The Ninth Justice (One Piece #36) ★★★★★

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Title: The Ninth Justice
Series: One Piece #36
Arc: Water Seven #5
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 209
Words: 10K

From Wikipedia:

“Protectors of the City of Water”

“Coup de Vent”


“The Woman Who Brings Darkness”


“The Messengers of Darkness”

“Cipher Pol No. 9”

“Opposing Force”


“The Ninth Justice”

The Straw Hats are on the run and Robin is nowhere to be found. In order to determine where her allegiances lie, the Straw Hats decide to break into Galley-La’s headquarters to find her. To their surprise, they are not the only ones laying siege to Galley-La; a masked group has already infiltrated the headquarters looking for the blueprints to the ancient weapon Pluton. After finding the blueprints and discovering that they are fake, the masked individuals approach the recovering Iceburg. They remove their disguises, revealing themselves as Robin and some of the workers of Galley-La. Members of the secret government organization, Cipher Pol #9, they joined Galley-La to gain Pluton for the government’s use. After speaking with Iceberg, they learn that the real blueprints are with Franky, a shipwright and friend of Iceberg.


Oh my goodness. I am astounded and amazed. After what I experienced in the previous volume, I didn’t know what to expect. Misaki was talking to me in the comments and assured me that most of the points I brought up were answered at some point and it made me laugh because this volume answered a lot of them.

This had all the twists. This had all the turns. And I didn’t see a single one coming. Now, to be fair, most of the time I’m so straight forward that even a simple misdirection is enough, like fake throwing a tennis ball for a dog to go chasing. But this was Pure Awesomesauce. One a scale of 1-25 on Awesomesauce’ness, I’m giving this a 23.

I was REALLY annoyed that all the shipwrights started hammering on the Straw Hat pirates without giving them a chance to state their case, but once the big reveal happened, it totally made sense. Of course, finding out that some of who I thought were fine, upstanding and powerful citizens turned out to be stooges of the world government was like a kick in the nuts. Governments are inherently corrupt and attempt to draw power to themselves and those who buy wholeheartedly into them become corrupt as well. Doesn’t mean there aren’t good people, but if they stay there they will be corrupted, much like the One Ring corrupted Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo and even Samwise.

Luffy gets beat all over the place here. He gets beaten by the Shipwrights. He gets beaten by Frankie. He gets beaten by the CP9 (the super secret world government black beyond black covert ops team). And he’s still kicking and hollering to beat the band at the end. I love this guy!

Remember, read it Right to Left


Book of Joe (Forgotten Ruin #5) ★✬☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Book of Joe
Series: Forgotten Ruin #5
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Military Fantasy
Pages: 211
Words: 75K

This is a book ALL about Talker and how he survived and helped Joe.

What. The. Feth.

I am now done with this series. Don’t care how cool the story is, because it is always in the background and I hate Talker. I hate him for hogging the book. I hate him for whining about how he’s not good enough to be a “real” Rangeroo. I hate him for writing about coffee instead of what’s going on. I hate him for describing a ruin for 2 pages while a massive battle gets 3 paragraphs.

So I am done.

Nick Cole has a duology that I’m going to try out next. I need a cool down from Team Anspach/Cole.


The Pusher (87th Precinct) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Pusher
Series: 87th Precinct
Author: Ed McBain
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 111
Words: 50K


A pusher is killed and it is made to look like a suicide. But it is all a setup to frame the son of the Lt. Of the 87th Precinct. The son is a junkie and the Lt locks him in his room while he goes through withdrawals. Meanwhile, the detectives track down the guy who is trying to blackmail the Lt, and who has also killed several other people.

Oooph, another gritty entry. I’m beginning to think that Darren, in leaving his comment on The Mugger, might have been correct. There is nothing suave here. This is heroin overdoses and whores being beaten to death and families being torn apart by drugs and cops almost dying from being shot at point blank range.

But at the same time, I was hooked. I think I read this in one sitting. It helps that it is so short. I guess people in the 60’s actually worked and got things done, so any entertainment had to slot in wherever it could. Of course, all those hippies went and ruined everything and that is why I am cursed today to be sitting on my couch, eating pizza while enjoying doing nothing. My goodness, my life is so brutal!

While not being disturbingly graphic, McBain doesn’t sugarcoat a thing. It makes me wonder about the people for whom stories like this aren’t fictional at all, but every day life. It also makes me wonder (again) if this is a series I want to continue. I think I’m going to have to take this a book at a time and maybe space them out a bit more. I think I have a total of 5 of these on my kindle right now. Once I’m done with them, I’ll read some other series for a bit and decide if I want to come back.

But the attraction of a short, tight story is undeniable.


