Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #3 by Bryan Hill and Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Crime forensics expert Barry Allen has a dark secret—and a prototype suit that makes him the fastest man alive. Michael Cray wants to make him pay for his sins, but is he able to catch a man faster than justice? And what will happen when Barry Allen turns his psychosis on Cray at hyper-speed?

Once again, Bryan Hill has written an engaging story with Michael Cray #3. He is slowly doling out bits and pieces of Cray's life, tied in with his missions for IO. And once again, Hill has taken a familiar face from the DCU and created a warped version of the character for The Wild Storm universe. Last time it was Oliver Queen, better known as the Green Arrow; this time its Barry Allen, aka The Flash. Oh, and what a warped and twisted version of Barry it is.

Hill continues to take Cray on a dark tour of a twisted DC universe. While he is still trying to figure out just what/how he has alien DNA (or something) in him, Cray is taking on and taking out a number of "bad" guys. The Wild Storm Barry Allen is similar enough to the mainstream version, but this guy has a bit of the Unabomber about him. After writing a manifesto about the dangers of developing AI, Barry now using his genius, a supersuit, a cocktail of drugs, and his position as a CSI to murder scientists working on AI's. Cray is tasked by IO to assassinate Allen. It all just kind of goes from there.

I like this series. Hill is writing an interesting character, one who is hard to root for at times, but seems to have a moral code of his own. As each issue passes, Hill is peeling away more layers to give us more insight into who Michael Cray is and why he does what he does. I'm curious how long this process will take until Hill catches up with the time frame in which Warren Ellis's The Wild Storm series is taking place (Cray also shows up there). The supporting characters in this series are okay, but I'm not terribly interested in them, at least right now. It's Cray who's the star and takes the focus.

Michael Cray #3 by Bryan Hill (with Warren Ellis) is another fine story. Hill continues to write an action-packed series with a multi-dimensional character. This is an okay starting point if you missed the first two issues. I would recommend Michael Cray to fans of The Wild Storm or anyone looking for a different take on familiar DC heroes.

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Games, Games, Games

Griffin had his first official "school" game this week. They lost (they played a 6th grade B team), but Griffin did a nice job. He hustled on defense, made some good passes, took a shot, and made the most of his playing time. He has another school game this week. In the travel league, the team won both games. He didn't play a bunch, but did make an impact. His defense was good in the first game, but excellent in the second; he played at the top of the press and forced a 10 second violation. He made a nice drive in the first game and was fouled; he made one free throw but landed over the line so it didn't count. In the second game, he made a great drive from the left wing (off a nice pass) and made a layup. Two more travel games next week.

Cami's rec team lost a close one. She didn't score, but did draw a foul and two free throws on a nice fast break (the first shot rolled off). She had 4 or 5 rebounds, several steals, at least one deflection, and a deflected shot on a girl much taller than her, all while having a sprained thumb. Next week is her tournament and the end of rec season, with the school team starting soon after. Cami is also getting ready to start club volleyball in a few weeks, after participating in an evaluation last week.

Lexi continues to juggle basketball and cheer. She had one cheer game this past week (two this upcoming week), and multiple basketball practices. She was also chosen (along with a few other girls) to participate in a controlled practice/scrimmage with another school. She did a nice job. Her first games are in a little more than a week, and we're all looking forward to seeing how she does.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #3 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: Tragedy strikes, and the Bat-family face the fight of their lives against an army of super-villains and waning public support. A new discovery reinforces Jack’s plot to jeopardize the Dark Knight’s standing in Gotham City, and Harley’s obsession with The Joker reaches a new height—and threatens to change the game for good!

Sean Murphy continues to spin an unusual Batman story with Batman: White Knight #3. In the latest installment of the mini-series, Jack Napier's plan gets a little clearer, Batman gets a little closer to the edge, yet more familiar faces show up, and tragedy strikes.

I struggle to review White Knight for fear of spoiling anything, but I'll give it a try. Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl attempt to stop a large group of supervillains, who are working together. In the course of the conflict, Backport (a lower income neighborhood) again feels the effects of Batman's vigilantism. This plays right into Napier's hands. Napier is again accompanied by Harleen Quinzel. Meanwhile, there is a conflict brewing between Batman and the pair of Nightwing and Batgirl. Duke Thomas makes an appearance, and so does Joker's Daughter (I think).

I'm enjoying Murphy's take on the Batman mythos. He pulls in enough familiar characters and situations to ground it in what's come before, but has tweaked things just enough to make the world of White Knight unique (Dick Grayson's relationship with Bruce Wayne?). As the series nears the halfway point, Murphy has me fully engaged and looking forward to seeing how he plays this story out.

I highly recommend Batman: White Knight #3 by Sean Murphy. It's a fun, creative take on Batman that is sure to please fans both new and old. Grab a copy (and the first two issues, as well) and get caught up.

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

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It Resumes

Cami's rec team won their game this week. She had 6 points, several rebounds, some good passes, and at least one steal. It took a little for her to get going, but once she did, she turned up the intensity. She has another game next Saturday.

Griffin's team played a couple of travel games. They lost both, but one was by one point, with several chances to win right at the end. Griffin had a decent day. He played some good defense, forcing a couple of turnovers. He also had at least one rebound. My favorite play, though, was his basket. He caught the ball on the left wing, made a strong dribble move and drive to the basket, then shot the ball off the glass for a perfectly executed layup. He has his first school league game Monday, and two more travel games next Sunday.

Lexi had two cheer games, and continues basketball practice. She is encouraged by how practice is going for her. The first game is in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Nyxia By SCOTT REINTGEN - Book Review

From the publisher: Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller—the first in a trilogy—that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. 

What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

Scott Reintgen's Nyxia is a fun and entertaining book. It engages the reader from the first page and flies them through to the end, with barely time to breathe in-between. This is definitely a book I'll try to put in the hands of my middle school students.

