Sunday, May 31, 2015

End of School and Games

Griffin and Cami celebrated the end of 2nd grade, receiving their certificates of completion. Lexi "graduated" from 5th grade and will be moving into the middle school next year.

Griffin had one game this week (a loss) and was unable to get a hit. However, he did reach base on a walk and a dropped third strike, so he was able to run the bases a little. He also saw a little action at 3rd base. He has a tournament game (possibly two) this week, and then the season is over. 

Cami had a game (also a loss) and got two hits, scoring once. She had a lot of action at shortstop and 3rd base, and is working hard on her fielding. She has two games this week, and then a tournament next week.

Also, the girls have several camps this week. Lexi will be keeping busy with basketball and tennis, while Cami will be attending tennis camp after going to basketball last week.

The summer is starting in full swing!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 6: Icarus by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato - Book Review

From the publisher: A bold new direction for DETECTIVE COMICS as THE FLASH creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato take over the creative reins! Batman finds himself knee-deep in a new mystery involving a deadly new narcotic that has hit the streets of Gotham City. Can the Dark Knight stop the threat before the entire town finds itself embroiled in a deadly gang war that could burn everything--and everyone--down to the ground?

Collects issues #30-34 and DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #3.

The latest collection of Detective Comics, Icarus, pulls the focus away from "super" villains and moves more towards the actual detective side of Batman. This isn't necessarily better, its just a nice change. Francis Manapul opens his run with the tale of a new drug, called "Icarus", and the battle to get it on the street. It involves rival gangs, human trafficking, a new gang boss (the Squid), a vengeful Harvey Bullock, and Bruce Wayne pledging to clean up the east end docks and warehouses by putting in affordable housing.  Wayne is encouraged by Elena Aguila, a wealthy woman inspired by Bruce himself.  What follows is a story of decisions and their consequences.

After such a focus on the big picture in the Batman comics, particularly the death of Damien Wayne, it's nice to draw the focus in tighter and allow Batman to put his "world's greatest detective" skills to work. Icarus is a good story that does a nice job of helping Manapul get his "Batman" legs.

The art, by Brian Buccellato, is dark and moody, perfectly fitting the story. I enjoy it when the story is complemented so well by the artwork.

I recommend Detective Comics Vol. 6: Icarus to all Batman fans. It also works well as a jumping on point for new readers.

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Baseball/Softball Career Bests

Cami had two games this past week. For some reason, she really struggled to hit in the first game. In addition, her team lost. However, the second game was a completely different story. She got a hit each time she was up, going 3 for 3. She also scored 3 runs. Late in the game, she had two balls hit to her at 3rd base and made nice plays, with good throws, on each of them.

Griffin had one game. While it was a walk-fest (lots of bases loaded walks, the "most exciting play in baseball" according to the sarcastic SportsCenter guys), Griffin did well. He did walk twice, and was hit on the head his other time up. He also scored 3 runs. Additionally, while he had no balls hit to him, he did cough so hard he puked while playing shortstop (he had been sick during the week).  His team won (possibly their first victory) and Griffin was awarded a game ball.

All in all, it was a very successful week for the twins. Each has a game this coming week, and to top it off, its the last week of school!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Batman: Earth One Vol. 2 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: Following the events of the #1 New York Times bestselling original graphic novel by Geoff Johns, comes the highly anticipated sequel BATMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 2!

The Riddler has arrived in Gotham and he’s terrorizing the city with his own twisted brand of anarchy. But why is he attacking now, and what is his endgame? The Riddler isn’t Batman’s only problem, as Killer Croc is on the streets and his violent crimes can’t be ignored. Meanwhile, the Dark Knight has trouble reconciling the increasingly conflicting ideologies of Alfred Pennyworth and James Gordon in this gripping re-imagining of the Batman mythology.

Writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank bring you Batman as you’ve never seen him before in this thrilling original graphic novel that continues their unique take on the Dark Knight.

