my review of season 2 of Marvel’s Iron Fist



My review of Marvel’s Iron Fist season two pretty much boils down to the above paragraph. It’s better than season one, but that mostly means that Finn Jones is not too annoying, as opposed to being incredibly annoying. The gold here is Simone Missick and Jessica Henwick as Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, and the show itself leans into that, putting Danny Rand out of action for a significant portion, putting these two women in the spotlight. Click here for the whole review.

An excerpt:

The season’s main theme is recovery from trauma. Everyone is dealing with the aftermath of some kind of personal disaster, and how they deal with it shapes the entire season. Rand no longer has his home, as K’un L’un is gone, and the Iron Fist’s purpose—to fight the Hand—is also not a factor anymore, and he spends most of the season trying to figure out who and what he is. Wing has stopped teaching, as that’s a remnant of her life as a disciple of the Hand, and she needs to move past that—but she’s not sure how. She finds her work in the community center to be satisfying, but she also never has an answer to Knight’s question about where she sees herself in five years. It’s also telling that the only time Wing seems alive and happy is when she’s in a fight.

from the archives: the long journey of Torin and Danthres from RPG characters to the stars of a book series

This piece was written in 2012 shortly after Goblin Precinct had been published and Audible bought the rights to audio versions of the first four novels in the “Precinct” series. Since then, Gryphon Precinct and Tales from Dragon Precinct have come out, the books have changed publishers, and now I’m working on Mermaid Precinct, plus we’ll be adding Manticore Precinct and Phoenix Precinct. Oh, and the vague thing I talk about that might happen still might happen, but hasn’t yet. So the conclusion of this six-year-old blog entry is even more poignant now…..


From 1983 until 1995 or so, I played role-playing games a lot: Dungeons & Dragons, Marvel Superheroes, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Champions, an early version of what was eventually released as the Wildside Gaming System. Lack of time led to me moving away from it, and it’s now been ages since I RPG’d.

But there were two characters I played that I had a particular fondness for. One was a D&D character I played in college, the other a Wildside character I played in my 20s. The former was a friendly, red-haired male Ranger named Torin ban Wyvald, the latter an attitude-laden half-elven woman warrior named Danthres Tresyllione.

For years, I kept starting stories that paired these two up. The D&D game that Torin was part of included a human cleric, an elven mage, and a dwarven warrior, and I added Danthres to that mix and started a fantasy novel loosely based on our campaign. It failed miserably, as what makes a good game doesn’t always make good fiction. I tried Danthres and Torin in a bunch of other combos, but they all sucked.

Still, the characters never strayed very far from my head, and when John Ordover invited me to pitch an original novel to him in 2003, I was deep in the throes of my abject love of police procedure. I always loved cop stories, going back to being captivated by Hill Street Blues at the tender age of 12, and by the early days of the new millennium I was practically obsessed.

And it occurred to me that that was how to use Torin and Danthres — make them cops.

Credit to John for the title — I don’t even remember what I was originally calling it, something uninspired like Cliff’s End Castle Guard or some such nonsense, and John said, “Why don’t you call it Dragon Precinct?” It was perfect — it showed both elements of it, the fantasy element and the cop element, in one simple, elegant title.

I had already plotted out the book and written a good chunk of it when John made that suggestion, so it was only after that that I retrofitted the five-precinct structure into Cliff’s End. This also gave me five handy book titles, and I thought having more precincts was just going to be considered hubris…..

Then the original SF/fantasy line that Dragon Precinct was part of was discontinued. The novel had decent sales, nothing that blew the doors off, but not a flop by any stretch, either. Still, when Pocket started up doing non tie-in stuff again years later, they passed on doing a sequel. Their fantasy focus was more of the urban variety than the high variety, and the Precinct books didn’t fit the bill.

Then in 2011, Neal Levin of Dark Quest Books offered to take on the series, and I wrote Unicorn Precinct, then I got the rights back to Dragon, so DQ reissued that in trade, and then Goblin Precinct, and now a deal to do audio books of the novels, and I’m also talking with someone else about something else related to the novels (specifics deliberately vague until and unless something real happens beyond talking about it).

This is why you need to be patient. Sometimes it takes a while for stuff to happen. And then stuff happens all at once. And sometimes stuff never happens. It’s a crapshoot, but instant gratification should never be expected.

my Supernatural novel on a cool Edgar Allan Poe-related list

Found this by accident on the interwebs: has published a list of ten of the most standout examples of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem “The Raven” in popular culture. #1 is pretty obvious: the inaugural “Treehouse of Horror” episode of The Simpsons back in 1990, in which they did a performance of the poem (with James Earl Jones as the narrator), which includes the classic bit where “Quoth the raven” is followed by Bart saying, “Eat my shorts” instead of “Nevermore.” #2 is the Baltimore Ravens (which should probably get the top spot, but whatever).

