The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher

Holy fuck!  There were ninjas with hatchets, and pirates falling out of hot air balloons and a werecoyote fought a snake-thing, and a lady decapitated a guy with a frying pan, and an angel almost crossed the streams, and AND AND TWO STEAMPUNK SCIENTISTS GOT INTO A LIGHTNING FIGHT.

With all the backstories out of the way in the first book, Belcher was able to settle down and fucking go to town on Golgotha.  Christ the motherfucker redeemer.  There are literally 33 serial killers in this one.  It gets bananas, and everyone seems to have their own boss fight.

This kind of reminded me of two different narrative dilemmas.  The first is The Dark Tower.  The Gunslinger is not the worst book in the series, by leaps and fucking bounds — Song of Susannah — but it’s not the greatest.  The Dark Tower is a fucking life commitment — bare minimum you have to read five additional books to follow the story, and bare maximum eleventy-hundred.  But the first two books can be read right away.  And The Gunslinger is good, but bare bones compared to the rest of the massive sprawling all-encompassing mind-salami that is the rest of the series.  So it’s kind of like, just shotgun The Gunslinger, and then get right into The Drawing of the Three because in the first FOUR PAGES he will fuck your brains for life.  But it can only be effective if you’ve read The Gunslinger.  You need The Six-Gun Tarot and all of that backstory to make this book as good as it is.  And it is.  It’s still fucking crazy chockfull of shit going on.  But in a good way.  I’m eager for the new stuff.

The second narrative dilemma is to that point.  I didn’t know how Joss Whedon would be able to make the Avengers.  Because you have six heroes.  And they all have different levels of power and ability.  Thor is a fucking God.  Cap’n Ab Crunches is super strong, not Hulk strong, but that’s it.  Iron Man can fly and shoot lasers.  And Hawkeye and Black Widow are humans that have guns and bows.  How do you have all of them get their time to shine AND be able to fight a single enemy?  Well, Whedon said, “This is how.”  And it worked.  Everyone had different levels of enemies, got a little moment to shine, and it worked.  That happens here too.  All fourty-teen characters get their chance to shine and sparkle and get their boss fights and it sets up the next book.  I’m psyched to see what hundred rabbits Belcher pulls out of his hat for the next book.  And he keeps teasing these “previous encounters” that just scream for a short story collection.


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