Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ACTION COMICS #1000 by a Variety of Writers and Artists - Book Review

From the publisher: Celebrate 1000 issues of Action Comics with an all-star lineup of top talent as they pay tribute to the comic that started it all! From today’s explosive action to a previously unpublished tale illustrated by the legendary Curt Swan to the Man of Tomorrow’s future—this very special, oversized issue presents the best of the best in Superman stories!

Action Comics #1000 is a special issue, as its the first comic (that I'm aware of) to hit 1000 issues. To celebrate, DC had a number of writers and artists create stories about the Man of Steel. This issue also contains the first story by new Superman writer Brian Michael Bendis.

The first story in this book focuses on Metropolis celebrating Superman Day. Clark Kent/Superman doesn't want to attend (he doesn't do it for the publicity) but ends up there anyway. Its a nice tribute to Superman's character and how he has affected so many in the DC universe.

The second story finds Superman trapped in a hypertime loop by Vandal Savage. To escape, Superman must remember who he is and why he fights. This was a cool trip down Superman's history.

The story continue on like that, a handful of pages with small character moments revolving around Superman and a supporting character or two. All are heartfelt and cut right to the center of what makes Superman great - his humanity. An ironic characteristic coming from an alien, but Superman's humanity is what sets him apart from all other heroes. He is the best of them, and an example to both young and old, good and bad. And that's what Action Comics #1000 is all about: Celebrating 80 years of Superman and the lessons he has taught us. In this turbulent time we live in, its worth remembering that we can all aspire to something greater than ourselves. So enjoy Action Comics #1000.

I recommend Action Comics #1000, particularly to Superman fans both old and new. It's a fun read celebrating 80 years of the Man of Steel.

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Track Meets Get Underway

This week, the kids had two track meets (Lexi only competed in one, due to an 8th grade field trip - however, that benefited the twins, as they got to compete more). The boys' team won both of their meets, while the girls did not.

Individually, Lexi competed in long jump, 400m, and 4x400m relay. She finished 3rd in the 400m and she did a nice job with her leg of the relay. She also did okay in long jump. Cami ran the 800 twice, long jumped, ran the 4x400m relay, and the 400m during the field trip meet. She finished 3rd in her 400m race (earning a ribbon for the first time), and did a nice job in her other events. Griffin ran the 100m and 200m, the 4x100m relay, and long jumped (all twice). He is running in the second heat of the sprints. In the first meet, he ran well, losing to a 7th grader and an 8th grader, but beating the kids his age. In the second meet, he finished 1st in his heat in the 100m, and second in the 200m (by a small margin, according to Cami). He is still working on long jump, and he did fine with his leg of the relay.

It was a great start to the season. Two more meets this week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: A Lonely Place of Living by James Tynion IV - Book Review

From the publisher: The Dark Knight's team of Gotham City vigilantes--including Batwoman, Clayface and Azrael--continue to protect their home in BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 5!

Having exiled herself from Batman's world, former ally Spoiler has nearly destroyed herself trying to expose the corruption of Gotham City's vigilantes. Fortunately for her, help has arrived...but unfortunately for the city, it's in the form of the mysterious Anarky! Is he truly on the side of the people, or is he a dangerous lunatic?

From writer James Tynion IV (BATMAN/TMNT) and the spectacular art team including Alvaro Martinez (BATMAN ETERNAL) comes the newest volume of DETECTIVE COMICS! Collects DETECTIVE COMICS #963-968 and DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #1.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol.5: A Lonely Place of Living by James Tynion IV is the book that brings Tim Drake back into the DC Universe. The title of the main story arc is a play off of the (in)famous A Lonely Place of Dying storyline line from the late 80's in which readers were to call in and decide whether or not the second Robin, Jason Todd, was killed by the Joker. Long story short, Todd didn't make it. So with a Robin-centric story, Tynion continues his run on Detective Comics featuring the Bat-team of heroes, including Batwoman, Clayface, Orphan, and Azrael, a team that was put in place by Tim Drake before his "death". In the wake of Tim's death, Batman resolves to search for Tim, believing him to still be alive, or at least able to be resurrected (Batman had an interesting experience along this line with his son Damien, the current Robin).

