Pull List, Spooky Edition: Ghostbusters and Archival Quality

Spring has sprung! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the sun is shining… and the ghosts are ghouling. Yeah, I know people don’t generally put ghosts and spring in the same sentence. Unless you’re me, that is, and have two awesome spirit-centered comics you can’t stop squeeing about. So gather ‘round, comics fanatics, as I rant and rave about my new faves Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and Archival Quality.

 

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call

Abby, Patty, Erin, and Holtzmann head out on a routine house call to clear out a ghost, but things quickly go awry. Their target isn’t just any old haunt but a malevolent mad scientist terrorizing people and feeding on their nightmares. If the Ghostbusters don’t bust that ghost, the whole of Manhattan will fall under his wicked sway. But first they’ll have to survive their own nightmares come to life.

It’s no secret that I stan ...

What’s Going On with Legion Season 2’s Strange, Circuitous Journey?

Every episode of Legion has the same basic arc in terms of my viewing experience. Step 1: “Wait, what happened in the last episode? How did we get here? What’s going on?” *annoyed grumbling*. Step 2: Fascination with the magic of cinematography. Eager to see how this mini-mystery will be explored. Step 3: Growing irritation at pile-up of information with no context and the lack of even the smallest bit of resolution. Step 4: Boredom *scrolls aimlessly through twitter or tumblr*. Step 5: Someone finally does something cool to re-hook my interest. Step 6: “Wait, what just happened? Is it really over? I don’t know what’s going on.”

You can take that path as a positive (it is, in a weird way), or a negative—either way, I have thoughts about the last few episodes of Legion that cannot be contained. And hopefully if Legion confuses you as ...

Ghosts of the Past: Makiia Lucier’s Isle of Blood and Stone

Eighteen years ago, the two young princes of the island kingdom of St. John del Mar, the royal cartographer Lord Antoni, and lady-in-waiting Lady Esma, vanished without a trace when their picnic caravan was attacked. In retaliation, the king destroyed the neighboring island the murderous assailants came from. Years later, teenage Ulises is now king. Assisting him is his best friend Elias, the son of Antoni and a talented mapmaker in his own right, and his cousin Mercedes, a top-notch spy with a fiery personality. When apprentice mapmaker Reyna discovers two new maps that appear to have been drafted by Lord Antoni, Ulises enlists Elias and Mercedes to uncover the truth about the day his brothers were supposedly kidnapped and murdered. Their quest puts them face to face with fantastical monsters, angry spirits, and dark secrets better left unspoken.

Makiia Lucier’s tale is quieter than I think ...

Brujas, Ships, and Zombies in This Season’s New Young Adult Fiction

Another season, another massive pile of awesome young adult science fiction and fantasy books to read. In terms of inclusive diversity—particularly in regards to authors, characters, and #ownvoices—this wasn’t a great quarter for quantity (especially with science fiction) but the quality is off the charts. With plenty of sequels and new series starters, you should find plenty to occupy your time.

Something not on my list but high on yours? Share with the class down in the comments.

Books marked with an asterisk will be reviewed on Tor.com in the coming months.

 

* Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Everything changed the day the dead rose from the grave. Although African Americans are no longer enslaved, they aren’t exactly free, either; they (and Native children) are conscripted by law to combat academies where they’re trained to kill shamblers. One of those zombie slayers is Jane, a biracial girl with ...

Legion Season Two Is More of the Same, For Better and For Worse

You’re going to read a lot of reviews about how astoundingly amazing the second season of Legion is. This isn’t going to be one of them. It’s not that I don’t like the show—I actually enjoy it quite a bit—I just wish it had more… something, anything beyond surface appeal. Let me put it this way: up through the Admiral Fukuyama interrogation I was cruising along not hooked but not turned off either; by the dance off I thought, “alright, this is pretty cool;” and then I fell asleep during the light conversation with future!Syd.

