Showing posts with label comic book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comic book. Show all posts

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lazarus by Greg Rucka

Title: Lazarus
Author: Greg Rucka
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: WARTY!
Illustrated by Michael Lark" and Santi Arcas

This is the third of three reviews of work by Greg Rucka, who has an article on strong female characters. Lazarus is yet another really uninspired title as B&N's website shows - there is a over dozen stories with this title on their first page of results alone.

This is the third (and last!) work of Greg Rucka that I ever plan on reading. I started reading his material after I saw a referral to that article. Somehow he has garnered this reputation for writing such characters, but after three different outings with his writing, I see no reason at all for it.

This novel in particular was beyond sad. It's pretty much a Romeo and Juliet redux, and far from promoting a strong female, it’s the graphic novel equivalent of wife-beating, promoting a female protagonist who is just as clueless as Juliet is, and who, as an action figure is really nothing more than a rip-off of Laura Kinney, the female version of Wolverine from the Marvel universe. The opening few panels depict his main character being killed in a very gory and bloody fashion, but that's okay, you see, because she's a Lazarus - she will recover, her wounds will heal, and she'll be as good as new. That must be why it’s okay to repeatedly abuse her. Seriously?

This is how you introduce your strong female character: dead and bloody

This novel is set in a sad future world were the environment has gone to hell, and the world, evidently, is ruled by a few mafioso-style families which control territories - and I'm talking about old west style territories, not segments of a city. The Carlyle (Capulet) family is very strong and controls seeds - genetically modified seeds which will grow in the appalling conditions found out there in ravaged nature. They had a treaty with the Morray family, but it’s put at dire risk when it's discovered that the Morrays (Montague family), which controls weaponry, apparently tried to raid the Carlyle seed vaults.

The Carlyle family 'Lazarus', whose name is not Juliet, but Forever Carlyle, yet who ought to have been named Mary Sue, is an enforcer who is dispatched south to parlay with the Morrays to heal the rift before outright war breaks out and the two families go to the mattresses over it (so to speak). The parlez seems to go well, and Forever travels back to the borderland between the two territories, escorted by the Morray Lazarus, with whom she's...kinda, sorta, 'friends', but even though she's headed north, things start going badly south.

The problem with this story is that it’s pretty obvious from the start what’s going on, so there are no real surprises, and as soon as we learn about the trip back with the male Lazarus escort, it’s obvious what’s going to happen, so where is the mystery and suspense? For that matter, where is the world-building? Nowhere. And why, oh why does Forever carry a sword? Seriously? What's with the friggin' swords?

The world is very sketchily portrayed. We get tedious announcements every few panels giving terse details of location and demographics, but these are not only annoying, they're pointless since they really mean nothing to the reader. I don’t know if they were intended to be shocking, depressing, or just 'cool', but they made no impression on me unless you count rolling eyes as an impression. The human world here works as a caste system, with family members (which appear to be few and far between) at the top, serfs, who are highly expendable employees of the family in the middle, and 'waste' which is everyone else, at the bottom. No one cares about the serfs or the waste. Or about the Lazaruses (Lazari?!) for that matter.

It turns out that while Forever is superficially treated as a family member, no one really thinks of her that way, and the Lazarus program makes no sense. Why only one? And why would a Mary Sue like her have any loyalty to any family? The fact that she does their bidding, putting her welfare at risk on a routine basis, and gets nothing in return means that Forever is really not very smart or perceptive.

Why tolerate this for so long with no complaints and no suspicions? She has no real incentive. Yes, it’s 'family', but she's carrying the entire load all the time, and despite living with her family for so long, she's evidently not got the first clue as to her status or to the internecine rift in her own family. So how is she a strong female character?

Beat ♪ up your ♫ girls regularly, ♪ if you ♫ want to ♪ be loved.♫

Forever is, in fact, an ass-backwards idea of a strong female character. Strong ≠ physically tough. It can include that, but the two are not equivalent sets. Rucka evidently doesn’t get this from what I've now read of his writing, so whence his rep for writing strong female characters? I don't know. Forever Carlyle is definitely a Mary Sue. She cannot fail. She can do no wrong. She has no vulnerabilities - except that she's not too smart.

Worse than this, she is a stereotypical "super-babe" - drawn as a superhero with rather improbable mutant dimensions and proportions, and she is almost literally put through the mill. Since when is a strong female character nothing more than an excuse to depict mindless and repeated violence against a woman? And she's not the only woman who appears in some state of undress either. Nothing new or revolutionary here....