The cool part? #9 on the list is my 2007 Supernatural novel Nevermore!


Quoth the article:

Author Keith R. A. DeCandido’s 2007 novel is the first in a book series based on the dark fantasy television show Supernatural. The plot follows main characters Sam and Dean Winchester (portrayed on TV by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively) investigating murders inspired by several of Poe’s short stories, including 1843’s “The Tell-Tale Heart and “1846’s”The Cask of Amontillado.”

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Kick-Ass 2


This may be heresy, but I actually liked the sequel more than I enjoyed the original. Nicolas Cage is out and Jim Carrey is in, as the great superhero movie rewatch looks at Kick-Ass 2.

An excerpt:

I also like that the storyline deals with consequences. Everything that happens has far-reaching, unexpected consequences. Sometimes it’s little, like Todd off-handedly mentioning that the person arrested as Kick-Ass is actually his father, a revelation that leads directly to the elder Lizewski being brutally murdered; or Brooke not realizing that the person she’s built up in order to tear down and torment to make herself feel good is trained in warfare. Sometimes it’s much bigger, like everything the Motherfucker does is due to Kick-Ass killing his father in the previous film. Hell, both movies are a consequence of Lizewski’s decision to become Kick-Ass.

But the biggest one of all is the massacre outside Night Bitch’s house, when Mother Russia starts mowing down cops. At that point, all bets are off, and everything changes, because cops have been killed, and they crack down.

sauce in the making….

One of the spécialités de la maison in my house has always been my homemade tomato sauce. Inspired by several different family recipes — my mother’s, my father’s, my ex-grandmother-in-law’s, and one of my best friend’s — my sauce has become known far and wide as being magnificent, if I do say so myself.

Sometimes I make them with canned puréed tomatoes, but in the late summer and early fall, when tomatoes are in season, I usually start with actual San Marzano plum tomatoes.


The first thing you do is boil them in water. This is to soften them up so you can run them through the tomato press. The tomato press is THE BEST INVENTION EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. See, in order to make tomato sauce, you have to extract the pulp of the tomato from the skins and the seeds. This can be a very lengthy and laborious and difficult process — unless you have a tomato press.


Once the tomatoes are softened up, you put them in the press and crank it through. The tomatoes are smushed against a screen. The liquidy parts come out on the left and the seeds and skin come out in the front. You run that pulp through a few more times while you’re at it.

That liquidy goodness gets dumped into a big pot, but before you even do that, you line the bottom of that pot with olive oil and garlic. If you’re lazy or pressed for time, you can use minced garlic, which I’ve done, but sometimes you want fresh, and I had some superb garlic from the local farmer’s market, so I chopped that up. I also used a really smooth olive oil from that same farmer’s market.


Anyhow, you dump the tomato goop on top of that. And then you add the spices.

We were fortunate in that we had some fresh basil and thyme from a friend’s garden. In our old apartment, we had a patio garden on which we grew tomatoes and several of the spices for my sauce, but due to various bits of construction work (on the house next door last year, on our own back yard and garage this year), we haven’t been able to put together a new garden in our current place, but we should be able to next year. Meanwhile, thanks to Arwen for the basil and thyme; I ran the former through the Cuisinart, and Wrenn extracted the latter from its stems.


The other spices were from the cabinet: marjoram, oregano, black pepper, red pepper, white pepper, sea salt, rosemary, sage, cumin, allspice, and bay leaves. The proportions vary — five bay leaves, five bits of allspice, a little bit of cumin and sage, a slightly bigger bit of black and red pepper, a lot of white pepper, salt, and marjoram (and thyme), and a crapton of oregano (and basil).


That all gets dumped into the pot with the tomato goop, olive oil, and garlic. Then you put the pot on the stove on high and stir it a lot until all the spices are mixed in. Once it comes to a boil, you put it on simmer, and let it stay simmering for, um, a while. I’ve got something on the order of 16 pounds of tomatoes, which is a lot, which also means it needs to cook down for a very long time.


That, by the way, is the color you want your sauce to be.

Should be ready this evening in time for dinner. Will let you know how it is……….


first impressions of Marvel’s Iron Fist season two


Based on the first three episodes, Marvel’s Iron Fist season two on Netflix is way better than season one. Of course, that’s a low bar to clear, but the show is coping better with Finn Jones’s severe limitations and the writing is actually coherent so far.

An excerpt:

The biggest improvement from season one so far is that the plotting is intricate and all coming together nicely, at least so far. There are seven more episodes for it to go to hell, of course, but for the moment the different threads are weaving together nicely. (And yes, only seven more episodes. This season is only ten episodes, which can only be a good thing, as too many of the MCU Netflix shows have been painfully padded.)

