Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Astro City #48 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review


From the publisher: A tale of redemption and farewell, as G-Dog learns the secrets of his origin, faces personal tragedy and joins a very unlikely superhero team. Featuring the return of Kittyhawk and Rocket Dog, and the debut of Ghost Ferret. Part two of a special two-parter with art by guest artist Mike Norton (Revival, Battlepug). 

Astro City #48, by Kurt Busiek, finishes the story begun in issue #47. It's a story of a former criminal (Andy) turned hero (G-Dog) by teaming up, literally, with his pet corgi, Hank. Over the course of their hero career, Hank helped Andy find redemption and turn his life around. But when you have a symbiotic relationship with your dog, what happens when he comes to the end of his shorter life-span?

The magic of Astro City comes when Busiek takes a look at the ordinary, personal lives of heroes and villains. While there is always plenty of super heroics, it is the small intimate moments that add depth. The premise of G-Dog's story is a little silly, but when the action takes a back seat to Andy's relationship with Hank (man's best friend, you know), Busiek strikes a bittersweet but honest chord. This was a great story of redemption, and well worth a read.

I highly recommend Astro City #48, by Kurt Busiek; however, don't read it if you haven't read issue #47. This is for all Astro City fans, and anyone who is close with their pets.

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

The Wild Storm #8 by Warren Ellis - Book Review


From the publisher: Jacob Marlowe told Angie Spica that he isn’t from around here. He is, in fact, from a long way away. And the story of how he and his friends got here is probably the oldest secret on Earth. The Wild Storm cosmology begins here.

Okay, so Warren Ellis is at it again. Just when I thought I was beginning to understand what was going on in The Wild Storm, issue #8 comes out. And I'm feeling lost again, but not without out hope that it'll all make sense eventually. Three things of note happen in this issue: One, Jacob Marlowe explains (however simply) his alien origin to Angie Spica. Two, the people at IO identify Cole Cash aka Grifter, from Marlowe's wild CAT team, and decide to form a plan. Three, we are introduced to the Doctor and Jenny Sparks, two characters from the old Stormwatch/The Authority title that Ellis wrote some 15 years ago.

I really enjoy The Wild Storm, partly for the craziness, partly to revisit old favorite characters (still crossing my fingers for Jack Hawksmoor), and partly to see just how all of Ellis's pieces will eventually fit together. Ellis is a master at taking gigantic ideas with insane potential and turning them into excellent stories. So, once again, I'm going to trust Ellis as he leads his readers along the trail that is The Wild Storm.

I highly recommend The Wild Storm #8 by Warren Ellis. If you aren't already reading it and it sounds intriguing, go back to the first issue (or the collected edition). I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition by Tom King & Joshua Williamson - Book Review


From the publisher: The Watchmen begin their invasion of the DC Universe here in this deluxe graphic novel BATMAN/THE FLASH: THE BUTTON, complete with a lenticular cover!

The cataclysmic events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 continue here! The Dark Knight and the Fastest Man Alive, the two greatest detectives on any world, unite to explore the mystery behind a certain blood-stained smiley button embedded in the Batcave wall. What starts as a simple investigation turns deadly when the secrets of the button prove irresistible to an unwelcome third party--and it's not who anyone suspects! It's a mystery woven through time, and the ticking clock starts here!

Written by breakout stars Tom King and Joshua Willamson, with art by Jason Fabok (JUSTICE LEAGUE) and Howard Porter (SUPERMAN), this crossover is one of the most-talked about events in all of comics. This deluxe edition graphic novel features a lenticular cover and collects BATMAN #21-22 and THE FLASH #21-22.

DC's Rebirth event was a way to restore/correct their comics to a more traditional history. There have been so many different world-shattering events, that the continuity spun out of control. So, Rebirth was to fix all of that, while still making the books friendly to new readers. One of the great mysteries hinted at in the book was the return of the Watchmen to the DC Universe.

