Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Wild Storm #5 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

Batman #25 by Tom King - Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

City of Miracles By ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT - Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer Events Heat Up

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Track and Basketball End

Track season came to an end this week at the County Meet. Lexi competed in the 400m and the long jump. She finished 8th in both events. In the 400m, Lexi was challenging for 5th, but just ran out of gas at the end. She was also having trouble breathing, as she was fighting being sick. However, she still finished the race with her personal best, so that was cool. As far as long jump, because of how the meet developed, Lexi had to take all three jumps immediately after finishing the 400m. Due to this, she wasn't able to get her best jumps in, but she did get close to her average for the season. While the season didn't end the way she hoped, it can't be looked at as anything other than a success. We are all very proud of her, and look forward to how she improves next season.

Cami and Griffin attended what will probably be their last basketball practice for this session. They both have shown improvement, particularly in making a dribble move before shooting (behind the back, between the legs, etc.).

Other than summer camps, this ends our sports seasons for a few months.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ASTRO CITY #44 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: A tale of murder, mystery…and a cat. Starring Nightingale, Sunhawk…and their cat. Did we mention the cat? The cat’s the lead character. Featuring guest art by Rick Leonardi (SUPERMAN, Spider-Man 2099). Mreow.

Astro City #44, by Kurt Busiek, is a perfect example of what the Astro City comics do. They take ordinary superhero cliches or stories and give them a twist. Sometimes that means humanizing the heroes and villains, sometimes its focusing on the ordinary people and the effect the super people have on them. With this new issue, Busiek focuses on a cat, the hero Kittyhawk.

This particular story is all animal themed. The heroes Nightingale and Sunhawk need to find and rescue a young girl from the villainous Poppinjay. But, Nightingale's new pet cat, whom she affectionately calls Kittyhawk, keeps getting in the way. What the two heroes don't realize, however, is that the stray cat was given powers as a result of a previous Nightingale/Sunhawk adventure. As Kittyhawk uses her new-found powers, she receives help from Rocket Dog (the animal theme continues).

A nice standalone issue, Astro City #44 is simple but fun. Busiek is a master at telling superhero stories in unique ways. This origin story for Kittyhawk is another great example of his ability to constantly look at the history of superhero comics and find some unexplored corner to write about. I recommend this book to fans of Astro City and to new readers as well. It may not have the gravitas that some of Busiek's longer arcs have, but it's a terrific story, and something different from the norm.

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

THE WILD STORM #4 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: There’s a covert action team out in the wild, and I.O. has proof of it for the first time. This changes everything. The woman who tipped the first domino in this cascade of secrets and lies is on the run. And the other great power of the hidden world is on the scene. Henry Bendix is noticing things from on high, and that doesn’t bode well for I.O., Angela Spica or the planet. The storm is building.

Cole Cash (Grifter) and his wild CAT (Covert Action Team) escape from IO's Razor CAT team. Miles Craven (of IO) has discovered Angela Spica has technology she shouldn't, which helped her turn into some form of robot. Henry Bendix, the Weatherman, is ticked off at everything, but especially everything about Earth.

There. That about sums it up. I have NO idea how to review The Wild Storm #4, by Warren Ellis, because I still have no idea what exactly is going on. In fact, I feel like I know less with each new issue. However, I'm committed to seeing where Ellis takes this. I have enjoyed many of his books in the past (including Stormwatch and The Authority, the spiritual predecessors of The Wild Storm), and trust that he will eventually pull everything together and I'll understand what's going on. I also like the characters, particularly Cole Cash.

I highly recommend The Wild Storm #4, but I do not recommend reading it if you haven't read the previous issues (or go ahead and do it, you might have a better grasp on events than I do).

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Best Track Week Evah!

This week was the best track week ever for our family. To begin with, Lexi won four ribbons combined for her two meets. In the long jump, her distances started going back up, and she finished second and tied for second. During the first meet, she ran the 400m competitively for the first time. She had told me multiple times that she thought it was easier than the 200m, but I didn't really believe her. However, she blew us all away. She finished first, and kept a consistent pace throughout. Her coach told her she was 4 or 5 seconds off our middle school record. The crowd was really excited for her, and so was Lexi. She had set a goal to earn a first place ribbon and did so. During the second meet, she pushed through and finished in third, only a couple of seconds off her first time. As a result, she is going to run the 400m in the County meet (our version of a conference championship). She will also be competing in the long jump.

To add to our track meet, Cami and Griffin competed in the Youth Track Night, a sort of introductory event for elementary school kids. They both had a great time running the 100m and 200m, throwing the shot put (with a softball), and doing the long jump. They think they may compete on the middle school team next spring (our 5th graders are allowed to do that). In addition, they also had another basketball session, and did a great job.

This week, the County meet and basketball.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

James Bond: Hammerhead by Andy Diggle - Book Review

From the publisher: Bond is assigned to hunt down and eliminate Kraken, a radical anti-capitalist who has targeted Britain's newly-upgraded nuclear arsenal. But all is not as it seems. Hidden forces are plotting to rebuild the faded glory of the once-mighty British Empire, and retake by force what was consigned to history. 007 is a cog in their deadly machine - but is he an agent of change, or an agent of the status quo? Loyalties will be broken, allegiances challenged. But in an ever-changing world, there's one man you can rely on: Bond. James Bond.

James Bond: Hammerhead, by Andy Diggle, is the latest in a line of James Bond comics/graphic novels. To this point, I've been very entertained by all that I've read. And Hammerhead is no different. It is very much a typical Bond story, and I mean that in the best possible way.

In Hammerhead, Bond is tasked with a British weapons manufacturer who also happens to be responsible for disposing of Britain's decommissioned nuclear warheads. Meanwhile, a mysterious anti-capitalist terrorist named Kraken (got to love those Bond villain names) is trying to obtain those warheads. Mix, shake, and stir and you've got a fast-paced, action-packed James Bond adventure.

Andy Diggle has a fine grasp on what makes a good Bond story. There is the traditional explosive beginning (the art, by Luca Casalanguida, even takes the reader through the title pages much like the movies do). Bond meets a beautiful woman (in this case, the daughter of the weapons manufacturer he is tasked to protect). There is a crazy new weapon (Hammerhead), gadgets from Q division, witty banter and one-liners, In addition, Bond globe hops as usual; locations include Venezuela, London, Dubai, and the North Atlantic.

While Diggle doesn't really develop the character of James Bond with any new depth (this is hard to accomplish with this type of long running character), he does stay true to who Bond is. His Bond leans more towards the Ian Fleming novels and more recent Daniel Craig movies. Bond is more serious, rather than cartoony. Personally, I like this portrayal a lot, and Diggle does a great job with it.

Andy Diggle's James Bond: Hammerhead is a great addition to the James Bond cannon. It is fun and non-stop, bringing out what is best (in my opinion) about Bond. I highly recommend this book to new and old readers alike.

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

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Another ribbon

During this past (rainy) week, Lexi ended up only having one track meet (in the rain). She ran the 4 x 100 relay, and her team had their best time. She also long jumped, and while her distances aren't hitting her best, she still placed. This time she earned 3rd place. She was very excited, and has now tripled her stated goal for the year.

Cami and Griffin had another session of basketball camp. Because their group is small in size, they are getting some personal attention. Plus, the coach really encourages Cami (he used her as an example twice, she told me), I think because she is one of very few girls who participate. Both Cami and Griffin showed some improvement and weren't complaining about how hard they worked when the time was over, so that's nice, too.

This week, Lexi is scheduled for two track meets, Cami and Griffin have another session, and the twins are also supposed to be participating in the school's youth track night (weather permitting).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God in Lost Places by Roger W. Thompson - Book Review

From the publisher: Get Lost. . . and Find What Really Matters

We are made for freedom and adventure, friendship and romance. Yet too much of life is spent unfulfilled at work, restless at home, and bored at church.  All the while knowing there is something more. You’ll find some of life’s best moments waiting for you over a campfire, on a river—even in that coffee shop or brewery you didn’t know you’d discover along the way. It’s time to begin the search. 

