SPIDER-VERSE is a comic that I had highly recommended to me but while I've enjoyed things like Brand New Day, Spider-Island, and Spider-Gwen, I have to say this has proven to be a miss for me. Part of it is how mean-spirited the whole thing is. I read SPIDER-MAN: THE OTHER where Morlun was introduced as "A vampire with the strength of Thor."
SPIDER-GWEN is a character I was introduced to by the INTO THE SPIDERVERSE movie. The character is an alternate universe version of Gwen Stacy who was bitten by the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker instead. Unfortunately, Peter Parker was so jealous of his crush that he created the Lizard formula and accidentally got himself killed in the process. Gwen feels immense guilt for this and struggles with her secret identity, her relationship with her father, and all the various people who want Spider-Gwen's head.
BABYLON'S ASHES is the sixth book of the Expanse series and the conclusion of the "Free Navy" arc. I was a huge fan of the Free Navy introduced in NEMESIS GAMES and eager to see the story carried to its conclusion. Unfortunately, I don't think the story worked out nearly as well as it was supposed to. There's a lot of flaws and while much of it is set-up for later volumes in the series as well as the "Laconian" arc, this just didn't feel like a great conclusion to the storyline.
VILLAINS PRIDE by Michael Gibson is a sequel to the hilarious VILLAINS RULE. The premise of the books is the Shadow Master is a supervillain from our Earth. Though a peculiar series of circumstances, he went from being an ordinary nerd to a man with the powers of a god. The powers which he uses to fight against truth, justice, and cheerfulness across a multiverse of Gary Stu-filled bad storytelling.
SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS by Lexie Dunne is one of those books that manages to be a combination of funny, serious, and entertaining all at once. It manages to take a ridiculous situation and plays it perfectly straight. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love superheroes and comedy. They're two great tastes that go together. The fact I also write humorous superhero fiction (THE SUPERVILLAINY SAGA) has absolutely no relationship to why I loved this book as well. Honest. *whistles*
BLACK CITY DRAGON is the third book of Richard Knaak's Black City series, which I've been enjoying since the first volume of BLACK CITY SAINT. It is an urban fantasy series that centers around Nick Medea, the 1920s incarnation of Saint George, who investigates the supernatual during the Great Depression while protecting the gateway to Fairyland. It's a unique series that I really love the quirky and oddball cast of. It reminds me a bit of the Dresden Files but Nick is a much more serious character who has lived millennia of tragedy.
THE SIDEKICKS INITIATIVE is one of the funniest books I've read in the past few years, let alone this year. It's definitely a book I would have put on my Top 20 Recommended Superhero books if I'd read it before now. It's a ridiculous world and all the more effective for its silliness. It has a general sense of humor similar to my THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY series but a bit more subdued (plus on the hero side of things).
INDENTURED MAGIC is a work that was recommended to me by Michael Evan and I have to give the writer for Fantasy Book Critic props for doing so. This is definitely some dark and gritty storytelling. I very much enjoyed the book but had to stop a couple of times during my re-read because it got too dark. That's something I rarely do and something that should indicate how harsh it can be.
TOREADOR is the first novel of the VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE Clan Novel saga that began in 1999 and finished right before the ending of the Old World of Darkness tabletop roleplaying game. If that sounds like gobbledygook to you then you're probably not the intended audience of Goth nerds who ate these books up toward the turn of the millennium. Even so, I remember a lot of people picking up these books who'd never played a game with dice or character sheets in their life. It was a big influence on my STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON books as well as works like TRUE BLOOD and UNDERWORLD.
The Valducan series by Seth Skorkowsky began last year with the very strong entry, Damoren. Damoren followed the adventures of Matt Hollis, mystical gunslinger and demon hunter as he joined the Valducan organization in attempting to rid the world of evil supernatural beings. During that adventure, he thwarted an attempt to wipe out all of the "holy weapons" which the organization used to destroy demons and faced down the mother of all monsters, Tiamat. It was an excellent globe-trotting adventure and darker than most urban fantasy fair with a good deal of horror. I liked it and was eager to see what would happen in the second book.