Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #4 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: When the pursuit of his missing son brings Dick Grayson face to face with his ex, old wounds are reexamined and a tentative new alliance is formed between former enemies. But when a stunning discovery is made about his son’s unique superpowers, the stakes become much higher and Grayson must take the fight straight to the Crusaders!

Nightwing: The New Order #4, by Kyle Higgins, begins to seriously push the story forward. The issue begins with Dick Grayson, who was rescued by the Flash in the previous issue, waking up surrounded by his old teammates, the Titans. However, its not a happy reunion because they all view him as a traitor due to his work with the Crusaders. Elsewhere, Kate Kane and the Crusaders investigate and interrogate Jake Grayson, as they try to find out more about his powers. What they, and the Titans, discover could be a gamechanger for the world. The Titans decide to attempt a rescue with the hopes that Jake could change the world, while they run afoul of another classic Batman character.

I liked this issue. Seeing Dick have to explain himself and interact with his former best friends was very interesting. Of particular interest was the discussion between Dick and Kory, aka Starfire, Dick's ex-wife and Jake's mother. I'm curious to see how Higgins resolves the tension between Dick and the Titans while both sides still have a philosophical difference regarding "super" heroes. Jake's role continues to grow in importance, and his voice as the narrator is reflective and well done.

Overall, I would recommend Nightwing: The New Order #4, by Kyle Higgins. Batman readers will enjoy it. Additionally, Higgins has managed to tell a superhero story that is a reflection of its times; The New Order is very much a take on some of the fears of totalitarianism and intolerance that are prevalent around the world today. I'm looking forward to the final two issues to discover just how Higgins attempts to stick the landing.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

ASTRO CITY #43 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: The story of Resistor, who’s making headlines all across the nation. And one reporter is determined to find out the truth—not simply to report it, but to find her missing father. A story of protest and power, love and loss, and an enigmatic, ever-changing hero.

Kurt Busiek always manages to tell unique stories with his Astro City series, and issue #49 is no different. Louisa Garneau is a reporter who is always chasing a story. While covering a protest that was attacked by a terrorist group and defended by the new hero Resistor, she caught a hint of her father, a brilliant scientist who was always leaving Louisa and her mom to join one protest or another. She decides to chase protests in the hopes of learning more about Resistor for a story, with the underlying mission of finding her long lost father. What she discovers is both hopeful and bittersweet.

I enjoy Astro City's hero-focused stories a lot. But Busiek excels at the smaller character moments that happen around the supers. Astro City #49 is a perfect example of this. Louisa is involved in a superhero story, but the true focus is on the broken relationship she has with her father. Busiek also has taken a moment to reflect on the current political climate, with our nation's focus on protests for various rights and the violence that surrounds some of these protests. As far as Resistor goes, he is a hero who fits the climate of the story, but there is very little time spent on what he is and how he does it. As I said, this is a father/daughter relationship story that just happens to take place in a superpowered world.

I enjoyed Astro City #49. It wasn't my favorite Kurt Busiek story, but it did show his skill at getting down to the personal level. This is a good one off story for fans looking to sample Busiek's Astro City. As an aside, it appears that Astro City #50 will be a sequel to probably the best Astro City story, "The Nearness of You". This is the perfect example of Busiek's skill at writing ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events and the consequences that often follow. Be on the lookout for it.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

James Bond: Felix Leiter by James Robinson - Book Review

From the publisher: Felix Leiter finds himself in Japan, tracking down a beautiful, Russian spy from his past. But when the mission takes a turn for the worse, he will discover that there are more deadly schemes afoot in Tokyo and beyond! From superstar creative team James Robinson (Starman, Red Sonja) and Aaron Campbell (The Shadow, Uncanny) comes the Bond spin-off highlighting 007’s American counterpart, blending spy thrills with the dark alleys and darker deeds of crime fiction!

James Bond: Felix Leiter is awesome! James Robinson has written a winner and I highly recommend it to Bond fans and to others who enjoy a well-written ex-spy-down-on-his-luck protagonist taking on a femme fatale. It's got a very noir-ish feel to it while retaining a real sense of the bigger James Bond world. Pick it up and read it now!

Okay, I've got that out of the way. Felix Leiter was a supporting character in several of the James Bond books and movies. He's even made a couple of appearances in the new comic series. Leiter is currently ex-CIA (he has some medical issues, i.e. - he's missing some limbs and has prosthetics). He now "works" as a private investigator, which is how this book begins. Leiter has been hired by an old acquaintance, Tiger Tanaka (from You Only Live Twice), to find and identify another old acquaintance, Alena Davoff. First, Tanaka is sort of the Japanese James Bond. Second, Leiter and Davoff go back to a joint Russian/American mission involving a war on Afghanistan's heroin trade. There relationship is complicated, to say the least. While he's in Japan, Leiter and Tanaka investigate a biological terror event stemming from a cult. The plot thickens from there.

I've read nearly every Fleming James Bond story and seen nearly every movie, and enjoyed them all on one level or another. However, I found I knew little about Felix Leiter. And I've got to say, I find him an interesting and fun character. The voice Robinson has given him is very much in the old noir detectives style, minus the slang. Leiter is very self-effacing but ready to take on anything. He knows what his strengths are, yet finds he often overestimates his abilities. He is a complicated man, living with the knowledge of the spy he used to be, and the physically broken P.I. he is now. Altogether, this makes him a terrific lead character and narrator.There is also room for character growth, which sets him apart from James Bond.