Romeo and Juliet ★★✬☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Romeo and Juliet
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 238
Words: 69K

From Wikipedia:

The play, set in Verona, Italy, begins with a street brawl between Montague and Capulet servants who, like the masters they serve, are sworn enemies. Prince Escalus of Verona intervenes and declares that further breach of the peace will be punishable by death. Later, Count Paris talks to Capulet about marrying his daughter Juliet, but Capulet asks Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a planned Capulet ball. Lady Capulet and Juliet’s Nurse try to persuade Juliet to accept Paris’s courtship.

Meanwhile, Benvolio talks with his cousin Romeo, Montague’s son, about Romeo’s recent depression. Benvolio discovers that it stems from unrequited infatuation for a girl named Rosaline, one of Capulet’s nieces. Persuaded by Benvolio and Mercutio, Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline. However, Romeo instead meets and falls in love with Juliet. Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, is enraged at Romeo for sneaking into the ball but is only stopped from killing Romeo by Juliet’s father, who does not wish to shed blood in his house. After the ball, in what is now famously known as the “balcony scene”, Romeo sneaks into the Capulet orchard and overhears Juliet at her window vowing her love to him in spite of her family’s hatred of the Montagues. Romeo makes himself known to her, and they agree to be married. With the help of Friar Laurence, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children’s union, they are secretly married the next day.

Tybalt, meanwhile, still incensed that Romeo had sneaked into the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel. Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight. Mercutio is offended by Tybalt’s insolence, as well as Romeo’s “vile submission”, and accepts the duel on Romeo’s behalf. Mercutio is fatally wounded when Romeo attempts to break up the fight, and declares a curse upon both households before he dies. (“A plague o’ both your houses!”) Grief-stricken and racked with guilt, Romeo confronts and slays Tybalt.

Benvolio argues that Romeo has justly executed Tybalt for the murder of Mercutio. The Prince, now having lost a kinsman in the warring families’ feud, exiles Romeo from Verona, under penalty of death if he ever returns. Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet’s chamber, where they consummate their marriage. Capulet, misinterpreting Juliet’s grief, agrees to marry her to Count Paris and threatens to disown her when she refuses to become Paris’s “joyful bride”. When she then pleads for the marriage to be delayed, her mother rejects her.

Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a potion that will put her into a deathlike coma or catalepsy for “two and forty hours”. The Friar promises to send a messenger to inform Romeo of the plan so that he can rejoin her when she awakens. On the night before the wedding, she takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt.

The messenger, however, does not reach Romeo and, instead, Romeo learns of Juliet’s apparent death from his servant, Balthasar. Heartbroken, Romeo buys poison from an apothecary and goes to the Capulet crypt. He encounters Paris who has come to mourn Juliet privately. Believing Romeo to be a vandal, Paris confronts him and, in the ensuing battle, Romeo kills Paris. Still believing Juliet to be dead, he drinks the poison. Juliet then awakens and, discovering that Romeo is dead, stabs herself with his dagger and joins him in death. The feuding families and the Prince meet at the tomb to find all three dead. Friar Laurence recounts the story of the two “star-cross’d lovers”, fulfilling the curse that Mercutio swore. The families are reconciled by their children’s deaths and agree to end their violent feud. The play ends with the Prince’s elegy for the lovers: “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

Epic Eye Roll for all the yatzees.

Tybalt deserved to die. The Prince of the City was an idiot for exiling Romeo. So everything that went wrong I place squarely on Tybalt and the Prince. Tybalt stirred up the pot and the Prince didn’t actually do anything wise to settle the dispute between the families. So his last bit of finger wagging at the two patriarchs rang extremely hypocritical to me.

And for goodness sake, why didn’t Juliet and Romeo announce that they were married to all and sundry as soon as it happened? That would have taken the wind out of Tybalt or maybe he would have killed Romeo, but since Romeo ended up dead anyway, that isn’t gambling much.

I am afraid I am going to have a very bad attitude towards Shakespeare’s stuff for the rest of the time that I spend reading this Complete Collection. I feel it is a bit unfair, especially since no one is making me do this, but my goodness man, figure out a way to get the tragedy you want without people being 100% stupid.


For Where Your Treasure Is….

….there will your heart be also.
~Matthew 6:21

Reading my various old journals, I have realized they’re getting fragile and that keeping them loose on a bookshelf isn’t helping them at all. So I decided to do something about it. One Hobby Lobby stop later, I ended up with these beauties.

25 years in one box, with another just waiting to be filled up. I can tell you already, it’s not going to take 25 more years to fill that sucker up! 😀

A King’s Ship (Empire Rising #2) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A King’s Ship
Series: Empire Rising #2
Author: David Holmes
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 314
Words: 122K

From the Publisher and

The war with China is over. But for Captain James Somerville there is a task still unfinished.

