuvvssssss Wanda. Dear spacecow, that’s hammered at us in every single issue. Just in case we forgot I guess.

I will say that it was nice to be introduced to another villain, one with a skull face mask, who apparently is the one who killed Spawn in the first place. And we meet their former boss. So, Bad Guys, Assemble! Throw in a couple of Power Twin Rings and we’re ready for a real fracas.

I was talking with SavageDave in the comments of the last issue of Spawn and it made me realize I think I’m going to try to hang onto this series until new years. Then when I’m evaluating what to do for 2022 I’ll make a firm decision to continue this series or not. I’m also trying to not be as hard nosed about the books I read as it affects me in other ways too.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Infernal Express (Adventures of the Royal Occultist #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Infernal Express
Series: Adventures of the Royal Occultist #3
Author: Josh Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 199
Words: 68.5K



Synopsis:

St. Cyprian is coerced into taking the remains of Dracula and giving them to the Turks and jannissaries, Dracula’s ancient enemies. A cult of Dracula wants the remains for themselves so as to raise their lord from the dead. The jannissaries also want the remains as they don’t trust St. Cyprian to be able to keep the remains safe from others. And finally, the secret vampire society wants the remains so they can lock them away and keep Dracula from ever rising again. Oh, and Lucy Harker, a half-vampire, thinks she’s the only one who can deal with her daddy’s remains.

All of this ends up taking place on a train towards Constantinople, through land barely over World War One. St Cyprian is an idiot and gets infected by Dracula so he has to contend with enemies within and without. Eventually he, his protege Ebe and Lucy get the remains to a sacred monastary with a pool of holy water. St Cyprian cleanses himself from the vampire taint and then throws the remains of Dracula into the holy water, which while not eradicating him, will hold him captive.

During all of this Dracula shows St Cyprian a future where the Old Ones have returned to Earth and humanity is on the brink of extinction, not from fighting the Old Ones, but from worshiping them. St. Cyprian has seen this vision in the previous stories so he knows Dracula isn’t making this up. So St Cyprian must find a way to prevent this future without allowing a monster like Dracula to use it for his own ends.

My Thoughts:

Another fun entry in the Royal Occultist series. At the end of the book was the prologue and chapter 1 of Book 4, which was untitled. When I contacted the author, he told me there had been issues with the publishing company so book 4 was never published and he didn’t know when it would be. I’m guessing rights were involved.

This was extremely action packed from beginning to end and it did make me wonder how St Cyprian has lived as long as he has. He certainly doesn’t seem to know half of what he should and as for him trying to teach Ebe anything, that girl seems to think she doesn’t need any teaching. It’s frustrating to read about but also so true to life.

I thought Reynolds did a good job with handling the Dracula lore in such a way that it fit right into the Royal Occultist world but also putting his own unique spin on it. Making Dracula a being that is on par with the archangels in terms of power was clever.

With no more books, I’m done with this series. It was light and fun and if Reynolds ever writes more, I’ll be reading them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Home (Spawn #11) ★★☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Home
Series: Spawn #11
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Spawn wakes up in the alley. His homeless friends Boots and Billy worry about him as he keeps moaning about some aardvark.[1] Spawn tells his homeless friends that he finds a need to protect them and his home, in the same way Boots protects the only thing he has.. his boots.

Soon a woman screams for help, as Spawn hears explosions nearby. He finds the woman but is unable to saver her in time as he takes a hit that blows through his body. Everyone is shocked when Spawn stands back up with a basketball sized hole through his chest.

The attacker, Boomer, runs off into the night and Spawn secretly chases him to find out where he came from. He finds the Nerds Gang headquarters where the Nerds discuss hating their rival gang the Creeps Gang.

Spawn finds he is outclassed and outmatched in guns and retreats. Spawn uses his military and strategic planning to goading each side into a final confrontation.

The plan works perfectly, leaving only the Nerd enforcer Byron still standing – until Spawn arrives. Unable to penetrate Byron’s armor, Spawn teleports himself inside and rips his way out, reducing the villain to a bloody head.

My Thoughts:

This comic series is really suffering in comparison to both Asterix AND Bone. While it doesn’t seem quite fair to compare this to Asterix, which is twice as long and not released “on schedule”, Bone is just as short. The art is rough and sketchy with very rough outlines in many cases and even Spawn gets the rough treatment if he’s not showcasing some sort of Spiderman swinging pose.