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Kick-Ass


A dorky teenager decides to become a superhero and much wackiness ensues. Behold a superhero movie that stars both guys who would later play Quicksilver! Behold the awesomeness of Chloë Grace Moretz! Behold the descent into incoherence that is Nicolas Cage’s latter-day acting style! Behold Mark Strong having way too much fun! And behold a comics adaptation that botches every single alteration from the source material! The great superhero movie rewatch examines Kick-Ass.

An excerpt:

Much worse, though, is the resolution of Lizewski and Deauxma’s relationship. When Lizewski comes clean and tells her that he (a) isn’t gay and (b) is really Kick-Ass, her response to finding out that he’s been lying to her (on two different levels!) for weeks is to—forgive him and invite him to her bed? Er, no, she should throw his lying ass out with all due dispatch.

And in the comics, that’s what happens, because in the comics Deauxma is a thinking human with a brain and agency and self-respect. In the movie, Deauxma is a prize to be won, a pair of tits that it’s Lizewski’s reward to be able to fondle because he’s become a superhero. It’s revolting, and gives us Just Another Romantic Subplot That Ends With The Man “Getting” The Girl, because that’s all girls are good for. Snore.

a brief history of Iron Fist in the comics


Back in 2017, in anticipation of Marvel’s Iron Fist season 1, I wrote an article for called “A Brief History of Iron Fist in the Comics.” Shortly after that, I reviewed that first season for the site, and likewise reviewed the character’s subsequent appearances in Marvel’s The Defenders season 1 and in “The Main Ingredient” episode of Marvel’s Luke Cage season 2.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing Iron Fist season 2 for the site — it goes live on Netflix today — and in anticipation of that, has reprinted my history of Iron Fist in four-color form.

An excerpt:

In 1966, Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin—an Okinawan karate style that still exists and thrives today—sent one of his best students and teachers, Tadashi Nakamura, to New York City to bring karate to the United States. Nakamura was but one of many people who came from Asia to the United States to bring martial arts to a country that was growing ever-more curious about it. I mention him in particular because there’s a direct line from Oyama sending Nakamura to America and my own study of the martial arts. In 1976, Nakamura formed his own karate style, Seido, and one of his best students and teachers—William Oliver—formed his own in 2001, Kenshikai, and that’s the discipline that I study today.

The same year that Nakamura traveled to New York City to open a dojo here, a young man named Bruce Lee co-starred in a TV show called The Green Hornet. While the show only lasted a season, Lee’s impact was tremendous, and he quickly rose to prominence as an action star. Lee pioneered his own martial art, Jeet Kune Do, and he soon became immensely popular both in acting circles and martial arts circles. His tragic death in 1973 only served to enhance his legend. And it was in part because of that legend that Iron Fist was born.

Check it out!

back from Dragon Con, off to RocCon


We got back from Dragon Con Tuesday night, diverting to Brooklyn to do my NYRSF Reading with Angus Watson. Tonight, I start my afterschool karate classes again, tonight is’s tenth anniversary party, and tomorrow I hop on a train to RocCon in Rochester, New York, where I’ll have a table to sell and sign books.

Which is by way of saying, no official Dragon Con report, as there’s too much else to do (I also have to write up Kick-Ass for 4-Color to 35-Millimeter). Suffice it to say, IT WAS FANTASTIC! I love the energy at Dragon Con, the sense of fun that everyone’s having. Yes, it’s insanely crowded, but the crowds are at least well-managed, and generally orderly. And every one of the fifteen program items I did were well attended (well, okay, except for the one Saturday at 10am opposite the parade), and the audiences were all very much into it and asking good questions, and the panelists were intelligent and interesting, and it was overall a superb experience.

Best of all, I sold some books and signed some books and got to see folks I don’t see often enough. I also missed a lot of people, sadly, but that’s what happens when 80,000 people are spread over six locations……

RocCon should be quieter, but still awesome, as I’ll spend Saturday and Sunday selling books and things. I’ll have four of my Star Trek books for sale, all the reissues of the Precinct books and Without a LicenseOrphan Black: Classified Clone ReportRagnarok and Roll, SCPD: The Case of the Claw, They Keep Killing Glenn, two of my Supernatural novels, and more. Come on by and say hi!


see my NYRSF reading!

If you missed Angus Watson’s and my New York Review of Science Fiction Reading last night because you didn’t want to brave the awful heat (or because you’re not actually in New York City or its environs), you can now watch the reading in the privacy of your own (presumably air-conditioned) home!

My reading starts at 1.00.45, in which I read from A Furnace Sealed, my forthcoming urban fantasy novel, but I recommend watching the whole thing, as Angus Watson reads a truly delightful portion from his fantasy novel Age of Iron.

Vimeo no longer has the video, so here’s the audio for now: