Saturday, July 28, 2018

James Review -- Marvel: The Avengers: Everybody Wants to Rule the World

This week I decided to review Marvel: The Avengers: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Dan Abnett. 

The story opens with the Avengers, scattered, facing several critical threats at once. In the U.S., Iron Man, eventually reinforced by Vision, faces off with Ultron who is on the verge of reaching a singularity event which will make the rogue AI all but unstoppable and, in desperation, Iron Man orders communications and power grids shut down to try and slow Ultron’s advance. When it seems that Ultron has been driven into hiding, Iron Man and Vision return to Shield’s helicarrier to find and trap their enemy once and for all and to move to assist their allies elsewhere. But they soon find themselves in a new battle as Ultron is, in fact, hiding in apparently dormant nanomachines that it uses to repair and seize control of the Iron Man suit used in the earlier battle.

In Berlin, Hydra attacks a company they had tricked into producing a aerosol dispersal device the company believed would be used for agricultural purposes. Captain America soon responds to the attack and discovers that Hydra actually intends to use the device to spread a fast-acting and highly lethal plague, planning to use the plague and its cure to force the world to surrender. Captain America is disturbed by how rushed, and unlike typical Hydra operations, the plot is but soon finds himself in a race to save Berlin from the plague.

Black Widow and Hawkeye set out to investigate strange readings in the Savage Lands. After their Quinjet is shot down, the pair manages to regroup and fight their way past a group of raptors to find an Advanced Idea Mechanics base where the renegade organization is working to unleash a nanomachine compound into the Earth’s water supply which will allow M.O.D.O.K. to control the minds of humanity.

Bruce Banner finds himself facing a plot by the High Evolutionary to use a modified version of the Gamma Ray Bomb Banner himself developed long ago--to his shame--as part of a plan that will kill most of the human race and leave the survivors as a docile race that will be easy to enslave. But when the High Evolutionary offers new insights into what caused Banner to become the Hulk, as well as a cure for the Hulk condition, Banner finds himself facing the greatest temptation of his life…

Also, a portion of Siberia has been sucked into another dimension along with Thor. Thor soon finds the Scarlet Witch, only to be attacked by his ally, then rescued by the real Scarlet Witch. The impostor is soon revealed to be Dormammu who has summoned the chunk of Earth to be the basis of a spell that will summon the entire world to his dimension, but the spell must be completed within a short time frame, so Scarlet Witch finds herself in a desperate magical contest to repel Dormammu’s attacks long enough to ruin his plot.

Eventually, it is discovered that this rash of plots to conquer the world has been unleashed because some unknown power has informed the villains and villainous organizations that if they don’t conquer the world by a certain time, the outside power will conquer the world instead. This leads to a desperate race to discover who or what is behind this threat as well as to prepare a defense against the coming assault.

I give this book 7.5 out of 10. I like most of the subplots but felt that some aren’t given as much attention as they deserved. The characters are interesting, but there are some Marvel characters that I feel either should have appeared in the book or at the very least had their absence explained, only to barely be mentioned if they are mentioned at all. Also, the climatic battle was far too short for my tastes. And, even worse, there wasn’t nearly enough tension in it in my opinion.

Monday, July 23, 2018

My New YouTube Channel

I've started a new YouTube channel just for videogames. It's called "Gauche Plays" and is sure to be awesome. Check it out at and view the first video below.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

James Review -- Gotham: City of Monsters

This week I decided to review Gotham: City of Monsters by Jason Starr. 

First, a short recap of where things stand in the beginning. Hugo Strange was working on creating a number of superhuman monsters, and many of them managed to escape when Strange’s nuclear last resort was disarmed, and the city has put dead-or-alive bounties on the heads of the escaped monsters. James Gorden killed the murdering mayor of Gotham but has been released from prison and become an anti-monster bounty hunter. Also, Alferd Pennyworth has taken Bruce Wayne to Switzerland because of the monsters running loose in Gotham City.

The story begins with a bank robbery, with Selina Kyle as part of the robber team, that turns bloody with the two monsters on the team lose control and an off-duty cop tries to intervene. James Gorden starts hunting a monster named Nip but soon discovers Nip has a lover named Tuck. He narrowly manages to defeat the couple. Eventually, the story reveals that bank manager Clarissa Morgan was forced to help in the robbery to save her life, and that of her boyfriend Eddy who owes fifty thousand dollars to loan sharks. Morgan meets Gorden, who begins to develop feelings for her, but she soon finds herself on the run when the mastermind controlling the monsters from the robbery unleashes them on their human accomplices, killing Eddy. And soon, Gorden finds himself in a desperate battle as an enemy believed to be dead returns and takes Morgan hostage…

There is also a subplot showing part of Pennyworth and Wayne’s trip to Switzerland. Pennyworth wants to keep his young charge there for safety, but the two soon find themselves fighting for their live when a man with a grudge against Pennyworth from before Pennyworth began working for the Wayne family finds them…

I give this book 8 out of 10. I liked the characterizations a lot but I feel there were places that could left have room for interesting stories in future novels if the author hadn’t ended these threads, and I don’t feel all of these threads ending benefitted the story. Also, the Switzerland plot was far too short for my taste. If it had been longer I think I would have enjoyed it much more, but as it is, the subplot just feels like padding. In my opinion, it had little or no connection to the Gotham City plot, and I don’t think we really needed to see what Pennyworth and Wayne were up to and that their activities could have been left to the mention of them having departed that was in the main story with no harm.

