Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Joker: Endgame by James Tynion IV - Book Review

From the publisher: The tie-in to the best-selling BATMAN VOL. 7: ENDGAME is here in THE JOKER; ENDGAME!

Gotham City has been overrun by craziness, and the power is out at Gotham Academy! There's a mob of Jokerized madmen in Gotham City, and they're determined to spread the virus into the world beyond... but they're gonna have to get past Batgirl first! What do Batman's villains do on the craziest night in Gotham City? The city is overrun by Jokerized victims, but a small band of teenagers unites to take a stand. Their secret knowledge of Gotham City's streets helps them survive, but will Batman take help from this young group of upstarts? This jam packed collections features BATMAN ANNUAL #3, back-ups from BATMAN #35-39, GOTHAM ACADEMY: ENDGAME#1, BATGIRL ENDGAME #1, BATMAN AND ROBIN ENDGAME #1, Arkham Manor Endgame 31.

Joker: Endgame by James Tynion IV is basically an expanded version of the Batman Endgame collection. The Batman issues are collected in this book, along with a few of the side stories from the varying Bat-Family books. All said, this is a great collection. It details the Joker's efforts to push Batman to the edge. He begins by releasing a Joker toxin into the air above Gotham. As the citizens are effected, Batman and his crew are left to find a cure, all while the Joker is attempting to kill Batman.

Each of the stories that surround the main plot focus on heroes and characters on the perimeter. Gotham Academy deals with a group of teenagers who attempt to help resolve the problem. Batgirl makes her own attempt at dealing with the Joker's mess. Along the way, Red Robin, Nightwing, Spoiler, Red Hood, Bluebird, and Julia Pennyworth add their support. It is a fascinating group approach to taking on the Joker, who continues to become more and more ruthless in the New 52 continuity.

The Bat books are the best thing going at DC right now, in my opinion, and this outstanding collection is another example of why. It takes Batman and Joker to the brink, and lays the groundwork for lasting consequences going forward for all involved. I highly recommend it.

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nearing the Sporting End

Lexi had two tennis matches last week. She and her partner lost the first one, but one the second one in pretty convincing fashion. The tennis season ends this week. In the meantime, we still have cheerleading to support Lexi in.

Cami's last softball game with postponed, and then canceled, so her fall season is over. She had a good time, and showed improvement, especially at the plate.

Griffin's team won 20-6, to finish the regular season at 3-5. He played a bunch, at both linebacker and running back. He got to carry the ball once, but couldn't quite break a tackle. He was involved in a few tackle piles, also. His playoffs start on Monday, against the team he just beat. We will play Tuesday, and then Wednesday as long as we keep winning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Batman Vol. 7: Endgame by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: For years, the Joker has regarded Batman with a sick, twisted love, thinking that one could never exist without the other. But that's all changed. Now the Clown Prince of Crime is done playing.

He's going to kill Batman. And he's going to do it using those who Batman loves the most: the Justice League

The Joker returns to Gotham City with a deadlier agenda than ever before, using every tool at his disposal to finally kill the Dark Knight. That includes turning Batman's allies against him in the bloodiest brawl that he's ever had to survive.

BATMAN VOL. 7: ENDGAME is the biggest, boldest story that the #1 New York Times best-selling creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have told to date. With an ending you won't believe, this graphic novel is a classic in the making.

Collects BATMAN #35-40. 

Wow! I don't know what else to say. Scott Snyder's last collection of Batman, Vol. 7: Endgame, might be his crowning achievement. In a run that has been spectacular, this is truly the best of the best. In fact, in my opinion, Endgame ranks with the very best Batman stories told, including Miller's Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, Moore's The Killing Joke, and Loeb's The Long Halloween.

Joker has returned with a new and even deadlier form of his Joker toxin. Initially, he uses it on the Justice League, who in turn attack Batman. Then he releases it into the population of Gotham. As Batman attempts to track down a mysterious new element in order to synthesize a cure, he encounters rumors of a "pale man" down through the long history of Gotham. With help from his allies, he puts a plan in to motion. To share anymore would be to spoil the story.

Snyder has had his finger on the pulse of Batman since he took over writing the book. This is just more of the same, although I believe he has topped himself here. He has captured the spirit and emotion of Batman that many writers and readers seem to miss. The last few pages of the collection contain a perfect summary of the legacy of Batman. Read this book if just for this part.

