Ace, Jul 2010, $15.00
The war of the Gods is over after eons of lethal combat; Darkseid and his evil Apokolips horde are victorious. His next step now that he defeated the defenders is to employ the Anti-life destruction of free will in order to take charge of earth, the key to controlling the Multiverse. Once he succeeds on this, which is inevitable as only the embattled JLA remains to stop him, eternal darkness will be everywhere.
While tracking down six missing children, ex cop Dan "Terrible" Turpin meets dying New God Orion, who warns him that "he's in all of you!" Confused and upset, Turpin ends up at a Command bunker in devastated Bludhaven. As the Anti-Life turns millions into Darkseid minions, supervillain Libra murders a member of the Justice League, which enables him to claim leadership of the Society of Super-Villains. The Green Lanterns investigate the murder of Orion leading to a new hope with the rebirthing of a dead superhero, but Superman is trapped in a non future and Batman is a prisoner. It will take a miracle to save the universe, but none seem forthcoming.
With homage and awe to the late great Jack Kirby and his Fourth World mythos, Greg Cox provides a terrific rendition of the wonderful Final Crisis (comic books are well written too; thanks to my spouse a big comic book fan). With seemingly every DC characters making at least a cameo appearance in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and multiverse, Final Crisis is actually a simplistic tale of superheroes and others willing to go out (not in a blaze of glory as the victors write the history books) to fight overwhelming evil that has won eternity. Mr. Cox does a fabulous novelization of the classic miniseries as even down to the final flicker, goodness refuses to quit. Harriet Klausner
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Aug 3 2010, $15.00
In the year 407 since the colonization, highly regarded cartographer Helena Del D’Elcampane and her FoxFam Shunuk prefers the remoteness of traveling the unmapped sector of Celta. However, recently Del senses her HeartMate is near. She rushes back to civilization to meet him, but also learned of the horror of that happened to her Family, except for an infant, dying in an inferno.
Her only living relative cousin Dookee has been adopted by Straif Blackthorn and his HeartMate Mitchella (see Heart Choice). Grieving her loss although not close to her Family, Del is taken back to learn her HeartMate is actor Raz Cherry (support role in Heart Fate and Heart Change), who has expected his HeartMate to come to him as the Oracle informed him and he sensed her arrival. She had doubts re a HeartMate, but he embellishes her hesitation as he is more interested in his acting career than a lifetime commitment; until a serial thief keeps stealing from them as if he or she seeks something specific, but nether know what.
The latest Celta romantic fantasy HeartMate stars two total opposites sharing in common one thing; reservation about what a permanent relationship would do to their respective vocation. Saga fans will enjoy their vacillation as that refreshes the story line as much as the mystery. With the return of some of the stars from the previous thrillers, the audience will relish the expanding Owens universe as her newest entry is told with the usual plenty of heart. Harriet Klausner
Berkley, Aug 3 2010, $14.00
Secret government agent Seneca Thomas of Extraterrestrial Criminal Enforcement Locality (XCEL), New York City Division, provides a needed innate skill as she can identify the alien shapeshifters who live amidst mankind. The aliens were stranded on earth when their spaceship crashed two years ago in the Badlands. They use homo sapiens DNA to appear as human.
Seneca’s partner Riley is killed in the line of duty while hunting for “Jack” a serial killing shifter. Wanting revenge, Seneca is outraged when XCEL leadership assigns her Max Dempsey as her new partner; Max is a dreaded shifter who offered his services to find the rogue killer. He conceals his personal agenda of killing the psychopath who murdered his wife and exposed their race to potential disaster even perhaps genocide. Worse he detests his attraction to his acrimonious human partner. Both are stunned with what they find.
In some ways mindful of Alien Nation, the opening XCEL science fiction romantic police procedural is a terrific manhunt (make that ET hunt) thriller. The story line is fast-paced with the shifters intermingled with New Yorkers coming across as genuine. With the two lead investigators forging a star-crossed relationship while going after Jack, but discovering so much more, readers will relish C.J. Barry’s entertaining tale. Harriet Klausner
Berkley, Aug 3 2010, $7.99
Guardian angel Chance Godricson returns to earth (with a heavenly shove from his BFF Angus) out of concern for one of his clients, agoraphobic sufferer Queisha Saint-Denis whose life he saved eight years ago when he died in a mall collapse. The mortal faces difficult challenges as the Fitzgerald couple disappeared on a mountain climbing trip. Queisha is the legal guardian of their five years old twins Lace and Skye because they trust her to care for them as she had been their surrogate mother birthing them.
Works Like Magick employment agency owner Viveca assigns Chance to serve as the cook for Queisha and the children. He also serves as guardian to the frightened twins. Queisha struggles to provide the twins with what they need. Chance has problems too as he sheds his feathers whenever his thoughts stray to Queisha, adheres to the awkward angelic honesty tenet regardless, and hardest of all tries to remain detached.
The second Works Like Magick urban romantic fantasy (see Naked Dragon) is a terrific tale with plenty of humor especially as Chance struggles with unacceptable thoughts and dreams, and the heavenly dictate of complete honesty. The twins enhance the story line though perhaps they are too precocious while Angus is more an impish messenger than a guardian angel. With a strong lead couple and a taut look at an agoraphobic battling her neurosis to raise young children, Annette Blair provides a strong heavenly sent thriller. Harriet Klausner