Former Politburo Intelligence Minister Chang has evaded capture and escaped from Chinese space. Declared a war criminal by the UN and British law courts, James is given the Royal Space Navy’s newest exploration cruiser and sent after Chang.

His chase will threaten to stir up old rivalries and take him to the edge of explored space. What he will discover there will radically reshape humanity’s position in the galaxy and throw him into a series of desperate battles. Alone and outnumbered he will come to realize what it really takes to command a King’s Ship.

And that means finding a Lost Colony with a secret (they have skillz! And have pirated Space Briton’s ships), finding aliens, finding MORE aliens and then killing lots of aliens. And finding out that there are even more aliens (even though the humans don’t realize the discovery for what it is at the time).

I was pretty happy with this. While there are some impressive space battles (where we once again count every missile down until it explodes or something), we also get some British Space Marine action. Boo yah! These guys are almost as tough as regular American Space Soldiers, so you know in the big scheme of things they’re pretty badass. And they’re even all squishy on the inside and have a bonding moment, awwwww. Thankfully, that doesn’t last too long before they get back to killing aliens.

The Big Bad Communist from the first book has escaped and Captain Happy Pants is tasked with secretly hunting him down. And boy does he kick some applecarts over in that process. India is caught with its hands fully in the Space Communist cookie jar and whines about it. Captain Happy doesn’t care, nor should he, he’s got a Space United Nations mandate! And Ensign Chicky Boo is now Admiral/Captain/Commander/Whatever Chicky Boo and is helping out. But a sexy Lost Human Politician gets in the way until Captain Happy Pants puts her aside because he still loves the British Space Princess. It’s a real Space Soap Opera! Find out next episode who has the alien baby!!! (not really, but come on, you had to see that coming).

Once again, I really enjoyed this. It hits the Space Opera itch that I have (that I’m not getting scratched by Anspach & Cole with their Galaxy’s Edge series, boo, hiss) and while it has more spaceship battles than I really care for, it does have more than enough ground pounder action to keep me happy. Space Marines for da win baby!


The Black Wings of Cthulhu Vol 1 (Cthulhu Anthology #7) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Black Wings of Cthulhu Vol 1
Series: Cthulhu Anthology #7
Editor: S.T. Joshi
Rating: 3.0 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 385
Words: 141K



S. T. Joshi

Pickman’s Other Model (1929)

Caitlín R. Kiernan

Desert Dreams

Donald R. Burleson


Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

Copping Squid

Michael Shea

Passing Spirits

Sam Gafford

The Broadsword

Laird Barron


William Browning Spencer

Denker’s Book

David J. Schow

Inhabitants of Wraithwood

W. H. Pugmire

The Dome

Mollie L. Burleson


Nicholas Royle

Tempting Providence
Jonathan Thomas

Howling in the Dark

Darrell Schweitzer

The Truth about Pickman

Brian Stableford


Philip Haldeman

The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash

Annotated by Ramsey Campbell

Violence, Child of Trust

Michael Cisco

Lesser Demons

Norman Partridge

An Eldritch Matter

Adam Niswander


Michael Marshall Smith


Jason Van Hollander

There was a distinct lack of Cthulhu in this collection. A VERY distinct lack. It would have been better to call this a collection of stories about authors navel gazing as cockroaches ate their belly buttons. At least I would have been prepared for the completely self-absorbed narcissists who wrote these stories. They weren’t all necessarily bad, but without a direct tie to Cthulhu or some of his equally evil and cosmic brethren, they just came across as authors spouting nonsense about nonsense. I confirmed that Joseph Pulver Sr is a blithering idiot and has the skill of an epileptic caught in the throws of a fentanyl withdrawal while falling off of Nakatomi Towers.

I still gave this 3stars because of the ones that did tie directly into the Mythos. And I really enjoyed them. But 3 or 4 stories out of a collection of 21 is not a very good track record. Joshi (the editor of this collection) and I have a very mixed track record. Sometimes I really enjoy what he’s put together and other times I think he’s on drugs and his selections are crap. He is definitely one of those people who think Lovecraft’s mythology deserves “special attention” instead of just playing in the sandbox.

I just looked on Devilreads and there are FIVE more collections of this series. That’s rubbish. I am “almost” tempted to sample them to see if they too are Cthulhu’less, but I’ve got 6 other anthologies to investigate first. Maybe when I run out and am desperate for a Cthulhu fix (as I take a swan dive off of Nakatomi Tower, hehehehe).