Get your strong female characters half nekkid if possible (and it's always possible!).

I cannot recommend this comic and have no desire to read any more of this series or any more from Greg Rucka's pen. This one is nothing original, nothing interesting, nothing inventive, and the world makes no sense. The only thing strong about it is the distaste it leaves with me.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach by Brian Azzarello

Title: Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach
Author: Brian Azzarello
Publisher: DC Comics
Rating: worthy

Illustrators: J.G. Jones, Lee Bermejo

Before Watchmen: Comedian was issued in six installments, written by Brian Azzarello with art by J. G. Jones. The Comedian is really Edward Morgan Blake, and it's his violent murder which kicks off the Watchmen story. Blake starts out his crime-fighting life at the tender age of 16, and even then he was ruthless and mercenary. He's first depicted, having beaten up an entire bar-room full of trouble-makers, stealing pickled eggs and helping himself to the contents of the cash register in that same bar.

It seems that all-too-many of the Watchmen were subject to abuse as children, and Blake is no different, but this story contradicts the story told in Watchmen - that Blake assassinated John Kennedy from the grassy knoll. The original Watchmen depicted him as a hitman for Richard Nixon, whereas this story portrays him as a friend of the Kennedys, who assasinated Marilyn Monroe on orders from JFK's wife, Jackie Kennedy.

Before Watchmen: Rorschach came out in four comic book issues, written by Brian Azzarello, with art by Lee Bermejo. Walter Joseph Kovacs was the son of a prostitute - and one who really didn’t care much to have him around - especially when she was working. Before his teens, he was removed from his mother's 'care' and placed in a home for problem children where he appeared to flourish. At sixteen he found work in a dress shop, and it was here that he picked up his face mask.

Rorschach's first case was investigating the murder of Kitty Genovese, although the writer here gets his facts wrong about what really happened to her. In the end it's Rorschach's failure to rescue a kidnaped child, and his discovery that she had been killed and fed to a pair of dogs flipped him over to the dark side. This was depicted in Watchmen in a flashback. From that point on, Rorschach simply killed thugs instead of turning them over to the cops, as he had been doing. When vigilantes were rendered outlaws by the passing of the Keene Act, Rorschach made clear his opinion of it by murdering a rapist and dumping his body at police station a with a note attached reading "Never".

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr Manhattan

Title: Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr Manhattan
Author: J. Michael Straczynski
Publisher: DC Comics
Rating: worthy
Illustrators: Adam Hughes, Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl came out in four comic issues originally, written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Andy and Joe Kubert. Night Owl 2.0's real name is Dan Dreiberg, and again (this seems to be a common feature amongst the Minutemen!), he was an abused child. He became obsessed with the original Nite Owl, and ran down his true identity by means of surreptitiously sticking a tracking device on the 'Nite Owl mobile'.

Nite Owl threatens Dan initially when he discovers he has a stalker, but later he relents. In this Nite Owl 2 parallels the girl he's going to end up with - Silk Spectre 2. Both of them are the only members of the Watchmen who carry over a super hero identity from the Minutemen, and they’re also the only two who are specifically trained by their forebears and namesakes for their role.

Dan comes home one day to discover his father beating on his mother, and instead of trying to stop it, he retreats to his room where he discovers that his father has smashed his Nite Owl collection of memorabilia. He soon discovers that his father is dead - died of a heart attack, his mother assures him, and neither of them shed a tear. It’s at the funeral that Hollis approaches him with his offer to take him on as a side-kick, but later Hollis announces that he's going to retire and pass the reins over to Dan.

On his first night patrol, Dan encounters Rorschach who takes a shine to him. They eventually partner up, although they don't always get along. Rorschach's uncompromising and derogatory attitude towards women is hard for Dan to work with, especially when Rorschach tries to attack the Twilight Lady, a feisty Dominatrix who helps Dan solve a case, and with whom he hooks up briefly, in his briefs....

Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan was originally four comic issues written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Adam Hughes. The Manhattan story was the least interesting to me amongst the three hardback Before Watchmen compendia that I read, especially since it was pretty much already told in the movie.

The Dr Manhattan story here was a bit too loosely-wrapped for my taste, offering nothing but a lot of mumbo-jumbo under the flimsy guise of deep metaphysical and philosophical bullshit. It didn't sit well with me!