The last time we saw David (Dan Stevens), he had been sucked into some sort of floating metal orb and taken away by unknown persons. Now he wakes up thinking it’s only been a few hours when nearly a year has passed. During that time, the Summerland crew joined up with Division 3, the ...

A Tale of Two Americas: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

In Justina Ireland’s fantastic new young adult novel, Dread Nation, the world is upended when the dead rise from their graves at Gettysburg. In order to salvage what’s left of the US, the Civil War ends in a compromise that frees the enslaved but forces them into combat schools that train them to slay the undead shamblers. Jane McKeene, a Black teen born to a white mother, is shipped off to the most prestigious of schools, Miss Preston’s, where she hones her skills. During the day she trains with other brown-skinned girls eager to be selected as an Attendant to a wealthy white family (thus sparing them from the hardship of fighting shamblers on the frontlines), and at night she haunts the countryside, taking out shamblers and saving the innocent.

When her sometimes beau, Red Jack, asks for her help in locating his missing sister, Jane and frenemy classmate ...

Pull List: Abbott and Destroyer Take On Black Lives Matter

This month we’re stepping away from Big Two superhero comics to spend some time with two of BOOM! Studios’ best new series, Destroyer and Abbott. Although the two titles couldn’t be more unrelated in setting story, but both have killer hooks (literally), fantastic creative teams, and a similar underlying theme. If these aren’t already on your shelves, you have some catching up to do.

 

Destroyer

Victor LaValle’s hard-hitting miniseries is set in Mary Shelley’s universe where Victor Frankenstein created his Monster. After her young son, Akai, was killed by a trigger-happy cop, Dr. Josephine Baker took up Frankenstein’s work and brought him back to life. Now her former employers, ex-husband, and the original Monster himself are after Jo and Akai, and they’ll have to fight like hell to survive. Josephine’s overwhelming love for her son keeps her going, but her genius may be her undoing.

When LaValle focuses Destroyer ...

“My Mother Is a Bird”: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

On the same day Leigh Chen Sanders kissed the boy she’d pined over for years, her mother, Dory, committed suicide. She leaves no note, no reason or explanation, just a cavernous hole in the Sanders’ world. At first the grief is overwhelming. She feels trapped in her childhood home with her distant father and the bloodstain marking her mother’s demise haunting her thoughts. Then, the night before the funeral, Leigh is roused from her nightmares by a huge crimson bird calling her name. She knows immediately the bird is her mother, the whys and hows brushed aside in the face a daughter’s longing for her mom.

At the behest of the bird, Leigh and her father travel to Taiwan to meet her mother’s estranged family. Desperate to save her mother, to make contact, to be close once again, she digs through old family memories and unearths long-hidden secrets. With the ...

The Future Is Past: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Kelly Robson’s killer novella Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach opens 250 years into our future. Many decades prior, catastrophic climate and environmental change forced humans into massive underground metropolises, or “hells.” Eventually, the plague babies—survivors of epidemics that burned through the hells in years past—braved the topside in an attempt to reclaim the land. One of those topsiders is Minh, a river rehabilitator in the struggling Calgary habilitation center. With the solid if not abundant financial backing of the banks, she and other plague babies were doing good work repairing damage to the earth to make it livable once more. And then the organization known as TERN invented time travel and everything fell apart. What little cash there was now goes to shiny new short term projects full of flash and bang rather than not so exciting long-term ecological necessities. Minh, who saw her livelihood and all her ...

Rise Up! Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone

In the land of Orïsha, King Saran rules with an iron fist. A decade before, he had every last maji executed in a power grab that eradicated magic and thrust thousands into inescapable poverty. Denied access to the magic they would gain when they were older, the white-haired children of the maji, known as divîners, became the slaves of the empire, the lowest of the low. There is no escape and no hope, just pain and suffering and bondage. Until one day when a magical artifact reemerges from the sea.

Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone tells the story of how pampered Princess Amari teams up with rebellious divîner Zélie and her un-magicked brother Tzain to restore magic to Orïsha. While on their quest, they are chased across the kingdom by Prince Inan, a boy driven equally by self-loathing and duty to his country. At his father’s behest, Inan ...