Web of Spiderman #2-5 ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Web of Spiderman #2-5
Writer: Louise Simonson, Danny Fingeroth
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 93
Words: 8K



Following their defeat at the hands of Spider-Man, the Vulturions return to their hideout. They are both furious and confused, as Spider-Man kept on talking about his costume being alive. After their first foray, Honcho has decided that they will need weapons in order to equal the playing field against Spider-Man. He orders Sugar Face to open one of the crates. Inside, Sugar Face finds blowguns and some darts. Gripes thinks the idea of using blow darts against Spider-Man to be ridiculous. However, Honcho asks Sugar Face to use a dart on Gripes. One single dart causes Gripes to black out and collapse onto the floor. Honcho explains that the tarts include a toxin that relaxes the muscles until ultimately the victim dies. Honcho briefly considers letting Gripes suffer this fate but applies the antidote instead.

A week later, Spider-Man is web-slinging across the city, thinking about how he narrowly avoided defeating the alien costume that wanted to bond with him and is glad that it is gone.[Continuity 1] Along the way, the wall-crawler stops a mugger from picking a pocket. As he continues on his way, Spider-Man thinks about his clash with the Vulturions and wonder why they are and why they are after him. Needing to buy a birthday gift for his Aunt May, Spider-Man sneaks into a store washroom and changes back into Peter Parker.[Continuity 2] Searching the store, he finds a hat that he thinks will be perfect for his Aunt May. Meanwhile, the Vulturions rob an armored car, using their new blow darts to incapacitate security guards.

Later, Peter Parker pays a visit to the Daily Bugle to show off his Aunt’s birthday gift to Joe Robertson in the hopes that it helps fix their strained relationship.[Continuity 3] Suddenly, J. Jonah Jameson enters the room, excited about reports of the damage caused by Spider-Man’s battle with the Juggernaut.[Continuity 4] Joe tries to quash this editorial, pointing out that as the new editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle, he would be presenting balanced stories.[Continuity 5] Seeing an opportunity to make money off the photos he took of the fight, Peter pretends to agree with Jonah, much to Robertson’s disappointment. Jameson tells Joe that he missed a perfect opportunity and explains that he is starting a news magazine so he can publish his own stories and intends to take Parker with him. As Peter Parker tries to explain himself to Joe, they are interrupted when a copy boy informs them of the Vulturions’ attack at the bank. Joe assigns Peter to get photos of this story. Peter then goes up to the roof of the Bugle Building where he changes into Spider-Man. Spider-Man is looking forward to a rematch against the Vulturions, but has to go to the hospital to see Harry and Liz Osborn’s with Mary Jane first.

Back at their hideout, the Vulturions gloat over their recent haul, Honcho suggests that they need to convince the Kingpin that he should hire them to be his chief assassins by killing Spider-Man. The group then head out to search for the wall-crawler. Elsewhere, Spider-Man swings across the city, a job made more difficult by the hat box that he is carrying. As he heads for home, he thinks about Mary Jane and how her recent revelation that she has known he was Spider-Man affected their relationship.[Continuity 6] On the way, Spider-Man is stopped by the Vulturions who begin to follow him. When the wall-crawler gets close to his apartment, he notices that his neighbors, Randi, Candi, and Bambi are on the roof varnishing a dresser. He tries to hang back, but when one of the women spots him, he is forced to head uptown. Spotting this, the Vulturions continue their pursuit of the masked hero.

While at the Kingpin’s tower, the head mobster is watching Singin’ In The Rain with his catatonic wife, Vanessa, hoping that she will wake up.[Continuity 7] A henchman tells him that the Vulturions are planning to kill Spider-Man outside of his building. The Kingpin recalls how Spider-Man had recently interfered in his business and struggles with seeing his wife recover, or witness the destruction of Spider-Man.[Continuity 8] Witnessing the wall-crawler swing by, the Kingpin notices that the hero is carrying a hat box and wonders why. Suddenly, the hero is ambushed by the Vulturions. His spider-sense warning him of a barrage of poisoned darts, he uses the hat box to shield himself. Swinging into his action, Spider-Man exposes his belt camera so he can snap photos for the Daily Bugle. Although the hero manages to down one the Vulturions, another manages to tag him with one of the blow darts. As Spider-Man struggles to stay conscious, his thoughts are on making peace with his Aunt May. Meanwhile, in Queens, Aunt May is worried about the bills that are mounting on her home. Her fiancee Nathan Lubensky suggests that she go to her nephew Peter for help. However, Aunt May is still angry at Peter for dropping out of school and refuses to tell him of their troubles unless he decides to go back to school.