But this volume I rate a worthy read if only because of the Nite Owl story.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke

Title: Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre
Author: Darwyn Cooke
Publisher: DC Comics
Rating: worthy
Written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner
Colorists Phil Noto and Paul Mounts
Lettering by Jared Fletcher and Carlos Mangual

I came into this series from the movie, which I adore, and I never actually read the comic book for Watchmen, but anyone who has seen the movie or read the book will know that this is a seedy and violent series that shows the dirty underside of life and makes me almost want to empathize with Rorschach!

Because of my fascination with the original story, I was naturally interested in how these people came to be at the point where the story begins in Watchmen, so I jumped at a chance to read these. They were apparently issued as individual comics to begin with, but I got them from the library in the form of hardback books, combined into pairs.

This volume tells the story of how the Minutemen got together, including the endearing behavior of Silhouette, and the rather suspect behavior (and not in the way you might think) of Silk Spectre, the predictable antics of The Comedian, and the suspicious activities of Hooded Justice. It seems like Mothman and Nite Owl are the only two characters in the group who have a shred of integrity!

Before Watchmen: Minutemen was originally issued as six stand-alone comics all written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke. Hollis Mason, now aging and writing a memoir titled 'Under the Hood', tells this story, and it follows The Silhouette (the alter-ego of Ursula Zandt) who was a part of the Minutemen team. Driven by events tied to herself and her sister escaping the Nazis in World War Two, Silhouette pursues justice, and in particular children who are disappearing.

Silhouette is one of the first to go public with her real identity, but as soon as she's outed as a lesbian, she's kicked out of the Minutemen. Nite Owl (the original Nite Owl, that is) continues to work with her in tracking down the child-abuser. The Comedian, who despises Hooded Justice for his homosexual relationship with another of the Minutemen and for his rescue of Silk Spectre from his attentions, leads Nite Owl to believe the HJ is the child abuser and murderer when in reality it appears to be HJ's father who is the guilty party. Both HJ and his lover die, the former at the hands of Nite Owl, and the latter in a car accident.

Silhouette herself is murdered with her lover. Dollar bill is shot to death when pursuing bank robbers and his cape snags in a revolving door rendering him helpless. Mothman is hauled off to a psychiatric institution as he starts losing his mind from alcoholism brought on by the stress of his job and the pain he's in from having accidents as he tries to glide with his home-made wings, and so the Minutemen fall apart.

The Silk Spectre portion is about SS 2.0, not about the original, although she features in it. About two-thirds to three-quarters the way through her story is when she joins the Watchmen, so why this is called Before Watchmen is really a bit of a mystery, since the other stories follow this same pattern, with even more of their content devoted to after Watchmen rather than before, but we do get some decent back-story, which is what I was looking for, so I was willing to rate this a worthy read.

Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre was originally issued as a series of four comics written by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, with art by Conner. It relates the story of Laurie Juspeczyk. Her alter-ego is Silk Spectre II, replacing her now aging mother, Sally Juspeczyk, aka Sally Jupiter who was the original Silk Spectre, and part of the Minutemen team.

Sally trains Laurie in an almost brutal fashion, grooming her to be her own replacement, but Laurie rebels against it all, and runs off to join the hippie culture in San Francisco. Eventually she changes her mind and returns to crime fighting, joining the Watchmen and hooking up with Doctor Manhattan, until the Keene act bans masked vigilantes (except, of course, those who work for the government, such as Doctor Manhattan and The Comedian).

The SS portion is particularly enjoyable, and by far the most interesting of these two volumes contained in this pairing. The Minutemen portion was interesting, but by its nature, the story was all over the place, and was very loosely tied. Indeed, it wandered and jumped so much that I wasn't quite sure what was happening for much of the time but I can't really go into more detail without telling the whole story.

SS was well done, and it made good sense to me. The story was engrossing, and the artwork fascinating, particularly the sixties LSD culture portion of it, and SS's commentary on the other Watchmen at their inaugural meeting was hilarious especially her comments on Nite Owl, given what we know from the Watchmen story!

So, in conclusion, I rate this a worthy read for anyone who's interested in the original story.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh's Fortune by Sean O’Neill

Title: Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh's Fortune
Author: Sean O’Neill
Publisher: BoilerRoom Studios
Rating: worthy!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review.

Here it is: THIRTY ONE TITLES IN THIRTY ONE DAYS - and they said it couldn't be done!

This is a comic book or graphic novel adventure featuring Ronald, aka "Rocket" Robinson on the trail of treasure and villainy in early 20th century Egypt. The novel appears to be written for a pre-young-adult audience and in general it's a pretty good adventure for the age range, with mystery, thrills and dangerous adventures. I'm willing to rate this as a worthy read, but I do want to highlight some problems I saw in it.