Greg Capullo does a terrific job with the art. It complements the mood wonderfully, and adds to the depth and tone that Snyder sets with his writing.

I give Batman Vol. 7: Endgame my highest recommendation. It is a must read for Batman fans, and should be read by the casual superhero fan as well.

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

More Fall Sports

Lexi had two tennis matches this week, losing both. She really enjoyed the second match, though, even though she and her partner were beaten badly. She said it was fun because she was getting her serve in and there were some long volleys. Love to hear her excitement and seeing her improve.

Cami had one mid-week game, and one Saturday rain-out. In the game she played, she had two hits and two RBIs. She said it was fun. This fall season has been great for her skills and her confidence.

Griffin's team lost to the best team in the league, but played them extremely tough, scoring more points on them than anyone else. Griffin is still getting used to hitting, and made some strides during the second half. His regular season ends next Saturday, and then there are the playoffs.

We wrapped up the week by going to the Indy Eleven NASL soccer match. We had great seats and a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Diary of a Jackwagon By Tim Aaron Hawkins with John Drive - Book Review

From the publisher: Popular Christian comedian Tim Hawkins shares his hilarious perspective on life in the 21st century.

In this wide-ranging, long-awaited book, comedian Tim Hawkins holds forth on everything from family, culture, and music to church, parenting, and education. Readers will enjoy laughing their way through the book, always feeling good about the clean and sometimes inspiring material they are laughing at. Chapters include riffs on marital communication ("marriage needs a challenge flag, like in pro football") aging ("the diabolical orifice witch hunt"), worship music ("pick the right key, because I'm not Barry White and I'm not a Bee Gee"), and fatherhood ("There are no manuals for parenting. Color-coded warning labels or open-ended prescriptions would be just as helpful.")

For fans of Jim Gaffigan's Dad Is Fat and Food: A Love Story, Tim Hawkins' hilarious first book reveals that for life's many difficulties, laughter is the best medicine-when there aren't any pills left.

I was slightly familiar with Tim Hawkins’s comedy, so when I had a chance to review his new book, Diary of a Jackwagon, I thought I’d give it a chance. It sounded pretty funny, with Hawkins translating his routines/observations into print. Thinking I’d get some chuckles, I dove in.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the comedy translated very well. While there were some amusing bits, over all, I fell flat for me. Each chapter focused on one central idea, but the approach to the idea shifted by the end of the chapter. This made it a little tough to read. Additionally, there were chapters where the content really wasn’t that funny; it was more of just a general observation.
I think Hawkins’s writing is fine, and Diary of a Jackwagon has potential to be a quick, enjoyable read. I just think that his comedy would be better seen and heard than read. If you are already a Hawkins fan, go ahead and give this book a chance. As an introduction, however, I would start with his videos.
I received a preview copy of this book from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Back to the Sporting Life

After a rather slow week for the kids (at least this season), they were back at it. Lexi had two tennis matches. In the first one, she and her partner lost. In the second, she played singles and the beat the 2nd singles player from the other team 6-1. She was excited and so were we. She is still playing the equivalent of JV, but is getting better each and every day. She was also selected as the Royal Pride Athlete of the Week after being nominated by her coach. She has at least one (might have a second) match this week, in addition to the weekly cheerleading at the middle school football games.

Griffin also had two games, with one being a make-up. The team did not do so well in the first game. Griffin played a bit at LB but was not able to be involved in any tackles. The second game went a lot better. We still ended with a loss, but it was a close game and the boys played much better. Griffin again played LB, and was able to get himself near the action. He's still trying to bring himself to hit someone, rather than just get in a pile, but he is getting better and still having fun. The next game is Saturday.

Cami's team won both games in close fashion, maybe by a run or two. She went 2-4, while knocking in a couple of runs and scoring once. She also nearly ran a girl down while playing third base. She thought that was pretty cool.  He last double-header is next Saturday.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Wonder Woman Vol. 7: War-Torn by Meredith Finch, David Finch - Book Review

From the publisher: Please welcome the new superstar creative team of writer Meredith Finch and artist David Finch! As this new epic begins, the fate of the Amazons is about to be revealed, major new characters will be introduced and a new villain will arrive with enough power to defeat the combined might of Wonder Woman and her Justice League teammates! Don't miss the start of this story that guest stars Swamp Thing! It will define what it takes for Diana to fulfill her destiny as Wonder Woman!