Then you have the “story”. Some gang warfare is happening in the alley where Spawn and his group of bums live and Spawn sets up both gangs against each other and then kills the lone survivor. It did nothing to further Spawn’s supposed investigation into who he was and didn’t advance any plot point that I could see. I am getting a bit impatient at this point with just how much McFarlane is dragging out the storyline.

It is making me wonder if it is this particular franchise or something about monthly released comics that just doesn’t work for me. It might be a bit of both too.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger #3) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The King of Plagues
Series: Joe Ledger #3
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 492 / 160
Words: 151K / 50K



Synopsis:

DNF@30%

My Thoughts:

By the 30% mark Maberry had used the term “hate crime” 15 times. I quit reading when he used the term to justify a muslim special forces guy beating people so badly that they ended up in the Emergency Room because they used words he didn’t like. It’s called Free Speech, for good AND bad. When you start telling people what words they can and cannot say or use, you have entered the Deep State.

So adios Maberry, you confirmed my fears about you and I’ll be avoiding you like the plague from now on.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Jade Suit of Death (Adventures of the Royal Occultist #2) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Jade Suit of Death
Series: Adventures of the Royal Occultist #2
Author: Josh Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 190
Words: 70K



Synopsis:

St. Cyprian is hired to recover an occultic artifact for one of his acquaintences. Said artifact has been stolen by a group of thugs who appear to have the power of controlling a demon. Turns out one of the occultic clubs has decided to use whatever power they can grab to change the course of history and to make Britain an Empire in perpetuity.

The jade suit encases an original werewolf and the acquaintence was hoping to study it to see if he could cure himself, as he has been bitten himself.

St. Cyprian and his assistant must track down the jade suit and stop the splinter group from peforming an equinox ceremony binding the werewolf to the leader of the group, thus allowing her nigh unlimited power. Of course they succeed.

My Thoughts:

This was another great entry but also brought to light something that had been niggling at me in the first book. Reynolds kind of rushes his endings. The buildup is fantastic. He sets things up great and does a good job of describing everything leading up to the end but the climactic battle and the aftermath, it’s always gone through extremely quickly. I have to admit I suspect it comes from his franchise fiction writing. It really reminded me of how a lot of the Forgotten Realms books/series ended. Other than that, I was perfectly satisfied with how this story went.

The idea that the “plague” contained by the jade suit was out of control lycanthropy was really interesting and definitely turned the expectations of the reader, ie, me, on its head. The inclusion of the “Hairy Hands” and Baphomet as well as the splinter group of rogue occultists definitely made for a full house when it came to villainy. In a lot of ways it didn’t seem so much that St. Cyprian overcame the villains as that he performed magical ju-jitsu and used everyone against the others. He came across as the Millennial Ideal of lets work together instead of the Gen X of One Warrior Overcoming All Odds.

A larger overall threat was hinted at but I’m not sure that Reynolds will be able to pull that off with just one more book. I guess I’ll just have to read it and find out 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Angela (Spawn #9) ★★☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Angela
Series: Spawn #9
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

800 years ago in a journal entry, Angela reads about Hellspawn and Heaven’s goal of exterminating them. She reads about the rules specified are only for Hellspawn in Living Realms, and those in Beyond Realms are not to be touched unless an official declaration of war is made with Hell.

The entry explains the best way to kill a Hellspawn is when it is still new and unadjusted to it’s carapace. That is when they are cronally confused, and new at using their powers. Because of this, they are also brash and use way too much power as opposed to a more experience Hellspawn. For this reason, while they are most vulnerable as a new Hellspawn, they are also potentially more dangerous or unpredictable. The journal explains that these Hellspawn sent to Earth, usually once every 100 years, and no more than one at a time, are potential officers in Malebolgia’s future war. The Living Realm acts as a trial to see if they are fit to lead. The best way to kill them, is a surprise attack, but beware their suit, or carapace, as they are equally wiley in their younger years.

Angela recalls posing as a young woman in distress in the 12th century. When Medieval Spawn, a new hellspawn at the time spots her, She asks him to take her to a remote location to save her sister from an ogre. Angela recalls reading how new Hellspawn are drawn to help people when they are first reborn. In the cave, she surprises him from behind and strikes him with her Dimensional Lance to kill him.

