Midnight Blue-Light Special, by Seanan McGuire – The second book in the InCryptid series has the Covenant of St. George planning a cryptid purge in New York City, and Verity Price and her family and friends doing what they can to prevent it. Verity is still dating Dominic De Luca, still officially a member of the Covenant, and she’s not totally sure she can trust him. While mostly narrated by Verity, when she’s captured, her cousin Sarah Zellaby takes over the narration. Sarah is a cuckoo, a kind of telepathic being that can fit in anywhere and has no concern for the lives of others. Due to her upbringing, Sarah lacks most of the psychopathic traits. McGuire creates an interesting world and characters, and provides pretty high stakes for them.
The Serpent’s Secret, by Sayantani DasGupta – While not officially affiliated with Rick Riordan’s mythology-themed books (unlike the Roshana Choksi book that came out around the same time that’s on my to-read list), it has a similar sort of structure with a twelve-year-old from the United States finding out she’s part of a mythical world, this time one based on Bengali folklore. Kiranmala lives in Parsippany and has a pretty normal life until her parents disappear, and she teams up with two princes with flying horses to get them back She also finds out she’s a real princess, biological daughter of the Serpent King and the Moon. The world she visits is a constantly changing one full of demons and eccentrics, mixing folklore with astronomy in a way consciously inspired by Madeleine L’Engle. Albert Einstein even puts in an appearance. There’s also quite a bit of humor, including spoofs on customs and welcome signs. One character I quite enjoyed was Tuntuni, a cranky bird with a penchant for terrible puns. Also fun was Prince Neel’s demonic grandmother. I can’t say I’m familiar with Bengali folklore, but maybe I should take a look at it. The afterword makes it clear that many of the characters either come directly from traditional tales or were adapted from them.
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Volume 11: Mickey vs. Mickey, by Floyd Gottfredson – Collecting daily strips from 1951 through 1953, when screenwriter and producer Bill Walsh was scripting the stories, this volume includes some pretty wacky tales of ghosts, time travel, gypsy curses, and miners from outer space. While still a serial adventure strip (it would become gag-a-day later on), it often seems like the plot directions weren’t always fully planned out in advance. In “Uncle Wombat’s Tock-Tock Time Machine,” Mickey meets Goofy’s uncle who’s invented a time travel device but doesn’t really know how to control it, resulting in the two of them visiting Benjamin Franklin, the Roman Colosseum, and a weird future where flowers rule the world. There are certainly amusing moments, like how Mickey and Uncle Wombat make a getaway in a Roman chariot, which changes into a cart, a then-modern car, and a futuristic car.
I also appreciate how Gottfredson drew some of the ruling class flowers as the ones from Alice in Wonderland.
Overall, though, the visits are so quick that there’s no time for the reader to really get too concerned. “Hoosat from Another Planet” has Mickey and Goofy in the desert looking for uranium and coming across a cute robot called Ohm-Eye who belongs to aliens from the planet Unnlax, which is somehow said to be only 300,000 miles from Earth.
“Being a robot is great, but we don’t have emotions, and sometimes that makes me sad.”
Their leader is a disembodied voice inside a missile shell, who initially tries to kill Mickey and Goofy, but his daughter Hoosat finds Goofy attractive and wants to marry him. Then she shrinks him down and traps him in a bottle for some reason, and Mickey finds out that the aliens are gathering up a magical element called bleerium to bring back to their world. Hoosat claims it’s just to keep it out of the wrong hands, but Ohm-Eye doesn’t trust her and gets rid of it. It’s very creative, but there isn’t much consistency in terms of the characters’ motivations. The story referenced in the collection title, “Mickey’s Dangerous Double,” has the impostor Mickey switching between a childish prankster and a fiendish master criminal, but I think a lot of the former is to cast suspicion on the real Mickey to get him out of the way. The foreword to the collection mentions that the story can at least partially be seen as a commentary on how Mickey himself started out as a mischievous prankster, so he’s sort of confronting his former self. A bonus non-Gottfredson comic by Italian writer and artist Andrea Castellan that brings back the impostor Miklos, this time with an even more complex plot that involves a theater troupe and a temporarily successful scheme to convince Mickey that HE’S the fake. Even before Miklos is revealed, there’s a repeat appearance by the psychiatrist Dr. Heeza Dhilly from “Dangerous Double.”