Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Batman Europa by Brian Azzarello, Matteo Casali - Book Review

From the publisher: The impossible has happened and Batman is on the verge of being taken down by an enemy he cannot defeat: a virus for which there is no cure! And the only hope for his salvation is the Joker! Who infected Batman, what does the Clown Prince of Crime know, and how will The Dark Knight get that information? Together, the enemies crisscross Europe, desperate to find answers before time runs out.

Traveling through Europe to destinations like Prague, Paris, and Rome, Batman must defeat this disease before it defeats him. The sworn enemies are forced to work together to find the cure to what ails them.

Collects Batman: Europa #1-4 of the 4-issue miniseries.

Batman Europa, by Brian Azzarello and Matteo Casali, is a pretty cool Batman story. Taking the standard idea of someone drugging Batman and lifting it into new territory, Azzarello and Casali create a fun and very readable Batman and Joker story.

When both are infected with the Colossus virus, which leads to death, Batman and Joker are forced to work together as they chase various leads and a villain through some of Europe's great old cities. As they attempt to find a cure and catch the person responsible, the pair travel from Gotham to Berlin, Prague, Paris, and Rome. Each city brings them a little closer to apprehending the villain and solving the mystery.

The story itself is done well, and the interaction between Batman and Joker is fun. Particularly of note is the Colossus virus driving Batman near delirium, making Joker the more rational of the two. There adventures in the various cities is also cool, particularly in Paris, where Joker appears to have a following reminiscent of Jerry Lewis's popularity among the French.

While the story is good, the star of the book, however, is the art, which is done by four different artists: Jim Lee, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Diego Latorre, and Gerald Parel. Each brings a unique sensibility to the particular city they illustrate, but there is a cohesion running through the book as a whole. Additionally, the tone and styles complement the story perfectly, adding to the feverish feel of Batman and Joker being infected.

Overall, I would recommend Batman Europa by Brian Azzarello and Matteo Casali. Batman fans will enjoy the book, as will readers who are intrigued by this creative crossover between American and European writers and artists.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week Two of our Spring Sports Odyssey

Because of rain, our week of activities was actually shortened, but the kids still kept us busy and entertained.

Lexi only had one meet this week (which they won), and she ran the 100m and 200m, and long jumped. She did a very good job and is continuing to learn more and improve during her first track season. Plus, I think she is becoming the unofficial encourager of the team. She really enjoys standing at various places around the track and cheering her teammates as they try to do their best. It's pretty cool; I'm beginning to believe that encouragement is one of her spiritual gifts.

Cami had two (rather than three) games. They did not win either. Cami's team is 10u, but they don't have many, if any, 4th graders, while the teams we play have at least some. That experience is really noticeable on the field. However, the girls keep playing hard. The first game of the week saw Cami play catcher for an inning, and make her first contact while at bat. She hit a ball hard down the 1st base line, but it just went foul. In the second game she was a lot more involved. She was hit by a pitch and ended up scoring, and then hit a hard shot at the pitcher, who made a nice play on the ball, grabbing it right out of the air. Cami also pitched two innings. She struck out another girl, and fielded several balls, throwing a girl out at first. She was much improved over her first outing. It is clear to see that she is improving with every game, particularly with her pitching.

Griffin tried a shooting clinic at the Indiana Basketball Academy, on top of his normal session. He did a terrific job. His shot is getting better and better as his form continues to improve. My favorite part is when he looks at me with a little grin of pride when he does everything correct and the ball goes in. It is an affirmation that he is getting better.

More of the same in the week to come.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Forever My Little Boy: Loving Your Son for Now and for Always By Karen Kingsbury - Book Review

From the publisher: Even when children grow up, they always remain our little ones.

All the sweetness, challenges, and thrills of parenting are lovingly shared in this heart-touching poetic short story by bestselling fiction author Karen Kingsbury. From first steps to T-ball games, riding a bike to driving a car, a lifetime goes by in the blink of an eye. This book celebrates all the ups and downs of parenting a little boy and will be a cherished keepsake for any parent.

Karen Kingsbury's Forever My Little Boy is a sweet little gift book, perfect for sons or for new parents. It relates the story (briefly) of a little boy's life and his parents' love, prayers, and hopes for him. Every couple of pages there is a Bible verse, a short prayer, and a song with the refrain "Forever my little boy". It is reminiscent of the classic book I'll Love You Forever, but with Christian themes.

I would recommend this book as a graduation present for sons, or for the parents of a new little boy. It is sweet, heartwarming, and a little bit of a tear-jerker.

I received a preview copy of this book from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Sports are Underway!

Lexi had her first middle school track meet this past week. She competed in the long jump and in an exhibition race for the 200m dash. She jumped 10 ft. and changed, and set a personal best in the 200 at 34 sec. She was nervous beforehand, but really excited and proud afterwards. She has another two meets this week. She also tried out for, and made, the cheerleading squad for next year. She is a busy girl.