In the present day, Spawn speaks with a Count Cogliostro who not only knows his name, but knows about Hell and how it operates. Cogliostro requests Spawn to summon beer as a training and reward exercise and he does.

Angela appears at work, where she meets Gabrielle who informs her Raphaela has left her in charge of this world. Angela shows little regard for her talking down on her for being a freelancer and reveals she has a hunting permit. Gabrielle admits she can’t stop her from hunting but she requests it to be quick and clean.

Later, as Spawn and Cogliostro continue their discussion, Angela appears behind them. As she attacks, Spawn disappears in a pool. Angela, undeterred, follows in but is shot back to heaven when she realizes she is overpowered. Spawn picks up the lance left behind as Cogliostro urgently warns him to stop. As Spawn presses a button, he disappears in a while light and his Necroplasm is reset to 0000. Cogliostro mourns he was a good kid, just not very bright

My Thoughts:

In one of the previous reviews I had asked if there were going to be angels in this series, since there were demons. Well, this issue answered that question.

There are angels and apparently they are all hot chicks parading around in skimpy outfits killing hellspawns with big ass swords and spears. The odd thing is that Angela, the angel we are watching, is so badly drawn that while she’s barely clothed, she’s more grotesque than erotic and beyond the long hair it’s hard to call her a female. I am thankful that McFarlane didn’t go down the Boris Vallejo/Frank Frazzetta route in terms of art but still, I was almost as grossed out by her as I was by Spawn’s burned body.

This volume was straight up info dumping about hellspawns and some hints about angelic society. We also get a hint that there is supposed to be a “special” hellspawn and that maybe our Spawn was it. Given that the volume ends with Spawn’s magic being drained down to zero and then teleported away, we’ll see if that hint turns out to be real or not.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger #2) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Dragon Factory
Series: Joe Ledger #2
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 578
Words: 162K



Synopsis:

From Theledgerfiles.fandom.com

The story starts three months after the events of Patient Zero. Joe Ledger and Echo Team has run a number of missions for the DMS, terrorists cells closed, assassination attempts thwarted, and the like. Joe is visiting the grave of his former girlfriend, Helen, when he is approached by NSA agents. Under the orders of the Vice President, while the President is in heart surgery, they are attempting to seize control of all DMS staff, properties, and equipment. DMS teams and facilities are trying to keep their control, using threats and dissuasion. Joe ditches his tails and gets the info from Church. Jigsaw team has gone dark, and they’ve received a weird email from an unknown source. Joe is sent to Denver to find out what happened.

Cyrus Jakoby, and his assistant Otto, are brilliant geneticists. They are celebrating their greatest achievement yet: in one week, the extinction wave will begin, and all of the mud people of earth will be dead. Paris Jakoby, and his sister Hecate, god-like specimens of beauty and genius geneticists in their own right are pushing their own agenda: making billions of dollars and standing on top of the world.

While Joe was visiting Helen and escaping the NSA, the rest of echo team is approaching a man hiding out in a rundown hotel. It was a routine pick-up turned bad as their newest addition, Big Bob Farraday, got half his body shot up by Russians with automatics; Bunny and Top take them out. Church contacts them and fills them in in a hurry, they must leave and move fast to avoid the NSA and rendezvous with Captain Ledger in Denver for backup.

Church informs Joe that Captain Peterson and Jigsaw team has gone dark on a mission in a storage facility called Deep Iron in Denver. Maybe NSA got to them but he doesn’t think so, he wants Joe and echo team to find out. Church also contacts Linden Brierly, and uses a Presidential Alert protocol to make him wake up the president from his surgical recovery as soon as possible and put an end to the Vise Presidents coupe. He reaches out to the President’s wife, who has tremendous respect for Joe Ledger since he saved her life at the Liberty Bell zombie outbreak. She agrees to help them out.

On the flight to Deep Iron, Joe video-conferences with Dr. Hu and Church and is shown a video from the unknown email of a hunting party tracking and shooting a real-life unicorn, very poor audio but the video was clear. Hu and his team verify its legitimacy. The video was sent by an anonymous person in an old email account held by Church. Church recognizes one man from the video, Gunnar Heckel, who should not be alive. Heckel was involved in a group called the Cabal. The Cabal was an evil group active during the later years of the Cold War, bent on ethnic cleansing and was behind racial conflicts over last half of the 20th century. A younger Church, apart of a group known as The List, systematically took apart the Cabal and everything they had created. Seeing Heckel in the video, they think someone has re-formed the Cabal and is picking up where they left off. Heckel’s family had a storage unit of information inside Deep Iron, and Echo team must retrieve it.