The main story has Tim confronted by a mysterious figure, who may or may not be responsible for taking him away. He eventually runs into a future version of himself who has become Batman in his timeline. The older Tim wants to change time to keep himself from becoming this more vicious version of Batman, while the younger Tim (Red Robin) wants to do what is right. Red Robin and Tim/Batman escape to Red Robin's time, where Red Robin teams up with the Bat-family, who he refers to as the Gotham Knights, in order to stop Tim/Batman. Looming over all of this is who or what abducted Tim in the first place.

A follow-up story focuses on Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, Tim's former girlfriend and former Gotham Knight. She has been approached by Anarky, who has created a utopia of sorts in Monstertown. Clayface also has a story, as he struggles with both how he looks and who he used to be, and whether he has any hope for redemption.

Both of these stories were okay. Tim's battle with the future Tim wasn't really that captivating to me, and there wasn't a lot of characterization. I'm not totally sure where Tynion is taking us, although its nice to have Tim back. There are also some seeds for future stories that hint at problems with some of the Bat-family of characters. Spoiler's story had a bit more characterization, but was really uneventful, all told. It will be interesting to see how Tim's return affects the personal journey she has been on since he "died", and hopefully will see that in the next volume. The most impactful story was Clayface's, as he searches for both a cure to his condition, and absolution for his past actions. Basil Karlo is a man in need of redemption, both physically and spiritually. His conversation with Mudface, a former movie colleague (and possible love interest), is especially telling and may have long term repercussions for Clayface in Detective Comics. This is a story line that I think could use some focus in upcoming issues.

I thought Detective Comics Vol. 5: A Lonely Place of Living by James Tynion IV was just okay. It brought Tim back and possibly set up some future events, but it wasn't really that engaging, especially compared to recent outings. I would recommend this volume to fans of Tim Drake or Batman completists, but its not the best standalone story to jump in with.

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

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ASTRO CITY #51 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: Our three-part look into the lives of Astro City “survivors” continues. A woman coping with a devastating loss joins the support group Michael Tenicek has been running for years. But will Michael help her, or will she tear the group apart? For those damaged by life in Astro City, hope and wonder are elusive things. Featuring Honor Guard, the Hanged Man and more. 

Kurt Busiek gives us the penultimate issue of Astro City with issue #51. This is the 2nd part (of 3) that act as a sequel to the award winning story "The Nearness of You". In issue #50, we learned that Michael Tenicek (from "The Nearness of You") has started a support group of "survivors" for those who have been affected by both heroes and villains in Astro City. We learned that his bills are taken care of and the mysterious Hanged Man checks in on him occasionally.

This new issue picks up with a new member of the support group telling her story. As the days pass, she never quite settles in, and eventually confronts Michael about telling the truth of his past (it is recapped for those who haven't read "The Nearness of You" - you should really read this!). What Michael reveals threatens to tear apart what he has created.

With this issue, Busiek definitely moves the story along, but as its a middle story in a trilogy, it is more of a bridge. The overarching threat (if there is one) isn't revealed, but Michael Tenicek and his good work is thrown into a crisis. I don't really know where Busiek is taking this story, but I have some guesses. I also trust him, as I have over around 20 years of reading Astro City. The poignant, emotion-filled stories Busiek has been telling have earned him the benefit of the doubt. And as the series is ending, I fully expect a final issue that is teeming with awesomeness and a fitting conclusion to Michael Tenicek's story.

I highly recommend Astro City #51 by Kurt Busiek, as I do all of his Astro City stories. If you are a long-time fan, you owe yourself to finish the series with Busiek; if you haven't read Astro City, go find a collected edition or three right away.

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

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #7 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: This issue, it’s Jack versus the Joker! Napier’s identity crisis spins out of control and compromises his grand plans for Gotham City—but not before he strikes a fateful bargain with Neo Joker. A browbeaten Batman accepts a peace offering from Batgirl, and some unexpected advice from Alfred sets the tone for the GTO’s new mission to redeem the city.

Batman: White Knight #7 by Sean Murphy is the second to last issue of this excellent series. Murphy does a great job putting all the pieces in place for the final showdown between Batman, Jack Napier/Joker, and Neo-Joker.