What Comic Books Should Be Adapted Next?

In this wonderful post-Black Panther world, what we need now most of all are new and diverse comic book adaptations. Not just superhero stuff (especially not any more caped-crusader flicks starring white dudes named Chris), but other comics as well. In other words, if Hollywood wants to repeat the success of Black Panther and Wonder Woman, it ain’t gonna be with a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

So here are a few series I think would make great television shows or movies, and the people who should adapt them. I stuck to material not already in the development pipeline—hence no Chew, Goldie Vance, Squirrel Girl, Crosswind, Locke & Key, Lumberjanes, Y: The Last Man, Sandman, Nimona, or DCEU/MCU—but it was sooooo hard to narrow down to just a few. Gimme all the intersectionality you got!

 

Abbott

Saladin ...

8 Books and Comics for Your Post-Black Panther Reading List

OK, so you’ve seen Black Panther half a dozen times now and can’t get it out of your head. What next? Don’t worry, dear reader, I got you covered. Here’s a little list of some comics and books to read to keep that Black Panther high going, covering work by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Christopher Priest, and Brian Michael Bendis to Nalo Hopkinson, Nisi Shawl, and Nnedi Okorafor, among others…

 

Black Panther

The obvious first post-Black Panther read would be the comics themselves, and there are a TON to choose from. I recommend starting with the run by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze (later replaced by Wilfredo Torres), which chronicles T’Challa’s efforts to protect his kingdom and unite his people against a superhuman terrorist group trying to instigate a rebellion.

From there, also check out the short-lived spinoff series Black Panther and the Crew (Coates, Yona Harvey, Butch Guice), Black ...

Black Panther Is Far More Than Just A Comic Book Movie

Black Panther is a goddamn masterpiece. It’s as anti-imperialist as Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok with as much commentary on Blackness as Ryan Coogler’s own Fruitvale Station. By no means is it perfect, but it’s deeper than the typical superhero fluff. Coogler offers a fantasy of an independent Africa untainted by colonialism and exploitation, of what we might have had, of what was stolen from us. This is a film of the culture, by the culture, for the culture.

Spoilers ahead. Like, a lot of ‘em. Check out Emily Asher-Perrin’s spoiler-free review, otherwise get ready to dive into my new favorite Marvel movie.

If Disney/Marvel learns anything from the successes of the two most recent MCU movies, it should be to hire more POC and let them tell their own stories. The script by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole is meticulously nuanced. Cinematographer Rachel Morrison’s striking energy and vibrant palette ...

Of Gods and Men: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi’s harrowing yet beautiful novel, is the story of Ada, a young woman who believes herself to be inhabited by gods and versions of herself. She is ọgbanje, a concept from Igbo culture that means a child that is both coming and going, a kind of evil spirit that constantly dies and is reborn as a plague of bad luck to a family. But Ada doesn’t die in childhood, instead surviving through blood sacrifice and fracturing into multiple selves. As the years drag on, the psychic and physical stress of sharing a body with so many other beings each with their own contrasting demands, begins to take its toll. As Emezi peels back Ada’s layers, she exposes the culture clash between Indigenous beliefs and Western colonialism.

Westerners who lack the context for ọgbanje are likely to offer an armchair diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder, interpreting Asụghara and ...

Alice Through the Looking Glass: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

For as long as Alice Proserpine can remember, she and her mother, Ella, have been on the run. From what, Alice isn’t sure, but bad luck and ill-timing seem to follow them like a shadow. Ella never speaks of her reclusive mother, Althea, save scattered references to the once-famous but now lost book she wrote called Tales from the Hinterland. When Alice’s grandmother dies unexpectedly, Ella does the unthinkable: she settles down and gets married. Things are good for a while, longer than ever before, but once again darkness seeps in. One day, violence lands on their door and Ella vanishes, leaving Alice lost and frightened and full of fury.

