Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Green Lantern Vol. 4: Dark Days by Robert Venditti - Book Review

From the publisher: Just as Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Guy Gardner are putting back together the Green Lantern Corps, lights across all of the different colored Corps begin to flicker. Lanterns from all over the universe begin to lose power, but unlike times' past, the reasons for the outage don't seem to be in-fighting between one another. Allying with enemies and friends alike, Hal links the answers to the mysterious alien Relic and their confrontations will leave all the corps forever changed.

GREEN LANTERN VOL. 4 begins a brand new era for the entire emotional spectrum, from writer Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar) and artist Billy Tan (New Avengers).

This volume collects GREEN LANTERN #21-26, #23.1: Relic, GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #2.

Robert Venditti, the new writer for Green Lantern, follows Geoff Johns's long and spectacular run.  Venditti has done a nice job taking the deep myths Johns established and using them to explore even more of the Lanterns' past history and the idea of using the light of the color spectrum as power.

Dark Days introduces us to Relic, a being left over from a reality that was destroyed.  Curiously enough, the end of his universe was caused by the equivalent of the different colored Lanterns in his reality.  Each color is powered by a different emotion, all of which will eventually run out, causing the destruction of reality.  As Relic finds himself in our reality, he decided to continue his "rescue" mission of saving reality the only way he knows how: by destroying as light-users, aka Green, Red, Orange, Blue Lanterns, etc.  It's up to Hal Jordan (recently made the leader of the Green Lanterns) and the rest of his crew, with an assist from Guy Gardner and Kyle Raynor, to stop Relic.

I really liked the added depth the other types of Lanterns brought to the Green Lantern mythos.  Venditti's idea that there is a limited amount of emotion to be drawn upon just adds to the layers of these heroes. The thought that the Green Lanterns need to stop creating constructs in order to save existence is interesting.  Would they still be able to function as heroes without their rings?  Also, what is beyond the wall at the edge of existence?

Venditti has very capably taken Johns's ideas, used them as a stepping-off point, and begun to establish his own voice and concepts in the world of the Green Lanterns.  I'm curious as to where he goes next.  After years with Geoff Johns guiding their adventures, the Green Lanterns are in very good hands with Robert Venditti.  Highly recommended, particularly to established fans.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Softball/Baseball Update

Cami had two games this week, finally getting in the win column on Saturday with a nice all-around team effort.  On Tuesday, Cami nearly tagged a girl at 3rd Base, played an inning at catcher (she volunteered, then immediately began regretting it), and had an RBI groundout.  Saturday she got her first hit of the season (and 2nd RBI), advancing to 2nd on an over-throw.  She eventually scored a run, as well.  Two more games next week, if the weather holds.

The World's Cutest Catcher
Griffin, in his first ever game, had one hit.  He played several innings at 2nd Base, as well as Rightfielder and Leftfielder.  He fielded multiple balls, including a really nice stop at 2nd.  Team-wise, the boys lost, but they have another chance on Monday.
Rockin' #6

At 2nd Base

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lone Ranger Volume 7 by Ande Parks - Book Review

From the publisher: For the first time, the Lone Ranger and Tonto ride off into the sunrise!
Crossing the Mississippi River, the legendary Western heroes pursue the rogue federal agent who betrayed them.

Getting satisfaction proves costly, as neither the Lone Ranger or Tonto are ready for what may be the deadliest setting they've ever faced — the back rooms and hidden agendas of the "civilized" world!

This collection of the Lone Ranger, by Ande Parks, was a new idea I hadn't seen before.  While tracking down the bad guys, the John Reid (the Lone Ranger) and Tonto are led to Chicago. Chicago is where Reid went to college and he has a history in the town.  However, things aren't quite how he remembers them, and soon his vigilante help rubs many residents the wrong way.  In addition, Tonto is the focus of some prejudice and hate from locals.

While not my favorite adventure of the Lone Ranger, this story was a nice change from the constant Old West setting.  It was definitely an insightful look at how the Lone Ranger functions when he is out of his element.

Parks's writing was fine, creating a believable late 1800's Chicago and capturing the honesty, and a little naivete, of John Reid. Esteve Polls artwork was nice.  It added to the story, capturing both the rugged west and the city of Chicago.

Overall, I'd recommend this book for fans of the Lone Ranger and Tonto. It is an interesting episode in their long and storied history.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Softball Week 1, Baseball Week 0

Cami had her first game of the season this past Saturday.  She fielded several balls (cleanly) at shortstop, second base, and left field. She did a nice job throwing the ball to the correct base, as well. Unfortunately, she didn't get any hits. This year, the girls can strike out; last year they hit off a tee if necessary, so this is a change for Cami. Her next game is Tuesday night.

Griffin has his first game this coming Saturday.  Last week he had several practices, and has amazed me with his hitting and fielding.  He took a throw to the face on Saturday, and the poor guy thought he lost a tooth (there was already a missing tooth).  But he got right back in there like a champ and didn't shy away from any balls.

More to come!

Cami representing jersey #6

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

100 Bullets: Brother Lono by Brian Azzarello - Book Review

From the publisher: The Eisner award-winning team behind 100 BULLETS-writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso, reunites to tell the story of the baddest Minuteman of all. When last we saw Lono in 100 BULLETS, Dizzy Cordova had shot him through the chest…but Lono always was too tough to die. Now, after the final events of 100 BULLETS, Lono finds himself in Mexico working on the side of the angels.

Collects the entire eight-issue run of this limited series

Brian Azzarello has written another hard-boiled story with 100 Bullets: Brother Lono.  Initially I thought it would be a continuation of the 100 Bullets series, even though that series seemed to have a pretty thorough ending.  Instead, Azzarello used Lono as a character to tell a different kind of story than the original series.