In the literary spirit of well-worn tales about America’s open road, this poetic, honest, often hilarious collection of essays shows how to embark on adventures that kindle spiritual reflection, personal growth, and deeper family connections.

From surfing California’s coastlines, stargazing southwestern deserts, and fly-fishing in remote mountains of Montana, you’ll be inspired to follow the author’s footsteps and use the hand-drawn maps from each chapter to plan your own trips.  There you will hear God’s voice – and it may help you find what you’re searching for.

“We search mountaintops and valleys, deserts and oceans, hoping sunrises and long views through the canyons will help us discover who we are, or who we still want to be.  The language of our hearts reflects that of creation because in both are fingerprints of God.”
—Roger W. Thompson

We Stood Upon Stars is a series of short essays by Roger W. Thompson. Each essay makes up a chapter, for a total of 31 chapters. In short, Thompson loves to explore the outdoors, particularly in the American West. His adventures take him all over California, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota, among a couple of others. Throughout his travels, he reflects on what it means to be a man and how God's beauty and plan are reflected and found in nature, or as the subtitle says, Finding God in Lost Places.

I enjoyed this book. Each chapter was its own little story, a slice of Thompson's life. He does a masterful job of describing the various scenes in nature he sees, and is very open about how he feels. Several of the chapters deal with very specific "wounds" and personal sadnesses (I know it's not a word, but tragedy didn't feel right). He also writes with a subtle sense of humor, most often at his own expense.

We Stood Upon Stars can be enjoyed on two levels. The first is in Thompson's travels around the U.S. I found myself imaging the landscapes he visited, and was able to picture many of them in my mind's eye. There is a beauty to the West that many people never experience, and Thompson brings a bit of that to his readers. He also fills his essays with adventures: fly fishing, looking for surf, camping in National Parks, river rafting, etc. These give a cool view to those who've never experienced them. This book can also be enjoyed as a meditation on God's plan for our lives. While he never gets overly religious, Thompson doesn't shy away from discussing God's majesty. He is also very open about where he turns in times of need and sorrow. In some aspects, this book reminded me of some of John Eldredge's early books. Its very much about using the outdoors to connect with God and pass on traditions of being a man (Thompson has two sons).

Overall, We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson was a good read. I liked the clear writing style and the fact that I could read a couple of chapters at a time and then put it down. I also liked the nuggets of wisdom I found sprinkled throughout. It was exactly what I was looking for when I decided to give it a shot. I recommend this book to fathers, outdoorsy types, and readers looking to find God in places other than their "usual spots".

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

A little track and another ribbon

Lexi just had one meet this week. She ran the 100m and 4 x 100m, and did okay. Her best event continues to be long jump, though. This week she finished 4th, and because it was a three-way meet, she earned another ribbon. Next week she has two (maybe three) meets.

Cami and Griffin had their first session at the Indiana Basketball Academy this spring. They are in the Shoot, Shoot, Shoot clinic, which focuses on shooting. For nearly an hour straight, they did multiple shooting drills, combining dribble moves, ball fakes, and passes with taking good shots. They were both exhausted, and Cami wasn't thrilled. I don't think she was used to being coached by someone who wasn't a parent of one of her teammates. Griffin went through this last year, and the work on form really helped him improve. Also, their coach this session was Jim Crews, former IU player (1976 National Champ) and D-1 head coach (Evansville and St. Louis University). They get back at it again next week.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy (Rebirth) by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of BATMAN, Scott Snyder, comes his newest Dark Knight project as a part of DC Universe Rebirth, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY! 

Snyder is one of the most critically acclaimed authors in the comics world, with titles that include the genre-defining BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS, as well as BATMAN: BLACK MIRROR and AMERICAN VAMPIRE. But this time, he teams with Eisner Award-winning illustrator and comics legend John Romita Jr. (Avengers, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: THE LAST CRUSADE) and critically acclaimed artist Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight)!

In this new graphic novel, Batman finds himself trying to help old friend Harvey Dent…now known as the villainous Two-Face! The Dark Knight accompanies his foe on a cross-country trip to fix his scarred face and hopefully end the Two-Face identity forever. But when the former Gotham City D.A. sets a plan into motion to free himself, the road gets bumpy and every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide comes out in force with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to Bat-hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before! 

Following the success of COURT OF OWLS, DEATH OF THE FAMILY and ENDGAME, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY is the industry-shaking graphic novel for the Dark Knight, with one of the biggest creative pairings in DC Comics history sharing their take on one of the greatest heroes ever in ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1! Collects issues #1-5.

In his introduction to All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy, Scott Snyder mentions that after he finished his iconic run on the Batman title, he still had stories he wanted to tell. However, he wanted to take Batman out of Gotham and use new artists to tell each story. Well, mission accomplished with this first volume.

My Own Worst Enemy is a Batman road trip reminiscent of Midnight Run or The Book of Eli. In short, Batman is taking Harvey Dent/Two-Face to a secret location in order to provide him with a "cure" for getting rid of his Two-Face personality forever. To defend himself, Two-Face has promised to release every bit of compromising information on the citizens of Gotham unless they stop Batman.  To add to the chaos, Two-Face has promised the combined fortune of Gotham's top three crime bosses to anyone who frees him and stops Batman. Let the madness ensue.

This was a very entertaining story. The road trip aspect allowed the setting to be constantly changing. Also, it allowed for a large number of B list (and C and D, etc.) villains to take their crack at Batman, with often amusing results. Ordinary people were put in difficult positions, and Penguin and his cohorts (the top 2 crime bosses) were desperate, as well. On top of all this, James Gordon and the Gotham police force find themselves compromised as well, due to some information Two-Face has on them.

There were two things I particularly enjoyed about My Own Worst Enemy. The first was the relationship between Batman and Two-Face. Snyder reveals a rather poignant encounter from their childhood, and I found that it added depth to both Bruce and Harvey. (Snyder has become a master at adding background to Batman's past and making it feel very natural, like the reader knew about it all along). I also enjoyed the focus on Duke, Batman's new non-Robin partner. He plays a pivotal role in the story, and his relationship with Batman is just different enough from the Robins of the past/present to add an interesting perspective (Duke also gets a back-up story that adds depth to him as well).

If this first volume of All Star Batman is any indication, Scott Snyder has again got a hit on his hands. If he hasn't already, he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the top Batman writers ever. I highly recommend All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy. It will thrill long-time readers and is a fine starting place for new readers.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Track Update

This week, Lexi only had one track meet (the other was canceled due to bad weather). Fortunately, this was a pretty successful meet for her. Lexi competed in the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay, as well as the long jump. She was a couple of hundredths from winning the "JV" heat of the 100m, and looks better and better running it every time. She did a nice job in the relay, but her team is all 5th-7th graders, which makes it hard for them to win. However, the long jump is where Lexi excelled. For the first time ever, Lexi placed in a "varsity" event. She finished in 2nd place, and was really excited to earn her first ribbon. That was a goal she set before the season, and she was super stoked to meet that goal. She has told me that her new goal is to finish 1st in an event. She has one, maybe two, meets coming up this week.

Cami and Griffin will be starting a once-a-week basketball camp this week. They will be participating in a session that focuses on good shooting form. Griffin participated in this last spring, and it was clear that his shot was becoming better and his form was improving, so I'm excited to see how they grow over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

THE WILD STORM #3 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Angela Spica is wounded, alone and hiding from black-ops killers sent by her own benefactor, the man she thought responsible for her well-being—the mastermind behind an assassination attempt the Engineer just foiled. But, unknown to her, she might yet have a chance to survive this terrible day. The Grifter has a plan.

A storm is building. And through it all, a mysterious woman crackles though the electrical devices that inhabit our lives, slipping among the invisible networks of the world.

There’s something new in the world. 