Back in the city, Spider-Man begins to feel the effects of the dart but knocks out another one of the Vulturions. The ribbon keeping the hat box close is cut open causing the hat to blow away, which puzzles the Kingpin. strange. When his wife begins to become agitated, the Kingpin assures her that there is nothing going on. Because the Vulturions have disturbed his wife, the Kingpin decides to support Spider-Man in the battle. The hero manages to recover the hat but is struck with another dart and begins falling to the ground. As he falls, he thinks about how his ex-girlfriend the Black Cat hated him being Peter Parker and how Mary Jane hates him being Spider-Man.[Continuity 9] While at the hospital where Liz Osborn just recently gave birth to her son.[Continuity 10] Noticing that Mary Jane is pacing the room waiting for Peter, Liz tells her to relax but also wonders why she keeps watching the skyline.

By this time, Spider-Man is still trying to avoid the Vulturions and keep the hat he bought for his Aunt May safe. However, although he managed to knock out the rest of the Vulturions, he was struck by additional darts and falls into a trash-strewn alley and the hat drifts away in the wind. In the aftermath of the battle, the Kingpin was impressed with Spider-Man’s performance, but is still confused as to why the hero was so focused on protecting the hat, as he could have won sooner otherwise. Seeing that the hat is still blowing in the wind, the Kingpin orders a helicopters to take off and recover it. When Spider-Man wakes up, the Vulturions are gone and he realizes the hat is missing. Trying to find it, the hero swings up to the rooftops where he spots the helicopter lowering the hat box nearby. He recovers the hat and finds a note from the Kingpin, thanking him for defeating the Vulturions

Vulture is as Vulture does:

From his prison cell, Adrian Toomes reads the latest newspaper reports about the Vulturions and is furious that they would steal his technology. Having secretly rebuilt his wings in his prison cell, the Vulture flies again, vowing to prove his superiority by killing everyone. Although a prison helicopter tries to follow him, the Vulture manages to get to Manhattan and escape through the subway. Elsewhere in the city, Spider-Man nabs a pair of purse snatchers. After recovering his camera and the hat that he bought for Aunt May’s birthday, but decides to go to the Daily Bugle to try and sell his photos first, deciding he has enough time to have the present express mailed to his Aunt May. As Spider-Man changes into Peter Parker, the Vulturions attack Rockefeller Center and rob a jewelry store in a flee the scene. The group gloats over how easy their robberies have been since getting their wings. As they plot getting revenge against Spider-Man, they are unaware that the Vulture has been watching for them and is preparing to strike.

Back at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson turns down the pictures that Peter has taken are useless as he only wants photos of Spider-Man looking bad. As Jameson walks away, Peter is greeting by Mary Jane who has come from their lunch date. Before they can go, she hears a radio report about the Vulture escaping prison over her headphones.[Continuity 1] At that moment, the Vulturions return to their hideout only to be ambushed by the Vulture. He knocks out all of the Vulturions except Honcho, whom he takes off with Honcho, demanding to know how he managed to steal his technology. At that same moment, Peter and Mary Jane are sitting down for lunch. Peter complains about the how much time he has left to mail off his present to Aunt May. Mary Jane assures him that there is plenty of time.[Continuity 2] Mary Jane suggests that Peter reveal his secret identity to his Aunt May.[Continuity 3] Suddenly, Peter’s spider-sense begins going off. Looking skyward, the pair spot the Vulture battling with the Vulturions. When one of the Vulturions comes crashing through the skylight, Peter insists that he has to do something before someone gets hurt. Mary Jane is upset with him because the last time he battled the Vulturions he was almost killed.

Meanwhile, in Queens, Aunt May and Nathan Lubenski are preparing for May’s birthday. They are also concerned about their money troubles, and Nathan once again suggests that May talks to Peter about it. However, May is still mad at Peter and refuses to tell him. When they hear a radio report about the Vulture’s attack in the city. The couple recall how they previously met Adrian Toomes when they were living in the nursing home together.[Continuity 4] Nathan jokingly suggests that he take Toomes up on his past offer to join him as a partner in crime to solve their money woes. Back in Manhattan, the Vulture has lured the Vulturions into Times Square, where his superior flying skills are an asset among the massive billboards and neon signs. As the Vulture begins to trounce the Vulturions, Spider-Man arrives on the scene. He is chastising himself for going off and leaving Mary Jane to worry. When he stops the Vulture from killing one of the Vulturions. Seeing his longtime foe prompts the Vulture to flee the scene. When Spider-Man snags Toomes with a web-line, the villain begins trying to knock him loose by flying through the massive billboards. During the fight, Spider-Man is struck by one of the Vulturion’s darts. Although Spider-Man manages to get to safety before blacking out from the dart, the Vulture manages to escape. Before the darkness takes him, Peter notices it is after 5 pm and he is too late to mail Aunt May’s birthday present.

