Wednesday, July 11, 2018

MICHAEL CRAY #9 by Bryan Hill - Comic Book Review


From the publisher: Michael learns the truth about John Constantine’s plans to provide the world free energy, and his sinister plot will shake Michael to his core and potentially plunge the world into a new age of darkness. Killing Constantine and his allies might save the world, but doing so could trap the alien entity growing in Michael’s brain forever

Michael Cray #9 by Bryan Hill adds another chapter to this interesting story, but does not yet make anything clear. In this issue, we learn a little more about Diana Prince's plan to bring her "old gods" back to Earth. Constantine and Cray have a heart to heart. Trelane attempts to track Cray down, using his old team. Oh, and the mysterious presence in Cray's mind makes a reappearance.

Hill has created plans within plans with Michael Cray. I'm not sure what the endgame is yet, but the story is definitely building. None of the characters has a lot of depth (although Cray is the closest), but Hill is doing a nice job taking familiar characters and putting an alternate universe spin on them. They are just similar enough to the heroes readers are used to to make their evil sides an intriguing change.

What started as a villain of the month type story has grown into one with some vast conspiracies. This is what Hill has hooked me with, not so much the characters, but the overall story. I'm curious to see how it ends, and this is why I'd recommend Michael Cray #9. This isn't the place to start (a collected edition with the first six issues comes out next week), but it does put another piece of the puzzle in place. With three issues to go, I'd like to see how it turns out. I'm also curious if we'll see how this series fits in with the larger Wild Storm universe and the story being told in The Wild Storm.

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

CATWOMAN #1 by Joëlle Jones - Book Review


From the publisher: The wedding night’s barely over, but Catwoman’s back on the streets, this time to expose a copycat who’s pulling heists around Gotham City. As Selina cracks the whip on her former criminal cohorts, she’s attracting unwanted attention from one of Gotham’s most dangerous groups. The mob? Nope. Try the GCPD. And as if the Bat-Bride didn’t have enough problems, don’t miss the debut of an all-new villain determined to make trouble for all nine of Selina’s lives. Don’t miss the start of an all-new monthly series written and illustrated by Eisner Award-nominee Joëlle Jones!

Catwoman #1 by Joelle Jones is the start of a new on-going series for Catwoman/Selina Kyle. Selina has been a major player in Tom King's Batman series over the past several years, with her engagement to Bruce Wayne and pending nuptials. Catwoman #1 immediately follows Batman #50, and the cover warns readers to make sure to read Batman first.

Let me start by saying that I'm not going to provide any spoilers for Batman #50 or Catwoman #1. I will say that Catwoman only appears to mention the events of Batman very briefly. At least initially, Jones looks like she'll be taking Catwoman in an independent direction, much like has been done with Batman in the the other Bat-books besides the main title.

In this issue, Catwoman is trying to keep herself busy but runs into trouble when police confront her about murdering their fellow cops. Selina is stunned, as she had nothing to do with it. In the meantime, Mrs. Creel, the wife of Governor Creel, is more than she appears to be. What do these two storylines have to do with each other? I think that is the story Jones is going to be tackling in the first arc of this new book.

I thought Catwoman #1 was okay. It was definitely an opening act, as there was a lot of set-up and introduction going on. Jones kind of has her hands tied, as she has to further develop the character of Selina Kyle and follow in the footsteps of the excellent job Tom King has done in recent years. Jones appears to be starting off fine, as she has introduced several new characters. This should help her carve out her own path for Catwoman, as there is a delicate balancing act between writing a character's solo book and keeping things in line across the continuity of various other books.

I would recommend Catwoman #1 by Joelle Jones to fans of the character or those Batman fans who are looking to follow her adventures independent of the main Batman book.

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

THE MAN OF STEEL #6 by Brian Michael Bendis - Book Review


From the publisher: The fate of Lois Lane and Jon Kent is revealed! Metropolis’ survival hangs in the balance! And Superman must somehow put an end to Rogol Zaar’s rampage! It’s do-or-die time for the Man of Steel in the final chapter of this explosive miniseries!

