Reading Pathways

Reading Pathways: Alex Segura

Alex Segura is a real treasure to both readers and writers alike. For readers, he’s written everything from crime fiction to an incredible number of different comic book franchises. He brings a wealth of knowledge into his work, whether it’s 1970s New York, his hometown Miami, or the Star Wars universe.

In his books, he’s worked to create characters that he thought were missing in fiction. For instance, in an interview with Rachel Howzell Hall, he said,

“When I wanted to start writing PI novels, it came from a desire to write them like the books I was reading — mostly by white men and women — but then also feeling like something was lacking. Why wasn’t there a Cuban PI? Why wasn’t there a detective who spoke Spanish? Why were the people like me always the drug dealers and crooked cops?”

In an interview with me earlier this year, he recalled his first comic was an Archie Digest. He said,

“Classic Archie stories are like pure Americana — idyllic Northeastern living, which was something I didn’t really understand in Miami where it was just culturally different and also seasonally different. We’ve never had winters or falls like Archie did.”

While the comic began his love affair with comics, he’s now working to bring more diverse characters to both crime fiction and comics. For instance, he’s just announced the release of Araña and Spider-Man 2099: Dark Tomorrow in May 2023.

He’s also a great supporter of fellow writers. I highly recommend following him on Twitter, because he’s constantly promoting the works of writers that he has just finished and loved. Some of my favorite books I’ve read this year (aside from Secret Identity, of course) were partly because of his recommendation. It’s great seeing writers supporting other writers. Incidentally, other writers I follow are the reason I picked up Secret Identity in the first place.

Intrigued? Here are three books to get you started on the wonderful worlds of Alex Segura.

Secret Identity cover

Secret Identity

Carmen Valdez found her calling in the comic book industry in 1975 New York. It’s been a dream come true since she started reading comics as a child. But it’s not quite what she hoped for; she’s working as an assistant at Triumph Comics, and the industry is struggling. Her boss won’t look at anything she tries to put in front of him. And she’s not currently talking with her family back in Miami.

But then a writer on the staff, someone Valdez thinks of as a friend, comes to her with a proposition: they’ll work together on a new character. It’s a chance to get everything she wanted, so she throws herself into the creation of a new female superhero The Lethal Lynx. Her colleague tells her to keep their collaboration a secret, though, and the pages get turned in without any acknowledgement of Valdez’s work.

When she goes to talk to her colleague, she finds him dead in his apartment, with a bullet in his head. Now she’s got two big problems: she’s the brains behind the Lynx, but no one knows — and she might be a suspect in a murder. It’s a great look at the gritty 1970s New York. As Segura said in an interview, he wanted to place it in a time where the longevity of comic books was not obvious as it is today with Marvel and DC movies coming out several times a year. It’s one of the best reads of this year.

Silent City cover

Silent City

Silent City introduces us to Pete Fernandez, who is down on his luck. He’s drinking again, thanks to the strong possibility of losing his job at a local paper and the ending of his engagement. Things can’t get any worse, right? So when he’s tasked to find a colleague’s missing daughter, he takes on the job, without realizing the dark places it will take him in Miami — including the world of his late father, one that he would prefer to forget. It’s the first of five books with a novella in the series. As noted before, this is the series he wrote because he wanted to see better representation of Latine characters in fiction, including crime fiction.

The Black Ghost cover

The Black Ghost co-written by Alex Segura and Monica Gallagher, artist George Kambadais

While there are so many comic book series written by Segura to choose from, I went with Black Ghost because the first trade is out and they just started publishing a 5 issue miniseries in August. Lara Dominguez is not handling the murder of her brother particularly well. She’s a talented reporter, but her drinking habit and grief are getting in the way. Also, she’s focused on a crime-fighting vigilante named the Black Ghost. While she’s trying to figure out how he is, she’s faced with a choice when something shocking happens in front of her. Is she doomed to living a half-life, subsumed by her grief? Or is there another path?

As I noted, these are just a few of the works that Segura has written over the past few years. If you want more books about the comic book industry, here’s my list of fiction works. And for folks who want more mysteries in Florida, check out this Rioter list.