The next morning, Peter is woken up by Mary Jane knocking at his door. Mary Jane was worried about Peter and is glad he is okay. She gives him his Aunt May’s present, which he left behind when he went off to be Spider-Man. When Peter tries to talk to her about their relationship, Mary Jane insists that she can’t be involved with him romantically as long as he continues to be Spider-Man. She tells her that her own cowardice keeps her from being with him, but asks Peter what is keeping him apart from his Aunt. Later, Aunt May checks the mail and finds only bills. Nathan Lubenski is surprised to learn that there isn’t even a present from Peter. Nathan scoffs at this, telling May that she has more than enough gifts to from others. However, Spider-Man leaves the gift outside and rings the doorbell and hides. When May opens the gift she whispers a thank you to her nephew, who watches her joy from up in a tree.

Arms and the Man

Spider-Man is staking out a warehouse where he observes a gang stealing crates full of fur coats. Using the cover of darkness, Spider-Man manages to ambush the thugs, taking down many. However, he loses the advantage when he gets tangled up in a rack of coats. He is dogpiled by some of the thugs but fights them off. The last of the gang tries to run over Spider-Man with the delivery truck. The wall-crawler is briefly blinded by the headlights but dodges it at the last moment. The truck smashes through a wall and tries to getaway. Unfortunately for him, Spider-Man manages to leap onto the roof of the truck and forces it to crash. However, the drivers now stuck in a traffic jam get upset with the wall-crawler. Spider-Man pulls the wrecked truck off the road and when the police arrive he web-slings away. Having taken pictures, Spider-Man goes to the Daily Bugle building where he changes into Peter Parker. He stops briefly to say hello to Betty Leeds before heading in to try and sell his photos to Joe Robertson.[Continuity 1] Unfortunately for Peter, Joe Robertson isn’t interested in more pictures of Spider-Man. On his way out, Peter bumps into J. Jonah Jameson, spilling the pictures on the floor. Jameson likes the photos and asks to use them in his revived Now Magazine. Once more, Jameson asks Peter to join his team, exclaiming that Now Magazine is going to be big. As he leaves, Peter thinks that becoming a photographer for Jameson’s magazine he could pull in a lot more money than usual and considers taking some photography courses.

Meanwhile, at the Brooklyn Psychiatric Facility, Doctor George Jefferson is in a session with Otto Octavius, the criminal known as Doctor Octopus. He tries to get Otto to open up about his childhood, but Otto can’t bring himself to talk about it at that moment. Jefferson understands and as he walks Octavius back to his room. He assures Otto that they will work to finish the work started by Mister Fantastic.[Continuity 2] He promises that they will get over his fear of Spider-Man and make him a productive member of society again. Otto decides to take a nap before lunch, and as Jefferson leaves he thinks about how people claim that Doctor Octopus can’t be cured, and vows to prove them wrong. After a troubled sleep, Otto wakes up and sees a spider has made a web in the corner of his room and begins to panic. He remembers the last time he was defeated at the hands of Spider-Man, one of his most humiliating defeats.[Continuity 3] This is followed by memories of his return home from the Secret Wars, how the sheer power of the Molecule Man drove him to the brink of insanity.[Continuity 4] Suddenly, Doctor Octopus begins to hallucinate that he is being swarmed by a swarm of spiders.

This mental distress affects the mental link that Doctor Octopus has with his mechanical arms, which are stored in a facility deep below Manhattan. The arms begin to flail around in the holding cell, but this is dismissed by the guards. Suddenly, Otto’s fear turns into rage and he crushes the spider in his room. This also commands the mechanical arms to break free and begin burrowing their way up to the surface. As Doctor Jefferson and the orderlies enter his room to sedate Otto, he has had another mental break. Without the conscious mind of Doctor Octopus controlling them, the mechanical arms go on a rampage through the city. Even with special equipment provided by SHIELD, the NYPD are unable to stop the arms. Peter Parker hears the reports of the rampage from a radio in an electronics store where he is purchasing a new lens for his photography.[Continuity 5] Grabbing a portable police band radio, Spider-Man follows the reports to the source of the rampage.

Spider-Man arrives just as the mechanical arms have broken Doctor Octopus out of his cell. Cradling the sleeping body of its master, the mechanical arms damage the foundation of the mental health facility. Spider-Man is forced to hold rescue those trapped inside, allowing the mechanical arms to flee with Octavius. Otto wakes up in one of his hideouts and realizes that his mechanical arms had freed him. Thinking of all the battles over the years with Spider-Man, and all the humiliating defeats, Doctor Octopus puts on his mechanical arms once again and vows that this time, he will destroy Spider-Man.