First, a brief summary. Emmett is our point of view character. He is an African-American teen from Detroit. Along with 9 other teens from around the world, he has been chosen to compete for a spot to visit Eden, a new planet discovered by the Babel Corporation, and to basically be paid like millionaires. Babel needs the teens to mine for nxyia, a wondrous substance that can be manipulated by the mind into becoming whatever one can imagine. The Eden natives, known as Adamites, will not allow adults on the surface of the planet, resulting in the need for the teenagers, as well (this back story is necessary to explain why kids are going to Eden, but otherwise not really that important). Over the course of the journey to Eden, Emmett and the others will be pitted against each other, individually and as teams, to determine which 8 will actually be chosen. Friendships grow, rivalries form, and the very real prospect of injury or death hangs over the competitions, not to mention the chance to be financially set for life and pull their families out of poverty.

In his author's bio, Reintgen mentions that as a teacher, he discovered that "inspiration isn't equally accessible for everyone, so he set out to write a novel for the front -ow sleepers and back-row dreamers of his classrooms. He hopes his students will see characters like Emmett." As a fellow teacher, I think he has succeeded. Emmett is a fully realized character that should appeal to all students, but especially boys. He has self-doubt mixed with a high level of self-confidence; he experiences disappointments, anger, and successes just like any kid. He is guarded and open at the same time, trying to protect himself but be known, as well. His arc is well done, with plenty of room for more growth in the coming sequel(s). The other characters are a collection of different races and genders, and are written well. They don't have the depth that Emmett has, but that may be more a function of the first person narrative than anything else. There are a few adults in the story. Defoe is the Babel Corp. supervisor, who is sketchy and untrustworthy. Vandemeer is the caretaker/doctor for Emmett and his suitemate, Kaya. They are kind of stereotypes, but fill their roles well.

The plot flew along, constantly propelling the reader forward. As the competition progresses, Emmett becomes more suspicious that all is not what it seems with the Babel Corp. There are plenty of twists and turns, and several plot twists that I did not see coming. The substance of nyxia itself is very mysterious, with more of it's capabilities being revealed as Emmett and the others move through their journey. The book ends, not exactly on a cliffhanger, but definitely with a great transition point for the next book, which I'm planning on reading as soon as Reintgen publishes it.

The publisher compares Nxyia to The Maze Runner and Illuminae; I disagree. I didn't particularly find the mystery behind The Maze Runner as interesting as Nxyia, and the only thing Illuminae has in common with Nxyia is the space setting. While reading, I found myself thinking about Ender's Game, Hunger Games, and Divergent. Ender's Game has a similar tension between teens/kids training both as allies and competitors, and the space setting is a little closer in tone than Illuminae's. The writing style and level, and the character depths, reminded me of Divergent; it was written well, but to me it didn't reach the level of a Hunger Games or Harry Potter (this is not a dig, but where the bar is set for me). The tension in Hunger Games, along with the violence, was a notch above Nxyia, but there is a clear danger and risk involved in all of the games Emmett and his comrades compete in. Reintgen did a great job for his first published novel, and now it remains to see if he can raise the bar with Nxyia's sequel(s).

I really enjoyed Nxyia by Scott Reintgen. It was well-written, engaging, and full of interesting plot points and characters. This should appeal to middle- and high school readers, especially boys who were looking for a Hunger Games or Divergent type book with a male protagonist. I'm looking forward to Reintgen's future books in the Nxyia universe.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie by Anthony Del Col - Book Review

From the publisher: A Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery unlike any other you’ve ever read! When the teenage brothers Frank and Joe Hardy are accused of the murder of their father – a detective in the small resort town of Bayport – they must team up with Nancy Drew to prove their innocence (and find the real guilty party in the process) in a twisting noir tale, complete with double-crosses, deceit, and dames. Writer Anthony Del Col (Assassin’s Creed, Kill Shakespeare) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Batman: Detective Comics, House of Mystery) bring the iconic teen detectives into the modern age, and redefine noir for a new generation of readers!

As a kid, I read every Hardy Boys book I could get my hands on. I also read a couple of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew team ups. I even occasionally read a Tom Swift story (no Bobsey Twins, though). I say all that in order to explain why I took a chance on Anthony Del Col's re-imagining of  Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys for the 2010's. The book he created, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, follows some other recent updates of classic and beloved characters. So, as a former fan, I was interested to see what Del Col came up with. It turns out it was pretty good.

So, The Big Lie is the story of how the Hardy brothers were accused of the murder of their father, Det. Fenton Hardy, and how Nancy Drew helped them solve the mystery. However, it's much deeper than that, involving drug smuggling brothers (the Rovers), a broken relationship between Nancy and her father, Federal Prosecuter Carson Drew, the seedy underbelly of Bayport, and the mysteries that lie beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic towns. It's also about families, and quite possibly about the dreams and innocence of childhood turning into the reality of being an adult.

The mystery behind The Big Lie was interesting, and not to easy to figure out. It was an enjoyable story which sets the stage for bigger mysteries to come in future Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mini-series. I think what I enjoyed the most, though, was the updating of the characters and their lives. The shine is definitely off Frank and Joe Hardy, and, really, Nancy Drew as well. The brothers bicker and fight, and see the world in grayer tones than they used to. They are sure not the simple, unchanging characters of my youth. Nancy is still very confident, but has lost her innocence too, through a broken relationship with her father (who used to be her best friend). It was neat seeing this more adult version of the characters, and while it's different seeing them as imperfect, it makes for a much more engaging story and allows the characters the potential to grow and change.

The other fun thing about The Big Lie is all the nods to the books these characters have been in, together and by themselves. There are allusions to solving mysteries on the beach as children, and how nothing ever seemed to change (over 100 books and the characters are still the same age). Del Col also throws in Tom Swift and the Bobsey Twins to add another nod to childhood reading.

Overall, I would highly recommend Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, by Anthony Del Col, especially to readers who grew up with the original characters. Enjoy the Veronica Mars-ish vibe.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #4 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: When the pursuit of his missing son brings Dick Grayson face to face with his ex, old wounds are reexamined and a tentative new alliance is formed between former enemies. But when a stunning discovery is made about his son’s unique superpowers, the stakes become much higher and Grayson must take the fight straight to the Crusaders!

