Tag: Marvel

The Harrowing of Doom

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Marvel Untold novel The Harrowing of Doom by David Annadale, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am also friends with David on Facebook, but I suspect that’s more about him connecting with fans rather than being a big fan of mine!

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Marvel

Look at this point I would bore you with a bit of background to the game/universe, but lets not, you all know the Marvel Universe, if you don’t have you been living under a rock!

The Story

This story focuses on Doctor Victor von Doom, the ruler of the Eastern European country of Latveria, and his quest to free his mothers soul from Hell.

He teams up with a hermit witch Maria von Helm, as they work to change the rules around Dooms yearly duel with a champion of Hell, so that he might fuse science and sorcery to free the soul of his beloved mother.

But as with all things, there are forces allied against him, in particular an old enemy from before his revolution.

So the story whilst being about Doom, isn’t Dooms story, whilst a lot of it is told from his point of view, you also get the points of view of an enemy who hates him more than any other, his head of security, a priest reluctantly drawn into his web, his archivist and a nurosurgeon.

It would be so easy for David to have just done a story about a cackling mad scientist super villain, but this isn’t that story, instead its a bit more nuanced, its more insightful, giving us a glimpse into Dooms determination to not only free his mothers soul, but to protect his people.

And that’s one aspect of Doom, which is very much out there, he cares for the people of Latveria, yes they are his tools, yes they live in fear of him, but he genuinely cares and wants to protect them, with his rulership even coming over as considerably more liberal than that of his predecessor with trans citizens being afforded equal rights.

Whilst these books do inhabit their own universe in the Marvel multiverse, I think this book, a bit like the previous Domino novel, offers a look at a character is a way the comics, simply don’t manage very easiy.

David has managed to connect me to Doom in a way, i didn’t think possible.

Now if you listen to Edge of Empire, you will know I am not the biggest fan of Davids writing style, but in this novel, he manages to take a huge leap forwards, perhaps its having an editor who knows how the get the best out of him, but its a much easier read than most of his Black Library work. His sentence structures has tended to be so short and sharp, but in this book they flow so much easier than they did in say Ruinstorm.

I know David is an established writer, but over the past three or so years, it feels like his writing has become so much better, I used to be a bit irritated if he got to write a story in a series I was enjoying, but now I look forward to them.

Conclusion

This book works really well, and you know what, one of its strongest points is that it doesn’t even bring in much of the larger Marvel universe, it focuses solely on Doom, with a few mentions of other stuff, I think Richard Reed is mentioned once, AIM gets a couple of mentions.

But this book stands on its own and really gets you into the character and actually gets you rooting for him, especially given that one of the Marvel Universes biggest villains stands for trans rights!

This felt like it could easily be adapted into a movie in the MCU, its a very strong story and very well written.

You can buy the eBook now, and the paperback is available in the US now and will be in the UK on 7th January.


Domino Strays

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Marvel Heroines book Domino Strays by Tristan Palmgren published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

So lets get in to it, the book as the title suggests concentrates on Domino, the mutant whose power is luck, if you are familiar with the comics, this is set in the current timeline with her being the leader of the Hotshots and contains the rest of the team in supporting roles. If you are less familiar, she was played wonderfully by Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2.

The story revolves around the Hotshots infiltrating the compound of a cult leader in Chicago to save her clients two children. It skips between three different time periods, giving us the reasons why Domino hates the idea of people being held in cages, and why she has a particular thing for crazy zealots.

Its told from a second person point of view with Domino telling the reader the story, given how closely Domino is associated with Deadpool, I think it would have been very easy for this to go down the route of breaking the fourth wall, but I think this works way better, because they didn’t do that. Honestly it feels like we are holed up in some seedy bar as Domino relates the story to us over drinks.

You get a fantastic inside look at the Hotshots, how they work and the relationship dynamic between them, especially between the closest three of them, those being Domino, Diamondback and Outlaw.

My favourite parts of the story were those that covered Dominos infiltration of the Project Armageddon compound in the Everglades and those about her childhood in a church orphanage. The present days story for me was more of a device to tie it all together, and it was really good at that.

Another positive was that they didn’t overly play on her superpower, she rarely relied on it, and as she points out, its not something that makes her invulnerable and isn’t very cinematic, she has to rely on honed skills and experience, only relying on her superpower when she absolutely needs to.

The only real issue I have with the story is the footnotes, which are in themselves great, but they are all at the end of the chapters, which are in themselves, not that long, but its a pain to have to keep flipping through to make sure you read them when you are supposed to. I would much rather they be at the end of the page they belong with, but I wonder if this is a limitation of the ePub format.

I was a big fan of the Domino: Hotshots series by Gail Simone and this was a fantastic deep dive into that team. You don’t need to have any background in the characters as the book does a great job of giving you all the background you need, but in a natural very easy flowing way. The dynamic between the team was just perfect, with the characters balancing each other out just like they do in the comics. The relationship between the core of Domino, Diamondback and Outlaw, with the other members was just perfect, especially with Atlas Bear, who is only reluctantly a member of the team.

Footnotes aside, this is a very good read and given that the characters are very much Marvel B-List characters (Other than Black Widow), means that its accessible to those who only really know Marvel from the MCU.

In short you have a great book looking at one of Marvels more interesting characters and its really enjoyable.

Domino Strays is going to be released on October 6th.

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