Book: A Calm Before Storm #5

"A Calm Before Storm #5"

Retired Private Investigator Derrick Storm was enjoying the easy life–until he fished up a decaptiated head belonging to a victim of notorious criminal, The Fear. When Derrick’s father, Carl, revealed that The Fear was teh man who killed Derrick’s mother, they both swore vengeance.

After interrupting an assassination attempt on the Russion ambassador, Derrick and Carl found themselves amidst an international crisis. Helen Pierce, Derrick’s CIA contact, forbade them from getting further involved. But instead, Derrick made a plea for help to his old flame, covert CIA agent Clara Strike.

Derrick, Clara and Carl made it into Russia, hoping to stop The Fear’s attempt at destabilizing relations between Russh and Germany. The trio interrogated a man named Viktor Mueller, who revealed The Fear’s agenda: leading a massacre during a rally at the Kremlin, wielding German weaponry.

Hoping to stop The Fear, Clara and Carl left Derrick to contend with Viktor–instead, he was ambushed by The Fear himself.

That was it?


After five issues, I thought there’d be a better way to end this series than with a half-assed attempt at “I just want to see the world burn” speech, followed by a clean-up by the same character.


I’m not saying I was expecting a masterpiece. After the filler that was Issue #4, I was just looking forward to actual plot movement and a logical turn of events. I did not expect a forced conclusion to what had become a fluff Derrick Storm story.

And to think this mini-series had actual potential!

I mean, what happened to the angle of Derrick’s mother dying at the hands of The Fear? Aside from the taunting that was to be expected, of course. Where did the pretend-I’m-dead story arc come from? What in the name of all that is good was up with the sudden reveal of a turncoat that wasn’t even foreshadowed?!

And seeing how much of a goof Derrick Storm is, I have to wonder–how did he become known as a good detective, to the point that the CIA were willing to work with him?

I can’t even–

Whoever in Marvel is in charge of the Derrick Storm title should really rethink what they’re doing to the character. I mean, I know that it’s not really a title they’re planning to sustain, as it’s just Castle merchandise at the end of the day, but the least they could do is give content that won’t take readers for fools.

But fools we are for having followed this story to the end.


Book: A Calm Before Storm #4

"A Calm Before Storm #4"

Retired private investigator Derrick Storm was enjoying the easy life–until he fished up a decapitated head belonging to a victim of notorious criminal The Fear. When Derrick’s father, Carl, revealed that The Fear was also the man who killed Derrick’s mother, the game changed.

Following a lead, Derrick adn Carl set up a meeting at the Russian Embassy–only to interrupt The Fear in the midst of an assassination attempt on the ambassador. In doing so, Derrick and Carl were framed for the hit. Derrick’s CIA contact, Helen Pierce, managed to clear their names, only to shut them down, taking away their passports, weapons, and Derrick’s P.I. identification.

That wouldn’t stop the Sotmr men, though. Discovering that The Fear’s long game is to destabilize the Russian and German governments causing a potential world war, Derrick realized he had to reach out to the only contact he has left–Clara Strike, a CIA agent considered dead to the world–and the woman who crushed Derrick’s heart.

I am very tempted to say I liked the issue just because I feel like I’ve become too hard to please lately. My recent posts have all been a bit negative. But who would I be kidding? I can’t lie to save my life. Even in text form.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t hate this issue–I just didn’t like it. Very much. And my main gripe is this: nothing happened. At all.

We have Derrick, his dad, and his lover parachute to Russia. They ride a train where Derrick gets ambushed, but they don’t really learn anything they didn’t know before. And then they spend the rest of the issue beating up an old man for the whereabouts of The Fear. As soon as they leave, The Fear is revealed to be in the room they just departed all along.

Talk about an exercise in futility!

I don’t know how long this mini-series is supposed to go, but if they’re already resorting to filler issues like this, maybe it’s time to cut down the number of issue orders and just focus on telling the mystery straightforwardly. Or maybe branch out with a subplot featuring the CIA investigation of The Fear.

Either way, I’m hoping next issue would have a more substantial content.

Book: Frozen Heat

"Frozen Heat"

NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat gets more mystery than she imagined when she arrives at her latest crime scene. The body of an unidentified woman has been found stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left sitting in a freezer truck. A startling enough death, but an even bigger shock comes when this new homicide surprisingly connects to the unsolved murder of Detective Heat’s own mother. Killed gruesomly, the Jane Doe on ice launches Heat on a dangerous and emotional investigation, rekindling the cold case that has haunted her since she was nineteen. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she also digs into unexplored areas of her mother’s background–areas Nikkie has been afraid to confront before, but now must.

Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Heat’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikkie to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that ther mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for more than ten years?

The title of this novel is very apt. It’s frozen, and it takes time (and some chapters) before it completely thaws. Once it does though, it definitely takes you for a ride. But first, a detour.

I haven’t been a very good fan of Castle, the television series, for a couple of years now. Work has me tangled up in a lot of things, and my viewing habits suffered a little. Not that I’m complaining about the work. I love what I do. It does create an interesting predicament for me with regards to Frozen Heat though.

See, most of my complaints about the Nikki Heat novels is that they read too much like an episode of Castle. In some cases, events in the show also appear in the novels. And with a cast of characters that are very similar in both medium, it’s really hard to distinguish one from the other. And I have been wondering what the point is in providing new content when it’s a retread of what was already shown.

