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.

In Heaven (Spawn #8) ★★★☆☆

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: In Heaven
Series: Spawn #8
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Billy Kincaid is reborn in Hell. He drops out of a green goo and immediately kills animals to cover his naked body. He is continually and randomly terrorized by flashbacks of Spawn killing him.

He runs into a half-naked woman and small group of individuals. A small girl explains to them about the culture of hell as they are systematically picked off. A Soul-Trapper takes people off to the Sixth Sphere of Hell to sing for them. Others are picked off by the Prime Nomad to serve as hardware in a macro computer on the 10th, and highest sphere of hell.

As Billy sleeps, he’s continually haunted by the vision of Spawn and wakes up. As he looks at the small girl, he decides to kill her to satisfy his itch. The girls sheds her skin and congratulates Billy for finally passing the test.

The Vindicator reveals his true form as one of the five Phlebiac Brothers. He escorts Billy to the Eighth Sphere of Hell where he will serve in Malebolgia’s army. When Billy sees the costume he has to wear resembles Spawn’s, he freaks out and runs away. Vindicator casually explains the suit is a K3-Myrlu suit that is a continually evolving parasite that will combine with his central nervous system for life

My Thoughts:

Things get interesting, finally. Of course, McFarlane also mixes in some serious fan service (the big boobed, taut buttocked blonde chick) so it was a real mixed bag for me.

Following in the tradition of Dante, McFarlane appears to have set up hell with 10 levels and Malebolgia’s is the eighth. Billy the child killer is recruited for his army and gets a spawn uniform. I’ve included a picture because seeing a fat spawn is ludicrous 😀 I put it up on dropbox so if you click it it should open to a full size pix, For those who want to take a close up look at McFarlane’s style.

Getting some world building and knowledge about this particular comic universe was good. I’m annoyed that Billy the Child Killer is used as the fulcrum but at least I have some idea who or what Malebolgia is and a framework of reference. As a reader it is frustrating to have the information doled out like this to me. The comic book format itself makes anything else impossible but it is easy to see why there are omnibus editions and story arcs combined.

With this volume, my interest has been piqued and Spawn’s going to get another month to survive. It makes me feel rather Malebolgian in fact, whaahahahahaaaaha.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Payback, Part II (Spawn #7) ★★★☆☆

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: Payback, Part II
Series: Spawn #7
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Spawn hurries his scavenger mission as US troops burst into the room. Rather than fight them, he teleports away to save their lives.

Re-appering in the alley, a drunk bum helps him and offers him alcohol. When the bum takes off Spawn’s mask he’s not too surprised by Al’s look. Spawn realizes they accept him and don’t care about outside appearances. Spawn cries out and experiences a flashback, he can’t recall his killer’s face but is given hints. He keeps seeing pictures of the grim reaper in his mind. The grim reaper tells him it was a pleasure killing him and he would have done it even if he wasn’t getting paid for it. Snapping back to reality, he runs from the alleyway.

Antonio Twistelli asks who OvertKill will work for if Bartino dies.

In Queens, New York, Wanda Blake wakes up screaming, “Stop! Don’t kill him!” Terry Fitzgerald comforts her and tells her he’ll check Al’s files again when she pleads that he was murdered and didn’t die in action.

Spawn decides to take on the Mafia. He takes off the cape as it would only get in the way. Unknown to him, the cape follows him as he walks away.

Wanda is curious about when Al visited her in disguise.[1] When she checks at the local pound, she learns that no man matching her description of the man works there. She begins pondering if Terry is in trouble and the man was spying on them.

Spawn breaks into a highrise mob building where he threatens Twistelli. He tells him to deliver a message to Overtkill to meet him in battle at the nearby park.

Overtkill shows up at the park and is quickly destroyed by the ballistics Spawn brought with him.

My Thoughts:

Oh for feth’s sake! The comic starts of with Spawn having, and I quote “an AK 830 Rocket Launcher”. FROM A UNITED STATES ARMY BASE!!!!!!! Just in case you don’t know why I’m so annoyed, the designation “AK” stands for “Automatic Kalashnikov” and are products of the Soviet Union. Other countries do make AK’s, but they are the guns of thugs, drug dealers and other scum. United States army bases would not have something like this on hand, they’d have real guns. I can’t tell if McFarlane is being ignorant (which he is) or if he’s thumbing his nose at the American Military (also quite possible. Most comic artists are scumbag commie traitors in one form or another).