Nightwing: The New Order #4, by Kyle Higgins, begins to seriously push the story forward. The issue begins with Dick Grayson, who was rescued by the Flash in the previous issue, waking up surrounded by his old teammates, the Titans. However, its not a happy reunion because they all view him as a traitor due to his work with the Crusaders. Elsewhere, Kate Kane and the Crusaders investigate and interrogate Jake Grayson, as they try to find out more about his powers. What they, and the Titans, discover could be a gamechanger for the world. The Titans decide to attempt a rescue with the hopes that Jake could change the world, while they run afoul of another classic Batman character.

I liked this issue. Seeing Dick have to explain himself and interact with his former best friends was very interesting. Of particular interest was the discussion between Dick and Kory, aka Starfire, Dick's ex-wife and Jake's mother. I'm curious to see how Higgins resolves the tension between Dick and the Titans while both sides still have a philosophical difference regarding "super" heroes. Jake's role continues to grow in importance, and his voice as the narrator is reflective and well done.

Overall, I would recommend Nightwing: The New Order #4, by Kyle Higgins. Batman readers will enjoy it. Additionally, Higgins has managed to tell a superhero story that is a reflection of its times; The New Order is very much a take on some of the fears of totalitarianism and intolerance that are prevalent around the world today. I'm looking forward to the final two issues to discover just how Higgins attempts to stick the landing.

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

ASTRO CITY #43 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: The story of Resistor, who’s making headlines all across the nation. And one reporter is determined to find out the truth—not simply to report it, but to find her missing father. A story of protest and power, love and loss, and an enigmatic, ever-changing hero.

Kurt Busiek always manages to tell unique stories with his Astro City series, and issue #49 is no different. Louisa Garneau is a reporter who is always chasing a story. While covering a protest that was attacked by a terrorist group and defended by the new hero Resistor, she caught a hint of her father, a brilliant scientist who was always leaving Louisa and her mom to join one protest or another. She decides to chase protests in the hopes of learning more about Resistor for a story, with the underlying mission of finding her long lost father. What she discovers is both hopeful and bittersweet.

I enjoy Astro City's hero-focused stories a lot. But Busiek excels at the smaller character moments that happen around the supers. Astro City #49 is a perfect example of this. Louisa is involved in a superhero story, but the true focus is on the broken relationship she has with her father. Busiek also has taken a moment to reflect on the current political climate, with our nation's focus on protests for various rights and the violence that surrounds some of these protests. As far as Resistor goes, he is a hero who fits the climate of the story, but there is very little time spent on what he is and how he does it. As I said, this is a father/daughter relationship story that just happens to take place in a superpowered world.

I enjoyed Astro City #49. It wasn't my favorite Kurt Busiek story, but it did show his skill at getting down to the personal level. This is a good one off story for fans looking to sample Busiek's Astro City. As an aside, it appears that Astro City #50 will be a sequel to probably the best Astro City story, "The Nearness of You". This is the perfect example of Busiek's skill at writing ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events and the consequences that often follow. Be on the lookout for it.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

James Bond: Felix Leiter by James Robinson - Book Review

From the publisher: Felix Leiter finds himself in Japan, tracking down a beautiful, Russian spy from his past. But when the mission takes a turn for the worse, he will discover that there are more deadly schemes afoot in Tokyo and beyond! From superstar creative team James Robinson (Starman, Red Sonja) and Aaron Campbell (The Shadow, Uncanny) comes the Bond spin-off highlighting 007’s American counterpart, blending spy thrills with the dark alleys and darker deeds of crime fiction!

James Bond: Felix Leiter is awesome! James Robinson has written a winner and I highly recommend it to Bond fans and to others who enjoy a well-written ex-spy-down-on-his-luck protagonist taking on a femme fatale. It's got a very noir-ish feel to it while retaining a real sense of the bigger James Bond world. Pick it up and read it now!

Okay, I've got that out of the way. Felix Leiter was a supporting character in several of the James Bond books and movies. He's even made a couple of appearances in the new comic series. Leiter is currently ex-CIA (he has some medical issues, i.e. - he's missing some limbs and has prosthetics). He now "works" as a private investigator, which is how this book begins. Leiter has been hired by an old acquaintance, Tiger Tanaka (from You Only Live Twice), to find and identify another old acquaintance, Alena Davoff. First, Tanaka is sort of the Japanese James Bond. Second, Leiter and Davoff go back to a joint Russian/American mission involving a war on Afghanistan's heroin trade. There relationship is complicated, to say the least. While he's in Japan, Leiter and Tanaka investigate a biological terror event stemming from a cult. The plot thickens from there.

I've read nearly every Fleming James Bond story and seen nearly every movie, and enjoyed them all on one level or another. However, I found I knew little about Felix Leiter. And I've got to say, I find him an interesting and fun character. The voice Robinson has given him is very much in the old noir detectives style, minus the slang. Leiter is very self-effacing but ready to take on anything. He knows what his strengths are, yet finds he often overestimates his abilities. He is a complicated man, living with the knowledge of the spy he used to be, and the physically broken P.I. he is now. Altogether, this makes him a terrific lead character and narrator.There is also room for character growth, which sets him apart from James Bond.

Robinson also does a nice job fleshing out the supporting characters, like Tanaka and Davoff. They are believable in their abilities and play vital roles in the story. Robinson has also provided a couple of nods to the traditional Bond tale, and has set this story very much in the Bond world of Warren Ellis's comic stories.

Further, because this is a collected edition, there are several bonuses. Various covers are collected in the book, as well as the script to issue #1, and an interview with James Robinson.

To echo my earlier statements, I really enjoyed James Bond: Felix Leiter by James Robinson. It was fun, exciting, and entertaining. I look forward to seeing where this character goes in the future.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: DC Comics presents to you a 12-issue maxiseries from the critically acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson. You are not prepared for what lies ahead within these pages, good readers.