Warren Ellis is at it again with The Wild Storm #3. Angela Spica is still on the run and in hiding from IO, while Grifter and his friends attempt to find her and bring her in. When IO finds them, chaos ensues.

Once again, I'm at a loss as to how to describe this comic book. Ellis is in his element, with craziness and giant ideas all over the place. There is fighting, revelations, explosions, superhero stuff, and Grifter doing Grifter-type things. While there is a little background as to how Angela created her bio-metallic suit/form, the reader is still left to trust Ellis to reveal what we need to know only as we need to know it. I was happy to have more of Cole Cash aka Grifter in this issue, with him actually donning his mask, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how this story progresses and learning more of the background of the characters and organizations. I really feels like Ellis has this really deep backstory and has dropped us in the middle of it. I'm extremely curious to discover just how this arc will turn out.

The Wild Storm #3, by Warren Ellis, is another excellent book. At this point, I would only recommend it to readers currently following the series, however. New readers may find themselves very confused. It is worth tracking down the previous issues to catch up, and it would also be worth it to read the story in a collected edition when it is published. Finally, I hope this series continues for a long run, as I find myself sucked into it immediately and disappointed when I reach the end.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide (Rebirth) by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: Still reeling from the events of "I AM GOTHAM," the epic first arc in Tom King's brand new BATMAN series, the Dark Knight finds himself up against some of the biggest (literally) threats he's ever faced within the city limits of Gotham. To save the city he loves, Batman enlists the help of the toughest members of the Bat-family including Nightwing, Batwoman and more!

Also in this volume, Batman must take on some familiar foes who have stolen something from Gotham--and the Caped Crusader's limits will be tested as he fights to get it back.

Breakout writer and former CIA analyst, Tom King (GRAYSON, THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON) is paired with superstar artists Riley Rossmo and Mikel Janin in this knock-down, drag-out superhero story! Collects BATMAN #9-15.

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide, by Tom King, took the promise of the I Am Gotham storyline and ramped it up. This was a great book with many twists and turns as the story progressed. In the wake of her breakdown, Batman decides Psycho Pirate is the only one who can help Gotham Girl. However, the Pirate is being held captive by Bane on the prison island of Santa Prisca. Bane relies on the Pirate to help in the absence of the Venom Bane used. To get the Pirate from Bane, Batman puts together a team that includes the following: Catwoman, Bronze Tiger, Punch, Jewelee, and the Ventriloquist. How they get in to the prison, and how they go about trying to take Psycho Pirate, make up the bulk of the book. The final two chapters act as an epilogue, with a focus on Catwoman and Batman.

I thought this was a fantastic story. King told a Batman story like none I have read before. I'm not sure that I can put my finger on a specific thing, but it just felt different and right. For one, the team Batman was using very unusual and atypical, with more of a villain feel. Also, Batman's attitude was different, more desperate than he's been in a long while, maybe ever. He is also more brutal and devious. This almost felt like a Dirty Dozen type story. It was very cinematic in scope, and the art added to the feel. It was big and bold, full of action and emotion. Additionally, King did a great job exploring the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. He was able to add depth to this very complicated relationship.

I highly recommend Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide. Tom King just keeps getting better. I'm anxiously awaiting the next volume in this opening "I Am" arc, I Am Bane.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Track and an Academic Honor

Lexi had one and a half track meets this week (one was canceled due to weather half way through). Twice she ran the 100 m, both times as part of the 1st heat. The second time she set a personal best time, and finished 4th or 5th (she wasn't sure and I couldn't tell). She long jumped at both meets, setting a personal best with a jump of 12' 3". She was in the 4 x 100 m relay in the first meet and did okay, and ran the 200 m in the second heat of the second meet. She ran out of gas near the end, but looked good running up to that point. All in all, it was a good first week of meets for Lexi.

In addition to track, Lexi was accepted into the National Jr. Honor Society this week. She will be inducted next week, and is very excited. Several of the current members were "fighting" over who was going to get to induct her at the ceremony.

The twins are still biding their time, waiting for camps and such.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spring Sports are Underway

Lexi has been practicing for track over the last several weeks. Finally, she is supposed to have two meets this week (Monday and Wednesday, weather permitting). She is currently going to be competing in four events for most meets: 100 m, 400 m, 4 x 100 m relay, and 4 x 400 m relay. She is super excited and has been doing really well so far.

The twins are currently in a holding pattern, with the chance Griffin will be going to a basketball camp and Cami with the possibility of some more volleyball.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Batman: Night of the Monster Men (Rebirth) by Tom King; Steve Orlando - Book Review

From the publisher: The first Batman crossover of DC Rebirth is here in BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN!

It’s the storm of the century, and it’s headed straight for Gotham City. The guardians of this sprawling urban center—Nightwing, Batwoman and the Batman himself—think they’ve prepared for the worst.

They have no idea.

Thanks to the machinations of the macabre scientist Dr. Hugo Strange, the storm has unleashed a rain of monsters upon the city. Colossal creatures are stomping through the streets, terrorizing the citizens and challenging the skills of even Gotham’s greatest heroes.

Can the Dark Knight and his allies stem the tide of destruction? Or will the Night of the Monster Men mark the fall of the Bat?

Find out in BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, the first crossover of the DC Rebirth era from the creative team of Steve Orlando (MIDNIGHTER), Tom King (BATMAN), Tim Seeley (BATMAN ETERNAL), James Tynion IV (DETECTIVE COMICS), Riley Rossmo (CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER), Roge Antonio (BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY) and Andy MacDonald (THE NEW 52: FUTURES END). This epic of horror and heroism collects BATMAN #7-8, NIGHTWING #5-6 and DETECTIVE COMICS #941-942.

Night of the Monster Men, by various writers, is the first Batman crossover since Rebirth started. And overall, it was entertaining. A quick summary: Hugo Strange has developed a serum that creates monsters. These are Godzilla type monsters and they began to run rampant. To make matters worse, a hurricane is threatening to hit Gotham. Batman and Batwoman gather their team (Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface), and enlist Nightwing to help them defeat the creatures and save Gotham. What starts out as a relatively simple mission turns out to have a deeper meaning and possible long-term repercussions.

I enjoyed this as a crossover event. It basically spanned one night, and taking two issues from each of three different comics wasn't a huge departure for any of their regular storylines. Additionally, it was fun to see Batman take on literal monsters as opposed to the more figurative type he usually battles. I thought the character interactions were terrific: Gotham Girl and Nightwing, Batman and Batwoman, Duke and Alfred, and Orphan and Spoiler. Clayface is also becoming a very intriguing character as he continues to try to be a "good" guy. The writers are coming up with some new and unique opportunities for him to show some new uses for his abilities. I also liked the concept of the Wayne Watchtowers; they absolutely need to become a recurring thing.

As far as villains go, I think Hugo Strange has potential. With his psychology background and his willingness to misuse science, he could be a very formidable adversary for Batman. This story did a nice job of pushing that idea.

Batman: Night of the Monster Men is a fun and entertaining book. It is a decent place for new readers to begin, but it will definitely appeal to Bat-fans. It also seems to be setting up events for future books down the line.

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Slow Week

This was a relatively slow week for the Knights. Lexi had track practice (meets start after Spring Break) but her big news was that she tried out for, and made, the Cheerleading squad for next year. She also received the MVP award for last season. She was named MVP because she played two sports but went out of her way to be at all (or nearly all) cheerleading practices and games. She also did every position in her stunt group (base, front spot, back spot - apparently she is a natural and saved a group -, and flyer). She is very excited about the upcoming year.

Griffin and Cami played in a 3-on-3 tournament at school. Griffin's team finished in 3rd place, and he did a great job, scoring a few times (2 jump shots went in!). Cami's team did not win any games, but she did a good job and scored on a nice lay-up.

This week is the first of two for Spring Break. We have lots of relaxing planned.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE WILD STORM #2 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: All Angela Spica did was save someone’s life. And now hers is over. The rogue engineer lies bleeding in a place she hopes nobody will find - but she’s wrong. The people embedded in the secret power structures of the world are tracking her. Skywatch. Halo. International Operations. A covert operative called Grifter. 

If only she hadn’t unknowingly foiled an assassination planned by her boss. If only her boss wasn’t the one person more interested in the Engineer’s transhuman implants than in her life.

It’s all going very wrong, very quickly. There’s going to be more blood.

The Wild Storm #2 continues setting the table for the story Warren Ellis began with issue #1. The general storyline consisted of various groups looking for Angela Spica, who transformed/changed/became so kind of techno-organic being to save a life. The groups looking for her include Halo, Skywatch, and IO. As they all try to track her down, it becomes apparent that there is some sort of conspiracy going on. Where it goes, and who finds Angela, remains to be seen in future issues.

With several of the main characters already on stage, Ellis uses this second issue to bring in Cole Cash, better known as Grifter. He was a favorite character of mine in the old days of Wildstorm comics with Image, but he wasn't nearly as interesting in DC's New 52. I was happy to see him get a fresh start, as I'm sure many old fans are. Once again, though, Ellis has dumped the reader in the middle of the story and we are left to piece things together. This is not a complaint, though. I trust Ellis enough as a writer to believe that all (or at least most) will be made clear as this series progresses. However, I'm left wondering if The Wild Storm would be better read in a collected form, rather than in small issue-sized bites. I'm left waiting anxiously for the next issue, and am excited to see where this all goes.

I would highly recommend The Wild Storm #2 by Warren Ellis. This series should be required reading for fans of the old Wildstorm comics, while the series offers a fresh starting point for new readers as well.

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

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Volleyball (and Choir)

Cami had what may have been her last volleyball tournament of the season. They won one match today, and played another pretty tight, going to a third game. Cami had fun, as did the team, and you could see the improvement. And while their may not be any more tournaments, they will continue to practice through the end of the school year.

Lexi's middle school choir attended the annual Choir Competition. They performed 3 songs, and earned a Gold rating for their performance. Lexi sounded, and looked, beautiful. Now her focus will be on cheerleading tryouts and track, where she will run and jump (although she doesn't yet know for sure which events).

Saturday, March 11, 2017

James Bond Vol.2: Eidolon by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: James Bond is trapped in Los Angeles with a MI6 agent under fire and a foreign intelligence service trying to put them both in bags... and possibly more than one foreign intelligence service. And things may not be any safer in Britain, with bodies dropping and ghosts moving in the political mist...

Collecting issues #7-12 of the ongoing James Bond comic book series written by Warren Ellis, the New York Times bestselling author of Gun Machine and critically-acclaimed comic book writer (Iron Man, Planetary, Astonishing X-Men), and featuring artwork by Jason Masters (Batman Incorporated).

I'm really enjoying these new James Bond graphic novels. With Vol. 2: Eidolon, Warren Ellis has written another entertaining Bond tale. When an undercover MI6 agent needs to be escorted from Los Angeles back to London, James Bond is given the assignment. However, what appears to be an easy job quickly turns bad. Bond and the agent are attacked on their way to the airport, and thus begins a race to discover a hidden Spectre cell, one with sleeper agents in multiple intelligence agencies, including MI5, Britain's answer to the FBI. As Bond and friends track hidden funds and off-the-books weapons caches, the tension mounts. Will they be in time to stop an episode of domestic terrorism?

Ellis does a great job capturing the characterization of the James Bond stories. There is humor, dry wit, action, emotion, and consequences. Bond, Moneypenny, and  M are portrayed quite well. The villains, in this case Spectre agents, are sufficiently threatening. Their leader, Beckett Hawkwood, has an interesting backstory, and fits in with other Bond villains.

As I said about the previous volume, VARGR, Ellis has done a nice job creating a logical extension of the Bond stories and the more recent movies. I highly recommend James Bond Vol. 2: Eidolon. If you are a James Bond fan, this is a fun ride. Additionally, it can be read independently of the previous volume, as it contains a complete story.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Astro CIty #42 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: They call him Mister Manta, the Scourge of the Seven Seas. At least, they called him that a long time ago. Nobody's called him anything for years, but that's about to change. What happens when a long-forgotten villain makes his dramatic return? Can he find his place in the world, or has it moved on without him? Featuring guest artist Matthew Clark (Wonder Woman, Doom Patrol)

*Note* Due to a scheduling/artist conflict, the original solicitation for Astro City #42 has been switched with Astro City #43.

With Astro City #42, Kurt Busiek has written another nice slice of life type story. One of my favorite things about the Astro City comics is how Busiek is able to take well-known superhero tropes and put a different spin on them. With #42, he examines the life of a supervillian; however, this villain was defeated and was lost at sea. As a result, Mister Manta has spent the last 30 years marooned on an island. His days consist of creating new tech from the resources he has on the island, and building/perfecting the home he created. When the opportunity to escape the island appears, Manta, somewhat reluctantly, takes it. What he discovers about himself is the heart of this story. Once again, Busiek has written a great story, full of character and heart. Mister Manta is an empathetic villain, but the empathy comes from an unexpected realization.

I highly recommend this issue of Astro City (#42) and would recommend any of the collected editions.

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Give me a follow

If you are a regular reader of my blog, feel free to give me a follow. Some publishers look at followers as an important metric when considering whether to allow a blogger to review books for them. The more actual followers I have, the better it appears.



Titans Vol. 1: The Return of Wally West by Dan Abnett - Book Review

From the publisher: Spinning directly out of the events of the smash-hit DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, witness the rebirth of the greatest team of young heroes in history in TITANS VOL. 1: THE RETURN OF WALLY WEST!

They were heroes, yes, but more than that—lifelong friends. There was a special spark that held them together. It was a rare thing, like a lightning strike. You couldn’t make it happen. It just did.

Then it became a memory. And then the memory faded. Taken. Stolen. Ripped apart. And only one person remembers.

His name is Wally West. Once upon a time, he was Kid Flash. Now a refugee from a lost universe, it’s up to him to reawaken his former friends and reforge the bond that made them great. 

Nightwing. Donna Troy. Beast Boy. Arsenal. Lilith. They must come together and defeat the enemy who destroyed their memories—or be destroyed themselves.

This great new jumping-on point for comics fans of all generations, written by Dan Abnett with art by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund, is the long-awaited reunion that collects TITANS #1-6 and TITANS: REBIRTH #1!

Titans Vol. 1 - The Return of Wally West is a terrific book by Dan Abnett. Of all the characters affected by DC's New 52 reboot, Wally West and the rest of the Titans (formerly Teen Titans) were probably changed the most, especially since this version of Wally West no longer even existed. It's nice to see that DC is using Rebirth to correct this, and bring Wally and the Titans back into their continuity.

In the Rebirth special, Wally West was finally rescued from the Speed Force (where he had apparently been throughout the New 52) by Barry Allen, who's remembrance of Wally brought him back. Titans Vol. 1, then, is about how Wally goes about restoring the memories of his former teammates and investigating how/if the magician Kadabra was responsible for his disappearance. This volume is full of the excitement and humor that is typical of the Titans' adventures. There is also an undercurrent of emotion, as Wally meets his true love, Linda Park, and discovers she doesn't remember him.

While Titans is an ensemble book, this volume really focuses on Wally West, and it's his story that is told. Nightwing, Arsenal, Wonder Girl, Trident, and Omen support Wally in his quest, and the family dynamics of this group are on full display. (Beast Boy is listed as being in this book, but he is not a part of it). In addition to this main story arc, there is a hint as to the greater overall mystery of who/what actually caused the New 52 to occur, and why all of the DC characters are missing time or events.

Dan Abnett's opening volume of Titans was a fun read. I highly recommend it, particularly to fans of the previous Titans books. It's also a great jumping on point for new fans.

