Wednesday, September 20, 2017

THE WILD STORM #7 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Jackie King, chief analyst at I.O., tries to make sense of all the pieces scattered across the board since Angela Spica saved Jacob Marlowe’s life. Angela Spica wakes up at Jacob Marlowe’s safe house and starts to realize how far from real life she’s been thrown since then. But life is not slowing down, and Marlowe’s wild covert action team have to extract the last member of their number from an I.O. black site. Meet John Colt—moments before he’s either rescued or murdered or dissected to reveal a secret kept for thousands of years. 

Once again, Warren Ellis has written a great issue of The Wild Storm, #7 to be precise. Once again, I don't have the first idea about how to review it. Ellis is the master of the big crazy idea, and is also excellent at the smaller moments. This issue contains both. While the first six issues of The Wild Storm seemed to introduce the various characters and factions, and put all the pieces on the board, the current issue is a beginning to the next arc in this story.

We are given the perspective of Jackie King, who is the chief analyst for I.O. She catches her team (read: the reader) up on what went down with Angie Spica, Jacob Marlowe, and Henry Bendix and Skywatch. We then get a peak at the WildC.A.T. crew working for Marlowe. I'm still waiting for Grifter to go into full Grifter mode, but it seems like it's just a matter of time. Finally, we meet John Colt, the only new character in this issue and a member of the WildC.A.T. team. John may, or may not, have some interesting knowledge about I.O. Oh yeah, and there is weird technology, alien(s), mysteries, and conspiracies galore (well, not exclusively in this issue, but throughout the book).

The Wild Storm #7 is the opener to the next chapter of this story. Ellis gives just enough action and information to keep me coming back. I'm positive The Wild Storm probably reads better in collected form, but I'm not anywhere near patient enough to wait for all the issues to come out before first reading them. This is a story that demands a monthly reading, much like some television shows must be watched as they are broadcast rather than waiting for a binge session.

Get this book and read it. While its not the best idea to jump in to the story in the middle, there is a nice recap in this issue to catch up any late comers.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello - Book Review

From the publisher: One of the most highly anticipated sequels of all-time is finally here in DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE!

In 1986, Frank Miller introduced his iconic take on Batman and changed the face of comics forever. Now, three decades after BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, Miller himself has returned with a third chapter to his groundbreaking saga.

DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE continues Frank Miller's landmark DARK KNIGHT SAGA that began with 1986's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and continued with its 2001-2002 sequel THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN. Co-written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson, DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE returns to a world gone awry left in the aftermath of the toppling of Lex Luthor and the apparent death... of Batman himself? Then who will save Gotham City and the rest of the planet against the mysterious Master Race? 

Also collected in this graphic novel are the nine mini-comics that originally appeared in the monthly periodical release of DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE, each of which focuses on a different character from within the world of Miller's Dark Knight. The minicomics are also written by Miller and Azzarello and will be drawn by some of the greatest artists currently working in comics, including Miller himself, Eduardo Risso and John Romita, Jr.!

Collected here are all nine chapters of DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE as well as the nine mini-comics.

I read Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and loved it. I read Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again and liked it. When I heard about Dark Knight: Master Race, by Miller with Brian Azzarello, I was hoping for more of a Dark Knight Returns feeling. And you know what? I did like it. Master Race isn't as good as the original (that would be hard to accomplish), but I enjoyed a lot more than I remember enjoying more than The Dark Knight Strikes Again. And that's a good thing. With sequels or returns to classic stories, there is a danger involved; so many people enjoy the classic original, that the creators risk alienating fans both old and new. Well, in my opinion, Miller and Azzarello have done a fine job with The Master Race.

 A quick synopsis: Batman is missing and presumed dead, Superman has removed himself from involving himself in humanity's affairs, Wonder Woman is busy ruling the Amazons and raising her children (a daughter and son). Other heroes seem to be laying low as well. In to this world comes rumor of a Batman sighting, which doesn't sit well with many. Additionally, Lara (the teenage daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman) visits her frozen father at his Fortress of Solitude. While there, she discovers the bottled city of Kandor, and is convinced to take it to Ray Palmer, the hero known as the Atom. The residents of Kandor want to be returned to normal size and Palmer's shrinking technology is just the ticket. But all is not as it seems when the Kandorians return. And thus, the foundation for the story of The Master Race is born.