Ever since I finished reading DC Rebirth #1 and the hints at Dr. Manhattan's involvement in Rebirth, I've been looking forward to Geoff Johns's Doomsday Clock series. In what is clearly an homage to the Watchmen mini-series, Doomsday Clock #1's cover sets the stage for what promises to be an epic tale from Johns that promises to explain (and clean up) all the DC Continuity from the New DC through Rebirth. It is also a good opening chapter in the story.

I'm going to try to summarize spoiler-free: Doomsday Clock opens in the aftermath of Ozymandias's last gasp attempt to prevent nuclear war in the 1980's. It is the early 1990's and the political situation on Earth has pretty much pushed us to the brink of nuclear war again. Totalitarianism is running rampant, and everyone is pretty much resigned to a nuclear holocaust. However, a classic Watchmen hero is on a mission to free a dangerous prisoner, one who can help he and his partner "find god" and stop the end of the world. Because Doomsday Clock is supposed to connect the New DC and Rebirth, there is also a small scene with a prominent DC hero. I believe Johns was reminding us that these are separate universes and the story involves them both.

Doomsday Clock #1 answered no questions, and posed several others. It was, however, a great opening chapter in what should be a complex story that has a lot to accomplish. In my opinion, Geoff Johns is the perfect man to take on this task. He has proven himself over the years on numerous DC books and projects, rarely having a misstep and usually knocking it out of the park. I have absolutely no idea where he is going with this story (there are some obvious guesses that can be made based on the last year or so of stories, but I hope it's not that simple), but I trust Johns. He has proved himself a deft hand at handling all of DC's convoluted history and is great with characters, both famous and less well-known. I'm looking forward to reading Doomsday Clock very much, and I'm happy with the first issue.

I highly recommend Doomsday Clock #1 by Geoff Johns. If you are a Watchmen fan, this is for you. If you're curious about how the New DC resulted in Rebirth, read this. If you just like big events, they don't come bigger than Doomsday Clock. Issue 1 is out now, and you should start here.

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Basketball keeps rolling

Cami's rec league team lost a tight game this week. Cami played really well, making a basket and both of her free throws. She took several other shots, including a shot with a couple of seconds left that would have tied it, but it just rimmed out. She played great defense, getting several steals and deflections. She also rebounded well. She has next Saturday off, but returns the following week. She also has tryouts for the school team this week.

Griffin's team lost both travel games by close scores. Griffin continued playing well, getting another basket and harassing the other teams on defense. He had several steals (including just picking the kid's pocket a couple of times), a few rebounds, and some good passes. In fact, one of his coaches was extremely complimentary of his passing today. It's fun to see his growth, and after taking Thanksgiving week off, I look forward to watching Griffin continue to improve.

Lexi has a cheer game this week, and continues to practice for basketball. Her first game is in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE WILD STORM #9 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Angie Spica is given access to Jacob Marlowe’s secret lab, and discovers a treasure trove of technologies and sciences strange, ancient and alien. In this underground hold, she begins the process of fixing herself—and, perhaps, even evolving herself. In another hidden room, Jackie King and her team at IO begin planning a covert cyberwar attack against Skywatch—something even her own boss doesn’t know she’s doing.

The Wild Storm #9, by Warren Ellis. Yes. I read it. I tried to keep up with everything going on. But Ellis has such gigantic ideas and concepts that the more issue of The Wild Storm I read, the more I'm convinced this book is going to have to be read as a whole once all the issues are out. Which is not to say I'm not enjoying it; I am. It's just a lot to take in when you are only given small portions on a monthly basis.

In this issue, we see Jacob Marlowe take Angie Spica to his secret lab. She finds lots of cool alien stuff, and begins to use it to fix herself. We get a glimpse into IO, where Jackie King is confronted over a secret spy project she is running. We also see John Colt go all crazy ninja kill destroy on a group of people guarding a wagon containing something valuable. Yeah, I'm not going to even pretend I can understand it all right now, but it was big and fun and loud and insane. Or, a Warren Ellis book.

I really look forward to The Wild Storm each month, and issue #9 is no different. Warren Ellis is writing a crazy interesting book and I highly recommend it.

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Basketball Go!

Cami's rec league team lost this week, but played a fine game. Cami did a nice job, playing really tough defense, anticipating passes well, which resulted in multiple deflections and steals. The ball didn't drop as well for her this week, but she did make a free throw. She also grabbed several rebounds and created jump balls. She has another game next week.

Griffin's team split their first two games on the travel circuit. I thought Griffin played as well as I've ever seen him play. He made his first shot, which was huge for him. He made confident moves with the ball, and made smart passes. He hustled on defense, got a steal, and I think a rebound or two. It was a lot of fun to watch, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the season plays out. Next games are next Sunday.

Lexi continues with practice, getting ready for the upcoming season. Basketball things appear to be progressing well for her. In cheerleading, the squad is going to perform their state championship routine for the school board at the next meeting, so that's pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #2 by Bryan Hill - Book Review

From the publisher: Michael Cray hunts Oliver Queen…by making himself the prey. Stripped of his weapons and his newly formed team, Cray becomes the most dangerous game in Queen’s manufactured island, where the only law is survival. Queen has mastered his domain and the art of hunting men—Michael hasn’t mastered the tumor in his brain, and neither man is prepared for the extremity of the other…but only one will survive.

The first spinoff series of Warren Ellis’ hit reimagining of THE WILD STORM continues in MICHAEL CRAY #2. 

Bryan Hill continues his The Wild Storm spinoff with Michael Cray #2. This issue begins where #1 left off, with Cray, an assassin for IO, being assigned a hit on Oliver Queen, better known as the Green Arrow. In the meantime, Cray assembles a team and deals with a change he's undergoing on a cellular level, one which allows him to disintegrate objects with his hand. Eventually he confronts Queen, and a classic battle ensues.