In this issue, Jack is forced to make a decision: to make Neo-Joker stop, he must become the Joker again. With Harley's encouragement, he decides to join forces with the unexpected. Meanwhile, Batman is discovering that much of what Napier has been saying about Batman and his methods are true. There is also an excellent conversation between Batman and Jack Napier, where several secrets are revealed, including what exactly happened to Jason Todd, the former Robin. As all the players move into position, Murphy is setting up what should be a spectacular finale.

I've enjoyed this alternate take on Batman, the Joker, and the rest. Murphy has done a good job with the characterization, and all his characters ring true. The world he has created is also pretty deep, with the feeling that there is plenty left to explore should Murphy choose to do so.

I highly recommend Batman: White Knight #7 by Sean Murphy. This is a great story with a different spin on Batman. If you are a Batman fan looking for something different from the norm, this is the series for you.

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #6 by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: All roads lead…to darkness. In the devastating and epic conclusion to DC’s cataclysmic event series, heroes from across the universe make their final charge into the unknown to battle the forces of the Dark Multiverse! Space and time, dreams and nightmares, all will collide—and what is left at the end will leave the DC Universe irrevocably changed!

Dark Nights: Metal #6 by Scott Snyder brings the series, and the event, to a close. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, and their friends fight to save Earth from the Dark Multiverse one final time.

This final issue has several last battle-type events, as the heroes face nearly insurmountable odds. Batman and Superman reunite with their allies and Hawkgirl has an opportunity to save Carter Hall, aka Hawkman, the man who kind of put this whole adventure into motion. There's a lot of fighting, a lot of philosophizing, and a nice epilogue. However, the epilogue seems to open the door to even bigger things waiting in the wings.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the whole Dark Nights story. I understand its and Event series with lots of crossovers, but in my opinion, the main story and series should stand on its own. The various crossovers can add depth and let readers know how the "big event" is impacting their favorites characters, but they should not be required in order to understand the main story. And that's what happened with Dark Nights. With each issue, I felt like I had missed something, as the issues didn't really begin where the previous one ended. At times, characters referenced important events that happened in separate books. If that's the intent, then I'm fine with it, but it would be nice to know that I'm going to need to read every tie-in in order to understand the plot. Had I known that going in, I'm not sure I would have chosen to read this series. Also, I liked the epilogue, but it almost seems like Dark Nights was a series who's purpose was to set up future plot points and events in the DC Universe (or what's beyond it).

I like Scott Snyder and think he's has done, and is still doing, some amazing things with Batman. But I really wouldn't recommend Dark Nights: Metal #6, or any of the issues. If you enjoy big event comics, and don't mind reading a bunch of tie-ins, this might be right up your alley.

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

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #4 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: The series you thought you’d never see reaches its fourth issue with a shocking revelation about the aftermath of Ozymandias’ actions and how they reach into even the darkest corners of the DC Universe. Don’t miss the latest chapter by the acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank!

Doomsday Clock #4 by Geoff Johns continues the story that brings the Watchmen into the mainstream DC Universe. However, the main storyline is not really advanced in this issue. Instead, Johns chooses to tell the origin story of the new Rorschach, Reggie Long.

When Adrian Veidt tried to save mankind in Watchmen #12, he sent what looked to be an alien into the middle of New York. Several million people were killed, while many others who were nearby suffered severe mental trauma due to the unspeakable things they witnessed. Reggie Long was one such victim. However, his story doesn't begin there. Johns shows us excerpts from Long's life growing up, events that contributed to his becoming Rorschach, including the fact that Long's father was the psychologist treating Walter Kovacs, the original Rorschach, when he was in prison.

This issue is a character study in what goes into someone becoming a "hero". Reggie Long's motivation is definitely interesting. You can clearly see the steps that led to him becoming Rorschach. Much like with Kovacs, Long is a sympathetic figure driven to right a wrong. Unlike Kovacs, though, Long engenders actual sympathy from the reader and has some attachments to other people.

How this all fits in with the greater story of Doomsday Clock remains to be seen. On its own, its a good issue that provides backstory. If Johns can weave it in to the larger search for Dr. Manhattan, it may go from good to great.

I recommend Doomsday Clock #4 by Geoff Johns. Johns keeps the story moving little by little, and I'll stay with him through the endgame.

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