The Man of Steel #6 wraps up the mini-series Brian Michael Bendis's first foray into writing an extended Superman story. Bendis reveals just what happened to Lois and Jon, and completes (sort of) the conflict with Rogol Zaar.

So, the big mystery of where Lois and Jon are, and if there was some fallout between Lois and Clark is addressed. The answer lies with Jon's future (apparently he is responsible for killing millions) and Superman's father, Jor-El. It was a little anti-climactic, but does promise to provide the opportunity for Bendis to tell some interesting stories. As far as Rogol Zaar, Superman and Supergirl wrap this particular battle up, but again, it's unsatisfying, as there isn't really any resolution. But, Bendis has laid the foundation for more stories here, as well. Finally, the mystery that started in issue one, with fires being set around Metropolis and Superman's interaction with Chief Moore, the new fire chief, isn't answered at all (well, one panel reveals the fire starter, but it's at the end of the book and there isn't any kind of closure).

Overall, I was rather disappointed with The Man of Steel. While it had a "complete" story, it really was more of a prologue to characters and events Bendis will be writing about in upcoming story arcs of the main Superman and Action Comics series. Other than a special event to introduce Bendis to DC readers and the Superman books, I don't know why this needed to be a mini-series; it seems to me that it could have functioned as just another arc in the regular books.

I'm sure there are fans of Superman who were happy with The Man of Steel, but I'm not sure I'll be reading any of the monthly books to find out what happens. I just didn't find myself hooked or invested in Bendis's story. I would recommend this to Superman fans, and Bendis fans might find it interesting, but it wasn't my favorite.

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

BATMAN #50 by Tom King - Book Review


From the publisher: It’s the wedding you never thought you’d see! The Batrimony is real as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are set to tie the knot in a can’t-miss, extra-length milestone issue that will reshape Gotham City. All their friends (and a few enemies?) will be party to a comic book coupling for the ages.

Superstar scribe Tom King officiates the sure-to-be-offbeat nuptials, joined by an all-star lineup of guest classic Bat-artists doffing their hats to the lucky couple in a series of pre-wedding flashback scenes sure to set the romantic mood.

Tom King has been building toward Batman #50 for some time, with the wedding of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle. The stories leading to the wedding have ranged from great to fantastic, and issue #50 promises to cap them off in style. King doesn't fail to disappoint.

Batman #50 is the story of the hours leading up to the wedding ceremony. King chooses to tell the story from the alternating viewpoints of Batman and Catwoman as they get prepared: deciding on a location and time, finding a judge, witnesses, etc. King also uses an epistolary format, having some of the story told through letters. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll stop here, but I do want to say that King writes with emotion and clarity, and his stories never seem to take a straight line, with Batman #50 being no exception.

I don't often comment on the art of a comic, but Batman #50 had a cool format. Mutliple artists created splash pages to coincide with about half the story. Not every drawing was my favorite, but I did enjoy seeing various stylistic takes on Batman and Catwoman and their relationship through the years.

Overall, Batman #50 by Tom King was an excellent comic. It can be read by casual fans who enjoy events, but it is probably best read by readers who have followed along with Tom King's run on Batman. I highly recommend this book.

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs - Book Review


From the publisher: Embrace your time with the Lord, no matter how busy you are! 10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs offers tangible reminders of God’s wisdom and meaningful reflections in just 10 minutes. For the days when you need help discerning direction, 10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs is the perfect way to engage with God.

This devotional invites you into Proverbs, the book of wisdom. Realign your heart with God’s as you read through the Scripture and spend just a few minutes with Him. Whether you’re on a quick lunch break, between classes, or relishing some peace and quiet during nap time, 10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs gives you what you need to keep going. Just 10 minutes a day will bring you closer to God and learning His Word.

10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs is a nice combination of gift book and devotional. It is written to be easily digested in a short amount of time, but with enough thought behind each entry to provide depth for the reader. With all the God-inspired wisdom in it, Proverbs is a perfect book for a devotional focus.