Upon landing on an airfield near Deep Iron, echo team meets up with Brick Anderson. Brick is a DMS soldier with an artificial leg driving a Mr. Softee truck which is also a rolling arsenal. He drives echo team to Deep Iron and guards the entrance while they make they way down to the lowest parts of the facility, wishing for back-up, but with the NSA hounding down all of their agents none can be provided. Moving to their destination, where Jigsaw team was headed looking for Gunner Heckels data storage, Echo encounters blood, lots of it. There are Deep Iron staff and Russian special forces torn to pieces; some still alive to put up a fight. Finally reaching their destination, they are ambushed by two huge berserkers: modified super soldiers, ape DNA and other sorts added to their genes to be stronger, fiercer, and more aggressive. Overpowering Top and Bunny, Joe is fighting quick and smart, with his rapid release knife and going for the head and face, its only vulnerable parts. The berserkers run off injured, but they got what they come for; although echo has a lot more of Heckels data they can comb through to find answers. The DMS brings in Jerry Spencer to go through the crime scene to uncover any data they can salvage. Spencer uncovers many documents and also the remains of Jigsaw team, who has been killed. The papers are revealed to be medical data and horrible experiments: pain and endurance testing on human beings in the nazi camps, performed by Joseph Mengele.

The President wakes up, very pissed off, reams out the VP for his actions, and the DMS is able to get its backup and resources they desperately need. Rudy is sent to the Hub, DMS’s Denver site, to talk through the recent events and the loss of Jigsaw. The twins lost their tie to the VP, they have been manipulating events to try and acquire MindReader from Church and the DMS to further the progress of their own research.

Back at the warehouse Joe, Grace, Hu, and Bug go over all the new data and recent events. Friends of Church from The List have been killed over the last few months. When they first killed off the Cabal, Church acquired Pangea, a software package they used to steal research around the world without a trace. Church later upgraded and added functionality, it is now known as MindReader. He and Aunt Sally are the last surviving members of the List. The team discusses Mengele’s work and the data recovered from Heckle’s bin at Deep Iron. But are at a loss as to what may be going on.

The team is interrupted by another email, sent by a kid, who sent the previous email with the unicorn video. The kid is using video chat this time to get his message across, he is trying to reach Church and get his help to stop the bad men. He explains the horrible plans that are about to commence and the location of the bioweapons factory called The Hive.

Echo team rolls out to his location, to make contact and retrieve him and any information he has. The kid helps them in, but they hit heavy resilience against guards and modified creatures called Tiger Hounds: giant fierce dog beasts. Echo team acquires the kid and saves a strange group of people called the New Men, although with every new bit of info they recover their hatred increases. Unable to get info from their computer drives, Joe Ledger forces the information out of the guard, Carteret, by slapping him into submission. Church and Bug discover the extinction wave plans. Backup clears the island of remaining enemies and Joe and Grace can get back into each other’s arms.

Cyrus and Otto, always at odds with the twins Paris and Hecate, not knowing where their Dragon Factory is, putting up with their disrespect, are tricked into believing their treachery because of the DMS attack in the Hive. They make plans on attacking the Factory with their Russian mercenary army, killing at least one of them, and acquiring all of their research. Their personal assassin, Conrad Veder, will join them. Veder has been on the hunt for surviving members of The List for the past few months, to clear the road for the ne Cabals plans.

The DMS has taken in the kid, although he doesn’t feel at home anywhere. Church is looking through reports, the kids DNA and fingerprints are a match to Gunnar Heckel and Hans Gruber. With the information the kid provided, and what they got out of Carterette, they realize the scope of their problems. This is a global ethnic cleansing happening, and they need to stop it. They might have caught it sooner if not for all of the NSA slowing them down. DMS locates another facility, the Deck, and moves in, but as the are moving in, Cyrus and Otto are being picked up by the twins to be taken to their facility, the Dragon Factory. Joe and echo search through the Deck while Grace and alpha head to the Dragon Factory and take it before echo arrives.