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Quite a week

Lexi had three basketball games, and wrapped up her season. The first game was pretty special; prior to the game, she sang the National Anthem. She then started (along with the other girls who didn't normally get to play a lot). She played the entire 1st quarter and then started and played most of the 3rd. She took 6 or 7 shots (none went in), made several passes, had a rebound, and made a free throw to score her first point. And to top it off, her team won. They won the second game as well, and Lexi got to play the last 12 or 15 seconds. However, the other team was fouling, so Lexi got to shoot free throws, and made one of two. Finally, the team lost their first tournament game. Lexi got to play a little bit in that game. With the possible exception of a tournament in the next week (an unofficial event), Lexi's seventh grade basketball season is finished. It was a great learning experience for her, combined with a little disappointment and a lot of success.

Cami's volleyball team played their second tournament. Her team won their pool, and finished 3rd overall out of somewhere between 20-25 teams. She hit a few balls, served multiple times (still working on this), and had a fun time celebrating with her teammates. She will have one more tournament in March, and then some practices off and on as her coach works to continue to expose the girls to volleyball.

A slow week for Griffin, for which he was thankful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Astro City #41:The Sky's The Limit by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From  the publisher: It’s our 100th issue celebration! This 40-page extravaganza introduces Astro City’s most revered hero—the Astro-Naut! Learn his secrets! See him in action! And in the heat of World War II, see the stunning sacrifice that inspired a grateful populace to rename a city after its greatest hero. Also featuring the All-American, the Lamplighter, Zootsuit and the debut of the Gentleman, as our tour through Astro City’s history continues!

I love Kurt Busiek's Astro City series. With a somewhat sporadic publishing history, it's hard to keep up with it's many incarnations, but I try to read it whenever I discover a new arc. So, I was surprised, but not really, to discover it had reached it's 100th issue (from all publishers). To commemorate this feat, Busiek delivers an extra long issue.

Astro City #41: The Sky's the Limit details how Astro City got its name, and the hero it was named after, the Astro-naut, Roy Virgil. While he wasn't the first hero, he was arguably Astro City's first great hero, and he came along at a time when heroes were in desperate need: the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. With his scientific and creative mind, he was able to defeat many villains, as well as travel throughout the galaxy. The Astro-naut also inspired a new bevy of heroes, leading to Romeyn Falls to be renamed Astro City.

Busiek has used Astro City to tell a different kind of story about heroes and villains, often from the viewpoint of the common man. This issue is no different, as the story of Roy Virgil is told by his friend, Joseph Greenwald, city councilman and eventual mayor. Greenwald's perspective is an excellent prism with which to view Roy Virgil. Virgil himself has some echoes of Tony Stark (Iron Man), but unlike Stark, Virgil refuses to give or sell his technology to the military. This causes some of the conflict in the story, but with Greenwald's observations, the reader is given a fair look at the Astro-naut.

Throughout his long run telling Astro City stories, Busiek has created a deep and well-rounded world, with plenty of history to explore. At its worst, Astro City is a fresh take on some familiar tropes. At its best, though, Busiek leaves his readers with not only a unique tale, but an emotional and thoughtful one as well. The Sky's the Limit is an example of the later, and is an excellent addition to the Astro City legend. I highly recommend Astro City #41; it is a fine one-shot and a terrific glimpse into what Astro City has to offer. I would also recommend any and all of the collected volumes. You won't be sorry.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Future Quest Vol. 1 by Jeff Parker - Book Review

From the publisher: When worlds collide, it's up to Hanna-Barbera's most well-known adventure-seeking heroes to save the galaxy! Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and more are re-imagined here in this new action-adventure thriller! 

When the adventurous and inquisitive Jonny Quest and his adoptive brother Hadji make a startling discovery in the swamplands of Florida, they are pulled into an epic struggle between the Space Rangers and a dangerous villain who threatens the galaxy. Now it's up to the combined forces of Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, Birdman, Frankenstein Jr., The Impossibles, The Galaxy Trio and Mightor to stop him and save their universe! Collects FUTURE QUEST #1-6.

Jeff Parker's Future Quest Vol. 1 sounded like it would be a fun book. It had a lot of Hanna-Barbera characters that I have fond memories of. Creating a world threatening crossover that would bring them all together seemed like a nice chance to revisit the characters and have a nostalgic read. However, what I discovered is that I'm not really the audience for this book.

When mysterious portals begin opening around the world, particularly in Florida, Johnny Quest, Hadji, Race Bannon, and Dr. Quest begin to investigate. Birdman is brought in to help, as well. Dr. Zin and the agents of F.E.A.R. are trying to get ahold of the power source that is behind the portals. A quick jump takes the reader to other planets and universes where we discover that pieces of a world destroying creature called Omnikron is causing the portals, which it plans to use to take over the Earth. Meanwhile, the Herculoids, Space Ghost, and others are battling the creature where they find it. As events progress, more and more characters are brought together and the story expands its scope. Finally, the reader is left with a cliffhanger, as I assume there will be at least another volume of this series.

The art is nice and is very reminiscent of the animation from the various cartoons where the characters originated. There are also several short background features that provide more insight into characters who aren't given enough time in the main storyline.

Overall, I thought Future Quest Vol. 1 was just okay. Steve Orlando is doing a nice job, but I think this book is for younger readers. I was hoping for more depth to the story and characters. Also, there were way too many people to keep track of for my tastes, and the story didn't draw me in. I would definitely recommend this for younger readers (late elementary or middle school age).

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

We Have Another Champion!

Lexi had two basketball games this week; her team won one and lost one. Lexi played in both, quite a lot in the win. She didn't take any shots this week, but handled the ball well (no nervousness or indecisiveness) and played good defense. This upcoming week is the last week of the season, with two games and then a tournament.

In addition to playing basketball, Lexi also had Cheer Night, where the middle and high school cheerleaders did a series of routines during halftime of the varsity basketball game. This was the capstone to her cheer season. She had a great time and did really well. She's a natural encourager and loves to be in front of people. Tryouts for next year start in a couple of weeks.

The big news this week, though, is that Griffin's rec league team won the championship.They played two pretty good games, and saved the best performance of the weekend for the 4th quarter of the championship game, where they pulled away and sealed the game. Griffin played well in both games, taking several shots (none fell), including one off a rebound where he tried to get it over a 6 ft tall 6th grader. It wasn't blocked, but it didn't go in for him. Griffin made several hustle plays, where he saved a turnover for his team, or got the ball (steal or rebound) for his team. He played nice defense, as usual. My favorite play was when he made a little move and then drove to the basket. One of his travel coaches was sitting near me and was very complimentary of the play.

He's a champ (not sure why he's not smiling)

Cami had another volleyball practice. She has a tournament next Sunday. She is excited to get to compete again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

TRINITY #6 by Francis Manapul - Book Review

From the publisher: “Better Together” part six! The horror that kept our heroes trapped in nightmares of their own making is now loose in the world, and it’s taking possession of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman! When the spawn of Mongul holds the keys to the most powerful heroes in the DC Universe—no one is safe!

Trinity #6 is the final issue in the first arc by Francis Manapul. With Mongul in the real world, having taken over Clark Kent's body, our heroes are forced to find a way out of the dream world, where they are trapped with the child of Mongul and Poison Ivy.

This story wraps up the first arc nicely, if a little anti-climactically.  Manapul has done a fine job with this introductory story bringing together the "Big 3" of DC Comics. He has also begun establishing the connections between Batman and Wonder Woman of the New 52 and Superman from an Earth that was destroyed. Going forward, I think it will be interesting to see how Superman fits into the shoes left behind when the Superman of the New 52 era died. Of particular interest is how he will relate to Wonder Woman, with whom the other Superman had a relationship.

As far as a recommendation, I think this arc is better served being read as a whole (wait for the collected edition). The individual chapters were fine, but I never felt like they were "can't miss" stories. Hopefully this stakes will rise as the series continues. Therefore, I would recommend Trinity #6, by Francis Manapul, to current readers, but would suggest new readers wait until the next arc starts.