As a Batman fan, I'm willing (and usually anxious) to read any of the different spins on Batman. I enjoyed the first volume of Geoff Johns's Batman: Earth One, and looked forward to reading more. The Earth One concept keeps enough of the original concept to be familiar, but gives the writer more room to play and experiment, particularly with consequences.  Batman falls right in line with this.

In the latest volume, Bruce Wayne/Batman is trying to catch the Riddler, a particularly vicious villain who is killing Gotham citizens at random. Throw Killer Croc into the mix, along with James Gordon and a slightly less passive Alfred Pennyworth, and Johns continues to create an interesting take on Batman.

Too often, the Riddler is portrayed as a joke, but in Batman: Earth One, he is a cold-blooded killer. It puts more of a desperation into Batman's hunt for him. Gordan and Harvey Bullock are also under pressure, both to catch the killer and for working with Batman. This makes for a good mix and propels the story along.

I enjoy Batman the most out of the Earth One series, and will continue to read them as future volumes come out.

Johns has done a nice job, and while I prefer the mainstream Batman, Earth One is a fun take on the character. I would recommend it to Batman fans, or comic fans looking for a different take on an iconic character.

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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Games and Rain

Another busy week.  Lexi participated in the 4 event elementary track and field competition. Her practice night was rained out, so she did a little practice and then competed on the same night. There were three girls in her age division, and Lexi finished in 2nd twice and 3rd twice. She did pretty good in the 100m sprint. She was in 2nd coming around the last turn on the 400m, but then discovered how tough a race it was. She couldn't breathe very well, which caused her to be passed. She threw shot (a softball for the girls) and finished 3rd. The final event was long jump and it was her best performance. She ended up in 2nd by 2 inches, but the coaches were very complimentary of her form. She did well and had a fun time.

Cami's team came back to tie their game in the bottom of the last inning (there is a time limit rule, so no extra innings). She was 1 for 2 with a single, and had a couple of chances in the field, playing 2nd base.

Griffin's team started their game in the rain, and with only 7 official players (a source of frustration to me). After two pretty rain-soaked innings, the game was called, which was unfortunate, because it was the best the team had played so far.  Griffin was 1-2, with a single, RBI, and a run scored. He played 3rd base and didn't have any chances to field the ball.

This week, the girls have volleyball camp, Cami has 2 games, and Griffin has practice and a game.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Batman/Superman Vol. 3: Second Chance by Greg Pak - Book Review

From the publisher: The worlds of Batman and Superman come to an explosive clash as something terrible happens to the World's Finest team, and a Dark Knight who is not quite himself must team up with Lois Lane to find a missing Man of Steel. Meanwhile, Selina Kyle encounters a person of amazing strength who has no idea who he is.

Writer Greg Pak (Hulk) re-teams with critically acclaimed illustrator Jae Lee (Inhumans) to launch this next epic chapter of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel in BATMAN/SUPERMAN VOL. 3! Collects issues #10-14 and BATMAN/SUPERMAN: FUTURES END #1.

Batman/Superman, by Greg Pak, continues to be a fun book. The structure of the comic allows for big and/or personal stories between Superman and Batman that couldn't really happen in their own books, let alone the Justice League.

This particular collection, Second Chance, contains three separate stories.  The first story concerns Superman and Ray Palmer shrinking to enter Batman's brain and save him. It is very Fantastic Voyage-ish. The second story brings back Koiya, the Chaos-Bringer. She offers Batman and Superman a chance to change one thing from the past, at the time they visited Earth-2 during Darkseid's attack.  There choices prove to be interesting.

Finally, the last story proves to be the most interesting (and the artwork by Jae Lee is terrific).  It spins out of the encounter with Koiya, and leaves our heroes back home but without their memories. Clark Kent encounters Catwoman and Bruce Wayne meets Lois Lane.  What follows is a look at what makes a hero, and if the memories make the man. There is a particularly poignant scene with Bruce Wayne that perfectly captures the sacrifices heroes make.