I found it a bit sad that the villain is made 'villainous" by means of giving him only one eye (the other is covered by a patch, and making him bald. I know a graphic novel has to portray the villain somehow, but it was taking rather an easy and clichéd out by drawing him thus. That aside, the artwork is really good, and the lettering is done neatly and very legibly, which I always appreciate! I'm not sure of the point of his monkey, but at least it doesn’t talk. For me, it (and many points in the story in general, for example, the chase across Cairo) were far too reminiscent of Disney's 1992 Aladdin movie.

Rocket begins his adventure traveling by train in Egypt, and he's bored with nothing but sand to look at. He quickly learns of some evil machinations, but his dad - who looks way too young to be an important official for the US State Department, doesn’t believe him, of course. It would be nice to see one of these tales where the father does believe, or where he 'believes' but only that his son is playing a fantasy game.

The richness of their rented house in Cairo doesn't seem to match (on the inside) the appearance of the house on the outside! That was a small oddity, but it's an accumulation of oddity and incongruity which can trip up even a good story. For example, the pigeon English spoken by one of the villains is bad. He wouldn’t speak English to himself and his own thoughts in his native language would not be pigeon! That felt a bit klutzy to me. Worse than this, though, was the "gypsy" girl who speaks perfect English even though she's living on the street in Cairo. That seemed unlikely at best, and although 'gypsy' was probably the term which was used back then, it would have been nicer to see her correct his employment of that term with a more accurate and less weighted description, such as Romany or Traveler.

But these qualms aside, the story is interesting and moves quickly and with determination despite some unlikely events. Rocket ends up with a paper with hieroglyphs which make no sense even to an expert. The eye-patch villain, Otto, is trying to recover it and villains under his employ kidnap Rocket. There's really no reason for this since they only want the note that he can’t read, and he has a copy so he has no reason not to give it to them, especially since they do get it in the end.

One panel depicts a misspelled version of Archaeology in "Archealogy Digest" on page 111. Maybe it’s not a journal of archaeology but of the study of an ancient form of bacteria called archaea?!

I did like the cool code-breaking by Rocket - this would definitely have impressed me were I in the intended age range, but then we hit the downside of the improbability of having a canal under the Nile - into which the Nile drains! It would flood! The Nile would empty! But I'm betting that most children in the intended age range would not be so critical, so perhaps I should not be either! There was lots of daring action, and thrilling escapes from some rather sneaky pyramid booby traps, but our heroes were no boobies, and they successfully navigated them all, supporting each other and sticking together to the end. Overall, this is a great romp for age-appropriate audience, delivering lots of fun and offering a good ending. When all's said and done, I rate this a worthy read!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time by by Scott & David Tipton, Art by Simon Fraser, Color by Gary Caldwell


Title: Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time
Author: Scott & David Tipton
Art: Simon Fraser
Color: Gary Caldwell
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Rating: WORTHY!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley, and is available now.

I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration of any kind for this review.

This is an excellent comic about Doctor Who in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary this year, which the current season on TV is somehow failing to get into. Hopefully this will change in the second half of the season, as we approach closer to the month and date of the anniversary. The comic I had a chance to read is divided into three chapters of 22 pages each, one chapter for each of the very first three doctors, portrayed on TV by William Hartnell (died 1975), Patrick Troughton (died 1987), and Jon Pertwee (died 1996). Even Richard Hurndall, who stood in for Hartnell in 1983's The Five Doctors is no longer with us.

That, I'm afraid, is a huge problem for TV. Once a series is half a century old, it’s inevitable that many of the original actors have died, or grown so old that they cannot reasonably portray the characters we remember so fondly, but this is no problem for this comic book. We can once again enjoy the people we loved and grew up with as fresh and vital as they ever were, and in new adventures!

The artwork in this comic is standard comic book art, but the renditions of the Doctors are remarkably reminiscent of the actors who played them, even down to facial expressions and dialog. Clearly this comic was done by people who know and love the show as well as I do - if not better. Chapter one, for example, was very much William Hartnell, and I'd actually forgotten how he kept misstating Ian Chesterton's name! But here he is back to life, spouting his exasperated and dramatic catch-phrases! It was nice to see a strong scientific element get some mention in the story, too (they hang out with Thomas Huxley in 1868), but I wasn't quite as impressed by the drawing of his companions. They're still better than anything I could manage, I freely admit, but not quite as captivating as the Doctor himself was.