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

THE WILD STORM #1 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: A troubled woman, barred by her employer from continuing her research, walks miserably through New York City. It takes her a moment to notice that everybody else is looking up. A man has been thrown from the upper floor of the Halo skyscraper.

And that woman—Angela Spica, sick from the transhuman implants she’s buried in her own body—is the only person who can save him.

What she doesn’t know is that the act of saving that one man will tip over a vast and secret house of cards that encloses the entire world, if not the inner solar system. This is how the Wild Storm begins, and it may destroy covert power structures, secret space programs and even all of human history.

New York Times best-selling writer Warren Ellis (TRANSMETROPOLITAN, RED, THE AUTHORITY) returns to DC to curate Jim Lee’s WildStorm world, with this debut issue resetting the WildStorm universe with new iterations of Grifter, Voodoo, the Engineer, Jenny Sparks and others.

To start with, I've enjoyed many of Warren Ellis's comics. He seems to tell stories on a very personal level while incorporating huge, crazy ideas (see: Stormwatch, Transmetropolitan, Moon Knight, etc.). Additionally, I've enjoyed reading many of the old Wildstorm books, particularly stories starring Grifter, the Stormwatch team, and Joe Casey's take on Wildcats. All that said, many of the more recent offerings, particularly when DC began integrating these characters into their regular universe, were a mixed bag. So, it was with held breath that I read Warren Ellis's The Wild Storm #1. I was very pleased to find that I enjoyed it, and look forward to reading future issues.

I can't really summarize this issue, as it's better read than explained. To be sure, this is very much a first issue, and it functions that way. Resetting many of the characters following the New 52 is going to take time and work. But Ellis does a fine job with this opening chapter in a his first arc. He appears to be starting slowly, introducing a few characters in this book, some of whom I recognized and some of whom I didn't. That's not to say it was slow, however. There was a lot of action and lot going on; Ellis shifted point of view characters several times, to expand the scope of the story. I'm looking forward to discovering/reading about Jack Hawksmoor, Grifter, and the Wildcats team in particular (I'm hoping they will be included as the story broadens).

I really enjoyed The Wild Storm #1. Ellis has written a good opening, and I trust him enough to see how this is all going to develop. I highly recommend this book, particularly to fans of the old Wildstorm books.

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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A lot of basketball

Lexi had two games this week. Her team lost the first game, and because it was close, she didn't get to play. However, the second game was an 8th grade only game, and she and two other 7th graders were chosen to dress for the game so (hopefully) they could get some playing time. Lexi got in and played the final 3 minutes. She did a wonderful job, with a steal and an assist. She also took a good bank shot that just missed. This week she has one game (maybe two). She is also taking part in Cheer Night with the rest of her squad during the varsity basketball game this week.

Griffin's travel team played in a tournament this weekend. On the first day, they had two games in pool play (to seed the elimination portion). They won both games, and the team played as well as they have all season. Griffin played a bunch, hustling all over creating jump balls, getting rebounds, and a steal or two. He handled the ball several times and took several good shots that just refused to fall. My favorite part was when he played post and guarded the other teams' big guy (his team is doesn't have a lot of height) because he is so scrappy. They earned the top seed in this tournament, but unfortunately lost their first elimination game by 3 points. It was a disappointing ending. However, Griffin played hard, with good defense again. He was able to get a shot, but it didn't fall. His best play was when he grabbed the ball right out of the hands of the boy he was guarding. It was an aggressive and good move.

Griffin's rec league team finished their regular season undefeated. Griffin had his most complete game, with 4 pts, 3 rebounds (at least), and a steal. He nearly made several more shots, as well. It was fun to see him have a game like that. Next week is the tournament, where his team should be the top seed.

Cami once again had volleyball practice. She is still having fun and improving every week. I believe her next tournament is in two weeks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: REBIRTH #1 by Steve Orlando - Book Review

From the publisher: Batman, Black Canary, Killer Frost, the Ray, Vixen, the Atom, and…Lobo?! Spinning directly out of the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD, join the sensational team of writer Steve Orlando and artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado and discover how Batman assembled the roughest, toughest Justice League of all time!

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1, by Steve Orlando, spins out of the events of the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad mini-series. Batman is recruiting a new Justice League, a team of mortals, not gods (as he puts it). He believes this will give normal humans someone to trust and identify with. He starts his team with Killer Frost, who is trying to rehabilitate herself, and Lobo, who owes him a favor. Along the way, Batman invites Black Canary, the new Atom (Ryan Choi), The Ray, and Vixen. Using an old, abandoned facility in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, this new group promises to be a new kind of League.

Orlando does a great job with this first issue, as he tells the obligatory "gathering heroes" story. But he does it in a fun way, as each member is recruited in a unique way, by several different heroes. Orlando has also put together an intriguing team, with a mix of veteran and rookie heroes, as well as a former villain, and whatever it is that Lobo qualifies as. The developing interplay between the characters looks to be as interesting as any future stories, and may end up being the best part of what should be a good book.

Ivan Reis's artwork, with inks by Joe Prado and Oclair Albert, fits the story well. It is big and majestic, and will suit this type of team book perfectly.

Steve Orlando's Justice League of America #1 is a great introduction to a new team, and a terrific starting point for readers (as there isn't any background necessary to understand what's happening). I highly recommend this book and look forward to seeing how it progresses.

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Batman - Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen by James Tynion IV - Book Review

From the publisher: An elite fighting force modeled after the Dark Knight has invaded the streets of Gotham. Their armor, weaponry and surveillance equipment are based on Batman’s tech and tactics, but they’re far beyond anything he’s ever seen. And while these Batmen’s motives remain a mystery, their targets are all too clear… 

They’re gunning for Gotham’s vigilantes.

Batman knows he can’t face this foe alone, and neither can the crime-fighters caught in the crossfire. So with Batwoman—secretly Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Kate Kane—as his general, he’s organizing the next generation of Gotham heroes into an army.

Tim Drake, a.k.a. Red Robin. Stephanie Brown, a.k.a. Spoiler. Cassandra Cain, a.k.a. the Orphan. And reformed criminal Basil Karlo, a.k.a. Clayface. These are the shock troops in Batman and Batwoman’s war. When they finally see the face of their true enemy, will they stand together…or fall apart?

Find out in BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 1: RISE OF THE BATMEN, a great jumping-on point for new readers! This masterful high-octane thriller from writer James Tynion IV (BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL) and artists Eddy Barrows (NIGHTWING) and Alvaro Martinez (Ultimate Comics X-Men) explodes from the blockbuster DC Rebirth event! Collects DETECTIVE COMICS #934-940.

Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen, by James Tynion IV, is the first Rebirth collection of Detective Comics. Unlike a lot of books, Batman didn't change a whole lot due to the New 52, but Rebirth has given the writers, in this case Tynion, a chance to change the direction a bit. In this case, Batman discovers a fleet of small, high-tech drones that have been watching him and other heroes in Gotham. He decides its time to create a "team" and train them. He recruits Batwoman to train the kids; they include Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface (a nice non-traditional addition). They soon come face to face with a group known as the Colony, a group of paramilitary modeled on Batman himself. What follows should only be read, as there as several pretty large spoilers, and one heck of a thread that should lead to a very interesting future story.

Tynion has done a nice job with the characters of Batman and Batwoman. The interaction between these two (who are cousins) is well done, and it appears their working relationship is maturing. Clayface is becoming a fun character, as well. He brings fresh eyes to the hero game, and gets some great lines. Finally, the growth of Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, is terrific. Its hard to take a nearly perpetual teenager and demonstrate growth, both physically and emotionally, but Tynion has done so with flying colors. Tim's maturation as a hero is a highlight of this collection.

I really liked Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen. If this book is any indication, James Tynion IV is off and running with a story that could end up rivaling some of Scott Snyder's now classic tales. I can't wait to see where he goes from here. I highly recommend this book for Batman fans. It's also a decent starting point for new readers.