I really enjoy Batman/Superman, and Vol. 3: Second Chances is no exception. I still believe Vol. 1 set the bar extremely high, but the latest stories still rank pretty high. I recommend this to fans of Batman and Superman, and to fans looking for a fun read.

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

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekend Update

Griffin had a baseball game Friday night, and he was the starting pitcher. It was his first time and he pitched to four batters. He hit the first kid right between the shoulder blades, then walked the next three. However, he nearly struck out one of the batters. It was a good learning experience. He had his best hitting game to this point, as well. He grounded out to the pitcher his first at bat, but made good contact. He walked the second time, and was safe at first his third time up when the first baseman dropped the throw. He also fielded a ball in left field. Although his team lost, he was smiling ear to ear after the game.

Cami had to miss her game due to illness, but we were told they won.

Lexi had a choir concert on Monday. She sang beautifully. She then had 6th grade orientation on Thursday night. It was quite amusing watching her try to open a locker. I can't believe she'll be in middle school next school year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Batman Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: In the wake of the death of his son Damian, Batman is in danger of losing his humanity. However, the foes of this grief-ridden Dark Knight mean to strike him when he's at his weakest. Has Batman's worst foe become... Bruce Wayne?

Plus, three pivotal chapters from the epic ZERO YEAR storyline! From the critically acclaimed, New York Times #1 best-selling creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo comes the next genre-defining graphic novel in their monumental run.

Collects BATMAN #0, #18-20, #28, #34 and BATMAN ANNUAL #2.

Batman Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift is the newest collection of Batman comics by Scott Snyder. It is kind of a hodge podge of stories, as it collects various issues that ran between more major storylines.

There is a tie in to the Zero Year storyline, focusing on the early career of Bruce Wayne as Batman. It's a nice, complementary story that adds to the overall arc of Zero Year.

The central part of this book deals with Batman's grief over the death of his son, Damien. He is angrier and more violent. When a teenage girl named Harper attempts to join in his crusade, Batman chases her off. The introduction of Harper lets Snyder show Bruce grieving but giving him a new hope, as well. Harper balances out the rage, and helps temper the grief, as well. The stage seems like it is being set to introduce a new potential sidekick.

Other stories include a fun team-up between Batman and Superman, dealing with a supernatural foe. The friendship of the two heroes is front and center. Batman spends a night in Arkham Asylum, testing the security. During his "escape", he encounters the longest tenured patient in the facility. Selena Kyle, recently become a crime boss, reveals her new nature to Batman in yet another interesting tale.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection. Snyder's Batman Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift does a nice job filling in holes and laying the foundation for future Batman stories. I highly recommend it.

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

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Knight Family Update

At the end of a very busy week, Lexi had a piano recital, Cami had a softball game, Griffin had a baseball game, and I coached/supervised our middle school team in an academic competition.

Lexi played Fur Elise at a local nursing home. She played beautifully.

Cami's team may have lost by 1 or won the game, we aren't really sure. However, Cami went 1-2 and got to field a ball this week while she played shortstop. Her next game is on Saturday.

Griffin's team played with 7 players, but were actually tied going into the 3rd inning. They eventually lost, simply because they didn't have anyone who could pitch.  Griffin walked twice and struck out once.  His second walk was a bases loaded walk, so he actually drove a run in (I'm not sure if that counts as an RBI). He also got to field a ball while playing 2nd base. His next game is Friday.

Rant time: having 8-9 year olds pitch is ridiculous. Griffin's game was over 1 1/2 hours, but only three innings. Fewer than 10 balls were hit, with a couple of those being fouls. There were at minimum 20 walks, and that was with some questionable pitches being called as strikes. Most batters are lucky to get one decent pitch to hit. There is a lot of unrest among the parents, and even with a few coaches. It is painful to watch, and the boys are neither learning to hit or to field balls, since very few get put into play. It's disappointing.

Rant over. Have a nice week. We have a choir concert, practices, ball games, and (gulp) sixth grade orientation.