Last issue Spawn’s chains showed some volition and in this issue it’s his cape. So his whole costume has power that apparently he’s not aware of. We’ll have to see how it all works together. Spawn takes on the cyborg Overtkill even though it really feels like he’s more of a robot ala Terminator.

I am realizing my biggest issue is that I am expecting these comics to follow the rules of our world. They ostensibly take place in our world, so they should follow the rules, even if supernatural planes of existance are part of it. Spawn toting around 3 guns, each as big as him, while looking wicked cool, is also wicked stupid. If this was in a fantasy setting or another world or something I could probably let things like the guns go, but I just can’t.

Right now, Spawn is dicking around with small potatoes while the main roast is burning in the oven. As a reader I’m still waiting for the big picture to be revealed. I’m sure that is being done on purpose by McFarlane, but I don’t have to like it. This is going to be the last issue I give a 3star rating too. After this, the books start at 2 and have to impress me to get any higher. I’m done being Mr Nice Guy.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Payback, Part I (Spawn #6) ★★★☆☆

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: Payback, Part I
Series: Spawn #6
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

In Sicily, OvertKill takes down a building for the mafia. When the military shows up, he quickly dispatches them after taking several rounds of bullets and explosive damage. He leaves virtually unscathed.

Freddy, a hobo, gives up Spawn’s location in exchange for drugs. However, the mobsters kill him before completing their end of the bargain. The mobsters report back to Antonio Twistelli.

Meanwhile, in the alley several homeless people offer comfort to Spawn. They invite him to sit next to them and share his story. They don’t want Spawn to be afraid of them as he always sits aloof. Spawn tells them his backstory with Wanda and Cyan.

When two mobster start wasting random bums looking for Spawn, Al shows up and takes them out.

At a meeting with the mobsters, Gavino recommends Overtkill to take out Spawn.

That evening, the two square off. While Overtkill easily overpowers him, Spawn does trick him into messing up his robot hand before being rendered near-death. Spawn refuses to use his powers to spare them as long as possible so that he can continue to live on earth and ask questions about his past.

Overtkill walks away, unaware that Spawn is still alive. Spawn heals himself with his Necroplasm and heads to a warehouse to pick up guns and ballistics.

My Thoughts:

We’re introduced to a badguy named OvertKill as he takes on the Italian Army and pretty much crushes them singlehandedly. Meanwhile, back in the USA Spawn has been blamed for the deaths of the mafia members that the Violator first killed. The Dons hire OvertKill and he starts killing the homeless until Spawn confronts him. After a few punches thrown, OvertKill is revealed as cyborg and thinks he has killed Spawn. Spawn realizes his powers are limited and as such raids an army base for supplies. He was Special Forces before he died and came back with magic powers and he’s going to fight like the man he used to be.

As a new villain, OvertKill leaves a lot to be desired. His face is wide open to attack and besides being big and brawny and enhanced as a cyborg, I’m not really sure why he’s such a problem. One sniper round would deal with him easily. And the fight between him and Spawn really made me wonder just how far Spawn had fallen. I realize it’s been 5 years, but he fights like a little girl instead of the special forces guy he is. And the ending, where he gets all armed up, talk about show boating. A special forces guy IS the weapon, the guns are just accessories.

Spawn’s chains do something of their own volition but all we get from Spawn is a “Oh, I guess I’ll check on that later”. Welp, on to the next issue.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Justice (Spawn #5) ★★★☆☆

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: Justice
Series: Spawn #5
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

At the Windgate Institution, Billy Kincaid is read his rights and claimed to be a cured man. He is being released from jail after good behavior. Billy smiles as he coyly still dreams of killing small children. He was placed in prison for 22 years, out in 10 on good behavior, for being caught with the murder of a Senator’s daughter, Amanda Jennings. He had pulled out her teeth and placed maggots into her wounds in a heinous crime. At that moment, he half-fantasizes how he’s killed at least 29 children by luring them to his ice cream truck and then abducting them and how he’s bid his time to be released so he could return to his activities.