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

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Guess what? More sports

Lexi had three basketball games this week. Her team won their first game, and Lexi played most of the 4th quarter. She had 3 rebounds and even got a good shot off, but it rolled off the rim. Following that game, she changed quickly into her cheerleading uniform and hustled to a different gym at school to cheer for the boys' game. I'm really proud of her for the way she pulled off this "double", giving energy and enthusiasm as both a player and a cheerleader. They won their second game in a blowout. Lexi played a ton and showed a lot of skill. In addition to her normal defense and hustle (a couple of rebounds), she displayed improved offensive skills. She took 4 or 5 shots, and all but one were high quality shots that just went of the rim. My favorite was a dribble drive on the left side between a couple of defenders. I can't remember Lexi ever making a move like that. Her coach made several complementary comments to me about Lex after the game.

Griffin's rec league team won again, this time holding on for a 3 point win. Griffin made a nice shot early in the game, and then took the ball to the hoop, drawing a foul. He made one of his free throws (first time this season, I think). He played good "D" and passed the ball well. He also tied up a couple of crucial loose balls late in the game, when his team was trying to maintain possession to run out the clock. It was a good all around performance. Next week, he as a travel team tournament (2 days) and his last regular season rec league game. It should be a lot of basketball.

Cami was back at it this week with volleyball practice. She is still enjoying it and having a good time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

EVERAFTER: FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #6 by Lilah Sturges and Dave Justus - Book Review

From the publisher: Experience the dawn of the Everaftering through the eyes of the legendary magician, The Amazing Szymon! At a crisis point in his tired career, the Amazing Szymon is on the verge of throwing it all away when his tricks of the trade are suddenly revitalized by real and inexplicable magic. After Feathertop intervenes with a promise to guide this new Fable in exchange for his service with the Shadow Players, Szymon’s mission to rescue a Mundy pop star from a distant goblin realm reveals sinister underpinnings.

Everafter #6, by Lilah Sturges and Dave Justus, is a standalone story following on the first Everafter arc. This issue traces the career of stage magician The Amazing Szymon from it's humble beginnings through his discovery that he had become a Fable with real magic. Feathertop recruits him for an early version of The Shadow Players, and things quickly escalate from there.

I have mixed feelings about this issue. I enjoyed the peak into the early missions of The Shadow Players, and the concept of a Mundy becoming a Fable bears further exploration. In fact, the concept of "everaftering" a world is fascinating, and I hope the authors will delve into that in future issues as well. Szymon is an interesting character, and his story was well told. On the other hand, there were a couple of scenes I could do without, particularly as they seemed to be done simply because Everafter is a mature readers comic. Additionally, the art style changed several times, and while it went with the story, it was a little distracting.

Overall, I like where Sturges and Justus are taking Everafter. Issue #6, The Amazing Szymon, was pretty good. Aside from the aspects I mentioned above, I liked this story. It is a good starting point for new readers, and gives a glimpse into the history of The Shadow Players.

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

DC Universe: Rebirth Volume 1s Sampler by Various - Book Review

From the publisher: DC Universe: Rebirth is the line-wide series relaunch of the World's Greatest Super Heroes. Starting from Volume 1, DC Universe Rebirth ties in threads from the past five decades of storytelling and sprinkles exciting new creators and a diverse mix of heroes and villains into the new DC Universe that began in 2012. 

This DC Universe Rebirth sampler includes the first chapters of the most critically and commercially successful series from this monumental launch, including:

by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Doug Mahnke

by Tom King, David Finch and Mikel Janin

by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp

by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomencio 

by Bryan Hitch and Tony S. Daniel

by Tim Seeley and Javier Fernández

by Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra  

The DC Universe: Rebirth Vol. 1s Sampler is a great introduction to the first round of collected editions from DC's Rebirth event. This book contains seven different first issues. Included are Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Justice League, Nightwing, and Green Arrow. Reading all these different series in one place showed the variety that is included in the DC universe. The artwork is very different from series to series, and the writing styles vary as well.

Standout stories include Superman #1, Nightwing #1, and Batman #1. The status quo in these books has changed in the transition from the New 52 to Rebirth, and the new directions of these stories are interesting. Nightwing has returned to being a hero in costume, Batman has regained his memory, and Superman is adjusting to a new world with his wife and son.

The Justice League should be interesting as there are new characters filling the standard heroes rolls (two new Green Lanterns, a Superman from another world, etc.) The Flash is dealing with the return of Wally West, which was the impetus for the Rebirth event, and Wonder Woman is going through yet another origin adjustment, or so it seems. Finally, Green Arrow seems to be returning to his roots, and it reflects the tv show a bit more, as well.

Overall, I enjoyed having a chance to get a glimpse of how Rebirth was going to look. I recommend DC Universe: Volume 1s Sampler for anyone who may want to try out the new direction of these heroes before committing to their individual books.

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Nightwing Vol. 1: Better Than Batman by Tim Seeley - Book Review

From the publisher: Nightwing is blue!

He's been Robin, he's been a super spy, a ghost. Now, Dick Grayson finds himself back in Gotham City fighting to reclaim the life that was taken from him. But when a new evil threatens those closest to Dick, as Nightwing he must once again choose whether or not to tear himself away from his home in order to combat this dark force.

Everything Dick thought he knew about being Nightwing will be brought to bear, and his relationship to his former mentor Batman will be put to the test in NIGHTWING: VOL. ! written by Tim Seeley (GRAYSON) with art by Yanick Paquette (SWAMP THING, BATMAN/SUPERMAN) and rising star Javier Fernandez (RED HOOD/ARSENAL). Collects NIGHTWING: REBIRTH #1 and NIGHTWING #1-4,7-8.

As a long-time fan of Nightwing, I was happy to read Nightwing Vol. 1: Better Than Batman, by Tim Seeley, the first collection of Nightwing as part of the Rebirth event. During the New 52, Dick Grayson underwent a lot of changes, being thought dead by the public, losing his Nightwing persona, and joining the (somewhat questionable) spy organization Spyral. While I enjoyed those stories, I've always been a fan of Nightwing's superhero adventures, as Dick Grayson has always been a happier version of Batman.

In Better Than Batman, Seeley returns Dick Grayson to Nightwing, but with a twist: Instead of being undercover in Spyral, he is now undercover (of sorts) in the Court of Owls. While working from the inside to bring down the Owls, Nightwing is sadled with a new partner/mentor, Raptor. Raptor is there to make sure Nightwing's morals don't prevent him from accomplishing the goals of the Court of Owls. As the story progresses, with several cameos by other members of the Bat-Family, it becomes clear that there is something more to Raptor than was originally thought.

I really enjoyed this return to Nightwing, and found Seeley's story entertaining. While still loosely working with his former comrades in Spyral, Nightwing is also able to be more superhero-ish. Seeley does a fine job of continuing the natural evolution of Dick Grayson/Nightwing that he began with the previous Grayson series. At the same time, he found a way to add to Nightwing's history in a way that seems organic, and doesn't feel like it retcons any of the things readers love about how Dick Grayson became Robin and then Nightwing. The characterization is great and the story is engaging.

A quick note: Issues 5-6 of Nightwing are not part of this collection, as they are part of the Batman - Monster Men storyline. This doesn't affect the flow of the story; however, due to events in Detective Comics, there are some unexplained references to Tim Drake that some readers may find confusing.

Overall, I enjoyed Tim Seeley's first Rebirth: Nightwing collection, Better Than Batman. It is great to see Grayson back in his Nightwing costume, and to have more of a superhero feel back in his book. I highly recommend this to fans of Nightwing, and it is a fine jumping-on point for new readers. I look forward to discovering where Seeley takes Nightwing from here.

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Latest

Lexi had two basketball games, both of which her team lost. She did get to play in both games, though. She had an assist in the first game, and a rebound in the second. She is continuing to grow in confidence with the ball, and made several nice inbounds passes (including her assist). She nearly had a couple more rebounds as well, but wasn't quite strong enough. More games to come next week. She also cheered once last week, and is hoping to pull off the "double" on Monday, where she would play a game in one gym, then change and head to another gym to cheer (last boys home game).

