YOUNG AVENGERS: Mic-Drop at the End of Time and Space by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie really, really needs a more in-depth What Has Gone Before Page: it wasn’t hugely disastrous to the main plot (Evil Being Attacks Our Universe isn’t that hard to grasp) but it’s hard to care about Loki resolving his inner conflict when I don’t know what it is. And even on the A-plot, I don’t understand why Mother’s actions are invisible to adults (especially since they note some of the Young Avengers are older than 18). Fun, but not as good as the previous TPB.
MS. MARVEL: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona has drawn a lot of attention for its protagonist—Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim girl—but it’s also good in its own right. Kamala’s a great character who writes My Little Pony/Avengers crossovers and fantasizes about being an awesome butt-kicking hero like Captain Marvel (the Carol Danvers version). Then, after exposure to terrigen mist in the Inhumanity crossover (at least I assume that’s what it is, Wilson doesn’t explain), she discovers she has shape-shifting powers and, inevitably, begins using them to help people. Wilson does a very good job on Kamala as someone new to the game and trying to figure it out (a lot of comics have tried this, but most of them do it badly). Cover by Alphona, all rights remain with current owner.
At Illogicon last month I picked up one of the old Ace Doubles (two SF novels in one book!)—LORD OF THE GREEN PLANET by Emil Petaja has a space pilot crashing on a sealed-away world where a Terran mad scientist has shaped civilization into a copy of ancient Irish myth, using spacewreck survivors as breeding stock and captured aliens for dragons and selkies. Worse, from the pilot’s point of view, the scientist plans to marry off a pretty colleen to an abusive aristocrat, so of course, it’s on. Like other works I’ve read by Petaja, adequate in concept, plodding in execution. Plus it’s a real cop-out that an android with godlike power can go down from nothing but a punch in the jaw.
The flip side, Tom Purdom’s FIVE AGAINST ARLANE, is somehwat better: a five-person rebel cell works against a planetary dictator who maintains power by both high tech and zombifying anyone who opposes him. To further complicate things, but sides rely on Mad Thinker-style computer predictions to set strategy, until the leader of the cell realizes that’s counter-productive (“Revolutions don’t win by waiting until the computer says it’s twenty-to-one odds against anyone dying.”). Interesting ideas, but this is very talky, and the ending sacrifices drama for being clever.