As he leaves, Billy sings about ice cream and Sam Burke, who was standing behind him, screams that he’s insane and not actually cured. Sam believes that the murder of Amanda Jennings was not an isolated incident. Sam thinks about how he’s always played by the law, but the law sometimes doesn’t win.

That evening, the news reports about the release of Billy Kincaid.

In Queens, Wanda puts Cyan to sleep in her crib, while Spawn falls asleep in the alleyway amongst trash and rubble.

Sam and Twitch Williams discuss the release of Billy at the New York City Police Headquarters. They agree to perform a midnight stakeout to see if Billy has reformed.

Billy takes Sherlee Johnson, finger paints

Cyan excited to see Wanda after day care.

Bums get hit by cops, cry about Billy. Spawn over hears, recalls how he was hired by Jennings for a hit on Kincaid. Cops go to him first. Problem was they found all the mutilated bodies but evidence went missing, and then the shack blew up. Jason Wynn then told everyone to drop the case.

With Sam and Twitch on stakeout outside Billy’s house, Spawn sneaks in through the back. When he spots Sherlee Johnson’s bloody dress, he moves into the house. Twitch spots a caped figure in the back and they both move in. Inside the house they find the evidence but no Billy.

At New York City Police Headquarters, Sam and Twitch begin plotting their search for Billy. When they walk into a back room, they find Billy Kincaid’s body, bloodied and strung up with chains and a note. It reads, “Boy’s screamed and girls screamed, so I made him scream… and scream… and scream….”

My Thoughts:

This is where the violence ramps up and set off one of my own personal issues, triggers I guess they call them nowadays. Violence against children. The badguy in this volume is not a super or a demon or anything, he’s just the worst kind of human you can imagine, one who preys on children. He’s a serial killer of children and gets out of jail on a technicality of some sort or another.

My issue is that he immediately kills another child. There was nothing sexual, thank God, but it really left me shaken and wondering if I wanted to continue this series. I realize McFarlane did it for shock value, but that just makes him a scumbag in my books, not a good comic artist.

Plotwise, it gives Spawn a purpose and drives him towards the anti-hero narrative. He kills the pervert and I for one was all for that bit of vigilante justice. However, ending picture encapsulates the heart of violence of this comic and I have to wonder if I want to continue reading.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Patient Zero (Joe Ledger #1) ★★★★☆

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: Patient Zero
Series: Joe Ledger #1
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 346
Words: 141.5K



Synopsis:

From Theledgerfiles.fandom.com

The book opens with Detective Joe Ledger attempting to enjoy a day at Ocean City Beach in Maryland, when he is approached by FBI agents and escorted to an undisclosed location. He reluctantly goes with them knowing he could easily escape if he had to, wondering if this is about the warehouse raid his task force had done the week before. They bring him to see a man named Mr. Church who wants him to audition for a position in his new organization, an ultra-secret counter-terrorism group called the Department of Military Science (DMS). He does so by subduing a man he had killed the week before at the warehouse, Javad Mustapha, by breaking his jaw and snapping his neck. Zombies, Joes’ world turns upside down. Church explains the possibility of other terrorist cells with potential zombies out there, and says he may be in touch in the future for help. Joe is returned to his car and advised not to try and look for any information on Church or the DMS, because he won’t find any.

Joe picks up his friend and psychiatrist Dr. Rudy Sanchez and explains to him everything that has happened. Rudy believes him, and they both spend days trying to find information regarding Church, the DMS, and prion diseases causing zombies to no avail. Even the police report on the warehouse raid is gone. Rudy then vanishes, taken by the DMS to the warehouse, and Joe heads out to rescue him. He is welcomed inside, taken to Mr. Church, sees Rudy with a gun to his head, and is forced to agree to join the DMS in their fight on terror. The drama is explained away by their dire situation, and Rudy joins up with the DMS as well. Joe is then put into a room with five other candidates to decide who the leader of the new team will be, big and tough looking guys from Marines, Force Recon, and the like. Joe knocks them all into submission within seconds, and takes the title of Captain of Echo Team, with the men he just pummeled as his crew.