This chapter takes place after his granddaughter, Susan has left the TARDIS and has been replaced by Vicki, who joins Barbara Wright (played on TV by Jacqueline Hill, sadly also no longer with us) and Ian (played on TV by William Russell). They face the Zarbi, a race of ant-like beings the size of Great Danes, which are harmless unless taken over by an evilly-inclined controlling agency as they are here, by an octopus-like creature called The Animus and invading the London underground. On TV, we first met these creatures in season 2, ep 5 of the classic Doctor Who series back in the sixties, in The Web Planet. The Zarbi are freed when Ian runs over The Animus with one of the trains! Unfortunately, right then, all three of the Doc's companions disappear!

In Chapter 2, we find ourselves with Patrick Troughton's portrayal of The Doc, traveling with Zöe and the feisty, kilt-wearing Jamie McCrimmond, a highlander from the mid-eighteenth century, both of which are drawn much better than the first doctor's companions. Jaime was played on TV by Fraser Hines, and he appeared in more episodes of Doctor Who than any other companion - and more episodes than most of the doctors for that matter! The three of them materialize in a store which specializes in selling police boxes! They have models in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so The Doc's TARDIS fits right in. When they step out of the store, they're in a mall, which happens to be one of the greatest trading posts in the galaxy, but it’s also a haven of black-market activity. I loved the one frame where The Doc is standing outside a hat store and there's a fez in the window, and then the next frame is a close up of The Doc angled so that it looks like he's actually wearing the fez! lol!

Some of this activity is slave-trading, and The Doc decides he's going to put an end to that! They follow the alien traders, who look rather like alligators, back to their store, where one of them takes an interest in Jamie, observing that he's from the past and therefore valuable. As the three time travelers meander into a bicycle shop (where one bicycle looks remarkably like the bikes from the TV series The Prisoner!), Jamie is kidnapped by the aliens and disappears. Fortunately, the Doc, in true second doctor fashion, has anticipated this, and has put a tracking device on him! He and Zöe trail him to an auction house, where slaves are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The Doc's tracker leads them straight to Jamie, where they find many slaves in holding pens. They free all of them, but once again, right as their adventure reaches a successful conclusion, The Doc's companions disappear. Where the heck are they going? Who is taking them? Well, I guess we know it's not Who!

Chapter three is the third incarnation of the Doctor. He's hanging out with his usual companions, Sarah Jane Smith (played on TV by Elisabeth Sladen) and Liz Shaw (played on TV by Caroline John). Both of these actors are sadly no longer with us. The problem for this doctor is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's erratic behavior. Stewart was played on TV by Nicholas Courtney, now also deceased. Courtney had to be one of the few people in Doctor Who who had actually fulfilled in real life the role he played on screen, in that he actually was in the British army for a while! The Doc discovers that Lethbridge-Stewart is being controlled by the Remorax, by means of a small fish-like creature in his throat. Once that's removed, he returns to his usual self, but he, along with The Doc's other two companions is abducted by a strange man in a hooded costume. So now we have an idea of who's behind it, but we still know nothing of exactly who this person is, or why he's doing this.

And that's all we get! I hate this! Now I'll go insane trying to figure out what happens next until I can get my hands on volume two of this series! But what a joy to see a series celebrate the Doctor's companions? I can hardly wait for volume 2.

If you're neither a fan of Doctor Who, nor a fan of comic books, then this is probably not for you, but if you're even mildly into either of them, I recommend this series based on this opening salvo. It’s fun, it’s well done, it’s a wonderful trip down the Doctor Who memory lane. I don’t know if this will ever become a collector's item, but it's about time(!) someone did something for the 50th anniversary, and I'm glad it was this! I'm definitely going to be looking for these coming on sale. Not for myself, of course, but for my kids...Ahem!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Silver Ninja by Wilmar Luna

Title: The Silver Ninja
Author: Wilmar Luna
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Rating: WARTY!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of my reviews so far, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley, and is available now.

I am not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration of any kind for this review. Since this is a new novel, I don't feel comfortable going into anywhere near as much detail over it as I have with the older books I've been reviewing! I cannot rob the author of his story, so this is shorter, but most probably still be more detailed than you'll typically find elsewhere!