Robinson also does a nice job fleshing out the supporting characters, like Tanaka and Davoff. They are believable in their abilities and play vital roles in the story. Robinson has also provided a couple of nods to the traditional Bond tale, and has set this story very much in the Bond world of Warren Ellis's comic stories.

Further, because this is a collected edition, there are several bonuses. Various covers are collected in the book, as well as the script to issue #1, and an interview with James Robinson.

To echo my earlier statements, I really enjoyed James Bond: Felix Leiter by James Robinson. It was fun, exciting, and entertaining. I look forward to seeing where this character goes in the future.

I received a preview copy of this book from Dynamite Entertainment and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 20, 2017

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: DC Comics presents to you a 12-issue maxiseries from the critically acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson. You are not prepared for what lies ahead within these pages, good readers.

Ever since I finished reading DC Rebirth #1 and the hints at Dr. Manhattan's involvement in Rebirth, I've been looking forward to Geoff Johns's Doomsday Clock series. In what is clearly an homage to the Watchmen mini-series, Doomsday Clock #1's cover sets the stage for what promises to be an epic tale from Johns that promises to explain (and clean up) all the DC Continuity from the New DC through Rebirth. It is also a good opening chapter in the story.

I'm going to try to summarize spoiler-free: Doomsday Clock opens in the aftermath of Ozymandias's last gasp attempt to prevent nuclear war in the 1980's. It is the early 1990's and the political situation on Earth has pretty much pushed us to the brink of nuclear war again. Totalitarianism is running rampant, and everyone is pretty much resigned to a nuclear holocaust. However, a classic Watchmen hero is on a mission to free a dangerous prisoner, one who can help he and his partner "find god" and stop the end of the world. Because Doomsday Clock is supposed to connect the New DC and Rebirth, there is also a small scene with a prominent DC hero. I believe Johns was reminding us that these are separate universes and the story involves them both.

Doomsday Clock #1 answered no questions, and posed several others. It was, however, a great opening chapter in what should be a complex story that has a lot to accomplish. In my opinion, Geoff Johns is the perfect man to take on this task. He has proven himself over the years on numerous DC books and projects, rarely having a misstep and usually knocking it out of the park. I have absolutely no idea where he is going with this story (there are some obvious guesses that can be made based on the last year or so of stories, but I hope it's not that simple), but I trust Johns. He has proved himself a deft hand at handling all of DC's convoluted history and is great with characters, both famous and less well-known. I'm looking forward to reading Doomsday Clock very much, and I'm happy with the first issue.

I highly recommend Doomsday Clock #1 by Geoff Johns. If you are a Watchmen fan, this is for you. If you're curious about how the New DC resulted in Rebirth, read this. If you just like big events, they don't come bigger than Doomsday Clock. Issue 1 is out now, and you should start here.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Basketball keeps rolling

Cami's rec league team lost a tight game this week. Cami played really well, making a basket and both of her free throws. She took several other shots, including a shot with a couple of seconds left that would have tied it, but it just rimmed out. She played great defense, getting several steals and deflections. She also rebounded well. She has next Saturday off, but returns the following week. She also has tryouts for the school team this week.

Griffin's team lost both travel games by close scores. Griffin continued playing well, getting another basket and harassing the other teams on defense. He had several steals (including just picking the kid's pocket a couple of times), a few rebounds, and some good passes. In fact, one of his coaches was extremely complimentary of his passing today. It's fun to see his growth, and after taking Thanksgiving week off, I look forward to watching Griffin continue to improve.

Lexi has a cheer game this week, and continues to practice for basketball. Her first game is in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE WILD STORM #9 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Angie Spica is given access to Jacob Marlowe’s secret lab, and discovers a treasure trove of technologies and sciences strange, ancient and alien. In this underground hold, she begins the process of fixing herself—and, perhaps, even evolving herself. In another hidden room, Jackie King and her team at IO begin planning a covert cyberwar attack against Skywatch—something even her own boss doesn’t know she’s doing.

The Wild Storm #9, by Warren Ellis. Yes. I read it. I tried to keep up with everything going on. But Ellis has such gigantic ideas and concepts that the more issue of The Wild Storm I read, the more I'm convinced this book is going to have to be read as a whole once all the issues are out. Which is not to say I'm not enjoying it; I am. It's just a lot to take in when you are only given small portions on a monthly basis.

In this issue, we see Jacob Marlowe take Angie Spica to his secret lab. She finds lots of cool alien stuff, and begins to use it to fix herself. We get a glimpse into IO, where Jackie King is confronted over a secret spy project she is running. We also see John Colt go all crazy ninja kill destroy on a group of people guarding a wagon containing something valuable. Yeah, I'm not going to even pretend I can understand it all right now, but it was big and fun and loud and insane. Or, a Warren Ellis book.

I really look forward to The Wild Storm each month, and issue #9 is no different. Warren Ellis is writing a crazy interesting book and I highly recommend it.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Basketball Go!

Cami's rec league team lost this week, but played a fine game. Cami did a nice job, playing really tough defense, anticipating passes well, which resulted in multiple deflections and steals. The ball didn't drop as well for her this week, but she did make a free throw. She also grabbed several rebounds and created jump balls. She has another game next week.

Griffin's team split their first two games on the travel circuit. I thought Griffin played as well as I've ever seen him play. He made his first shot, which was huge for him. He made confident moves with the ball, and made smart passes. He hustled on defense, got a steal, and I think a rebound or two. It was a lot of fun to watch, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the season plays out. Next games are next Sunday.

Lexi continues with practice, getting ready for the upcoming season. Basketball things appear to be progressing well for her. In cheerleading, the squad is going to perform their state championship routine for the school board at the next meeting, so that's pretty cool.