Although I’m not a fan of crime comics, SOUTHERN BASTARDS: Here was a Man by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour was pretty good. A military veteran, son of a small town police chief, returns home to bury his father. When he discovers the high school coach is also the local head of organized crime, he can’t quite resist trying to clean up the mess; suffice to say, it doesn’t go well.
WHO KILLED SHERLOCK HOLMES: A Shadow Police Novel by Paul Cornell is the third in his Shadow Police urban fantasy series about a squad of London detectives who’ve reluctantly found themselves tasked with monitoring London’s supernatural underworld. In this book, they find a series of Sherlock Holmes actors getting whacked, plus the spirit of Holmes himself is found stabbed to death in 221B Baker Street. So who is the killer and what exactly does he gain by replicating murders from the Holmes stories? Cornell does a good job showing the squad growing into their roles, and resolves one plotline from the previous book (the other, the Smiling Man taking over the afterlife, will presumably be the series’ big arc). While the Holmes stuff is fun, and Cornell clearly knows his stuff (though I’d disagree with the idea of Holmes as an agent of order) I do wish he’d done more with the idea of how many variant Holmes are out there (everything from supervillain Holmes to drug addict Holmes to gay Holmes). Still, the book is definitely a thumbs up from me.
LUMBERJANES: Beware the Kitten Holy is the first volume in the series (by multiple writers and illustrator Brooke Allen) about a group of young teens at a Lumberjane summer camp who discover there are some strange things in the wood, from three-eyed deer to Jekyll/Hyde Boy Scouts. I’m definitely not the target audience, but even so I found it delightful lighthearted fun. And that’s always nice.
Commercial Suicide, the third volume of THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE is apparently filler to compensate for artist Jamie McKelvie not being able to collaborate with writer Kieron Gillen this time out. So rather than following up on events at the end of Fandemonium, we get spotlight issues covering the various gods (“What idiot let Sekhmet loose? Especially sober!”). But don’t worry, this is good filler, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
EXCALIBUR by Sanders Anne Laubenthal (cover by Gervasio Gallardo, all rights remain with current holder) is the only Grail fantasy set in Mobile, Alabama, involving a Welsh archeologist (who’s also Arthur’s descendant) hunting Excalibur, a local scholar going on a Grail Quest and Morgan leFay and Morgause, who have their own agendas. This blew me away when I originally read it, first for the novelty of the concept (inspired by the legend of a Welsh colony on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico), second for introducing me to the idea of Morgan as a Celtic priest and one of the good guys. Even without those surprises, this still works well, with poetic language, a distinctive setting, and good fantasy elements (though the Otherworld is very Tolkienish). It is a little odd that the most outrageous declarations — yes, I’m the real Morgan leFay! — never startle anyone, they’re just accepted. But it still works (though it’s annoying the female lead, for all her talk about wanting more out of life, ultimately can’t do more than choose a man to marry). A shame Laubenthal died before working on more books in the same setting.