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The Side of Good/The Side of Evil (The Super Series)
Edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer
Cover Artist: Angela McKendrick
Review by Sam Tomaino
eSpec Books  ISBN/ITEM#: 97894290031
Date: 01 December 2015

Links: Publisher's Book Page / Show Official Info /

The Side of Good is an anthology of stories by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, Bryan J.L. Glass, John L. French, Walt Ciechanowski, Kathleen David, Robert Greenberger and James Chambers. The Side of Evil is an anthology of stories by James M. Ward, Drew Bittner, Janine K. Spendlove, Aaron Rosenberg, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido and James Chambers. They are published in two books in ebook form and one book in the trade edition.

The Side of Good is an anthology of stories about superheroes. Separate in ebook form and paired with The Side of Evil in the trade edition. Here are reviews of each story about heroes.

"Ghost Wolf" by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin -+- Piotr Janacek puts on a specially designed suit that allows him to become the Ghost Wolf. He regularly patrols the streets and keeps groups of Irish gangs from hurting Polish workers and Polish gangs from hurting Irish workers. The suit had been made by Adam Farber, a genius-inventor who wants to keep the peace. One night, he stumbles upon a plot by gangsters to make things worse and gets help from a surprising place. Nicely done.

"Don't You Know Who I Am?" by Bryan J.L. Glass -+- Washed-up star Cadence Lark has become a superhero and seeks personal redemption under the name Furia. When Justin North, a conceited rock star pulls a dangerous stunt to meet her, things come to a head. Interesting conclusion.

"Fiery Justice" by John L. French -+- Harbor City is cesspool of crime and corruption, until a hero calling himself the Cowboy starts to clean it up. But he is murdered by a crime boss and things go downhill again. Until a fiery woman calling herself the Phoenix shows up to take up his cause. This time the crime boss is in for a surprise he ought to have seen coming. Not a nice hero, but an effective one. Good story!

"Third Time's a Charm" by Walt Ciechanowski -+- Prince Charming is a failed superhero. His ability to persuade people to do things was not enough to accomplish much. He had been a member of the group called the Protectors, but that had not worked out. Now, while the Protectors battle a new supervillain, he has decided to end it all. But the true hero emerges. Touching and poignant.

"The Hand Job" by Kathleen David -+- Fred Greenly has failed as a puppeteer. When he designed toys and puppets he ran afoul of a company that wound up owning everything he designed because of a contract he had signed. He finds a book of magic that allows him to animate his puppets, including Bonzo, the first puppet he ever made. He uses Bonzo and the other puppets to commit crimes, even murder. But Bonzo has a mind of his own and doesn't like what he is forced to do. He want to be a hero, not a villain. With the help of an unusual ally, he finds a way. Good story with a surprising ending.

"Making a Difference" by Robert Greenberger -+- Mike Kinnard is the hero known as the Crusader. He doesn't have any superpowers, just brain and brawn. But he's now 40 and it's taking more out of him. His girlfriend, Harmony, thinks he should retire. One more battle with his old enemy, the Gentleman, sets him off into a new direction. Another good, sold story.

"Eight Million Strong" by James Chambers -+- In Boyette City, the Albatross keeps order with the help of a corps of Citizen-Protectors, called by special pins and an app. But when the bad guys hack his system, a group of them are put in danger. True heroes emerge. Another good one to end the tales of the good guys.

The Side of Evil is an anthology of stories about supervillains. Separate in ebook form and paired with The Side of Good in the trade edition. Here are reviews of each story about villains.

"Doth Protest Too Much" by James M. Ward -+- Eighteen-year-old Crimson Doom, the daughter of evil lawyers, sets out to become one of the best supervillains of all time, but things go wrong and she ends up a hero. That is repeated on her next two days. But thanks to the encouragement and advice of her parents, things turn out all right. Very amusing.

"Henchmonster" by Drew Bittner -+- Wooly Bully is a failed NFL player who used what money he had to be transformed into Wooly Bully, a 10-foot-tall monster and assistant to the villain calling himself the Atomic Brain. But the Atomic Brain is always coming up with grandiose schemes that fail. So he signs up with Fimbulwinter, setting of a Villain War. The Heroes are otherwise employed fighting each other or waiting for the villains to kill each other off. The villains sorted themselves out to techies versus innate powers. Things come to a head in a pitched battle with a surprising conclusion. Nice look at the mind of a nice guy who likes being a monster.

"Marvelous Man: Birth of Anarchy" by Janine K. Spendlove -+- When her sister is killed and people nearby do not intervene to stop it because they expected the alien hero Marvelous Man to save her, Jess has a very severe reaction. Did not buy this story at all.

"The Shtick" by Aaron Rosenberg -+- Walter C.Shticklemeyer is a failure as the villain Eraserhead. Midnight King and Twilight the Shade Prince catch him because he is so predictable. But the help of Launi aka Seamstrix and a series of bizarre costumes, he keeps then guessing. But that's not enough for him. Clever and fun.

"The Far Job" by Peter David -+- Melissa Ronco has charted the actions of superheroes and started a club with her friends devoted to them. Her, father, Ronco, doesn't like it. Melissa's interests go on into her time in highs school. Then, she witnesses a bank robbery pulled off by a supervillain called the Malevolence (three guesses) and her perspective changes. While the big reveal is not surprising, there is more to the story than that as one might expect from a writer as good as Peter David.

"Send in the Clones" by Keith R.A. DeCandido -+- This is subtitled as "A Tale of the Super City Police Department". Detective Kristin Malewski and her partner, Detective Jorge Alvarado deal with the confession of the Clone Master, actually Clone 78 of the original Clone Master. But prosecution turns out to be tricky. Nicely done! I'll have to read more in this series.

"The Last Great Monologue of Evil Intent" by James Chambers -+- The Actor has an old acquaintance strapped to a two-kiloton nuclear bomb and proceeds to lecture him on his (the Actor's) brilliance and sense of style. What an ego on this guy and another great story to round out the book.

This is a very highly entertaining book and a very enjoyable read.


Our Readers Respond

From: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Thanks so much for the kind words! If you want to read more Super City Police Department stories, there's the anthology WITH GREAT POWER, published by Dark Quest in 2014, and the novel THE CASE OF THE CLAW, published by Crossroad Press. And there's more SCPD to come.

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