Cami had her first softball game of the season. She was 0-2, but the highlight was her pitching. She pitched the 3rd inning (of 3). It was her first time pitching to live batters, but she did a good job. She had one strikeout, hit one batter, and one really awesome, fast strike. She didn't give up any runs, and would have earned the save (if they keep that stat). Her team won 6-5. As far as pitching, each batter gets five pitches from a kid, then two from a coach. So Cami's goal is put the ball over the plate so the coach doesn't have to come in. She is working on building arm strength, and making sure she pitches straight. It should make for a fun season of watching her grow.

Griffin opted not to play any spring sports, so we signed him up for a basketball skill camp at the Indiana Basketball Academy. Currently, he plays games and switches with other boys to work on dribbling and shooting skills. He is improving each time, and even received a nice complement from the clinic instructor about his shooting form.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Red Hood/Arsenal Vol. 1: Open for Business by Scott Lobdell - Book Review

From the publisher: Red Hood and Arsenal are open for business! After working for the mysterious Tara Battleworth as on-staff outlaws, Roy and Jason have decided to branch out on their own as freelance problem solvers, investigators, and general butt-kicking specialists. But when the sinister corporate scourge of Underbelly rears its ugly head, can our heroes overcome pure evil and corruption made manifest? Collects RED HOOD/ARSENAL #1-6.

Scott Lobdell's Red Hood/Arsenal Vol. 1: Open for Business is a purely entertaining book. He has created a perfect buddy hero book, in the vein of Lethal Weapon. That's high praise because I found those movies to be great fun, particularly the interaction between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Lobdell has captured a similar vibe with Arsenal as the Mel Gibson comedian with a bittersweet past, and Red Hood as the ultra-serious Danny Glover.

After splitting up as a group (the Outlaws, with Starfire), Red Hood and Arsenal are drawn back together when they both happen to show to save a senator and his "fixer". Arsenal talks Red Hood into becoming heroes for hire, and the adventure and hilarity ensues. Along the way, they encounter a new villain called Underbelly (very Jabba the Hutt) and a group of mime assassins (yes, I said mimes). Additionally, they make a trip to Gotham where they encounter the new Batman. This makes for an interesting situation with Red Hood, as he deals with his Batman issues.

Through it all, the two heroes keep up a constant stream of chatter, which is where the book shines. Lobdell has the voices of these two guys down perfectly, with Roy (Arsenal) Harper trying to keep everything light and constantly needling his partner, and Jason (Red Hood) Todd all about business and acting like he's had enough of Roy's shenanigans. However, they work together wonderfully and have a strong friendship that is the emotional hook for the series.

The humor is also clever. The phone number for Red Hood and Arsenal is 555-Red-Arse. Red Hood has the line of the book when he refers to his past in "Batman's Robin intern program".

Read Red Hood/Arsenal Vol. 1: Open for Business. It's a lot of fun, and it's not too heavy. I would recommend it to fans of Lethal Weapon, and former sidekicks trying to make it on their own.

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

We Are Robin Vol. 1: The Vigilante Business by Lee Bermejo - Book Review

From the publisher: Spinning out of the pages of BATMAN! The teenagers of Gotham City have adopted the "R" and made it their own. A new Robin? No, hundreds of new Robins! The Boy Wonder has inspired a movement in Gotham, where different people of all creeds, colors, genders and religions have donned the "R" insignia to combat crime. But will this clean up the city...or make more trouble than it's worth? Don't miss the start of this new series from rising star writer Lee Bermejo (JOKER, SUICIDERS).
Collects WE ARE ROBIN #1-6.

Lee Bermejo's We Are Robin Vol. 1: The Vigilante Business is a cool book. In the wake of Dick Grayson being "killed" and the Joker's Endgame attack, many teenagers around Gotham have been recruited by the mysterious Nest to become a "Robin". These young heroes become involved in many things, including simple purse-snatchings and breaking up fights to deactivating bombs and trying to stop a group of brainwashed/cult-like homeless people living in the subway tunnels. Along the way, they have a run-in with the new Batman, find support with Batgirl, and face a tragedy among their ranks.

Bermejo has done a good job developing a different kind of superhero book, with the focus more on the hero than the super. The characters are varied and interesting, not merely knock-offs. They are given their own personalities and backstories, which adds depth to the story-telling. The guest appearances also serve to ground We Are Robin firmly in the Batman universe, but also give it room to breathe and become it's own entity. Additionally, the mystery of who Nest is and why he is recruiting Robins is also allowed to grow and develop.

I really enjoyed We Are Robin Vol. 1: The Vigilante Business by Lee Bermejo. It's a fun and different book. I recommend it to fans of the Batman group of books, but who lean more towards the Batgirl/Gotham Academy type (not the same old, same old type of stories).

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