In the factory, the twins are giving a tour to Cyrus and his group, culminating at the Chamber of Myth, a room of their most fantastic creatures. Cyrus surprises the twins by killing their little dragon and unveiling his grand plans, admitting his disappointment in them, while his soviet team attacks the island. Grace and alpha team are attacking the island as well. Cyrus unveils the extinction wave to them and who he really is; after many plans over the previous decades, he, Joseph Mengele, still alive after finding the anti-aging gene, has the extinction wave set to play.

Alarms sound and grace is separated as she dives into chamber after the group, wanting to get the trigger device that will launch the extinction wave in the coming hours. The whole island is hit by an EMP to stop them from launching the wave, but also cutting down all their team’s electronics. Joe and echo race to catch up to alpha and grace, cutting through soviets, berserkers, and other mutations on the island. Cyrus group makes their way to Hecate’s office, where she has a computer unaffected by the EMP so they can start the wave. Grace follows in pursuit, and Joe is trying to catch up to help. The rest of echo is backing up DMS teams and catching up further behind.

Grace Courtland bursts into the office and shoots down everybody, but not before Cyrus was able to get the Go-Order out. Still alive, Cyrus as the abort sequence, but before Grace could make him say it, she is shot in the back by Conrad Veder and dies in Joe’s arms. Joe snaps inside of his own head. Conrad Veder escapes as Joe is forced to stay to ferociously kill the remaining berserkers and get the abort codes from Cyrus, which he does, at great and painful lengths put on Cyrus Jakoby.

They had successfully stopped the global attack. Joe spends weeks in the hospital recovering, reflecting on what happened. Thousands turn out to Grace’s funeral, she was a celebrity who had saved the world. The teams working with the Jakobys’ to release pathogens were hunted down and dismantled by the DMS and local officials. Joe is done with hunting evil, he is tired and worn out. He quits the DMS. And on his way out, has a folder from Church, containing the recent location and relevant info on Conrad Veder.

My Thoughts:

I’m going to write about the reasons this was only a three star then I’ll go into the reasons I still enjoyed the book.

There is a semi-graphic sex scene between Joe Ledger and Grace Courtland. How it was handled reminded me of how this type of thing was handled in Maberry’s V-War series and I’m wondering if perhaps Maberry is a perv. Doesn’t matter though, it was there and I didn’t want it to be there. Then you have some extremely snide and derogatory comments about President George W Bush. At the same time Maberry makes it clear that the President in this story is President Obama but how he writes him has no bearing on reality unless you’re coaked to the gills and on prescription meds. I don’t mind idolizing a President that you (as an author) admire but when it goes hand in hand with denigrating the previous administration by name, that’s not so ok. It is typical of a certain politial party here in the US though. In the V-Wars series, there was a character created by Maberry who was of the “Oh, Vampires are People too and can’t we all just get along” type that grated on me like I was cheese. I thought then that maybe Maberry was writing him to give a counterpoint to the rest of the story. However, that exact same attitude seems to be creeping into this series and I’m worried that it is actually springing from Maberry. If it is, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the series. Finally, some of the badguys were a pair of twins (man and woman) and there was a real twincest vibe going on with non-graphic descriptions of their orgies with them both using the same lover. It was disgusting.

With all of that being said.

This was a fantastic action/adventure story. Maberry really ratchets up the stakes by having the DMS, the agency that Ledger works for, being taken out of action by the Vice-President of the United States at the behest of the nazi’s who are secretly plotting to kill every non-white in the world. Yep, super-secret mad scientist nazi’s. No joke.

Ledger is a killing machine and the monsters and other special forces operators that take out regularly trained guys left and right, well, he just mows them down like grass. I mean, he shoves a knife down a genetic super-soldier’s throat and lives to tell about it. You can’t beat that kind of action 🙂

The mad scientist nazi’s felt a tiny bit over the top but not by much. That says something that Maberry can write that and get away with it. I would have been impressed if I hadn’t been rolling my eyes just a bit. Of course, now I am left to wonder how Maberry is going to one-up that situation? Joseph Stalin Terminatori’ized? The devil breaking through from a portal on Mars? Whatever he decides, he’s definitely got his work cut out for him.

Rating: 3 out of 5.