Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Wild Storm #5 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Michael Cray is dying. This doesn't stop IO from giving him one final job, to fix the world he’s spent years killing for. Michael Cray, the best assassin in the world, is sent out to kill Angela Spica, the engineer who saved Jacob Marlowe’s life and exposed the secret state she worked for. Lucy Blaze, investigating the chaos caused at Camp Hero by IO and a wild CAT, meets an old enemy—and realizes an ancient war may be entering a new phase, at the worst possible time. 

Finally! The Wild Storm #5, by Warren Ellis, finally begins to offer some explanation of what is going on (I think). Things I noticed in this book: Michael Cray, who works for International Operations, gets a clue about Angie Spica and her suit. Zealot gets some mysterious advice. Daemons show up for the first time. There is a quiet moment with Angie Spica and Adrianna Tereshkova (aka Void). We are introduced to The Bleed, and find out a little more about Jacob Marlowe and Skywatch. Last, Executive Protection Services makes an appearance.

As far as The Wild Storm issues go, this was a change, in that there really weren't any fights or major conflicts to speak of. It is heavy on personal character moments, which I really enjoyed. Ellis is deepening the characters, providing motivation and backstory. I'm generally a fan of Warren Ellis's storytelling and trust him to reveal what I need to know in his own time, and this issue gave a little bit of that. I'm still not 100% sure just what exactly is going on, but I'm patient enough to ride it out and let the story unfold. So, with that, I'll just wait for the next issue of The Wild Storm to discover more of the mystery.

I recommend The Wild Storm #5, by Warren Ellis.  As before, though, this is not a good starting spot. You really need to begin with issue #1 to have any hope of understanding what is going on.

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

Batman #25 by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: “The War of Jokes and Riddles” part one! Don’t miss this extra-sized anniversary issue! In his own words, Bruce Wayne narrates a harrowing, never-before-told story of the Dark Knight’s greatest failure…and the horrors it unleashed! In the spirit of YEAR ONE and THE LONG HALLOWEEN, prepare to see a side of Batman you've never seen before—get in on the ground floor of a classic Batman epic in the making!

Wow! Batman #25, by Tom King, is AWESOME! It is titled "The War of Jokes and Riddles" part one, and that pretty much sums it up. Forgive for a sparse write up here, but I don't want to give away anything. So, Batman is narrating a case that happened shortly after Year One. Riddler, who is in jail, has been co-opted into helping the police with difficult cases. Joker is running rampant. And that's about all I'll say.

Tim Sale's artwork is spectacular, and Tom King looks to have written the first chapter of what might be a legendary Batman story. The pieces are put in play, Batman is hesitant with his narration, and Joker and Riddler are at the top of their game, both vicious and smart. I can't wait to read the rest of this story.

I highly recommend Batman #25 by Tom King. This is a must for Batman fans, and is a great starting point for new readers. It's also a great hook to grab fans who have drifted away from Batman recently. In short: Read This!

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Blüdhaven (Rebirth) by Tim Seeley - Book Review

From the publisher: Dick Grayson's adventures as Nightwing continue in the second volume collecting the best-selling NIGHTWING series from DC Unverse Rebirth!

Former Robin and retired superspy Dick Grayson has returned to Gotham and stepped back into his life as Nightwing--the blue-and-black clad vigilante known for going where others won't. Fresh off a deep cover operation to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls, Nightwing must come to terms with secrets of his past that will forever change his destiny. Featuring appearances by Batman and Superman, this volume is packed with nonstop action and adventure!

Written by GRAYSON veteran scribe Tim Seeley, NIGHTWING VOL. 2 continues the spectacular adventures of the former Robin, Dick Grayson! Collects NIGHTWING #9-15.

Tim Seeley continues Nightwing's Rebirth adventures with Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven. Back in the day (pre-Flashpoint, pre-Rebirth, etc.), Nightwing moved to Bludhaven to escape from Batman's shadow. Bludhaven was basically a dirtier, more crime ridden neighbor to Gotham. Dick Grayson moved there, joined the police force, and had multiple adventures during the original run of Chuck Dixon's Nightwing comic. Many fans, myself included, have fond memories of this run. Cue Tim Seeley, who is (I believe) returning Nightwing to his roots after all he's gone through over the past several years and various reboots.