I like this series, but it's not quite as insane as The Wild Storm. I am enjoying finding out more about Michael Cray, who appears like he may be a main player in The Wild Storm series, but with a lot of mystery about him. I believe that Bryan Hill is trying to peel back the layers on Cray a bit, and its working. Hill's Cray is grumpy and borderline unlikable, but he has a code about who he is willing to kill and who he's not. The Cray in The Wild Storm is very conflicted; Hill is providing some insight into how and why Cray is like that. As for Cray's team, to this point there isn't much we know about them. Cray's boss, Trelane, has less to do in this issue than the first.

One of the really interesting aspects to this series, at least to this part, is the appearance of some mainstream DC characters, in this case Oliver Queen, and another one hinted at for next issue. I'm curious as to how this will dovetail with the main DC universe, and whether this is an alternate Earth, if there are imposters running around, or some other explanation. This is something that has not been touched on in The Wild Storm, so I'm looking to Hill to expand on the concept. I feel like there is the potential for a lot of cool stories if the DC characters can be used. That would mean a bunch of high profile targets for Michael Cray.

I recommend Michael Cray #2 by Bryan Hill. It's a good read, and can be read without having read the first issue, but I try to pick it up anyway. This has the makings of a fun series.

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Paradox Bound by PETER CLINES - Book Review

From the publisher: Nothing ever changes in Sanders. The town’s still got a video store, for god’s sake. 

So why doesn’t Eli Teague want to leave? 

Not that he’d ever admit it, but maybe he’s been waiting—waiting for the traveler to come back. The one who’s roared into his life twice before, pausing just long enough to drop tantalizing clues before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires. The one who’s a walking anachronism, with her tricorne hat, flintlock rifle, and steampunked Model-A Ford. 

The one who’s being pursued by…something. 

So when the mysterious traveler finally reappears, Eli’s determined that this time, he’s going to get some answers. But his hunt soon yields far more than he bargained for, plunging him headlong into a dizzying world full of competing factions and figures straight out of legend. 

To make sense of the mystery at its heart, he must embark on a breakneck chase across the country and through two centuries of history­—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.

I want to open by saying that I'm a fan of Peter Clines. I enjoyed the Ex- series and both 14 and The Fold. So, when I heard about Paradox Bound, I was eager to have a chance to read it. I'm glad I did, because I really enjoyed the book. There is something to Clines's writing that propels the story forward, always leaving the reader eager to discover just what happens next. Paradox Bound was much the same; the pacing of the story was great and never seemed to lag. In addition, the characters were engaging and the plot was fun and interesting.

A quick summary: Eli Teague lives in a small town in Maine, where nothing much seems to happen and nothing seems to change. He works an IT job at a bank in a neighboring city and hangs out with his friends. But Eli is waiting for something, searching, even. You see, twice in his life (when he was 8 1/2 & 13 years old) Eli encountered Harry, a mysterious stranger dressed straight out of the 1800's and driving a Model-A Ford. The mystery of who Harry was and where she was from haunted Eli. And then one night, he encounters her again and it changes his life. He joins Harry as she "history travels" in search of the American Dream. But they're not the only ones looking for it; beware the "faceless men".

Time travel stories can be tricky, so Clines stays away from that trope. Rather, Eli and Harry "history" travel, Clines's own unique take on the genre. I found his version of time travel, and the mechanics of it, very interesting. The limits, restrictions, and rules for history traveling are also logical. Part of the fun of moving through history is encountering famous or recognizable figures, and Clines doesn't forget that. Our protagonists run in to several fairly famous, or infamous, characters from American history.

Character-wise, I found Eli to be a likable main character. He is well developed and has a nice sense of humor, in addition to the wide-eyed wonder most of us would display upon discovering we can time travel. There is both nerd and hero wrapped up in Eli, and his arc finishes nicely. Harry is also a good character. She is a bit abrasive at times and there is a sense of mystery about her, but she is definitely a strong heroine. Like Eli, she too finds a nice resolution to her arc. The faceless men are fine antagonists, and the blankness of their features adds a level of horror to them. Clines also provides a clear connection between them, the search for the American Dream, and Eli and Harry. This is not just a random group of bad guys.

Clines typically writes with a bit of humor and Paradox Bound is no exception. As this is a sort of time travel story, there are no shortages of pop culture nuggets strewn throughout the narrative. I found them to be a natural fit and not forced, as can sometimes happen.

I highly recommend Paradox Bound by Peter Clines. As I mentioned earlier, I'm a fan, and this book did nothing to change my mind. If you're looking for something by Clines to try in order to see if you like his style, this book is not part of a series or connected to any other stories by him (at least as of this writing). It would make a great starting spot.

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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

We're Off And Running - Basketball

Today was the first game of the winter basketball season, with many more to come. Cami gets our family started, with her first game in the school rec league. She did a terrific job. It may have been the most complete game I've ever seen Cam play. She had six points, several rebounds, a steal (I think), and multiple inbound passes. She got out on the fast break a bunch and converted her last attempted very nicely. I'm really proud of her and can't wait to see how she continues to improve.

Lexi continues to practice and Griffin has his first practice this week, followed by his first game (his team is playing a travel team schedule and will also play a regular school schedule).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #2 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: Public support for Batman dwindles and Gotham City’s 99 percent rally around ex-Joker Jack Napier’s crusade to expose decades of corruption within the GCPD. A proposition inspires new revelations about Harley and The Joker’s past; and as Jack transforms into a hero of the middle class and takes extreme measures to mobilize a revolutionary army of super-villains, Bruce struggles to stay focused on engineering a technological breakthrough to save Alfred.

Sean Murphy's Batman: White Knight #2 continues the unique story he began with issue #1. In the world of his White Knight, Jack Napier aka Joker has been cured and the city has turned against Batman. It is an unusual situation to say the least.

Issue #2 focuses on Jack and provides some background on how the new status quo came about. Highlights include an impassioned speech delivered by Jack Napier expounding on how Gotham fostered his development as Joker; TWO Harley Quinns; Batman working with Victor Fries; and Jack's meeting with his former supervillain competitors.