In addition to her athletic activities, Lexi also had a choir competition this week. She sang a solo and was part of three ensembles. Each of her performances earned a Gold rating. She was really excited and we're very proud.

Cami had her first volleyball tournament. The team finished 2-3 overall, but actually did a really nice job. Cami had fun, and it was entertaining to watch her serve, hit, and return serves. She still has a bunch to learn, obviously, but she got better with each game.

Griffin's rec league team won again, by a point. He made a nice basket around the free throw line, took several more shots, had some rebounds, a couple steals, and tied up the ball, as well. His coach mentioned how he thought Griffin was making good decisions with the ball, not forcing something but passing the ball out and resetting the offense. He also complimented Griffin's ball handling.

Griffin's travel team got the opportunity to play two more games, kind of a consolation for not being in the top 4 tournament. They won both games in blowouts. Griffin played a bunch, got several rebounds, made a few good passes (including at least one assist), took a bunch of shots that all just missed, and played his usual hustle defense. The team has one last tournament in February.

More of the same coming up next week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #6 by Joshua Williamson - Book Review

From the publisher: Legendary JLA artist Howard Porter returns for the ultimate showdown between the Suicide Squad, the Justice League and the forces of [REDACTED]. Unlikely heroes emerge from the rubble of DC’s first major event since DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, leaving both teams in a place they’ve never been before...and setting the stage for the all-new JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.

*Small Spoilers*

Throughout the preview five issues of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Joshua Williamson continually raised the stakes for his characters while also adding small character moments. As each chapter added a new reveal, they all built to this final issue, #6. And the conclusion is big, and yet small at the same time.

As the heroes of the Justice League and the Suicide Squad are being possessed by evil, Batman, Lobo, Amanda Waller, and Killer Frost are left to save the world. The solution comes from a surprising place, and with a satisfying result. In the aftermath, secrets are revealed, a new Justice League is put into motion, and a big, but as yet unclear, consequence results.

I have really enjoyed Williamson's writing. He effectively raised the stakes each time out, which is hard to due in an event series of this sort. He also did a fine job of developing the characters, in particular Killer Frost and Amanda Waller, while adding to the legend of Batman. The series also may act as a springboard to at least one, and possibly two, new teams. All in all, it was a fun, entertaining read.

I highly recommend Joshua Williamson's Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #6. This should appeal to fans of either team, as well as those who are looking for event series that have an impact on the DC Universe overall. At this point, it may be easier to wait for a collected edition, but if you can't wait, it's definitely worth collecting all six issues.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines (Rebirth) by Bryan Hitch - Book Review

From the publisher: A part of DC Universe: Rebirth!

Spinning directly out of the events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, a new day dawns for the Justice League as they welcome a slew of new members into their ranks. The question remains though, can the world's greatest superheroes trust these new recruits? And will the members of League be able to come together against an ancient evil that threatens to reclaim not just the world, but the entire universe!

Masterful storytelling, epic action, and unbelievable art come together in JUSTICE LEAGUE from best-selling comic book writer Bryan Hitch (JLA) and superstar artist Tony S. Daniel (BATMAN, DETECTIVE COMICS). Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE: REBIRTH #1 and JUSTICE LEAGUE #1-5.

Rebirth honors the richest history in comics, while continuing to look towards the future. These are the most innovative and modern stories featuring the world's greatest superheroes, told by some of the finest storytellers in the business. 

Honoring the past, protecting our present, and looking towards the future. This is the next chapter in the ongoing saga of the DC Universe. The legacy continues.

With Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines, Bryan Hitch has done a terrific job. The Justice League, at least with this membership (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and two Green Lanterns), needs to face world crisis-level events. The Extinction Machines qualifies.

As the League begins to work together following Rebirth, the Green Lanterns and the new Superman are trying to find their way. They begin by facing a nasty foe called a Reaper, who warns them that something worse is coming. The main story arc deals with this "something worse". As earthquakes rock the world, large groups of people become "possessed", speaking about stolen powers, words, speed, and light, and something known as the Kindred. Meanwhile, strange bug-like alien creatures are landing all over the world, looking to start the Purge. The Justice League is split up, trying to deal with all these issues at once. As they realize they need help, Batman is forced to call on the new Superman, whom he is very suspicious of. Superman has his own doubts, as he has grown accustomed to hanging in the background.

Hitch does a fine job escalating the threats with each successive issue. They are truly worthy of being dealt with by the Justice League. He also gives each character his/her own star turn, making sure that no one is underused. Of particular note is his characterization of Superman, and how he is trying to reconcile his past with this new (to him) group of heroes that have previous relationships with the now-deceased New 52 Superman. Batman and Wonder Woman in particular are struggling. Additionally, both Green Lanterns are relatively new and inexperienced, and their development into stronger characters gets off to a good start. Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman all play their roles well. Finally, Hitch has set up future storylines nicely with his first Justice League arc.

I enjoyed Justice League Vol. 1. Bryan Hitch is off to a good start on one of DC's flagship titles, and the future looks bright as well. I highly recommend this book to fans of the Justice League, as well as new readers looking for a good jumping on point.

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

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice (Rebirth) by Joshua Williamson - Book Review

From the publisher: A new storm brews over Central City and disproves the old adage about lightning never, know. Just as Barry begins to feel overwhelmed fighting crime, a new speedster debuts--but just where did this amazing new friend come from? Spinning directly out of the epic events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, the Fastest Man Alive finds himself at the center of a DC Universe at a crossroads--and reeling from the reemergence of his protegee, Wally West!

From up and coming writer Joshua Williamson (Illuminati, Red Skull) and illustrator Carmine Di Giandomenico comes THE FLASH VOL. 1! Collects THE FLASH: REBIRTH #1 and The Flash #1-8. 

Rebirth honors the richest history in comics, while continuing to look towards the future. These are the most innovative and modern stories featuring the world's greatest super-heroes, told by some of the finest storytellers in the business. 

Honoring the past, protecting our present, and looking towards the future. This is the next chapter in the ongoing saga of the DC Universe. The legacy continues.

The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice is Joshua Williamson's new Rebirth book. The Flash family took on a lot of changes in the New 52 universe as a result of Barry Allen's Flashpoint adventure. The most significant of these changes, at least in my opinion, was eliminating the original Kid Flash, Wally West. The opening chapter of this book is the Rebirth issue, and it reintroduces Wally West to the DC Comics universe, and is the first step in righting many of the perceived "wrongs" of the New 52 years. The Flash and Batman get together and decide to investigate what happened to cause everyone to forget years of their lives, and everything that entails.

The bulk of The Flash Vol. 1 deals with Barry Allen looking in to a robbery at S.T.A.R. Labs. Shortly after the robbery, a freak lightning storm occurs, similar to the one that gave Barry his powers through the speed force. And wouldn't you know; the storm hits multiple people, creating a very large group of inexperienced speedsters. Throw into the mix Barry's friendships with Detective August Heart and Iris West, her nephew Wally West (not the original), and a potential love interest, and Williamson has the makings of an interesting book. Things only ramp up when the mysterious new speedster Godspeed arrives.

I enjoyed this book. Williamson has done a nice job with the characters, and has written an intriguing arc as The Flash begins its Rebirth series. He has carried over the New 52 events and has laid some groundwork for what is to come in future installments.

For my money, though, the best part of The Flash Vol. 1 is the Flash: Rebirth story. The emotion of Barry saving Wally from oblivion and the mystery of who or what is behind all that happened in the last five years of DC Comics is fantastic. I wish that Williamson had been able to explore this story more. It also spun Wally off on his own again too fast. I look forward to seeing how the relationship between he and Barry is repaired.

Overall, The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson is terrific. I highly recommend it to Flash fans and to anyone looking for a good jumping on point.

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