Tuesday, October 27, 2020


The Medina County District Library system, coupled with the Usenet consortium of a hundred other Northeast Ohio library systems, has been terrific during this pandemic. As my anxiety over the election and some health issues have slowed me down, the books I’ve gotten though the library have provided a welcome distraction from 2020'a craziness. Let’s see how many of those books I can write about in today’s bloggy thing.

Wonton Terror: A Noodle Shop Mystery by Vivien Chien [St. Martin's Paperbacks; $7.99] is the fourth novel in the series. There are a couple of things I’ve learned from reading this books. Lana Lee, the manager of the Ho-Lee Noodle Shop, has never met a murder she didn’t want to investigate, even though her investigations are sure to put her in mortal jeopardy. That’s the first thing. The second is that not even murder stops Cleveland’s Asian Market from whatever events the business community has planned.

In this book, the Asian Night Market starts with a bang as Wonton on Wheels explodes, killing its owner. Lana and her chef Peter are not seriously injured, but Lana is determined to uncover who killed the competition and why. Naturally, this concerns Detective Adam Trudeau, but, to his credit, the man accepts that this is part of who the woman he loves in.

In addition to the murder mystery, we get some Lee family drama as Lana’s aunt comes to visit. Her mom and her aunt have been picking at one another all their lives. It almost makes risking one’s life seem like the safer option.

Wonton Terror is an enjoyable read. I’m wondering how long it will take for some television studio to realize these books would make a great series.

ISBN 976-1-250-22834-5


Back to back with the above novel, I read Chien’s Egg Drop Dead  [St. Martin's Paperbacks; $7.99]. This one starts with Lana and the family noodle shop going into catering for the first time. It’s an impressive yet intimate dinner party hosted by Donna Feng, one of the super powers of the Asian Market community. Things go well up to the moment when the nanny of Feng’s daughters is found dead. Do I have to tell you it’s a murder?

Chien’s characters continue to delight me, though, in this novel, I think Lana made some really bad choices. That’s part of who she has always been, but it’s a fine line between her determination to get to the bottom of things and not thinking her actions through. She doesn’t wear “women in peril” well.

Egg Drop Dead is a solid mystery. Outside of Lana’s foolhardiness, it had a satisfying ending. I also learned something new about one of the ongoing “characters” in the series. I’d been assuming that the Asian Market was in downtown Cleveland, a nod to the Chinatown area of the city. I was wrong. It’s apparently on the far West Side of the city. I used to spend a lot of time on the far West Side of my birthplace. How did I miss it?

ISBN 978-1-250-22832-1

Next up in the series is Killer Kung Pao. Naturally, I’ve requested it from my library.


DC's Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Super-Villains [DC Comics; $39.99] is a fun collection that comes just short of being a book I have to have for my home library. I’ll get to why that’s the case in a bit.

This hardcover collects Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Super-Villains #1-9 from the 1972-1973 and adds a bonus issue #10 to the package. The original series was (in reality) edited by the forever under-appreciated E. Nelson Bridwell. Nelson’s knowledge of all things DC and, for that matter, just about everything else, was joined to his love of the old comics reprinted in this series.

Alongside the big names like Batman, Green Lantern, the Flash and others, Wanted also featured lesser lights like the Vigilante, Kid Eternity and Dollman. I looked forward to every issue because you never knew what forgotten hero or villain Bridwell would include. I had a fine time re-reading these issues. The “new” bonus issue, featuring Catwoman, Black Canary and Wonder Woman was pretty swell as well.

What keeps me from buying this book is that it failed to include DC Special #8 [July-September 1970] and #14 [September-October 1971]. Those two issues introduced the Wanted concept, apparently selling well enough to lead to the ongoing title. I think this book in its current form is worth buying, but, at a time when money is tight, I’m holding out for a more complete collection. Yeah, I know it’ll cost more, but I think it’s worth it.

ISBN 978-1-77950-173-8

Showing my characteristic generosity towards DC Comics, despite how often they disrespect me and screw me, I suggest the publisher consider doing Wanted collections to tie into their upcoming films. The nice thing about the original appearances of Batman and Wonder Woman villains is that they are done-in-one stories that don’t need a reader to have read some convoluted villain origin that stretches out over a year’s worth of issues or more to know what’s going on. Still thinking along these lines, I think a Suicide Squad-centric Wanted collection would be spiffy. Especially if such collections were put together by someone whose knowledge of DC Comics goes back more than a few years and who can put the original origin thrillers into context.

Yes, I know. I am far too kind to DC Comics in light of my history with them. What can I say? I’m a giver.


I don’t know how any decent human being can read Guantanamo Voices: An Anthology: True Accounts from the World's Most Infamous Prison [Harry N. Abrams; $24.99] and not experience the emotions of anger at the injustice perpetrated by our country, sadness for all those we abused, and frankly rage that there are still those who defend one of the greatest national sins of our time. Edited by Sarah Mirk from interviews she conducted and with art by ten exceptional artists, this anthology exposes what Guantanamo has been, what it remains and cries out for the war criminals who created it to face justice.

Every story is shockingly informative. Many are heartrending. It’s the kind of journey that leaves one exhausted and concerned for the soul of our nation. I was numb after reading of one prisoner, who was kidnapped by bounty hunters with no credibility. He has spent years in Guantanamo and, though he was finally cleared for release, he remains there still. I don’t think I could endure such anguish.

Mirk’s journalism is first-rate. The variety of art in this volume is stunning. The human tragedies are not sensationalized. Because the truth is shocking enough.

This anthology is a damn tough read. However, I think it’s one of those graphic works that needs to be read. I strongly recommend to comic art devotees and libraries alike.

ISBN 978-1-4197-4690-1

That’s all for now, my friends. I’ll be back soon with more views and reviews.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

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