I really enjoyed this story. Murphy did a nice job with the first issue, setting up the idea of Jack as victim, but there wasn't a lot of depth. However, this changed with this current issue. Murphy adds depth to Jack Napier, making him a sympathetic figure that you want to believe, but Murphy leaves just enough room for doubt. His handling of multiple versions of Harley Quinn was borderline genius; I don't want to spoil it, but Murphy just came up with a fantastic explanation for why there seems to be such a disparity in looks and actions between the different iterations of Harley.

I highly recommend Batman: White Knight #2 by Sean Murphy. While you should start with the first issue, this book functions as a fine introduction to the series as well. I can't wait to see where Murphy and Jack Napier go from here and look forward to reading the next installment in White Knight.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

James Bond: Black Box by Benjamin Percy - Book Review

From the publisher: In the snowbound French Alps, James Bond finds himself in the cross-hairs of an assassin who targets other assassins. This is the first puzzle piece in a larger adrenaline-fueled mystery that will send Bond across the globe to infiltrate the underworld, risk everything in high-stakes casino gambling, evade deadly pursuers, and root out a digital breach threatening global security. 

The James Bond comics from Dynamite Entertainment have been fun. They are very much in the spirit of the latest movies and Ian Fleming's books (at least more so than many of the earlier movies were). It was in that spirit that I decided to read Benjamin Percy's James Bond: Black Box. And you know what? It was fun, too.

Black Box finds James Bond on the trail of a tech mastermind named Saga Genji. It seems Genji has hacked the information of MI-6, along with the spy agencies of nations around the world. It's Bond's mission to reclaim the missing data, stop Genji, and maybe bring home information that would give England a leg up on other countries. Along the way, he has to deal with a mysterious woman and an assassin who makes and wears a death mask of his victims.

Percy checks off all the Bond boxes with this story. Exciting pre-credits opening? Check. Beautiful, mysterious woman? Check. Outrageous villain? Check. Felix Leiter? Check. Foreign locales? Check. Gadgets? Check. Let me be clear, I don't think any of these are bad, just formulaic. And a major part of what Bond fans like is the formula, me included. Just don't expect any lasting characterization or permanent changes. Only Fleming did that, in the original books.

Overall, I enjoyed James Bond: Black Box by Benjamin Percy. It was a fun, exciting, and entertaining Bond story. As long as Dynamite keeps putting these out, I'll keep reading them. I recommend Black Box to any and all James Bond fans.

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

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Fall Ends; The Winter Begins

Here's a summary of our last couple of weeks: Lexi's cheer squad won the state championship in the Time Out Division. It was super cool and very exciting. They even had a police/fire truck escort when they go back to town and drove in a sort-of parade through several of the small towns in our school district. Lexi also made the 8th grade basketball team, and is very excited about that. She is practicing now, with games to come in the next month or two.

Griffin's football team lost in the semi-finals, but he had a successful season. He nearly had an interception in our last game. Griffin also made the school basketball team. He starts practice in a week, and then games start soon after.

Cami finished her fall travel basketball season by winning her last two games. She made a basket and two free throws, had multiple rebounds, and stole the ball and drove to the basket on a fast break, just missing the shot. She really improved during this season, and we're looking forward to seeing further development over the winter. She has her first rec league game next Saturday, and will have tryouts for the school team (she should make it) at the end of November. She also wrapped up volleyball with a win, and had a good time doing it.

We are now getting ready to eat, sleep, and breathe basketball for the next four months.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #3 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: After an unthinkable tragedy strikes the Grayson family, Dick finds himself a prisoner of the very system he helped create—with his son’s life hanging in the balance. With nowhere else to turn, Grayson seeks out an old friend for help…but some mistakes are impossible to forgive. 

Nightwing: The New Order #3, by Kyle Higgins, continues to tell the story of a world without superheroes. This issue picks up where #2 left off, with Dick Grayson and his son, Jake, in custody, due to Jake's manifesting powers and Dick's failure to report them. As Kate Kane, Dick's partner and the former Batwoman, comes to interrogate him, Dick uses his old skills to escape and go on the run looking for help from an old friend. He eventually runs into several classic DC characters.

To me, part of the fun of these alternate history-type stories is seeing the Easter eggs and discovering how the writers will bring other well-known characters into the story. This issue doesn't lack for fun, bringing in Kate Kane and Tim Drake, as well as showing us what the Bat-cave currently looks like. Plus, Higgins has some surprises at the end.

I'm really enjoying this fascist take on the DC landscape, as it's a huge departure from the normal status quo. Higgins is doing a good job portraying all the characters and situations as believable, especially when the motivation of the various characters is brought in to it, particularly the rivalry between Dick Grayson and Kate Kane. Now that the series is halfway done, I'm curious how he's going to bring it all together. As a Nightwing fan, I'm hoping for a return to a more heroic Dick Grayson, but I'll trust Higgins to finish the story well.

I highly recommend Nightwing: The New Order #3 by Kyle Higgins. It's a fun look at a different DC universe. However, as this is a mini-series, this issue is not the best place to start reading. Track down the previous two issues, or wait for the collected edition.

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

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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV- Book Review

From the publisher: Batman's team of vigilantes continues to protect Gotham City in the next volume of the best-selling series, BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 3: LEAGUE OF SHADOWS!

The next big DETECTIVE arc explodes here as the League of Shadows goes from mysterious rumor to deadly fact! With two new members of the team, Azrael and Batwing, will the Dark Knight's squadron of crime-fighters be able to discover the League's plan? And what deadly personal seceret will be unleashed on the team? 

From writer James Tynion IV (BATMAN/TMNT) and the spectacular art team of Eddy Barrows (NIGHTWING) and Alvaro Martinez (BATMAN ETERNAL) comes the third volume of the return of DETECTIVE COMICS! Collects DETECTIVE COMICS #950-956.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows, by James Tynion IV, is another in the line of excellent Batman books. Tynion builds on the idea of Batman forming a team of Bat-heroes to help him protect Gotham. Trained by Batwoman, this group, consisting of Clayface, Orphan, Azrael and Batwing (replacing Red Robin and Spoiler), is growing in confidence and ability. But, the League of Shadows may be too much for them.

