Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Batman and Robin Vol. 6: The Hunt for Robin by Peter J. Tomasi - Book Review

From the publisher: After losing his son Damian—a.k.a. Robin—Batman has finally found peace with his death. Damian's grandfather Ra's al Ghul, however, has not. In order to resurrect Robin, he's stolen the body and now Batman will stop at nothing to reclaim him.

Nearly two years of storylines—including threads from Grant Morrison's BATMAN INCORPORATED and Scott Snyder and Greg Capulo's BATMAN—conclude here in BATMAN AND ROBIN VOL. 6: THE HUNT FOR ROBIN.


Peter J. Tomasi has done a great job with the latest Batman and Robin book, Vol. 6: The Hunt for Robin. After Damien Wayne, Robin, was killed, Bruce Wayne struggled to come to terms with his death, including getting over any attempts to resurrect him. Just when he was beginning to move on, Bruce discovers that the bodies of both Talie al Ghul and Damien have been stolen by Damien's grandfather, Ra's al Ghul. What follows is Batman's attempt to recover the bodies, Damien's in particular, before Ra's can resurrect them to help him in world domination. With assists, and opposition, from various Justice League members and Frankenstein, Batman chases Ra's around the globe. Eventually reconnecting with Red Robin, Red Hood, and Batgirl, Batman makes a decision that could result in long-term ramifications.

Knowing that no one really stays dead for long in comics, I was curious how Tomasi would go about bringing Robin back. There was real emotional depth in Damien's death and how Bruce and the rest of the Bat-family dealt with it. One of my favorite recent stories involved Dick Grayson processing through the death of Damien Wayne. So Tomasi had the challenge of making this a story worthy of the weight it would carry. For the most part, he succeeded. This particular volume did not provide the resolution to the whole story of Damien's resurrection, but it provided a strong beginning. Involving the various Bat characters was a wonderful decision, as this seemed to add to the depth needed.

I would highly recommend Batman and Robin Vol. 6: The Hunt for Robin, by Peter J. Tomasi, to all Batman fans. This isn't the best place for new readers to begin, but the general background knowledge needed to understand what is happening is provided. I look forward to following the rest of this story to see how Tomasi wraps it all up.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Flash Vol. 6: Out of Time by Robert Venditti - Book Review

From the publisher: The start of a new era for the Fastest Man Alive! In the future, The Flash is a broken man. His powers have failed him time and again at great cost to him and the city he has sworn to protect. Now he's coming back to the current time to stop the one event that destroyed his life. Meanwhile, in the present, Barry Allen must contend with thieves trying to capitalize on the devastation of FOREVER EVIL. It's a tale of two timelines that ushers in one of The New 52's most anticipated character debuts!

THE FLASH VOL. 6 begins a brand new era for the Scarlet Speedster, from writer Robert Venditti (GREEN LANTERN), Van Jensen (GREEN LANTERN CORPS) and artist Brett Booth (NIGHTWING, TEEN TITANS). Collects THE FLASH #30-35, THE FLASH ANNUAL #3 and THE FLASH: FUTURES END #1.

With the success of the new Flash television show, the character is firmly on the radar of many people. The comic book Flash is primed to take advantage of the attention. With The Flash Vol. 6: Out of Time, the book debuts a new writer, Robert Venditti, and looks to head in a new direction. However, there are mixed results, mostly due, in my opinion, to the way Flash has been developed in the New 52 era.

First the successes: This volume introduces Wally West, Iris West's nephew. Long-time fans know Wally West becomes Barry Allen's sidekick, Kid Flash. This is a promising development for the future, and Wally plays an important role. Secondly, a version of Barry Allen/Flash is traveling back through time from the future to fix the Speed Force, which is broken, and to set right some events (this leads to a tremendous scene with Leonard Snart). I've always enjoyed the time travel aspect of the Flash stories, and this is the most interesting storyline in the collection.

Now the not as good: The story taking place in the present is uninteresting and repetitive. Someone is using the weapons/equipment from old villains in what seem to be random acts of violence. This basically follows the same pattern for four or five issues. Also, Barry is a little gloomy and mopey, not at all in line with the generally positive character he is usually portrayed to be. Another problem is Barry's relationship with Patty. It seems to be going in circles, with conversations taking on a "been there, done that" pattern.

I found the Flash to be a very interesting and engaging character leading up to the New 52, but since the reboot, I feel like the character has been somewhat lackluster. I realize that the comics come first and serve as a basis for the tv show, but right now the show seems to have captured the fun of the Flash more than the books. In the interest of attracting new readers, I would think the writers might want to tap in to what is working so well in the show.

Overall, Robert Venditti's The Flash Vol. 6: Out of Time is a slightly above average storyline. The time travelling is what elevates it above average. This is not the best volume for new readers (it jumps right in to post-Forever Evil repercussions), but it bears watching to see how Venditti plays out the cliffhanger he ended the book with.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart - Book Review

From the publisher: It’s a reinvention of Batgirl from the boots up, focusing on Barbara Gordon’s amazing eidetic memory and how she balances her dual lives—one as a masked hero and the other as a grad student.

The new creative team of Cameron Stewart (BATMAN AND ROBIN, SEAGUY, SEVEN SOLDIERS), Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr set Barbara Gordon off in a brand-new direction in BATGIRL VOL. 1! Collects BATGIRL #35-40 and a story from SECRET ORIGINS #10.

