Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TEEN TITANS: REBIRTH #1 by Benjamin Percy & Jonboy Meyers, Jim Charalampidis, Corey Breen - Book Review

From the publisher: The Teen Titans are farther apart than ever before…until Damian Wayne recruits Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and the new Kid Flash to join him in a fight against his own grandfather, Ra’s al Ghul! But true leadership is more than just calling the shots—is Robin really up to the task? Or will the Teen Titans dismiss this diminutive dictator?

Teen Titan's: Rebirth #1, by Benjamin Percy, opens with the various Titans on their own, some dealing with the fallout of events from the Batman books, some just trying to figure out who they are. As they each go about their days, they are attacked by a mysterious cloaked figure.

This issue does a fine job of laying the ground work for this newest incarnation of the Teen Titans. The reader gets a glimpse into the personalities of Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, and Kid Flash. Percy provides just enough to create interest and add some depth without turning the story into an info dump. Jonboy Meyers's art is a great fit with the story, looking a bit cartoonish and young, which fits the characters.

Teen Titans #1: Rebirth is a great first issue, introducing the characters and setting up the story arc. I'm curious, based on the final panel, how the the Titans will react and where the story will go in the next issue. This is a series that bears watching, as the potential is there for a fun and interesting run. Highly recommended!

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

BATMAN BEYOND: REBIRTH #1 Escaping the Grave part one by Dan Jurgens, Ryan Sook, Jeremy Lawson, Tony Avina, Travis Lanham - Book Review

From the publisher: Six months have passed since the events of BATMAN BEYOND #16. While areas of destruction remain in the outside world, Gotham City has made great strides toward reclaiming its bright future. But new threats arise and old adversaries may be coming back. And the question still remains: whatever happened to Bruce Wayne?

I have only a passing familiarity with Batman Beyond, so Dan Jurgens's Batman Beyond #1: Rebirth is a great starting point for me. Terry McGinnis, aka Batman, is back from the "dead" and is back to protecting Gotham. He also has to reconnect to his former life, since everyone believed he was dead. As he fights the violent Jokerz gang, his former girlfriend is kidnapped and there is a nasty rumor floating around that the Joker may not be dead after all. Batman Beyond #1 is the opening act in a new adventure for Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future. Plus, what happened to Bruce Wayne?

I enjoyed this book. It was a nice change to the typical Bat-books. Also, because many readers may not be familiar with Batman Beyond, Jurgens gives a recap of how Terry McGinnis became Batman. The way in which the information is presented is organic and does not feel forced. I really appreciated that approach. The art, by Ryan Sook, fits the book well and echoes the Batman Beyond cartoon from the early 2000's.

I enjoyed Batman Beyond #1: Rebirth. Dan Jurgens has gotten off to a good start, with both an immediate problem to be dealt with and long-term mysteries as well. This is a perfect jumping on point for readers new and old. I recommend the book to fans of all things Batman.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting - Book Review

From the publisher: In the same tradition as Raising a Modern-Day Knight, this book is designed to equip parents to cultivate strong relationships with their adolescents. Raising a Modern-Day Princess stresses the importance of creating a rite of passage for teen girls―a defining moment in which girls can be blessed by significant adults in their lives, and a call for their families and communities to celebrate and support them as they enter womanhood. This book offers practical help in raising a generation of women to see themselves as God sees them―as daughters of the King.

Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess, by Doreen Hanna & Karen Whiting, is a nice book designed to provide mothers with a guide to raise their daughters. Many little girls want to be princesses. Each little girl should be taught she is a princess, or daughter of the King, Jesus. This follows a model of growing up to be a woman of God.

The book is set up with ten chapters, eight of which feature a Fruit of the Spirit as the focusing element. Each of these chapters follows a similar pattern: begin with a Princess Attribute and Fruit of the Spirit. Follow up with an anecdote from both Hanna and Whiting. Add a focus on the Princess Attribute and the Fruit of the Spirit. Wind up with a slew of "Fruitful Activities", "Mom's Tool's", "Dad and Daughter Activities", and "Dad's Toolbox".

I didn't realize that this was a mom-centered book, so I didn't particularly find myself interested in the style or presentation of the ideas. This is unfortunate, because I have daughters, and the book leads you to believe it is for both parents. The "dad" element is very minor. Additionally, I didn't really feel like this book brought anything new to the genre of raising children to grow up loving God and becoming a strong Christian. It is a decent book for what it is, but it didn't stand out to me.

Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess, by Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting, is an average book. I would recommend it to mothers of young daughters. However, if you've read similar books, you may find this repetitive.

I received a review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Just Another Week

Lexi had two tennis matches this week. She lost her doubles match, but she was able to play #2 doubles, and beat her opponent 8-2. That was her first singles win that did not come in an exhibition game. She also cheered for middle school football on two different nights.

Griffin had his last regular season game and won, 16-0. He played every play on defense at cornerback, getting in on multiple tackles and having a couple where he was the primary tackler. He also nearly had an interception, but deflected it instead. He also played his old wingback position a bit, and did a fine job of blocking. Playoffs start on Tuesday.

Cami's team played three games this week. In the first, she pitched and got three outs, played some second base, and hit a double and scored. In the double header, she played RF and 1st, and had a really good hit (off a pitcher, and not coach pitch). She smacked the ball down the third base line, and eventually came around and scored. In the second game, she pitched all three innings. She struggled with consistency a bit, but was a trooper and kept fighting. She got a hit in this game as well, scoring a couple of batters later. Unfortunately, her team lost all three games, but Cami did a nice job.

More to come next week.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TRINITY #1 Better Together part one: Family Dinner by Francis Manapul, Steve Wands - Book Review

From the publisher: “BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World's Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?

Francis Manapul's Trinty #1 is a short but full story. It consists of Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, and Lois and Clark's son Jon having dinner at the Kent farm. It functions as a simple introduction to these characters/heroes, who have known other versions of each other but are having some trust issues with each other.

I haven't read all the Rebirth stories of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, so I think there are some relationship dynamics that I'm missing, but I enjoyed this book. I look forward to seeing how the story progresses. Done correctly, a series starring the "Big Three" can be outstanding and really delve into who they are and why they need each other. Trinity #1 shows this promise, and I'm excited to read future issues.

One last thing: Steve Wands's art is gorgeous. It is reminiscent of the style used on the Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman titles.

Trinity #1 is highly recommended, with an eye toward the future.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Titans Hunt by Dan Abnett - Book Review

Robin. Wonder Girl. Speedy. Aqualad. Hawk and Dove. There was a time when these and other young heroes were synonymous with justice. They were the Teen Titans, one of the greatest superhero teams in the entire Multiverse…but that Multiverse has changed, and the time of the Titans has been wiped from the world.
So why are Dick Grayson and Roy Harper—now better known as Nightwing and Arsenal—experiencing memories of a world they never knew? What compels them to hunt for an Atlantean named Garth and an Amazon named Donna Troy? What dangerous secrets connect them to a powerful stranger, a mysterious psychic and an odd couple—and what do those secrets mean for the fate of all life on Earth?
Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, these men and women were Titans. Now the hunt is on for the force that can reunite them so the Titans can tower once more…
One of the DC Universe's premier teams returns for the first time in years in TITANS HUNT! Join writer Dan Abnett and artists Paulo Siqueira and Stephen Segovia as they uncover the titanic mystery behind it all! 

When DC started the New 52, one noticeable group of heroes was missing: the Teen Titans (or just Titans, now, since they are all adults). This was a group of heroes that had been around for decades and had an interesting and complex history. With Titans Hunt, Dan Abnett goes about bringing these heroes back into the DC mainstream, while also beginning the Rebirth event that spans all of DC's books.

Grayson, Roy Harper, Donna Troy, Garth, and the other Titans are living their lives, some as heroes, some as ordinary people. But all are having strange dreams and recognize that something is missing from their memory. As images, words, and people creep in from the fringes of their memories, they find themselves drawn together to the town of Hatton's Corner. There they are confronted by a creature known as Mr. Twister. In facing him, they find their memories and pasts restored, and are forced to confront the reasons why they forgot in the first place.

In addition to this story, Abnett also tells of Dick Grayson's (the original Robin) first adventure with the Justice League. It's a nice piece of background that also ties into the Titans Hunt storyline.