I enjoyed reading this story. I found that Miller and Azzarello had a new and interesting take on the story of the Kandorians, and the tie-in to how superheroes were viewed in this world was nice. The subplots, involving Superman, Wonder Woman, and their children; Batman and his new Robin, Carrie Kelley; or even the cameos by heroes such as the Atom, Aquaman, and Flash, were all complimentary and dovetailed nicely with the main storyline. In fact, I really liked how the other heroes were very naturally brought into the story, rather than forced in just for fan service.

In addition to collecting the main comic story, this collected edition also contains nine separate mini-comics stories that ran in the individual comics, each focusing on a side story that adds to the overall enjoyment of The Master Race. Some of these stories focus on heroes, such as the Atom or the new Batgirl, and some show events that happen off the page of the main storyline. All were well done and deserved their place in this story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Miller and Azzarello's The Dark Knight: The Master Race. It was a well-written story that added to the mythology of Miller's original The Dark Knight Returns. I highly recommend it to all Batman fans, and to anyone who enjoyed The Dark Knight Returns. It would also be an entertaining read for new fans wondering what all the Frank Miller Batman fuss is about.

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

So Many Sports!

Lexi did her usual, cheering for the middle school football game (they lost). However, this week her cheer squad participated in their first ever competition. The did a great job and received a trophy (they were the only squad in their division, but did a terrific job regardless).

Cami's volleyball team won their first set of the season. Cami did a wonderful job, serving for several points. She also made some nice hits when the ball was served to her. Cami's basketball team went 1-1 again this week. She did a nice job in the first game, but turned it on in the second. She had a rebound and 4 points to go along with several jump balls caused in both games. She had a huge smile on her face after scoring. More to come next week.

Griffin's football team won their sixth game of the year, bringing them to 6-0. They beat an outmanned team 22-0, and it could have been a lot worse but we played multiple kids in multiple positions. Griffin played good defense and nearly had another tackle. On offense, he blocked as a wide receiver, but the real fun came when I put him at running back. On his first play, he recovered a fumble by the quarterback. On his second, he ran right, made a little juke move, and picked up around 6 yards. Unfortunately, there was a penalty, but it was a really cool run with a nice move. He also said it didn't really hurt to get tackled, so that was nice. Two more regular season games to go. Griffin's basketball team lost both of their games. Griffin was able to take a couple of shots and get some rebounds. More next week.

One other really cool thing happened this week. The US Secretary of Education visited our school as part of a tour she was on, and attended our Hog Roast fundraiser and varsity football game. Cami and Griffin had a chance to meet Sec. DeVos and shake her hand. Griffin (and a smidge of Cami) even made it in a picture in the local newspaper (Griffin was front and center).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #2 by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: As Superman and Wonder Woman hunt for a missing ally, Batman investigates a mystery spanning centuries. When the World’s Greatest Detective discovers a foe even greater than the Justice League could possibly imagine, will Earth’s heroes be ready?

Dark Nights: Metal #2 continues Scott Snyder's strange, interesting, connective tale of Batman, his history, and some strange foreign metals. I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, so this may be a very plain review.

First, in Metals #2, we get more of the backstory to who Barbatos is and how Batman is a danger to the world. Much of the issue consists of his Justice League friends trying to track him down, and Batman's Bat-family trying to help him avoid the JL. We also get a look at many of the immortals, Hawkgirl for one, who know of this threat and have dealt with it before. This issue is really still just putting the pieces into play and visiting with the disparate groups of heroes.

I'm enjoying Dark Nights: Metals. Snyder has somehow woven all sorts of DC history into this event series. I want to believe much of it was even thought of when the ideas were first introduced (i.e. the Court of Owls). I'm also curious if Dark Nights will have any tie in to how Rebirth occurred and any of the supposed return of the Watchmen. I guess I'll just have to be patient and keep reading.

I recommend Dark Nights: Metals #2 to Batman fans and others who have already begun reading the series, but it is definitely not a place to start.

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth (Rebirth) by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: #1 NEW YORK TIMES best-selling BATMAN author Scott Snyder's ALL STAR BATMAN continues with a new volume featuring new stories drawn by some of the top artists in all of comics!

For more than 75 years, Batman has been one of the most widely-recognized and revered super-heroes in all of comics. But what would the Dark Knight be without an equally iconic roster of villains to keep him fighting all these years? In ALL STAR BATMAN VOL. 2, Scott Snyder is joined by a rotating team of superstar artists to tell individual, villains-centric stories that in their sum reimagine the Caped Crusader's rogues gallery and bring it into the modern era.