Dick moves to Bludhaven to rediscover himself, volunteering at a community center. There, he discovers that his supervisor, Shawn Tsang, is a former supervillain (Defacer), one whom he actually apprehended. As he patrols Bludhaven as Nightwing, Dick also runs into (and catches) another former Gotham villain (Gorilla Grimm). All of this leads to his discovery that there is a support group for former villains chased out of Gotham by Batman and Robin trying to go straight (an interesting concept). Over the course of this book, Nightwing attempts to uncover a deeper conspiracy and, with the help of the motley group of former villains, succeeds. Dick also finds himself in a complicated relationship with Shawn, and the final chapter of this volume addresses this.

Seeley is able to capture some of what makes Dick Grayson unique among the Bat-heroes: his humor and the sense of pleasure and sheer joy he takes in what he does. He has always been the balance to Batman's deep brooding and seriousness. The supporting characters have potential, but so far, they didn't really stand out. I'm curious to see how things progress with Shawn Tsang, though.

Seeley has done a fine job with Nightwing. However, I just found this collection to be okay. While he is getting back to some of the joy Dick has in being Nightwing, along with his sense of humor, this just didn't feel like a "deep" story. It's nice and fun, and there are some cute parts (Bludhaven attempting to use Nightwing's presence as a marketing gimmick). Overall, though, Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven was just a little better than average. I still really enjoy Nightwing and look forward to seeing where Seeley takes him. I would recommend this particular book to established fans, and I believe Nightwing's relocation to Bludhaven provides a nice jumping-on point for new readers.

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

City of Miracles By ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT - Book Review

From the publisher: Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing. 

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do—and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve. 

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And—perhaps most daunting of all—finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.

City of Miracles, by Robert Jackson Bennett, is the third (and final, I think) book in the Divine Cities series. However, that being said, the books all stand on their own merits, and can be read as stand alone stories without anything being lost. Read together, they create one long story about a world dealing with magic gods, or Divinities. Additionally, each book focuses on a different character as the main protagonist, but there are callbacks to previous characters and events.

City of Miracles focuses on Sigrud je Harkvaldsson, a former spy (think black-ops type) who has lost basically everything that is important to him. When he hears about the assassination of his longtime partner and friend Shara Komayd, he drags himself from his self-imposed exile to use his particular set of skills (wreaking destruction) to find those responsible for her death and avenge Komayd. This act drags him into a much greater conflict than he could have imagined, as he discovers Komayd was involved with finding the children of the now (mostly) deceased Divinities, some of whom he and Shara were responsible for killing. He also discovers that there is a mysterious force looking to find the children for it's own nefarious purposes.

I really enjoyed this book. It is deep, full of emotions, and action-packed. It also takes it's time as Bennett very deliberately lays out his story at it's own pace. This is not a light, easy read, but it's not a hard read, either. It just requires the reader to focus and absorb what is happening. The plot always moves steadily along, interspersing moments of character interaction with mysteries revealed and set pieces full of action and violence. Throughout, the reader is given insight into a world with a much deeper history than it at first seems. Bennett's world building is spectacular, and I, for one, would really enjoy future stories set in this world, whether involving the same characters and time period, or others from the past or future.

Bennett's characters also shine. Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is a deeply complicated man, full of contradictions. He is contemplative, yet  extremely violent. He lives with sorrow and regret, yet makes many of the same choices that caused the sorrow and regret in the first place. He is a loner, but desires the company of others. In addition, former protagonists from the previous books, Shara Komayd and General Mulaghesh, make appearances. Also playing a major role in this story is Shara's adopted daughter, Tatyana. There is an innocence and depth to this character that perfectly complements Sigrud to form a very vibrant heart to City of Miracles. Finally, the antagonist (who I'll not name so as to avoid any potential spoilers) is a broken and sympathetic character.