The Enemy Within

As the newspapers scream with headlines about the escape of Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man scours the city searching for his foe.[Continuity 1] Spider-Man thinks about their last encounter during the Secret Wars and recalls how they never fought directly and wonders if his old foe is really afraid of him now.[Continuity 2] His is briefly distracted when a scaffold holding a pair of men putting up a billboard advertisement breaks. He quickly catches them and places them safely on a nearby rooftop and swings away without a word.

Meanwhile, in the secret hideout of Doctor Octopus, some of his minions put the finishing touches on a Spider-Man robot. Worrying that Octopus isn’t in his mental facilities after his jaunt into space. They then unleash the robot on their leader, Doctor Octopus savagely battles the robot and destroys it. Even though Doctor Octopus triumphantly boasts over this victory, his minions are still not certain if he could manage to battle the real Spider-Man. The next afternoon, Spider-Man returns home from another fruitless search for Doctor Octopus, although he did manage to help the Rocket Racer.[Continuity 3] Returning to his apartment, Peter changes out of his costume and decides to call his Aunt May, relieved that they have finally settled their differences.[Continuity 4] The phone is answered by her fiancee Nathan Lubenski, who tells Peter that Aunt May is out shopping. He takes the opportunity to tell Peter about their financial problems. Peter assures Nathan that he will do everything he can to help. After the call, Peter takes a quick shower and heads out hoping that he can find Doctor Octopus so he can sell photos to the Daily Bugle.

Peter pays a visit to the Daily Bugle offices and checks with J. Jonah Jameson about work for Now Magazine. Jameson tells him that he is busy setting things up and he will call him. Heading into the newsroom he goes looking for Joe Robertson for work. Joe stops Peter and tells him that there is someone he should meet. He soon finds himself in the office of the Bugle’s new city editor, Kate Cushing. Kate tells Peter that she is impressed with his work and asks him to try and get exclusive photos of a meeting at the Schavian Embassy. Peter stops at the bank to pull money out of the machine. Although he only has twenty dollars in his account, he is surprised when the machine gives him more money by mistake. However, his luck changes when Doctor Octopus and his minions launch an attack on the bank. Peter changes into Spider-Man and ambushes the armed thieves. Spider-Man deals with the minions and is about to go down and stop Doctor Octopus from raiding the safe. However, he notices that one of the tellers has been struck with a bullet. Unable to let the woman bleed out, Spider-Man is forced to take her to a hospital. By this point, Doctor Octopus learns that Spider-Man was there and is furious that his minions didn’t tell him. Suddenly, they hear some police sirens prompting them to flee. As they flee, nobody is aware that one of the minions has been tagged with a spider-tracer.

Later, Spider-Man arrives at the Schavian Embassy, where security is tight. However, this is no concern for the hero, as he climbs into the ventilation system. From there, he crawls down through the vents until he finds a grate overlooking the meeting. As Spider-Man begins snapping the photos, he overhears a guard discovering the open vent. He realizes that this will prevent him from leaving until after everyone has left. While Spider-Man is stuck at the embassy, Doctor Octopus and his minions come crashing into the Daily Bugle newsroom demanding Spider-Man. With Joe Robertson and J. Jonah Jameson out of the office, Kate Cushing is in charge of the office. He demands that Cushing call the authorities and tell them that he is taking the Daily Bugle hostage until Spider-Man faces him.[Continuity 5] An hour later, Spider-Man is finally able to leave the vents. Changing back to Peter Parker, he quickly finds a payphone to phone in and tell Kate Cushing that he finished his photo assignment. That’s when he learns about the hostage situation.

As Peter changes back into Spider-Man and rushes to the Bugle, Doctor Octopus begins to grow impatient. With his escape helicopter arriving, Octopus takes Kate hostage and flees. Spider-Man learns moments later to learn that Octavius will be contacting them soon to reveal where he has taken Cushing. When J. Jonah Jameson returns, he blames Spider-Man for the damage done to the office. Spider-Man takes this as his cue to leave, using his spider-sense to locate the spider-tracer he previously planted on one of Doctor Octopus’ minions. Spider-Man then ambushes Doctor Octopus. At first, Doctor Octopus thinks he is fighting yet another Spider-Man robot. However, when Spider-Man begins quipping, Otto realizes that he is fighting the real hero and begins to crack up again. Doctor Octopus enters a catatonic state. His minions consider attacking Spider-Man, but the hero points out that they owe Otto no loyalty and they stand down. That’s when the police arrive with Otto Octavius’ lawyer Michael Gerdes. When Spider-Man is about to destroy Doctor Octopus’ arm, Gerdes orders him to cease and desist as he has a legal order as his client has rights. Since he cannot convince the authorities otherwise, Spider-Man decides to depart. On his way out, he notices the Spider-Man robot that Doctor Octopus used and briefly considers using it himself but decides against it.[Continuity 6] As he swings away, Spider-Man can’t help but feel sorry for Doctor Octopus.