The story opens in Mexico, where Lono has left behind his violent past, confessed to a priest, and is living at a Catholic church/orphanage.  Unfortunately, the orphanage is in the middle of an area controlled by a vicious drug cartel.  The cartel makes "tithes" or "donations" to the orphanage, giving them a measure of control over the priest running the church.  Throw in a nun, an enforcer, the mysterious Twin Towers who run the cartel, and a former orphan turned cartel member, and there is a huge amount of mayhem and violence.  And this is before Lono gets involved, and get involved he does.

Rather than furthering 100 Bullets, Brother Lono takes on the tradition of stories like The Wild Bunch, The Magnificent Seven, and even some of the Spaghetti westerns of Clint Eastwood.  Lono is a bad guy, but when the orphanage is threatened, he rises to the challenge of defending it.  However, there are some surprises in store for the reader that differentiates it from those previous tales.

As is usual, Eduardo Risso's art adds a noirish element to the story.  He also pulls no punches when it comes to illustrating the violence that occurs.

Azzarello writes a good book with a harsh theme: Sometimes the only way to beat the bad guys is with an even worse guy.

I recommend Brother Lono to fans of Azzarello, 100 Bullets, and The Wild Bunch.

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Seasons Getting Started

This past week we had 3 baseball practices, 2 softball practices (with another being canceled due to rain), 1 tumbling practice, 1 piano practice, and 2 choir practices.  Looks like spring is here.  Softball and baseball games will be starting soon.  In addition, Lexi was able to have her "friend" birthday party, and we had 4 ten-year-old girls giggling and laughing while they tried to stay up most of the night.

The joys of being a parent!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Justice League Vol. 4: The Grid by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: The event that the New 52 has been building towards since the beginning! #1 New York Times best-selling writer Geoff Johns (GREEN LANTERN, BATMAN: EARTH ONE) brings together almost two years of plot threads for an epic tale that will forever change the shape of the DC Universe. When the three Justice Leagues go to war with one another, who's side will everyone be on? Allies will be born, friends will become enemies and the DC Universe will never be the same.

This volume collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #18-23.

In Justice League Vol. 4: The Grid, Geoff Johns has several storylines going on.  The initial story concerns the expansion of the Justice League, as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the others recruit new members.  This meets with mixed success, including someone who is not exactly what they seem.

The main storyline is part of the bigger Trinity War story that includes not only the Justice League, but the Justice League of America and Justice League Dark as well. Pandora's Box is the center of a mystery and opening it will unleash evil on the world.

I have mixed feelings about this collection.  Geoff Johns is an excellent writer, but the initial story involving new Justice League members just didn't grab me.  The characters just weren't that interesting to me.  It may be my lack of familiarity with some of them, but this was just an average story for a writer who normally turns out spectacular work.

The crossover with the Trinity War is very cool, one of the bigger than life scenarios that the Justice League is made for.  It was fun to see the characters from the different teams interact, with all of their baggage and previous history together.  However, this book only has the Justice League part of the story.  Readers looking for the entire story would do better to wait and pick it up as its own collection.

I like the Justice League, and would recommend this book to fans of Geoff Johns and the League.  It's just not the best of the recent storylines.

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How High Will You Climb? by John C. Maxwell - Book Review

From the publisher: How high will you climb? John Maxwell says it all depends on your attitude.
Nose up or nose down? Just as the angle of an airplane determines its altitude, so does the approach we take-to family, to work, to life in general-determine the attitude we present the world. The way we solve a problem is often secondary to the approach we take in facing the problem, our outward expression every bit as critical as the inward struggle. When the skies above appear stormy, how will you steer that internal plane we call attitude?
With How High Will You Climb?, author John Maxwell presents detailed lessons on the single invaluable quality that has become a person's primary force toward success. As the world around us delivers challenges-all the while marching on at its own inevitable pace-the attitude we choose affects each of us individually. And yes, an attitude can be chosen. Attitude is easy in times of joy and progress. But how do you handle the failures sure to interrupt the attainment of goals? What happens to us is often quite different from what happens in us.
Calling the Bible a "handbook on attitude performance," Maxwell emphasizes we are never actually flying solo. God supports our approach to problem solving and helps steer the attitude adjustments necessary to think correctly in a sometimes negative world. With a study guide to help evaluate and build upon your own flight angle, How High Will You Climb? establishes the fundamental elements for a steady, durable flight of life. 
How High Will You Climb is another in a line of great books from John C. Maxwell.  The conceit of this book is that our attitude will determine our altitude (success) in life.  Using the metaphor of life as flying a plane, Maxwell explains that the flying term "attitude" relates to whether a plane is going up or down.  This corresponds to our lives in that a good attitude (going up) will result in more success than a bad attitude (going down).
The book is divided into four parts: The Consideration of Your Attitude; The Construction of Your Attitude; The Crashing of Your Attitude; and The Changing of Your Attitude.  Each of these sections is divided into chapters addressing specific points relating to the overall topic of the section. Of particular interest to me were the last two sections.  It's interesting to examine both how people can end up with a bad attitude (not merely a pessimistic outlook, either) and how they can turn it around and create a positive attitude through deliberate change.
As always, Maxwell roots his ideas in Biblical truths.  Scripture is used multiple times, and the lives of Peter and Paul are referenced frequently.  Along with scripture, Maxwell uses anecdotes to help drive the points home.  These are particularly helpful in illustrating the concepts presented.
Finally, Maxwell includes study guides for each chapter, as well as "Attitude Applications" throughout each chapter.  These assist the reader, either personally or as part of a reading group, in not only reading about the attitude changes but in helping cement the changes as permanent.
Overall, I would recommend this book. It is a short and easy to digest volume full of good ideas.
I received a preview copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.