I honestly wanted to give this one a great write-up, and help another writer along the way, but I can't. It started out well enough, and the writing is very competent in terms of spelling and grammar, but every time I would relax and start to feel that I was getting into the stride of the story, I was tripped up yet again by a poor story-telling, which uncomfortably reminded me, each time, that I was reading a story, so I was unable to get lost in it or go with the flow. One of the big "selling points" for me was the claim that this novel, rather than setting forth upon a sea of tropes and clichés, would instead make glorious summer by this son of Luna, but that didn't happen. All I have to say to that is: look at the cover! More on this anon.

This book starts out rather predictably, but it moves fast (and there's no prologue/introduction! Yeay!). The superhero is Cindy Ames, not yet a superhero but we know where this is going. Refreshingly, she's married. Disturbingly, she's patronized. She has a sister called Jadie (Jadie?) with whom she has a love-hate/sibling rivalry relationship. She's an Olympic gold medal winner (although quite rusty) and a martial artist (although quite rusty!), and she teaches gymnastics to teens. Her husband conveniently works in development of military weapons. He's called out of a high-powered meeting on that very topic to go to the hospital where Cindy, a stabbing victim, is laid up.

What happened? She was walking the last block to her home when she encountered a couple where the male half was abusing the female half. Cindy stepped in, and being martial arts trained, laid him on the ground rather easily. What she didn’t know was that this was a set-up: two other guys were in hiding, and one of them stabbed her before they all made off with her purse.

This didn’t ring even remotely true. Four people and this deceptive set-up when they could simply have threatened her with the knife or over-powered her with their superior numbers? They didn’t know she was trained in martial arts; she was just a victim to them. And what, exactly, are they going to do with their ill-gotten gains? A purse is hardly a rewarding robbery for four people who are well out of their teens! So, a really poor set-up, but it gives her a motive to become what we know she will become especially since, as she lies there too weak to move, not knowing if she's going to die, no phone to call for help, some teens come by smoking pot and hurry past her, not wanting to call the police for fear of being busted. So we get the message: victim, no help to be had. Fortunately, her sister Jadie shows up, since they’re having a gathering that night, and she takes care of her.

Now comes the patronizing. When her husband Jonas arrives at the hospital, Cindy's parents are already there. Given that Jonas left straight from his meeting and hurried there, how both sets of parents arrived before him is a complete mystery, but her father wails, "Why would they hurt my little girl?". That's truly pathetic, but it isn't as bad as what her own husband thinks when he goes into her room: "Why hadn't he been there to protect her?" Honestly? She could kick his ass, and this is the best he can offer her? For a novel that starts out with the stated purpose of studiously avoiding clichés and tropes, it sure descends into them quickly! Hopefully it will dig itself out of this slur, given its promising start.

It really bothers me that we treat people, especially women, this way. Every chance they’ve been given to get onto a level playing field (even on level playing fields!), women have stepped up, including during wartime, yet whenever we hear people - not just politicians - talking about war, they're all-too-often two-faced about it. When the US military is talked about, they're inevitably the toughest, the meanest, the hardest trained, the best equipped, the most successful, the dominant, but on the other hand these are our "children". Seriously? They're either tough enough or they're weak babies. Which is it? If you want to portray them as tough "hombres" don’t mess with us, then they can't be our poor, weak children in need of nurture and protection. We either trust them or we don't.

The same applies to this novel. Either Cindy is a kick-ass athlete and martial artist, or she's a poor weak woman who needs to be taken care of in a loving, non-threatening, nurturing setting. She can’t be both. When are we going to learn this lesson? When Jonas talks to her, he's going on about how she could have taken them if she hadn’t been bushwhacked, telling her "You’re still dangerous in my eyes", so where the hell did his previous "protect her" thought come from? He doesn’t even emote any anger towards her assailants! This "novel" seems more and more like a comic book the further I read, and not in a good way.

Hopefully Luna will take care of these issues as I read on, but the cover "art" certainly doesn't give me hope! Normally this is out of the author's hands, which is why I do my own, and publish my own, but Wilmar Luna is a fellow Create Space self-publisher which means that he had complete control over the whole process. So why, if he's supposedly shunning the road most traveled, is he countenancing cover art like this? Note that the print version of this is evidently illustrated, but I don't have that (perhaps it's just as well, given the cover!), so let's put that aside and focus on the writing.

So while Cindy is taken off for some testing (why this wasn't done immediately is a mystery; her wound apparently isn't even stitched, and she hasn’t talked to the police!), the military general from Jonas's earlier meeting calls him to reveal that his R&D budget is slashed because of the economy, and if Jonas can’t get his experimental stuff up and running in two weeks, he's going to be cut, too. So, pressure!