When Lady Shiva and the League of Shadows come to Gotham, they plan to destroy it. Along the way, they run in to the remains of the Colony (a group run by Batwoman's father), Batman's new crew, and Ra's al Ghul. Cassandra Cain, aka Orphan, is particularly spotlighted. The story speeds along and comes to a fantastic and heartwarming conclusion.

I really liked this collection. Tynion has done an excellent job with the group, and in this book he focuses on Orphan. I thought he did a terrific job portraying a young girl with limited speaking skills (but strong non-verbal communication), raised to be an assassin with no remorse for killing, who desperately wants to be someone and something different. There are several heartbreaking scenes with Cassandra, yet some of the most heartwarming as well. I also found the League of Shadows, whom I had little previous knowledge of, to be a worthy opponent for Batman, and a worthy challenger to the better known League of Assassins. Lady Shiva is formidable and I look forward to future stories about her and the League.

Additionally, there are some interesting developments with Kate Kane (Batwoman) and her father. Tynion has done a nice job with Batwing and Azrael, who form an interesting partnership (science vs. faith). I also like the depth Tynion is adding to Clayface, who is no longer a one-note villain.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows, by James Tynion IV, is a terrific book. I highly recommend it to Batman fans. It is also a fine self-contained story (minimal knowledge of previous storylines required) and a good beginning point for new readers.

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City.

He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the “Clown Prince of Crime” but “white knight”? Never. Until now…

Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as “Jack,” sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman!

Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero—and which the villain?

Sean Murphy, the writer of Batman: White Knight #1, has come up with an interesting premise: What if the Joker was cured, began trying to make up for his wrongs, and Batman became Public Enemy #1? That's what the series White Knight tries to answer and its off to a good start.

The story opens with Jack Napier (the cured Joker) visiting Batman in prison, where Batman is being held. Then Murphy takes us back to how this happened. Batman is in hot pursuit of Joker, who has escaped Arkham Asylum once again. As Batman becomes increasingly more reckless, he endangers many people, finally cornering Joker in a factory with pills of unknown origin stored all around. Batman shoves a handful of them down Joker's mouth and is filmed doing so. From that, chaos erupts.

Murphy's opening chapter in this story provides mostly back-story for the cured Joker concept. There are some nice character moments, both involving Joker, and involving Batman and his "family". I'm curious how this story will progress, and while this part was a little heavy on exposition, I'll definitely be checking in when part 2 is released.

I recommend Batman: White Knight, by Sean Murphy, to Batman fans. It's a good beginning to a story with a new concept. It looks to be a fun read, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Murphy tells his story.

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Our fall sports seasons near they're end

Lexi cheered again while the football team won again. There is one more game this season. She also continues to participate in open gyms, preparing for basketball season. This weekend, Lexi and the cheer squad participated in their second cheer competition. They won again and this time they had no deductions on their routine.

Cami's volleyball team split their games again this past week. They've shown a lot of improvement and will finish their season with a tournament this week. Cami has shown a consistent overhand serve and is doing a nice job with hitting the ball when it's coming to her. Cami's basketball team won one and lost one, again. She had 3 points in the first game and had 2 rebounds. She has next weekend off, then plays a couple more games, I believe.

Griffin's football team played their last regular season game this week. The team lost a hard fought game, 14-8. Griffin did a nice job, blocking from his wide receiver position. He also a fine game at DB. They completed a pass on him, but he had good coverage and helped make the tackle. He also knocked a pass down the next time they threw on him, so he learned from previous experience. In the first playoff game, the team won 34-0 and played our most complete game so far. Griffin played good "D" and was in a pile for a tackle. He also carried the ball twice. The first time, I think he lost a yard. The second run was spectacular, though. He started off left, made it harder by running outside the hole and to the sideline, where he dodged a guy and stiff-armed another, then reversed field and outran everyone (with some helpful blocks from his teammates) for a touchdown. It was the most fantastic 179 yard 20 yard touchdown run and nearly made me cry. Our next game is Tuesday in the semi-finals, and if we win, the championship is on Wednesday on the new varsity turf field at the host school.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

NIGHTWING: NEW ORDER #2 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: Dick Grayson’s commitment to the Crusaders is put to the test after he learns a shocking secret about a member of his own family. Eager to keep the scandal as quiet as possible, Grayson turns to an old friend for some answers—and what he learns will alter his destiny forever.

I'm definitely enjoying Nightwing: New Order, by Kyle Higgins. Issue #2 was a great second part, and gave a lot of background on how the world without powers got to be that way.

The first thing to realize is that the narrator, Jake, is the son of Nightwing and Starfire. Secondly, Nightwing is responsible for wiping out the majority of superpowers, good and bad, in the world. Also, Nightwing is the leader of a group responsible for capturing powered individuals, and either providing them with inhibitors or putting them in suspended animation if the inhibitors don't work. Finally, Nightwing is put in to an almost impossible position, forced to make an incredibly hard choice.

While New Order #1 dropped the reader into the middle of this dystopian, facist world. With issue #2, though, Higgins begins to provide some context. With Jake, Higgins has found a new and interesting voice with which to narrate the story, and he does a nice job of explaining just how things ended up where they are. He also provides a new set of eyes on the heroes so many of us know so well. And while I can't put my finger on the title, Higgins has reminded me of another story with New Order. This isn't a bad thing, though. I really like the echoes of familiarity. I also like the emotions he has imbued this story with, particularly the family relationships.

I highly recommend Nightwing: New Order #2. Kyle Higgins is writing a terrific story of impossible choices and family relationships. I look forward to seeing where he takes it from here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Titans Vol. 2 (Rebirth) by Dan Abnett - Book Review

From the publisher: The classic team of former superhero sidekicks continue their adventures in TITANS VOL. 2, as a part of DC Rebirth!