Let me first say that I enjoyed the previous collections of DC's New 52 Batgirl. I felt like they captured Barbara Gordon's voice extremely well, and put Batgirl through the ringer, while staying true to who she is. The tone was also consistent with the Batman family of books, yet uniquely her own. The new collection, Batgirl Vol. 1: Batgirl of Burnside, by Cameron Stewart, reinvents Batgirl/Barbara Gordon yet again. I don't know that it was a necessary move (I can't really see Batman making an appearance in this book), but it works for what it is.

Barbara Gordon moves to a new suburb of Gotham called Burnside. She has been accepted into a collegiate program based on an algorithm she developed. She is living with a friend she met during her stint in rehab which was a result of being shot by Joker. Her roommate is programing the newest social media hit, HOOQ (a sort-of dating app). She also meets a several new friends through her college work, one of whom helps to develop tech for Batgirl. Additionally, Dinah Lance (Black Canary) crashes with Barbara. Throw into the mix a Batgirl impersonator, Burnside's obsession with their new resident hero, Barbara's chaotic social life, and an surprising villain, and you have the new direction for Batgirl.

I'm not really the target audience for this new Batgirl. That being said, I believe this book will be hugely popular with it's audience. Stewart writes Batgirl from the perspective of Barbara Gordon as a fairly typical twenty-something, dealing with many of the typical twenty-something issues. Gone is the underlying darkness that lingered in previous collections. Instead, a lighter tone and spunkier heroine take its place. Additionally, the art serves as a great complement to the story, with brighter colors and a funky style that suits the new direction.

Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside should find an audience fairly easily. The character and tone serve to set it apart from other books currently available, and may even bring new readers to comics. While this book isn't for me, I would readily recommend it to readers looking for something different, possibly even trendy.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Baseball and Softball Seasons Come to an End

This past week saw our spring sports seasons end. Griffin's team lost their first playoff game. He went 0-2, but reached on a dropped 3rd strike (and scored) and walked in his last plate appearance. He also got a chance to be involved in a play while playing 3rd base.It was an interesting season for Griffin, with a steep learning curve due to having kids pitching, but he improved a bunch.

Cami's team lost both of their games. Unfortunately, their bats cooled off at the end of the season.  She played a bunch at shortstop, and was able to make a couple of plays. I think she had a couple of hits, but I can't remember for sure. It was a good, fun season for Cami, and she improved a ton. You could see the confidence growing with each game.

Upcoming events: Summer church camps, and basketball camp for Griffin.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral by Tim Seeley - Book Review

From the publisher: Dick Grayson. Former Sidekick. Former Superhero. Former dead man. Agent of Spyral?!

A thrilling new chapter of Dick Grayson's life begins here. A super-spy espionage thriller that will shock you and prove one thing: you might think you know Nightwing--but you don't know Dick.

Collects GRAYSON #1-4, GRAYSON ANNUAL #1 and a story from SECRET ORIGINS #8.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sporting News

Due to weather, Griffin's baseball tournament was postponed to this coming week. Cami, on the other hand, had 3 softball games. Her team went 1-2, and she was 2-8 at the plate. She also had multiple opportunities to field the ball while playing shortstop. One hit came at her so fast, it bounced and nearly stuck in her glove without her even noticing it.  Her tournament starts on Monday.

Lexi had basketball and tennis camps this past week, and Cami had tennis camp.

The summer is off to a busy start!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Fold by Peter Clines - Book Review

From the publisher: STEP INTO THE FOLD.
The folks in Mike Erikson’s small New England town would say he’s just your average, everyday guy. And that’s exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he’s chosen isn’t much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he’s content with his quiet and peaceful existence.

That is, until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve: far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to “fold” dimensions, it shrinks distances so that a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step.

The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the Door is completely safe.

Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems—and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.

As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there’s only one answer that makes sense. And if he’s right, it may only be a matter of time before the project destroys…everything.

A cunningly inventive mystery featuring a hero worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a terrifying final twist you’ll never see coming, The Fold is that rarest of things: a genuinely page-turning science-fiction thriller. Step inside its pages and learn why author Peter Clines has already won legions of loyal fans. 

I have read several of Peter Clines's other books (including the excellent Ex- Series and 14) and really enjoyed them, so I jumped at the chance to read his newest book, The Fold. I was not disappointed in the least. Quick synopsis: Mike Erikson has an eidetic memory and an off-the-charts IQ. His buddy at DARPA hires him to investigate DARPA's latest invention - a sort of inter-dimensional doorway that results in near instantaneous travel. It will change the world. However, the group of scientists responsible for the doorway are extremely secretive, and things just seem a little off.  As Mike spends more time looking into the circumstances surrounding the door, things become more and more complicated. To say more may give things away.

The book was great. I love Clines's writing style, and read this book in a matter of days. The plot moves quickly, while building suspense and tension the entire time. The characters are engaging, particularly Mike. The descriptions of how his memory works, using the image of red and black ants, is ingenious. Clines takes the time to add characterization throughout the story, and the reader will find themselves picking up on little clues to the overall mystery as they move through the story. The supporting cast is also well-written, as the focus is on a small group of people at basically one location.

I can't say enough good things about The Fold. Peter Clines has again written a fantastic book, one with a sci-fi premise and a touch of horror. It is engrossing and well-written. The Fold slowly grabs your attention and builds to a terrific climax.  I would highly recommend this book, and particularly to readers who enjoyed Clines's novel 14.

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