Afterwards Joe is introduced to Major Grace Courtland a former SAS member on semi-permanent load to the DMS. She and Mr. Church explain to him what the DMS is, their tool MindReader, and the disaster at St. Michaels, where their first zombie outbreak got out of control. We learn this is generation three of the pathogen. With how terrible things went down, Echo team is called to move out immediately, before they can even start their first bit of training, to hit the newly found site of another cell with potential zombies. Echo Team witnesses horror at the meatpacking plant, scientists pushing walkers towards screaming children, and in a moment of rage, Echo team runs in guns blazing to take down the enemy and save as many kids as they can. Having to put down a turned child, Joe and Echo are even more enraged, and demand to hit the second site ASAP.

They are forced to rest for few hours first; it’s been a long and traumatizing day. Joe meets the DMS scientists and Dr. Hu, who explains the science of this disease happening. Suddenly, the zombies being held for study by the DMS get out of the lab and attack the staff. Joe, Bunny, and Top respond first on site to put down the threat with minimal losses. Church starts an investigation with team leaders about the incident. With the knowledge of at least one traitor in the facility and a bitten soldier, Echo team is sent out to hit the second site immediately.

At the crab plant, Echo team is on a look-and-see mission only, with Alpha and Bravo on back-up. Information is the most important thing they need now. But after their successful infiltration, they stumble into what turns out to be a huge ambush. Hundreds of walkers are set loose on the team, communication jammed, explosions kill many of their back-up, Ollie and Skip go missing, and they fight to their last bullet and ounce of energy to stay alive. Gus Dietrich and the cavalry save them in their last surviving moments. They manage to keep a prisoner alive for a short time and get information out of him concerning the terrorist responsible El Mujahid and the disease Seif al Din; they also realize the possibility of creating a cure for something this frightening bringing in trillions of dollars to the research and distribution industry, and wonder if someone there might have a hand in this.

Joe brings in Det. Jerry Spencer, a former Baltimore Police Crime Scene Inspector that worked with Joe in the past, to join the DMS and learn what he can from the horrible scene at the crab plant; He is the best at what ae does. Joe questions Skip Tyler and Oliver Brown about them going missing under suspicious causes as there is a mole in the DMS. They learn their ambush at the plant was all a set-up to make them think their new information was legit. And that a pharmaceutical company, or something in the industry, must be behind this terrorist group, in it for the money.

Joe has a hunch on an impending attack, a possibility from the intel they’ve found. He requests that Echo Team, along with Grace and Rudy, be put inside the Secret Service detail that is on guard at the Liberty Bell Re-Dedication ceremony on the Fourth of July. They interview Linden Brierly, regional director of the secret service, and Robert Howell Lee director of special operations for the FBI/Homeland joint command, to get info on the event and the men they sent to the DMS when Church was first building it up, searching for their traitor.

Joe was correct; this was the event El Mujahid was using to unleash his pathogen onto the western world. Disguised, Mujahid unleashes generation 10 of the pathogen into the crowd, the most virulent of the strain so far. Joe and Top Sims chase him down, but he has infected himself with generation 12 of the strain. Immortal, able to keep his consciousness and higher brain functions. Top battles with Skip, who turned out to be the traitor, while Joe takes down El Mujahid in an intense close-quarters fight that ends with Joe taking off Mujahids’ head with the blade of a table top paper cutter. Bunny, Gus, Grace, and Rudy saved as many lives as they could at the main event, many were lost and turned, but the entire outbreak was contained.

The director from Homeland, Robert Howell Lee, attempted to kill himself, being a mole for the terrorist group, but was revived and questioned by Church. Lee admitted everything the DMS didn’t know, the involvement of the famous Sebastian Gault , hero of the world for all his Red Cross funding and million dollar medical research company. He was funding El Mujahid and his wife Amirah to just threaten the USA with this horrible disease so they would make billions developing the cure, but was betrayed when they wanted to actually release the plague to kill the western world. Sebastian and his assistant Toys destroy El Mujahids’ bunker in Afghanistan where the disease was being developed and kill Amirah who has also taken generation 12 of the pathogen. They are last seen taking a Red Cross boat away, with fake identities, covered in bandages and burns.