With Wonder Woman Vol. 7: War, Meredith Finch has taken the ideas from Brian Azzarello's run (Diana becoming the God of War, and the Amazons and Paradise Island having a heavy presence) and folded them in with Diana's role as Wonder Woman throughout the rest of the world.

In this collection, we find Wonder Woman trying to balance her various responsibilities; she is a member of the Justice League, the Queen of the Amazons, and the new God(dess) of War.  Each of these facets presents a challenge, and she is forced to figure out her place. As a Justice Leaguer, she has to deal with a force of nature swallowing cities and villages whole. As the God of War, she is forced to confront the impact being the embodiment of war is going to have on her personality. Finally, as the Queen of the Amazons, she has to face a potential coup among her subjects.  How she responds sets the stage for her further adventures and character development.

This was an enjoyable collection, as it leaned a little more on the superhero aspect than simply the Greek myth part of the character.  This lends allows Meredith Finch to tell some different types of stories, which is a good change.  Additionally, the art by David Finch is a nice change from the previous collections. Again, while the prior style really complemented the stories being told, David Finch's style is perfect for this collection.

Finally, for Wonder Woman fans, the character of Donna Troy is introduced into the New 52 continuity. For those who aren't familiar with the character, she was Wonder Girl in the old DC comics. It will be interesting to see how Meredith Finch develops her going forward.

I recommend Wonder Woman Vol. 7: War. It is a nice change, and brings Wonder Woman back into the superhero realm a little more. Old fans should enjoy it, the new focus is a good jumping on point for new fans, as well.

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

Monday, September 7, 2015

Slow Sports Week

Last week was a slow sports week for us. Lexi had two matches, winning one and losing one. She and her partner beat the 2nd doubles team in a pretty cool upset.

Griffin was supposed to have a mid-week game, but lightning in the area caused it to be postponed. So, this week he is scheduled to have two games.

Cami just had the weekend off, and will be back at it on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fairest Vol. 5: The Clamour for Glamour by Mark Buckingham - Book Review

From the publisher: In this new epic, refugees from Fabletown have returned to New York's Castle Dark, and Reynard, now able to shapeshift from fox to man, travels the mundane world to regale the animals with tales of his exploits, rubbing the other Fables' noses in his good fortune. Frustration at their restriction to the Farm threatens to become a issue once more! Can the animals find a way out of their situation?

Long-time FABLES artist Mark Buckingham takes over writing duties in this concluding volume to the New York Times best-selling series FAIREST. Collects issues #27-32.

Mark Buckingham closes out the Fairest series with Vol. 5: The Clamour for Glamour. As is usual, the story is great. This particular arc hits a couple of points: Reynard the fox has received a glamour so he can become a man. His bragging causes unrest among the other non-human fables at the Farm. This has two results. The first is that Reynard is removed from the farm by one of Snow White's children. He is dropped into the life of Meghan, a homebody living with her cruel uncle and cousin. A love affair and misadventures ensue. The other result is that the non-human fables demand glamours for themselves as well. The compromise is five glamours to be given out through a lottery system. The angling for the glamours causes all sorts of angst and problems, particular with Mr. Sunflower.  These storylines eventually dovetail together, providing some resolution and leading to the final volume of stories in the Fables main series.

The final issue of the series deals with Goldilocks, and her quest to find a kingdom to rule with socialistic principles.  It is a prequel of sorts to the Fairest: In All the Land graphic novel.

I enjoyed this collection. However, it was not as good as some of the previous story collections. With its focus on the non-human fables, it took some getting used to the different points of view. The story of the glamour lottery also seemed to drag on a bit, as Mr. Sunflower wasn't a great point of view character. I'm willing to chalk up my issues to this being the final collection and leading into the greater story taking place in the main Fables series.

Finally, I have enjoyed the entire Fairest series, and Mark Buckingham has proved to be an excellent writer, taking Bill Willingham's characters and crafting entertaining stories along the way. I would recommend this collection to fans of the series.

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