There are 46 separate devotions in this book, and they work there way through the book of Proverbs. Each entry follows the same basic format: there is a key Bible Verse (or two or three) from the larger passage that the entry is based upon. Next is a 1-2 page devotional presentation, relating the passage to today. This is followed by a short prayer based on the key points of the passage. Finally, there are questions for reflection, centered around the message and passage. Some examples of devotional topics include: Don't Follow Your Heart; A Path That Leads To Destruction; Don't Waste Your Breath; Wisdom With Money and Work; and Speak Words That Heal.

As a devotional reader, I appreciate these shorter 5-10 minute devotions, as they are perfect for reading in the morning when getting ready for work. They provide insight into the wisdom of the book of Proverbs, and the questions are a jump start for thinking about how I can apply the ideas to my life.

I would recommend 10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs to anyone looking for a devotional with short but deep devotions to help grow your relationship with Jesus Christ.

I received a review copy of this book from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

THE MAN OF STEEL #5 by Brian Michael Bendis - Book Review


From the publisher: Beaten by Rogol Zaar, his city burning at the hands of an unknown arsonist and the secret of what happened to Lois and Jon drawing closer to revelation—even Superman feels powerless against all that stands before him.

Brian Michael Bendis gives us the penultimate issue of The Man of Steel with issue #5. This issue pushes events to the edge of the climax as Bendis begins to bring the various threads of this story together.

In this issue, we see Superman joined by a few of his "super" friends as Metropolis is reeling in the aftermath of the battle between Superman, Supergirl, and Rogol Zaar. The mysterious fires that have been plaguing Metropolis resurface, as Chief Moore and her fellow firefighters may have discovered a pattern to the blazes. Finally, we get a little more of a glimpse into the whereabouts of Lois and Jon, and just what might have caused a rift between Lois and Clark. Suffice it to say that family issues arise.

Bendis is doing a fine job with this series, and I'm curious to discover just how he will wrap it up. There is a lot of action, but I don't really feel like the characterization has been a focus. For instance, Chief Moore is a new character and we haven't found out anything about her, other than there was an awkward "flirty" interaction between Superman and her. I'd also like to see a little more about Rogol Zaar. He's kind of a stock villain right now, but there must be more to his motivation to "cleanse" all Kryptonians.

I would recommend The Man of Steel #5 by Brian Michael Bendis, but it's not the place to start. Go back and pick up the previous issues, or wait for the collected edition. While Superman isn't my favorite hero, I'm sure The Man of Steel is resonating with fans, and it may be bringing in new readers as well.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

BATMAN: PRELUDE TO THE WEDDING - HARLEY QUINN VS. THE JOKER #1 by Tim Seeley - Book Review


From the publisher: Harley Quinn knows a thing or two about dysfunctional relationships. When she hears that her old flame is trying to get in the way of a happy new life for one of her best friends, the Maid of Mischief tracks The Joker down to give him a piece of her mind—and maybe a few blows from her hammer, too.

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Harley Quinn vs. The Joker #1 by Tim Seeley (that is a long title) is the last of the Prelude stories. Seeley once again takes two Batman characters and has them face off with the upcoming wedding between Batman and Catwoman as the background. However, this time, instead of a hero and villain, he chooses two villains (well, Harley is sometimes a villain). This makes for an entertaining story.

Harley Quinn's backstory is that she was a psychologist who fell in love with Joker, and then later had a falling out. So a wedding is a perfect setting for them. In this case, Harley has created some death-traps and wants to help Joker realize how much Harley knows and loves him. Joker is just miffed that he didn't get invited to the wedding. A dialogue about relationships ensues.

Seeley wrote another fun book, putting some attention on two more characters that would definitely have something to say about Batman and Catwoman getting married, but would distract from the lead-up to the wedding in the main storyline. However, with the Joker being a part of the epilogue in the Prelude books, he has become a focal character. In fact, this book leads directly into the main Batman title and the wedding issue(s).

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Harley Quinn vs. The Joker #1 by Tim Seeley is a good read. I would recommend it to Batman fans, those who've read the other Prelude books, and Harley and Joker fans. Seeley has done a great job with these one-shots, and I feel like he's added to the story of the Batman/Catwoman wedding, which I believe was the purpose of these books. Mission accomplished.

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