Later, Cindy's released and already has a new cell phone! What? That time of night, with her injury they stopped on the way home for no other reason than to buy her a cell phone? Unlikely! Or did she just imagine it? It's probably one of those phones with "small, little icons"...! And why is she going to work the very next day after being assaulted and stabbed? That night she has a nightmare about people breaking into the house. This is where we see this new cell phone - so does she have one or did she dream it? And if she dreamed it, why didn't she use it to call the cops when she thought people were breaking onto the house?! If she's well enough mentally to go to work and not at all scared to go outdoors, then why is she having traumatic nightmares? This is rather confusing stuff here, but I guess we can allow her a bit of confusion given what she's been through.

Well, my hope that things would work out was rapidly dashed! It all started with the phrase: "As she lie reclined"! At least Luna knows that biceps is the singular - but then he forgets it again on page 110! He doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe either, employing Jonas' instead of Jonas's. Page 74 is a completely blank page. I assume this is because the chapters start on a facing page in the print version, but his doesn't work in the ebook version, where every page is a facing page!

These are things which ought to be taken care of, but let's press on with the story. Cindy's husband is completely non-understanding of her condition. What a jerk! Then he asks her "Are you O.K.?" What a moron! Of course she's not okay! Why is she even married to this guy? He tells her he will always be there for her - after she's spent hours worried, trying to reach him on the phone and him not answering! I detest this guy.

Cindy performs an heroic almost ESP-induced rescue of two girls from a broken water pipe that crashes through the ceiling, and since classes are now canceled for the day, she visits her husband at Lucent labs. I wonder if Luna knows there is a real Lucent lab: Alcatel-Lucent, a giant telecommunications equipment corporation headquartered in Paris?

I wonder even more if this is where we’re finally going to have this tale take off...!

Jonas gives a demo of his new weapons technology. A silver liquid from a "beaker" somehow manages to move itself onto the floor and assume a fully-grown human shape. That would have to be some sized "beaker"! The humanoid-shaped armor is then pounded on by miniaturized(!) rail guns and suffers nary a scratch. Luna seems to have forgotten that bullets not only carry penetrative power which can pierce skin and slice up internal organs, but they also carry a huge amount of kinetic energy (especially if they are coming from a rail gun). I can see the armor preventing even powerful ammunition from penetrating - we already have armor which does that, but no armor can prevent damage from high-impact projectiles if it cannot deflect this kinetic energy, too. What this means is that internal organs can still be damaged by the blow which would be more powerful than a punch from a heavyweight boxing champion - and focused on a much smaller area. There appears to be no effort made to address this issue.

The armor walks to the wall and climbs it; then it disappears - using some sort of camouflage. Here's the deal: if remote controlled armor can do this, then why do we need to put humans inside it? This has apparently escaped everyone's attention! Putting humans inside such a powerful weapon would be like insisting we have a pilot ride atop the reaper remote-controlled drones! Absurd!

This magic silver armor even has super-human strength, being able to bend a steel girder! How it can do this is conveniently left unexplained. So now we’re out of the realm of sci-fi and into sci-fantasy. It’s even more fantastical when there is a glitch and the animated armor returns unexpectedly to a puddle of silver liquid on the floor, and after seeing this, everyone is so disgusted that they completely forget what’s so far been amazingly demonstrated, and all they all dismiss this as fantasy (well...!) and walk out in a huff! Excuse me?

If this were any other novel, I would at this point say "Check please! I'm outta here!" and quit reading because this has dropped my disbelief to the floor just as effectively as the silver ninja dropped from the ceiling, but since this is an independent Create Space effort, I feel a bit of a compulsion to give it my best shot (yeah, I'm biased, I admit it!) so in the hope of it turning a corner some time soon, I'll continue at least for a while, but I'm only about 25% in so far, so this might be a tough one to ride out! And unfortunately, it gets worse!

When Cindy arrives to meet her husband at his work place, the entire lab is abandoned, including security. Nothing is locked. Seriously? All that equipment and top secret research, and anyone can now just walk in off the street? The computers aren't even shut down. This is completely stupid. She eventually finds her way to the demo room and of course gets the silver ninja liquid on her, which attaches itself to her and starts trying to take over her body, stripping off her clothes in the process (of course - what was that about tropes?) and encasing her " a chocolate banana dipped in metal"?! Her boobs clang together like a pair of tin cans. So much for stealth mode. Maybe she can join them together with a piece of taut string and make phone calls?

