From phantom hitchhikers to slave revolts: books and graphic novels

THE GIRL IN THE GREEN SILK DRESS is Seanan McGuire’s sequel to Sparrow Hill Road, returning us to the ghost roads and the unlife of ghostly hitchhiker Rose Marshall, the Phantom Prom Date. Rose ended the first book on a high note, protected against Bobby Cross murdering her again (the souls of those he runs down or off the road fuel his car and make him immortal) and reunited with her high-school sweetheart.

After a couple of chapters of exposition (I don’t know I’d have gone further if I hadn’t read V1 — but it does help set up Rose’s “normal” compared to what’s coming), Bobby traps her and weakens her protection. A couple of chapters later, he turns her mortal. Rose has powerful allies in the ghost world, but in reality she’s easy prey. Her only hope is a folklore professor who has a grudge against her, but will that be enough when Bobby comes hunting?

There were bits of this that I found cliched — Rose’s reaction to the 21st century could just as easily be Captain America thawing out of the ice — but overall this was great reading and better than the first book. I look forward to catching the concluding volume before too long.

FRIEND OF THE DEVIL: A Reckless Book is part of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ noir series about 1980s PI Ethan Reckless. In this story, his new girlfriend asks him to find the sister who left for Hollywood a decade earlier, then vanished without a word.

The story doesn’t reinvent the hardboiled PI, and some elements of the mystery are stock. Overall it worked, though, and I really liked the emphasis on how different hunting someone was back then — even finding a list of movies the sister appeared in takes work in the pre-Internet age.

UNITY: To Kill a King by Matt Kindt and Doug Braithwaite is set in the same Valiant Universe as Archer and Armstrong and is, I think, a crossover event between several characters (including Armstrong’s brother Gilad, the Eternal Warrior). The medieval warrior known as X-O Man of War has used his powers to bring his Visigoth people back to their ancestral home in Rumania; this freaks out Russia enough that they’re close to going nuclear. Can the telekinetic Harada put together a team to take Man of War out? And what happens after?  As I don’t know any of the cast besides Gilad, I was hardly excited about this book, but it was still fun enough to spend time with.

SUMMIT: The Long Way Home by Amy Chu and Jan Duursema was less engaging. The story involves an astronaut on a blow-up-the-meteor suicide mission; against all odds she somehow survives but with the ghosts of her team in her head and strange powers manifesting in her body. What’s going on? And is it possible even her mentor has a hidden agenda? This is perfectly competent but it felt perfectly formulaic, nothing I haven’t seen a dozen times before.

WAKE: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martinez, is frustrating because, as Hall shows, there’s so little on the record about the topic: historians often missed signs that women were taking up arms and many sources are inaccessible (Hall’s tried researching slave-ship uprisings at Lloyds of London, but they’d rather their role insuring those voyages be forgotten). While Hall discusses what little we know, most of the book is about her research efforts and the painful feelings diving into this stuff dredges up in her. Don’t get me wrong, that works as a narrative, but like Hall, I wish I could learn more.

#SFWApro. Covers by Aly Hill and Hugo Martinez, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

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