Jump ahead to Batman/The Flash: The Button by Tom King and Joshua Williamson. Batman and the Flash are investigating a mysterious smiley face button (with a blood stain on it) that showed up in the Batcave during the Rebirth special last summer. The button appears to be the same one the Comedian (of Watchmen fame) wore.  In the course of their investigation, Batman is confronted by Reverse-Flash, who grabs the button for the power it's emitting. Chaos ensues from there, with time travel, alternate universes/histories, and deaths all around them. And at the end, some questions are answered, but more are asked, as this story leads into the Doomsday Clock event (another Watchmen reference).

I enjoyed this book, and have liked seeing this mystery unfold. I'm one of those readers who didn't care for the New 52 or the results of Flashpoint, and I like the creativity that DC is using to restore some of the traditional history to it's line-up without erasing (again) even more continuity. Whether you are a fan or not, I also think using the Watchmen and bringing them into the mainstream DC Universe is a clever idea. King and Williamson have done a nice job with this story, revealing what they can, yet making it very personal to both Batman and Flash.

I really enjoyed Batman/The Flash: The Button, by Tom King and Joshua Williamson, and recommend it to fans of the Rebirth event. I look forward to seeing where this story continues to go in the future.

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Wonder of Advent Devotional by Chris Tiegreen - Book Review

Image result for The Wonder of Advent Devotional
From the publisher: Rediscover the heart of the Advent season
As the year comes to a close and the stress and busyness of the consumer Christmas holiday grows, it can be easy to lose sight of what the season really calls us to: worship. In today’s world, is it even possible to slow down, to ponder, to wonder in the coming birth of Christ?

This Advent, recapture the mystery and beauty of the season with The Wonder of Advent Devotional. In this insightful and thought-provoking book, beloved devotional author Chris Tiegreen brings you into a deeper experience of this integral time in the church calendar. After completing a week of short readings to prepare your heart for the Advent season, you’ll journey through December with daily Scripture readings, prompts for reflection, and guided prayer to help you savor this remarkable divine story. With each day, The Wonder of Advent Devotional will reconnect you with what happened in Bethlehem long ago—and experience it anew in your life right now.

Chris Tiegreen's The Wonder of Advent Devotional is a nice little book designed for daily devotionals before and during the Advent season. There are short readings for the week preceding Advent, focusing on preparing for the season. Beginning with the 1st of December and running throughout the rest of the month, the devotions change a bit. Each reading gets a longer (approximately 4 pages compared to 2). Each day includes the following: A passage of scripture, with a specific verse or two highlighted; a devotional reading focusing on an aspect of Jesus, His birth, Mary, Joseph, etc.; a short prayer; some questions for reflection; suggestions for further reading; and a passage from various Christmas hymns.

Tiegreen does a nice job by taking a small part of the Advent and concentrating on it each day. The readings are short enough to be done in the morning before work, in the car on the way to school, during a break, or even before bed. They are straight to the point and help the reader to really zoom in on the Advent season.

I recommend The Wonder of Advent Devotional by Chris Tiegreen. This would make a good devotional to use alone or with your family during Advent time. If you're looking for a way to connect with God during the busy holiday season, The Wonder of Advent Devotional is a terrific way to do it.

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women by Lindsay A. Franklin - Book Review

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women  -
From the publisher: In an ever-changing world, we can be certain of one thing: we are beloved by God. Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women tackles tough topics girls face, from bullying and social media to friendships and dating, all the while showing readers how infinitely precious they are in God’s sight.

Each day features an easy-to-read, relevant devotion paired with a scripture verse and journaling space to help readers reflect on the day’s message. With honest, poignant, and sometimes humorous text, every page will speak to the pressures and changes girls face, giving them real-world applications to find God in their hearts and in their lives. Perfect for everyday use, Adored will resonate with girls searching for truth and guidance. Gift givers will love this highly designed book featuring a beautiful, foiled cover, and two-color interior pages.

The new devotional Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women, by Lindsay A. Franklin, is pretty nice. It is in the tradition of the 5-Minute type devotional books, and is structured to last a year. However, rather than start with January 1, it just numbers its devotions by days, ie. Day 1, Day 2, etc. For someone who likes to read a year long devotional, but wants to start at the beginning, this is a nice feature.