Eventually she's completely covered, and this is how she becomes The Silver Ninja, but she's not even remotely freaked out by all that's happened! She carries on a perfectly ordinary and humorous conversation with a lab assistant called Michael who just stopped by to retrieve his cell phone. Not once do either of them even consider for a split second calling Cindy's husband. Worse than this, Michael insists that Cindy not even tell her husband that she's wearing an admirably-working model of the project for which he's ultimately responsible, and over which he just lost his job - and she agrees!

Luna is making this harder, with every paragraph, to keep reading, much less start really liking this novel. So. moving right along, Cindy eventually gets to go home. She accidentally breaks the door on her way into the house startling her husband who is, of course, home, having lost his job. That part (breaking the door) is funny, but what's not remotely funny is this relationship with her husband. They don't seem like a happily married loving couple at all; their interaction is off. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it seems forced and artificial to me. Worse than this, on this particular occasion, is that despite being home pretty much all day, Jonas never called her once to offer her a ride home, even though he knew she wanted one, and even though he knew she would be coming home alone and was having a hard time with that. Michael never offered her a ride either for that matter. These guys are jerks.

That's understandable, but what’s inexplicable is where this day went! The water-pipe break happened first thing in the morning right after Cindy arrived at the gym. Immediately afterwards, she went to Jonas's (or maybe I should say Jonas'?!) workplace, but his meeting was miraculously over by then, and quite literally everyone had left before she got there! That's quite simply unbelievable. It’s not even logistically feasible. Worse, she was only there a couple of hours - definitely not literally all day, and afterwards she immediately went home, yet it’s twilight when she gets there? That's not feasible, either! Yeah, there's a sentence slipped in later about her train journey, but unless it was a humongously long train journey, it still makes zero sense.

Cindy next unprecedentedly intercepts a phone message out of the blue, in her brain(!), talking about some kidnappers having "your sister". Despite the fact that this comes randomly over the airwaves and not via any direct communication with her through the usual channels, she immediately leaps to the assumption that this refers to her own sister rather than someone else's and she instantly plans to take Jonas's half-million dollar Saleen S7 penis-substitute to make the journey to Jersey City. But she apparently takes the wrong vehicle because the one she takes has gull-wing doors, but the Saleen S7 actually has butterfly doors - which are not at all mistakable for a gull-wing design. And she does all of this without even once trying to call her sister to see if Jadie answers to, I don't know, maybe try to determine if she really has been kidnapped?!

She arrives at the metal-smelting plant in Jersey City where this sister is supposedly being held, and she immediately enters the fray, but falls into an open vat of molten zinc! Zinc has a melting point of over 400 degrees Celsius, which means it’s not survivable, not even if you're wearing a shiny metal suit. Even if your suit's melting point is higher than that of Zinc, that heat is still going to come on right through to you, and you will cook inside the suit, like a potato baking inside aluminum foil. And no, molten zinc isn't lava, which refers solely to molten rock and its cooled remains.

Okay, it seems like it was inevitable anyway, but page 139 was where I was brutally forced to inevitable conclusion that this is not a novel, it’s a drivel, and I can’t read any more of it without vomiting. Why? Well, we have super-woman on this mission to rescue a kidnapped sister - not hers, evidently, but someone’s. She busts into the plant and starts kicking ass, and then an anonymous voice asks her, over the PA, to work for him assassinating politicians who harm the environment. Cindy immediately agrees and goes home!

The anonymous voice has told her that he will contact her, but he has absolutely no idea whatsoever who she is and he has absolutely no means whatsoever by which to contact her. And let's not forget that The Silver Ninja has an epic fail on her hands here since she left without rescuing the kidnapped sister which was the whole purpose of her Mission! Instead, she's agreed to kill people for money without so much as a scintilla of compunction. Remember how this got started - she was a victim and no help was to be had? What happened to those high ideals? Why has she abandoned that for filthy lucre?! Maybe she changes her mind later - or maybe this is actually where the trope is dispensed with and she becomes a super villain, but after plowing through this stuff this far, I have no interest in finding out.

Maybe if you’re in your later preteens, or your early teens, this is the novel for you, even though it’s supposed, as far as I can tell, to be aimed at grown-ups. Maybe you'll enjoy the laugh, but I didn't. This is most definitely not the novel for me, not even close. I wish the author all the best, but I'm not interested in reading any more of this nor any sequels to it.