I highly recommend City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. In fact, you should read the whole trilogy, just to spend time in Bennett's world and with his characters. This is a fantastic read and it is well worth your time.

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DARK DAYS: THE FORGE #1 by James T Tynion IV and Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: DARKNESS COMES TO THE DC UNIVERSE WITH THE MYSTERY OF THE FORGE! Aquaman, The Flash and more of DC’s pantheon of heroes suspect Batman of hiding a dark secret that could threaten the very existence of the multiverse! It’s an epic that will span generations—but how does it connect to the origins of one of DC’s most legendary heroes?

The great comics event of summer 2017 is about to begin courtesy of superstar writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion III and illustrated by a master class of comics artists: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.! You do not want to miss this one! 

What a great start to the Dark Days event! Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have written a terrific opening chapter with Dark Days: The Forge #1. In a nutshell, here is what I know: Batman is (has been) investigating a mysterious dark force; Hawkman is looking into the origin of Nth metal, which he encountered when he became Hawkman; and Green Lantern and Duke discover a secret cave in the Bat-cave. Any more details than that and we'd be in spoiler territory. However, I can say that it looks like some heroes from DC's past might make an appearance and the book ends with a surprise/cliffhanger that I did NOT see coming.

Snyder and Tynion accomplished what any first book needs to do. They set the stage, teased several threads that will no doubt come together, and revealed just enough to pull the reader in and make them anxious for the next issue. I don't really know what the whole Dark Days event is about, but based on this first issue, I'm anxious to find out.

I highly recommend this book to all comic readers. Dark Days: The Forge #1 is fantastic, and looks like it is going to impact upcoming books for a while.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer Events Heat Up

As summer vacation is in full swing, so are the kids' sporting events/activities. This week, Cami and Griffin are participating in tennis camp. They both have fun playing, and are learning a lot of the basics. Plus, they have lots of friends attending so that makes it even better.

Lexi has begun training/running to prepare for the upcoming Cross Country season. As of today, she is planning on joining the team when school starts, so she wants to make sure she is in good shape.

Church camp is coming next week for the twins, with more stuff to come over the coming weeks.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return by Brian Lynch - Book Review

From the publisher: Bill and Ted must now fulfill their destiny to become the inspiration for galactic harmony, but at what cost! In an adventure of epic proportions, one change to the future will set the Wyld Stallyns on a time-travelling odyssey of music, villainy, history, and excellence! 

From Brian Lynch (Angel: After the Fall; screenwriter of Minions) and Jerry Gaylord (Fanboys vs. Zombies), experience Bill and Ted's most triumphant return! Also featuring short stories from Ryan North (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens), Christopher Hastings (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja), Ian McGinty (Bravest Warriors), and many more!

I just finished reading Brian Lynch's Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return. It was an entertaining book that captured the spirit of the original movie, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. The story picked right up from the sequel film, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, with our heroes Bill and Ted having won the San Dimas, California Battle of the Bands. Now, however, they have to write a second song. What to do...if only they had access to a time machine in the form of a telephone booth (remember those?) Wait, they do. Bill and Ted head into the future to find out what their second song is. Along the way, they run in to the teenage version of their arch-nemesis Chuck de Nomolos. They decide they want to help him out so he won't grow up evil and decide to kill them. What happens next could only have happened to Bill and Ted. Time-travelling shenanigans ensue, and everyone learns more excellent lessons from Bill and Ted.

I loved the original movie when I was a kid, the second less so. But regardless, when I realized that the story of Bill and Ted was continued, I leaped at the opportunity to read and review it. And my verdict is that Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return is good. It's a fun adventure, and Lynch perfectly captures the spirit of the movies. Many of our favorite characters return, and there is more development of the world that the music of Wyld Stallyns (Bill and Ted's band) inspires. My only caution is that it's different to read Bill and Ted's adventures rather than just watching them.

In addition to the main storyline, the collected edition of Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return also contains multiple short stories starring some of the side characters from the movies.

Overall, I can recommend Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return by Brian Lynch. I particularly recommend it to fans of the movie, but I think new readers may enjoy it as well. And remember, Be excellent to each other! And party on, dudes!

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