With the help of Hinterlands superfan Ellery Finch, the only friend she has, the two teens set off to find Althea’s hidden estate known only as the Hazel Wood. All the while, sinister forces track their every move. The closer ...

The End Is Nigh: Chuck Wendig’s The Raptor and the Wren

There’s something about Miriam Black. Maybe it’s her addictive, destructive personality. Maybe it’s her ability to see how you die or her magical power to control birds with her mind. Or maybe it’s just that she’s a total badass with an attitude as harsh as her haircut. Whatever that brutal bite of personality is, Miriam brings it in full force in The Raptor and the Wren, the fifth book in Chuck Wendig’s fiery, ferocious series.

Given that this is the fifth novel in a six-book series, summarizing without spoilers is damn near impossible. So here’s the short and sweet. The Raptor and the Wren picks up not long after the events of Thunderbird. Miriam is coasting in Florida trying to do and be as little as possible. Days pass in a haze of alcohol, cigarettes, and petty larceny. When Agent Grotsky turns up out of the ...

Pull List: Iceman, Mister Miracle, and Existential Crises

We’re kicking off a new year of Pull List with two series that couldn’t be more different. Both feature men who are haunted by their troubled families, and each is still trying to untangle the damage to his psyche from his unpleasant childhood. But that’s about where the similarities end. The divide between the characters is bigger than Marvel vs. DC. Where Iceman is charismatic and playful, Mister Miracle is deep and introspective. Bobby Drake is a charming do-gooder and walking dad joke factory while Scott Free is an angst-ridden warrior who may be losing his mind.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that one comic book is demonstrably better than the other.

 

Iceman

Bobby Drake finally gets his own solo series, but unfortunately Iceman disappoints with missed potential. It’s not the easiest series to jump into if you, like me, avoided Civil War II like the plague and nothing ...

Coming Home: Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti Series

One evening, Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib runs away from home. She is a teenager and Himba, a people from southwestern Africa. They believe in staying close to their native land and that women should cover their bodies and hair in otjize, a mixture primarily comprised of “sweet smelling red clay.” Otjize in hand, Binti climbs aboard a living spaceship called the Third Fish as it heads off to Oozma University. Most of the passengers are Khoush, the dominant people in Binti’s country, and they look down on the Himba. But Binti is the first of her kind to be accepted into the prestigious uni and won’t let anything stand in her way. That is, until the Meduse, a jellyfish-like alien species engaged in a centuries-old war with the Khoush, attack the ship. Binti’s people didn’t start this war, but she may be the one to ...

Pirates, Goddesses, and Killers in This Season’s New Young Adult Fiction

A new year means it’s time to squee about all the soon-to-be released young adult science fiction and fantasy books for Spring 2018! I’ve been waiting for quite a few of these for months already, and they’re so close to being released that I have already cordoned off a section of my apartment for a brand new stack in my already-towering To Read Pile. Get your library cards ready, friendos.

Something not on my list but high on yours? Share with the class down in the comments.

Books marked with an asterisk will be reviewed on Tor.com in the coming months.

 

* The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Jude, a human living in Faerieland, is the star of the first in the Folk of the Air trilogy. She, her twin sister Taryn, and half-sister Vivi were raised by Madoc, the Elfhame general who killed their parents and kidnapped ...

“Real” Is a Four-Letter Word: Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series

Every now and again you read a book or a series that hooks you from word one and never lets go. It burrows deep into your brain and you find your mind wandering back to it at random moments. That’s what Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series is for me. It’s been a few months since I finished her darkly beautiful series in two days and I still can’t stop thinking about it. If you run in bookish circles, you’ve probably heard how great Wayward Children is, but trust me, it’s even better than that.

The question isn’t what is it like to find a doorway to another world, but what happens when you come back. Nancy experiences that conundrum first hand at the start of Every Heart a Doorway, the first novella in the series. Unable to accept her old life after what felt like ages ...