I largely gave up on the Bat-books by the end of the 1990s, so I never read much of the Cassandra Cain Batgirl until picking up BATGIRL: Silent Knight and To the Death by (mostly) Kelly Puckett and Damion Scott. The adoptive child of assassin Cain, Cass has been trained to read body language instead of words, so that she knows how you’re going to move even before you do (she loses some of this ability over the course of the two volumes). Can Babs Gordon and Batman steer her to a heroic path? Is it possible she killed a man under Cain’s direction? How will she cope in a fight with Lady Shiva, the world’s deadliest martial artist? Cass is a striking character and I can see why she has a solid fanbase (ignored by DC in favor of restoring Barbara to Batgirl, though a version of Cass has shown up in DC’s current Rebirth). That said, the second volume isn’t as good as the first, being mostly standalone adventures that come off as endless, indistinguishable fight scenes.
ROYALS: Beyond Inhuman by Al Ewing and Ryan Sook starts out wrapping up some Inhuman/mutant big event (including the destruction of the terrigent mist) then takes the Inhumans old school, back in the days when they were a race apart rather than Mutants Mark II. After defeating Maximus’ latest plan, the Inhumans head into space to the Kree homeworld where they hope to find the secret to reclaiming terrigen. Can’t say this is A-list for me, but it’s certainly enjoyable.
THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY: Book One of the Chathrand Voyage by Robert VS Redick is a good nautical fantasy in which a teen deckhand aboard a massive, ancient sailing vessel discovers the great voyage of peace they’re on is actually a scheme to plunge a rival empire into internecine war. Worse, there’s a third party plotting to use the scheme to obtain an all-powerful evil McGuffin and plunge the world into darkness. This is good enough I didn’t mind its flaws, though it has several. One is that Redick has a few too many things happening offstage, then recapped later (“While you were unconscious your renegade father came by to check you were okay, then vanished again.”). Another is that while the noblewoman Thasa starts out interesting (finally busting free of a rather repressive convent only to learn she’s stuck in an arranged marriage), she’s a lot more generic after that. Still I look forward to reading the sequel eventually.
#SFWApro. Cover by Scott, all rights remain with current holder.