Tokyo Pop

BigJapanIn his afterword, author Casey Glanders says that he wanted to write an adventure story involving a female lead that didn’t revolve around romance.

The author is trying to make a point (we think) about the preponderance of genre stories in which female protagonists are 1) consumed with love beyond everything else, and 2) subservient to a male character’s agenda. To this we say “Right on.”

But we also have to ask: “What’s wrong with a little romance?” Surely Lady Sif, Big Barda, and Diana Prince all have time for matters of the heart? Why deny them a little happiness?

Don’t get us wrong. We enjoyed Glanders’ novel. It’s actually quite good. It features a quirky heroine and her circle of morally flexible acquaintances. But we think the story would have been even better with some kind of romantic hook. Even a kick-ass superhero like Annalicia May Gailsone (code name: Dyspell) deserves a little love.

Gailsone was once second-in-command at Purge, a Hydra-like organization of super criminals. She was born with black magic powers that enabled her to rot, decompose, and break down any substance known to man. “While that alone was frightening, her unbridled mastery of it had been enough to earn her the title of Deadliest Woman in the World.” She was also known as the Dark Witch of Entropy and the Queen of Pain.

But all things come to an end. Gailsone (and her adopted niece, Allison) saw an opportunity to defect from Purge when the Open Hand Act offered amnesty to all supervillains. It was time for Dyspell to change teams and become a superhero. Wave goodbye to Purge and say hello to the Collective Good.

Her first assignment out of the gate was to travel to Japan and recruit and reform Lotus, the second deadliest woman in the world. Immediately Gailsone butts heads with the Dead Talon (a ruthless yakuza gang), an over-zealous industrialist, an underground spy network of kitsune soldiers, a golem that walks the streets of Tokyo dressed in Gundam-like mecha, and (of course) Lotus herself, the chief assassin for the Dead Talon.

Naturally, things don’t go smoothly for our newly christened hero. Yes, Dyspell ultimately completes her assignment and brings Lotus back the U.S. But in doing so she leaves a trail of death and destruction all over Japan. Annalicia May Gailsone was supposed to be one of the good guys now. But it turns out that she was very, very bad at it.

[Gailsone: Big in Japan / By Casey Glanders / First Printing: November 2013 / ISBN: 9781494283773]

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