Monday, July 16, 2018

James Review -- The Day After Gettysburg

This week I decided to review The Day After Gettysburg, began by Robert Conroy and finished by J.R Dunn after Conroy’s death. 

It is an alternate history novel where Union General George Meade is prodded by his government into immediately pursuing the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg. This leads to Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordering a counterattack that devastates the Union army, increasing the Union causalities suffered in the campaign by approximately sixty percent. After this, the Confederate army settles into occupying much of Pennsylvania.

The book contains several major plotlines. One focuses on Union Major Steve Thorne who gains command of what’s left of his regiment after its prior commander, Colonel Josiah Baird, is maimed. This plot focuses both on Thorne’s efforts on the battlefield and his growing relationship with Colonel Baird’s daughter Cassandra.

Another follows Cassandra Baird through her struggles as she works to educate former slaves who have escaped to Union-controlled territory. In addition to the threats posed by the nearby armies, she finds herself facing racist Union civilians and deserters fleeing from the armies.

A third plotline follows Cassandra’s ex-fiancé Richard Dean who had deserted from the Union Army and turned completely against the Union cause. He eventually meets with John Wilkes Booth and joins Booth’s efforts against the Union and President Abraham Lincoln.

Also, there is a plotline following Confederate Sergeant Jonah Blandon. He serves in the army when it suits him and deserts when it doesn’t or when he fears punishment for his crimes, including execution of surrendered enemy soldiers and, eventually, rape and murder of civilians. The latter incident rouses the wrath of Pennsylvanian civilians against the Confederate occupiers and leaves Blandon’s band fleeing from both armies as well as vengeful civilians.

There are also several scenes showing the leadership of both governments and the two primary armies that the novel focuses on at work, with General Grant eventually taking command of the Union forces, and launching a plan aimed at destroying the Army of Northern Virginia.

I give this book 7 out of 10. While I find the cast of characters very interesting and enjoy many of the scenes in the story, I find a number of flaws in it. While things like the horrible conditions in prison camps on both sides are mentioned, they are never actually shown. Ditto for atrocities and crimes committed by Union soldiers or deserters against civilian targets. While such actions committed by Union troops or deserters are mentioned in passing, the only intentional targeting of non-combatants you see in the story are committed by Blandon’s band, or racist civilians acting against the escaped slaves Cassandra Baird is educating and Cassandra herself.

Also, I don’t think the impact of the book’s opening battle is strong enough. Historically, the Army of the Potomac took slightly less than twenty-five percent causalities in the Gettysburg campaign. In this book, that amount increases to nearly forty percent. While it is true that the vast majority of the additional causalities were captured, even if they were all exchanged, I don’t feel that the increase in Confederate strength was properly accounted for in the course of the story. I also feel that the effects the strategy, utilized by Grant in the book, would have had on the western fronts, and the impact these changes would have made on the course of the war, were largely ignored or at least badly underestimated.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

James Review -- Destroyermen: Devil’s Due

This week I decided to review Destroyermen: Devil’s Due by Taylor Anderson. 

The story has multiple plots within it, The primary plot focuses on the Grand Alliance’s efforts to defeat expatriate Japanese General Hisashi Kurokawa who has recently seized a number of high-ranking Alliance prisoners,including the pregnant wife of Alliance military Commander in Chief Matthew Reddy. However, Kurokawa has also gained control of the League of Tripoli battleship Savoie which badly outclasses anything in the Alliance fleet. And to make a bad situation even worse, aerial reconnaissance missions soon reveal that Kurokawa has obtained a number of League fighter craft which equal or outclass the few P-40 Warhawks still possessed by the Alliance. With time becoming critical, the USS Walker launches a desperate gambit along with much of the Alliance navy to defeat the Savoie, while a small commando unit launches an attempt to rescue Kurokawa’s prisoners…

One of the subplots follows a Grand Alliance army pursuing a defeated Holy Dominion force. But the allied army soon finds unpleasant surprises after the commander of the Dominion force is replace by an unknown and far more dangerous commander. Another follows the Alliance sailing frigate USS Donaghey on its continuing mission of exploration as well as battles against both Holy Dominion and League of Tripoli warships.

I give this book 9.5 out of 10. I love the variety of battle scenes in the story. Also, I like the characters in the various plots, and I found the sequences where characters are thinking to themselves fascinating, especially the later ones from Kurokawa’s viewpoint. And there’s just enough humor to keep the story from being too dark for my tastes. Really, the only thing I wish could have changed is expanding some of the scenes and adding a few more scenes in the Donaghey plotline.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Proofread Excelsior

I have established my new company Proofread Excelsior LLC. Check out my promo video and then visit me at