Tony Caballero

Tony Caballero (75)

“To you, my friend inside is a newspaper clipping.  A hero as you said.  A two-dimensional, black-and-white representation of right and wrong.  But, to him – to us -- we’re nothing but killers and there’s nothing romantic or heroic about it.  It’s not something you want to talk about or be congratulated for.”
“You are alive and someone else is not.  There’s no way you can possibly understand what that means, what that does to you.  There’s just who you were before and what you are after.”

Baggage and all, grizzled, haunted war hero Francis Carver moves steadily forward in the second issue of Carver: A Paris Story, but as we learn in 22 stark, intriguing pages, as Carver goes to meet his past, his past may be coming after him. 

“Ruxby will never forget the hulking figure, standing there to make sure he knew the faces of each prisoner ever to enter his prison.
Man O’War is huffing out more orders to the inmates, but Ruxby can’t hear anything over a sudden realization he should’ve had days ago.
Ruxby knows a lot of these faces, and they know him.”

The first collected volume of Torsobear stories was one of my surprise favorites last year, one of those rare finds where I wanted to tug on everyone’s sleeve and say, “You’ve GOT to read this book!”  So, when the opportunity to read the next volume came up, I was almost hesitant to pick it up.  How could it live up to the benchmark set by the first volume?

Incredibly easily, it turns out.

“So here’s the deal.  Everyone’s got a story to tell, and most of ‘em ain’t good for nothin’. Now, I ain’t tellin’ ya this to scare ya, but, eventually, you get old enough and the bad tends to pile up and outshine the good. 
When bad things happen to good people, there’s only a few ways it can go.
Some people, well, they just crumble, while others, they become strong in their broken place.  Then . . . then every so often, somethin’ will happen to a person that shatters ‘em so bad there ain’t nothin’ of the person left-
Nothin’ but shards- bits and pieces that are just faint recollections of a life lost.  When that happens, that’s when you get -- “

Okay, I make no secret that I’m a big fan of noir stories, but the vintage, hard-boiled detective/sassy dame genre and the modern reimaginings of it.  So, when Carver: A Paris Story came across my desk, I didn’t know what to make of it.  Is it new? Is it old? Is it even noir?

Well, the answer to all of those questions is an unequivocal “Yes!”

“When Magic rules the worlds, a lucky few are born with great power.The rest of us . . . have to steal it!”
“This was easier than I thought it would be . . . didn’t even have to pick the lock.”
“Well, that’s the thing with these wizards . . . they spend a fortune warding themselves against every spell in creation . . . then forget something as mundane as locking a window.”

In a not-so-distant-future New York City, Cinder’s having a bad day.  After raiding a wizard’s stash, he’s got the last piece of a spell that could fix his connection to magic . . . only as a non-magic-user, he can’t cast it.  And, just when he and his goblin friend, Blacktooth, figure out a plan, they run afoul of The Morgue who has sent the pint-sized Shiver and her hired muscle, the Ghost Boys, to bring Cinder in, dead or . . . well . . .

“And, that’s the tru-for-real story of why weeping willows don’t grow in Showside.”
“Kit, dude, there's no way that story’s even based on something real – much less the reason some crybaby tree doesn’t grow in town . . . If you believe that I got an island to sell you in outer space.”
“I’m not falling for that again, Belle!”

Writer/creator/artist Ian McGinty premieres his new and original tale, Welcome to Showside, with an ambitious opening.

“Angela is my second name, not my middle name, my SECOND name.
I don’t know what my real name was, or if I ever had one.
I wish I knew what my real mother’s name was,
I wish I knew if she had given me a name . . .
There are SO MANY THINGS I don’t know.”

Starting life as a twice-weekly online comic, Oh, Hell has collected its first five chapters into one volume, entitled “Chyrsalides.”

“Empty Quiver (n) – A U.S. Military reporting term to identify and report the seizure, theft, or loss of a nuclear weapon.”

Following up his initial success with the YA/superhero mashup, Crimson Son, writer Russ Linton has achieved a remarkable hat trick with his follow-up novella, Empty Quiver, a quintet of tales that span from the dawn of the Augment age, long before the events of his prior novel, to near modern days, complete with sly references to Central American politics that still ring true.

“At first, it was scary . . . after awhile, though, it stops being scary and just starts being exciting . . . It was like all the seconds turned to minutes, and all the minutes turned to hours, and, before we knew, it the hours had turned into days.

It was like just when you thought you’d seen all you were ever going to see, all there possibly could be to experience . . . you’d realize you hadn’t even scratched the surface.”

They say a good book can be like a doorway into another world.  Well written, descriptive, evocative . . . the best stories can suck you right in and make you forget the world you’re in . . . but what if they could do more?

“My stomach rolls empty, and I lie to keep her calm. There has to be another explanation. If not . . . that leaves me as the last to see her alive. Plenty of motive and no alibi. Unless they put that bottle of whiskey on the stand.”
“This is personal.  It has to be”

New York, 1949 – In pursuit of the serial killer known as the Vulture, Detective Drake Harper finds that the more his case comes into focus, the more tenuous his grip on reality is becoming.  With his wife missing and potentially the latest victim of the Vulture, Drake is quickly coming to realize that it’s not just obsession that drives the killer . . . it’s something more personal between them now.

“Spry, I know this is hard for you.  I’m going to give you some good advice, but it may sound terrible.  So, bear with me.”
“Eighteen years is a long time to wait for anything. It’s your whole life. But, for my people – for other races – it’s the blink of an eye.”
“It may take you a little longer than your classmates to figure out where you go from here, but your path will be revealed soon.  I know this. And, I’m rooting for you, as always.”
“You’re not alone.”

Eighteen-year-old Spry has no place in the universe.  A boarding school refugee from a broken home with a dead-end job and no prospects, his only refuge is the card game “Heroes of the Caliphate” (in which Armored Hoplite soldiers seek to capture shape-shifting aliens called Shapers), and his only real friend is a teacher named Niva.

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