Church returns to the DMS base called the Hanger in Floyd Bennett Field, and leaves Joe and Grace in charge of the Warehouse in Baltimore.

My Thoughts:

Talk about the perfect book at the perfect time. I wanted some serious kick butt macho man action and boy did I get it in spades here! If this book had been a hamburger, it would have been Wendy’s Triple Cheeseburger.

Joe gets recruited into the super secret DMS (Department of Military Science) where they stop super threats before they happen. They are blacker than Al Sharpton and have all the power and the toys needed to do their job. Joe is immediately thrown into action stopping a zombie plague from being released. On top of that, there appears to be a traitor within the ranks of the DMS that he needs to worry about too. Then they find out the zombie plague is set to hit the United States on July 4th and decimate the nation. Joe can’t let that happen and he kicks butt to stop it.

While Ledger is Action Man in the flesh, the side characters play just as big a role and made this book what it was. Mr Church, the mysterious head of the DMS is appropriately mysterious and scary all at the same time. Ledger has a head shrink who gets caught up in the whirlpool and sucked into the DMS. There’s a British chick that plays the love interest and honestly, she and Ledger hooked up WAAAAYYY to fast. Slow it down buddy or she’s going to end up as plot fodder. There’s some scientists and other Action Men to round out the Good Guys. The bad guys were deliciously bad. No grey namby pamby pansy wimpos. These were the geniune article of Bad Guy. They were smart, devious and dedicated to the death of all America. THAT is how you write a bad guy!

For some reason I was expecting there to be a supernatural element to the series but at first blush it would appear to be a Super Science Goes Wrong kind of thing more than any supernatural forces forcing their way into our dimension. I’m ok with that. Big Enemies and Big Guns means Big Action.

★★★★☆

Questions, Part 4 (Spawn #4) ★★★☆☆

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: Questions, Part 4
Series: Spawn #4
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 32
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Violator and Spawn engage in a brutal showdown with both losing appendages. Violator is surprised Spawn is more powerful and claims he was supposed to be the stronger one. Malebolgia intervenes, explaining to them that they are both his minions in his battle against Heaven. Their goal is to cause man to do wrong, and Spawn will stop and kill them while doing so locking them on Malebolgia’s side. He claims that heaven is strong but they won’t be able to create the numbers he can.

Malebolgia restores Spawn’s lost arm and shows pity on him. He then punishes Violator for his unscheduled killing spree because it has influenced crime lords to slow down their evil ways. he locks him in his clown form for a temporary time period.

At the Fitzgerald household, Wanda Blake wakes up with a nightmare that Al was reaching out to her for help but had changed somehow. Terry Fitzgerald lovingly supports her and feels she doesn’t have to hide that she can’t forget about Al.

My Thoughts:

So it turns out THIS was the final part of the Questions arc. Spawn and Violator begin fighting each other and Malebolgia intervenes and gives them the old “So boys, I bet you’re wondering just what’s going on” speech. Apparently if you claim enough souls you can defeat god himself. Spawn is a pawn to help Malebolgia get more souls. Not sure exactly how it’s supposed to work, but hey Comic Logic. The little countdown thingy is a death counter. If Spawn reaches zero he dies again and goes into Malebolgia’s big bag o’ souls.

Obviously the theology here is made up as a two bit lady of the night but I tried to not roll my eyes too much. I just hope McFarlane can stay consistent in his story telling and not change/make up rules whenever it suits him.

I’ve been giving this the Ultra Violent tag for the Violator ripping peoples’ hearts out but in this volume he and Spawn start tearing holes in each other and ripping arms off and McFarlane doesn’t shy away from showing it. Gotta admit, there’s no way I’d be letting any 14 year old I know read this.

Which leads into the artwork. I feel that the following is a good representation of McFarlane’s work so far. It might be hard to tell, but you have the Violator’s hand/arm holding Spawn’s heart while Spawn regenerates the hole in his chest. It is brightly colored but not garish like what I experienced in Silver Sable and it’s bloody as all get out. Most of the time McFarlane doesn’t draw Spawn in such detail, preferring to keep him shadowed and much simpler so as to not have to draw so much. Overall I’m enjoying the art for the most part, with the caveat that yes, it is very violent.

Rating: 3 out of 5.