Each separate devotion begins with a a passage of scripture, anywhere from 1 verse to several, but no passages are too long. The devotion then focuses on an aspect discussed in the day's scripture. For example, how much God adores you; a massively powerful God loves you; the defining characteristic of a Christian is love, etc. Each reading is no more than a page long. Finally, the daily devotional ends with several blank lines for the reader to respond to the message.

As a father of girls, I appreciate that Adored is directed towards young women. It's important for them to find their self-worth in God and this devotional focuses on making that clear. To be clear, anyone can read this book, but it is written in a conversational style and with references that pertain to girls.

Finally, the design of the book is terrific. It has a nice, sturdy hardback cover (with no removable cover). The pages are a little thicker than normal paper, which would appear to make them more durable. The art on the page margins matches the cover, resulting in an attractive, girly design.

I highly recommend Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women, by Lindsay A. Franklin. If you have a young woman in your life (daughter, girlfriend, niece, granddaughter, etc.), it would make a fantastic gift book.

P.S. If you're interested in a free sample or some other resources, please click here.

I received a review copy of this book from Zondervan and Handlebar in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #1 by Bryan Hill - Book Review


From the publisher: Warren Ellis’ critically acclaimed relaunch of THE WILD STORM gets its first solo spinoff series! Michael Cray, professional assassin, has been betrayed by International Operations and has an alien life-form in his head that’s either killing him, transforming him, or both. The only thing that can bring sense to his life is for him to do what he does best: kill the wrong people for the right reasons. But Michael needs support and resources to hit back against I.O., and he gets them in exchange for working with Trelane, taking out her targets, his way. First up? A sociopathic Silicon Valley billionaire by the name of Oliver Queen! 

Bryan Hill's Wildstorm: Michael Cray #1 is the first spin-off title from Warren Ellis's take on the Wildstorm properties. Michael Cray is hired by International Operations to create a team to assassinate enemies for IO. His first target? Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow!

This first issue introduces the reader to Cray, a young man with a tendency towards using violence to resolve conflict. Thus, he was in the military, where IO recruited him. We meet his handler, Trelane, who encourages him to form a team. We also meet his father, who provides some background on Oliver Queen. Additionally, we are given a glimpse in to Queen's activities, which appear to be somewhat less than heroic.

Much like The Wild Storm (Ellis's title), Michael Cray starts off deliberately slow and a little vague. This is a series that looks to build as it moves along, where it's probably better to look at each story arc as a whole rather than individual chapters.

I'm significantly interested to find out what happens next, so Hill did a nice job with this initial issue. There was just enough characterization to hook me, and I'm looking forward to see how Cray and Queen resolve their coming conflict. I recommend Wildstorm: Michael Cray #1 by Bryan Hill to readers of The Wild Storm, fans of the former Wildstorm universe, and anyone interested in a more spy-type hero book.

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

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #3 by Scott Snyder - Book Review


From the publisher: Superman is pulled into the mystery of the Dark Multiverse while the Justice League follows the trail to a weapon that could keep the forces of the Dark Multiverse at bay!

At this point, I don't know what else I can say about Scott Snyder's Dark Nights: Metal. With issue #3, Snyder continues the crazy story he started several books ago. In this issue, Superman and his allies discover just what has been happening and form a plan to take on Barbatos, rescue Batman, and save the world. Anything more would be risking spoilers, and I'd hate to do that.

I like this series. It's big, fun, and very different from any event series I've read before. Snyder knows his stuff, especially Batman, and he is a terrific story-teller. The portrayals of the various heroes during this crisis are done well. I particularly like Nightwing, who is showing a different side to himself. I'm looking forward to seeing how everything plays out during this Dark Nights event. I'm also curious as to what the long range effects will be. There are many elements in play, and the potential ramifications are far-reaching.

I highly recommend Dark Nights: Metal #3 by Scott Snyder. However, if you aren't up to speed with the series, don't begin here.

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