Of course, because I haven’t been watching Castle regularly for two seasons now, I have no idea if that’s the case for Frozen Heat. I do know for sure though that the new person in-charge of the precinct in the show is nothing like the one in the novel, but that’s just one difference. That’s pretty much the only thing I can say to compare the two nowadays.

On Frozen Heat alone though, I have more.

Now, as I already mentioned, the novel starts our at glacier pace. Well, no. Not really. But because it starts much like most mystery novels do, it feels glacier-like for me. There’s nothing new. And, once again, it reads too much like a novelization of a Castle episode–even if it’s one I haven’t seen.

That is, until they take the show on the road–and, in one case, overseas. That’s when things become interesting.

In Frozen Heat, we delve deeper into the mystery of Nikki Heat’s mother. Parts of the mystery mirror events that happen in the show, but I think this is finally where the novel separates itself from its source material. And I’m loving it.

As we unravel the death of Cynthia Heat, we also get a new look at who Nikki is as a person. And while past Nikki Heat novels has her pretty much being a printed copy of Kate Beckett, the one we get to know in Frozen Heat is someone new, someone different. And as the case blows open, we are introduced to a new arc that I hope will carry on (and get solved) in the next novel.

Another thing I loved about the latest book is the development of new characters introduced in Heat Rises. These character don’t exist in the show, for budgetary reasons I’m presuming, which is great for the novel because it adds to the series’s identity.

I must say, this is the first time I’m actually looking forward to the next Nikki Heat novel. Let’s check out if I’m the only one who is:
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Book: A Calm Before Storm #3

"A Calm Before Storm #3"

Private investigator Derrick Storm was enjoying the easy life until he fished up the decapitated head belonging to a victim of notorious criminal The Fear. This man also killed Derrick’s mother.

In the hopes of avoiding an international crisis and to enact their revenge, Derrick and his father, Carl, have teamed up to take down The Fear. Calling in a favor with famed private investigator Jake Palace, Derrick arrived at the Russian embassy–just in time to interrupt The Fear assassinating Russian diplomats and framing Derrick for it.

Why is this story taking so long? Or is it because the series just comes out once a week? I’m starting to understand why I’ve never become that big of a comics fan when I was a kid. I like my stories fast–when it comes to releases.

That said, I do like that Derrick Storm is really becoming his own character. I mean, reading the previous Derrick Storm graphic novel and the previous issues, he does come off a bit like Rick Castle. But that’s not the case in this issue. Which is a good thing.

Also a good thing, the relationship he has with his father which is only getting explored now.

My only problem with this issue actually is the return of (spoiler alert) Clara Strike. Who, last I read, was killed. Apparently, in the graphic novel I still have yet to find, it was revealed that she was alive. And that she offered Castle a get-out-of-jail card of sorts. And this is where it gets tricky.

Castle, as a television series, can rely on a “previously on…” when they need viewers to remember something. But for most of the time the episodes stand alone. The Nikki Heat novels follow the same rule, in that they too stand alone from each other. For the most part. Both Castle the TV series and the Nikki Heat novels have a set of regular characters. The Derrick Storm comics don’t have that. Or, at the least, haven’t established that. So when Clara Strike suddenly makes a comeback, you’re taken with surprise. And when you haven’t read any of the previous stories (not issues), you think–is this a deus-ex-machina? Are the writers copping out?

I guess what I’m saying is, three issues in, I don’t think Derrick Storm is made for the serialized comic book format. The writing is okay, but the pacing is truly frustrating. And at the end of an issue, instead of anticipating the next one, I debate whether or not I should still buy it.

Once this mini-series is done, I hope Marvel sticks Derrick Storm back into the graphic novel format and keep it away from the serialized comics.

Book: A Calm Before Storm #2

"A Calm Before Storm #2"

Derrick Storm was a successful private investigator who occasionally consulted with the C.I.A., but when the opportunity for a life of leisure presented itself, he took it. Ignoring the disapproval of his father, Carl Storm, Derrick sold his company to the famed private investigator, Jake Palace, and moved onto his yacht.

But someone has different plans for the Storm men. When a decapitated head shows up on Derricks’ yacht with the Hindu sign for ‘life’ carved on its cheek, his father, Carl reveals that the mark is the calling card of the notorious criminal, The Fear. When Derrick recommends they inform the C.I.A., Carl refuses. This is about revenge.

Carl Storm is out to find the man who killed his wife.

I must say, I really liked this issue of A Calm Before Storm. That said, nothing really happens. But the quips. And the action. It’s like one body of sequences lifted off a Castle episode. In comic form. Which, come to think of it, is also a bad thing.

Do we really want Castle in yet another media form? I mean, we already have the Nikki Heat novels that’s basically Castle in book form, and now we have the Derrick Storm graphic novels and comic books? Sure, Derrick doesn’t really have a Kate Beckett–but, he’s like a mixture of Kate and Castle! So they’re both still present–just in one person.

Which brings me to why I like the issue. With the introduction of Carl Storm, we get insight into Derrick’s history and character. And we take a step away from the similarities between him and Castle. Though, it does bring us a little closer to Beckett and her mom’s murder, there’s the added dynamic of a parent willing to spar verbally with his son. So it’s not completely the same.

I’m once again looking forward to the next issue of A Calm Before Storm. Hopefully, there will be new developments alongside the peek into Derrick’s back story by then.