As Kid Flash Wally West and the Titans adjust to their new lives in New York City and investigate a new threat, a mysterious company called Meta Solutions comes to the forefront. Who are they? And what stunning discovery will the Titans make about their new foe? 

Writer Dan Abnett (AQUAMAN) and artist Brett Booth (NIGHTWING) continue their critically acclaimed run with TITANS VOL. 2! Collects issues #7-10, TITANS ANNUAL #1 and stories from DC REBIRTH HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

I've been reading Titans for two reasons: first, I enjoy reading about Nightwing and find that the character is a natural leader; second, with Wally West (Flash) at the center of the Rebirth mystery, I'm hoping for some clues. Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan, by Dan Abnett, offers some of the first, but none of the second.

The main storyline in this volume involves the Titans setting up shop and (quite literally) growing Titans Tower in New York City. They are attempting to make their presences felt, and have hired a legal consultant (which is fairly humorous). Their friends Mal and Karen Duncan figure prominently, as Mal has used a company called Meta Solutions to remove his sound powers. Karen, who recently discovered she has powers of her own, just wants to be able to focus and control her abilities. When Mal runs into an old enemy, he questions just what Meta Solutions is actually doing. Enter the Titans, to help their friends, and the mystery deepens.

Most of the characterization in this volume focuses on Mal and Karen. It actually functions as an origin of sorts for Karen, who Mal affectionately refers to as "Bumblebee". Her quest to use her abilities is a positive contrast to Mal's PTSD that resulted from engaging an enemy while using his abilities. While this story is effectively concluded, it also serves to set up a larger mystery and coming conflict.

In addition to the main storyline, there is a short tale from the Rebirth Holiday Special that shines a nice light on Arsenal. Titan's Annual #1 is also featured here. Abnett tells a story that brings several of the Titans and their Justice League counterparts together in mentor/protege roles. He also manages to delve a bit into the history of Donna Troy (Wonder Girl). My favorite part is how Abnett contrasts the relationship between Barry Allen and Wally West (both Flashes) to that of Batman and Nightwing, Aquaman and Aqualad, and Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl. Suffice it to say that not all of them are functional relationships.

Overall, Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan, by Dan Abnett, was entertaining. I enjoy reading about the original Titans (no longer teens). While I was hoping for some Rebirth clues, I wasn't disappointed in the book. I recommend it to fans of the various heroes (Nightwing, Arsenal, Wonder Girl, Aqualad, Omen, and the Duncans) either together or individually. I look forward to seeing where Abnett takes this group of characters in the future.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Latest Update

This week, Lexi continued cheering. The 8th grade team won again, and Lexi was her usual cheer-y self. Two more weeks before they begin transitioning to basketball cheer. She also has another cheer competition coming up next Saturday.

Cami's volleyball team split games with their opponent for the second time this season. She served well, winning earning several points. She has a couple more weeks of the volleyball season remaining. Cami's basketball team went 1-1 this week. She handled the ball as point guard several times, shot, and played hard. Two more games to come next week.

Griffin's football team won again, 18-0, to go to 7-0 on the season. He had a pretty good game, getting a tackle and providing some blocks. He also got to cover a receiver, as this team passed a little bit. Next Saturday is the last regular season game, with the playoffs starting next Sunday. Giffin's basketball team lost both their games this week. He had a few shots that just missed (they are sooo close to going in). He also had a couple of rebounds, played tenacious defense, and caused multiple turnovers, along with tying the ball up for jump balls. His fall season comes to an end next weekend with a tournament.

We are close to finishing the fall sports season and then will have a short break before the winter season begins.

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.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane (Rebirth) by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: The man who has physically tested the Dark Knight like no one before is back to finally break the Bat for good. Can a battered, exhausted Batman fend off one of his greatest foes? Plus, catch up with Catwoman as she and the Dark Knight battle a collection of villains and plan for the future! 

Collects BATMAN #16-20, 23 and 24.

With Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane, Tom King wraps up his "I Am" trilogy of Batman stories. And boy did he wrap it up well. I Am Bane is a terrific story, with lots of action and some quieter, deeper moments of self-reflection for Bruce Wayne, and even Bane. To summarize the , thanks to Psycho Pirate, a hero known as Gotham is dead and Gotham Girl is emotionally broken. Bane took possession of Psycho Pirate to help him deal with the effects of his long time use of Venom. Batman, knowing the Pirate was the only who could heal Gotham Girl, used a group of questionable "heroes" to take the Pirate from Bane, invading Bane's home, the prison island of Santa Prisca, to do it. Which brings us to this final volume. Bane wants the Pirate back, Batman needs five days for Gotham Girl to be healed, and will do anything and everything to delay Bane in his quest.

With that said, the story is much more involved than that. There are guest appearances by multiple former Robins and Duke, Superman, and Catwoman. There are plans within plans. There is plenty of action and confrontation. And there is an interesting parallel between the childhoods of Bane and Batman. All of this sets up a crisis of conscience for Batman, and sends him off on a new path in his life.

In addition to the main story, there are several others as well. There is a nice tale about how Bruce Wayne acquires a pet dog, named Ace, and an interesting team-up with Swamp Thing that is deeply philosophical. The best of these stories, though, is the epilogue to the I Am Bane storyline. It involves Batman and Catwoman, and spotlights their relationship. It is told in contrast to a conversation between Gotham Girl and Batman. It is well told, and King does a fabulous job with the characterization. In fact, the characterization in this whole volume, particularly with Batman/Bruce Wayne, is a highlight for me. I feel like King has added to an already storied and iconic character, which is hard to do.

Finally, the ramifications of I Am Bane are sure to be felt for a long time. Bruce has come out of this ordeal a changed man, and I'm anxious to see where King takes him. I highly recommend Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane, particularly to readers who have read the first two volumes in this trilogy. King has risen to the challenge that Scott Snyder left for him on the Batman title. He is well on his way to writing a very definitive take on Batman and I recommend this book to all Batman fans.

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