Included in this graphic novel are a chilling Mr. Freeze tale with Snyder's frequent collaborator Jock (BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR), a Posion Ivy tale with intoxicating art by Tula Lotay (BRIGGS LAND), Snyder's first pairing with the great Giuseppe Camuncoli (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) and more!

One the most successful and well-reviewed series from DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH continues in Scott Snyder's star-studded, ALL STAR BATMAN VOL. 2! Collects issues #6-9.

The more I read his books, the bigger fan I am of Scott Snyder. With All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth, Snyder once again has written a great Batman story (although according to the narration, "This is not a Batman story). With a rotating cast of artists, Snyder tells a tale of ecological destruction featuring four different villains.

The first three stories, which are connected but self-contained, star Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Mad Hatter. Batman is tasked with dealing with each of them and some sort of ecological disaster. By the time the fourth chapter rolls around, Snyder has set the table perfectly for his surprising conclusion. This book has appearances by the mysterious Blackhawk group, as well.

My favorite part of this collection is the Mad Hatter story. I always thought Jervis Tetch was sort of corny as a villain, and at his best he was a creeper. Snyder, however, really gave him a serious and threatening turn as a villain, making him a legitamate rogue for Batman.

In addition to the main story, Snyder continued his run of back up features tracing the training of Batman's new partner, Duke Thomas. Intertwined with a threat from the Riddler, Duke struggles to find his place in the Bat-family. It's a neat way to do a Year One type story for Duke without having it be the main storyline.

I highly recommend All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth by Scott Snyder. He has got a great feel for Batman and he continually adds to his reputation as one of the best at relating the adventures of the Dark Knight. If you like Batman, you should definitely pick this up, and it functions as a jumping on point for new readers as well.

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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A lot happening this week

To begin, Lexi continues to cheer for the middle school football games. The team was victorious again this week. She also is still attending basketball open gym. Additionally, the middle school student council (of which she is a member), voted her President, a position she ran for (and gave a speech) against two other 8th graders. I guess I have to refer to her as Madam President now.

Cami had another volleyball match. She didn't win, but she served well again and hit the ball several other times. She also had her first two travel basketball games. They won one and lost one. She had 2 points, a steal, and caused multiple jump balls. Lots of hustle.

Griffin's football team is still undefeated, at 5-0. The defense has only given up 20 points this season, I believe, and the offense has scored 112. We have three more regular season games. Griffin had an assist and nearly had two more tackles. He also recovered a fumble for the first time in his career. Last week, his travel basketball team played two games (they lost both). Griffin played pretty good defense. He was able to get a few shots off, but is still a little rusty. He also shot two free throws, but they just missed. This week they had two more games, winning one and losing one. Griffin took some shots again, got a rebound, a deflection, tied up several loose balls, and played good defense. Next week he has two more games.

Lots of fun cheering on the kids.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

ASTRO CITY #47 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: Meet G-Dog, possibly ASTRO CITY’s most unusual superhero ever. Half man, half dog—but who’s running the show? The answers will change a life, reveal another hero’s deepest secrets, and possibly, just possibly, save the world. Oh, who are we kidding...they’ll definitely change the world. Do you see that handsome face? Also featuring Honor Guard, with guest art by Mike Norton (Revival, Battlepug).

With Astro City #47, Kurt Busiek introduces a new hero, G-Dog. G-Dog is a half man, half dog, and his origin story is pretty interesting. Take one petty thief, one "stolen" corgi, and one magic amulet and mix them up. When Andy discovers that the amulet he stole can transform he and his corgi, Hank, into a strange man-dog, he decides (with the help of Hank's conscience) to help people and fight crime. Along the way, Andy confronts many of his life decisions and, with guidance from Hank, begins to turn it around. However, what happens when 1/2 of the partnership ages faster than the other?

While this wasn't my favorite Astro City story, Busiek again captures some of the smaller moments of the hero life. Andy and Hank are a likable team as G-Dog, and their story is a unique one. Busiek excels at the slice of life type tales, which is part of what makes Astro City such an entertaining book.

I recommend Astro City #47 to fans of something different when it comes to superheroes. Kurt Busiek has created a nice corner of the superhero world where he is free to tell the stories he wants to. Astro City #47 is another in that long line of tales. I will keep reading this book as long as Busiek continues to put it out.

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