The next morning, Peter has a meeting with Kate Cushing, who is impressed that Peter was able to get those exclusive photos. However, she can’t use the photos because of the grating from the vent. As such she had to go with a photo taken by Lance Bannon. With this bit of bad news, Peter walks home, just as it starts to rain, wishing that he could have a happy ending for once.

With reading multiple issues, and ones that cross storyline arcs, it gets a bit muddy. But with the above synopses (and its like 6 pages long for 4 comics for goodness sake!(some comic geek had way too much time on his hands)), I don’t feel the need to talk about that particular aspect of things.

With this being a “new” series, the creators expect new people to read it and thus they have to introduce who people are within the already existing story arc from the other, longer running, Spiderman comics. In issue 3 I think they do an excellent job of it for both Spiderman and the Vulture. In about 4 panels, we get a 2 paragraph synopsis of who Spiderman is, how he came to be and what his powers are. We also get the same treatment for the Vulture. I really liked this abbreviated treatment. That way long time fans don’t feel like they’re being talked down to or spending a long time on things they already know. But new fans aren’t made to feel like they’re an outsider at a popular kids party.

The other thing I like is that each battle with a super villain isn’t stretched out to eleventy-billion issues. The Vulturions and the Vulture are dealt with in 3 issues while Doc Ock gets his in just 2. And Doc Ock having a mental breakdown and freezing so Spiderman doesn’t even have to fight him, while a bit too convenient for my taste, makes the villains more human, thus side stepping the issue of power creep (ie, Spiderman having to become more and more powerful to keep up with the villains, ala Cosmic Spiderman)

Overall, this has the feeling I am looking for in a comic. The universe isn’t at stake. Peter is worried about his Aunt May not having enough money while he himself can barely pay his own bills. His relationships are on the rocks or not happening. He is human first and Spiderman second. I feel like new comics (and the movies precipitated this in my opinion) make the Superhero a superhero first and a human a far second.

So keep up the good work, Web of Spiderman, you’ve hooked this reader for now.

Savage Dave has joined me to buddy-read this series and I’ve included a link down below to all of his posts, as well as mine. Here’s the direct link to his thoughts on these particular issues:
Wordaholicanonymous: Web of Spiderman #2-5


Fullmetal Alchemist #4 ★★★★☆

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Title: Fullmetal Alchemist #4
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist
Author: Hiromu Arakawa
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 193
Words: 9K


“Trapped and injured in a secret alchemical laboratory, Edward Elric is at the mercy of his enemies, Lust and Envy. But they don’t want him dead…they have other plans for him. As the laboratory goes up in flames, the brothers find themselves back at square one, with only an inkling of the massive scale of the Philosopher’s Stone conspiracy. But then, Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes uncovers a shocking secret…”

Chapter 13: Fullmetal Body

Chapter 14: An Only Child’s Feelings

Chapter 15: Fullmetal Heart

Chapter 16: Separate Paths

Bonus Chapter: Dog of the Military?

Man, this volume had it all. Shocking secrets. Great laughs. Tragic deaths. Romance. Family. You name it and it was probably in here. And I liked it.

With the Homunculi saving Edward but hinting that they are only doing it so they can sacrifice him later, it is made evident beyond a doubt that they are evil. While they seem to want to stir up strife and war everywhere, what their actual plan is is still a mystery. And now that we know that Envy can look like anyone and shapechange at will, well, everybody is a suspect. That really amps the tension up.

While Hughes’ death was sad, it didn’t overshadow the whole volume. The manga-ka kept things pretty light and in the bonus chapter really made me laugh my head off. I think the following picture encapsulates the humor. In a previous panel, the puppy is peeing against a wall because it’s not housebroken and this is how it’s owner responds. Hahahahahahahaa.

At the same time, I never felt that the lighthearted humor made light of the trauma that various characters experience. Alphonse goes through an existential crisis as suddenly he begins to doubt whether he was ever actually a real person. Until Winry beats him over his metallic head with a big ass wrench and tells him not to be stupid. I laughed but I also understood the doubt and pathos he was feeling. He’s a suit of armor after all.

Overall, I enjoyed this a lot more than the previous volume, for which I am very thankful.