With Titans Hunt, Abnett has done a fine job of recapturing these heroes and bringing them back. I've never been a consist reader of the Teen Titans/Titans, so there were a few characters and aspects of the story I was unfamiliar with, but Abnett supplied the information that I needed to know to understand and enjoy the story. He provided some nice characterization (particularly with Nightwing, who makes a comment about all the identities he has had that doubles as commentary on the Titans missing memories). I also liked the scenes where the Titans began recalling who they were due to their interactions with each other.

The book concludes with a preview of the Rebirth story, in which Kid Flash (a former Titan himself) plays a major role. This short story is dripping with emotion and nostalgia as the Titans find themselves still missing their memory of one teammate. In a way, Titans Hunt was told in order to set up this Rebirth story, which paves the way for a return to much of the DC mythology longtime fans enjoy so much.

There is one last piece to the book. There are several pages of unfinished art from the story that show how Kid Flash was interacting with his former teammates even when they were unaware of him. It's a neat take on the typical idea of including unfinished pages from a story when collecting the issues in a book.

I recommend Dan Abnett's Titans Hunt. Longtime Titans fans will enjoy seeing the characters brought back. Additionally, this is a good starting point for those fans interested in the Rebirth event.

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

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Double the Fun

This week, Lexi had two tennis matches (unfortunately, she also had an invitational rained out). She and her partner lost both matches, but it is clear Lexi is improving. She is moving around the court more and making forehand and backhand shots. She also went straight from a match to cheer for the football team.

Griffin had two football games (one was a make up game). We lost both games, but Griffin had some good plays. In the first game, he played cornerback the entire game and had 3 tackles and ran a kid down on a long run but just didn't know how to dive at the end. In the second game, he played every single play, due to 5 or 6 boys being out from illness and other stuff. He did a nice job blocking from his wingback position, and his one chance to run didn't go well (most of our offensive plays weren't really successful in this game). He played corner again, and again had the chance to run a kid down; this time, he was able to dive and saved a touchdown. He also defended several pass attempts, nearly being in position for an interception. Next Saturday is the last regular season game.

Cami was due to have a double-header today, but was rained out. She'll have several games coming up due to all the rain-outs.

This has been a frustrating season weather-wise, as it seems every time there is a softball event or football game, there is rain. Bleech!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

DOOM PATROL #1 Brick by Brick, part one by Gerard Way, Nick Derington, Tamra Bonvillain, Todd Klein - Book Review

From the publisher: The atoms are buzzing. The daydreams crowd sentient streets, and the creative team has been warned, “Turn back now or suffer the mighty consequence of sheer, psycho-maniacal mayhem.” Generation-arsonists unite—this is DOOM PATROL, and the God of the Super Heroes is bleeding on the floor.

A blenderized reimagining of the ultimate series of the strange, DOOM PATROL combines elements from classic runs, new directions, and things that could not be. Our entry point is Casey Brinke, a young EMT on the graveyard shift to abstract enlightenment, with a past so odd that she’s not entirely sure what is real and what is not. Along with her partner, Sam Reynolds, the pair blaze a path through the city and its denizens, finding the only quiet that exists at 3am is the chaos of the brain. When the pair answer a hit-and-run call, they find themselves face to face with a familiar figure: Cliff Steele, AKA Robotman.

The pair’s only communication? Shouting out of the open windows while at high velocity. Who needs a new roommate? Who names a cat “Lotion”? And when do we get to see all those muscles?

Find your answers inside the pages of this comic book, as we set the stage for new beginnings, as well as the re-introduction of some classic DOOM PATROL characters, including Niles Caulder, Negative Man, Flex Mentallo, and Crazy Jane. 

I have no words to describe Doom Patrol #1 by Gerard Way. It is weird, strange, bizarre, and colorful. It begins the set-up for the team to come together, but there is basically nothing in the way of explanation. This appears to be a book where the reader just jumps in and ultimately trusts that the writer will make things clear in time.

I was not a reader of the previous Doom Patrol book by Grant Morrison, but it would appear that Way's Doom Patrol is picking up with many of the "heroes" of that book. This is the first in DC's Young Animal imprint, but seems like it may have been a good fit with the Vertigo line of the 90's.

I don't know whether Doom Patrol #1 is a good book; it is definitely a unique book that I'm sure will find it's niche and appeal to a certain group of readers. However, I'm not sure if I fit in that group. I may give it another issue or two and hope I can begin to understand what's going on, but I'm not sold yet.

This is recommended to fans of Way's previous books, Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, and anyone looking for a comic that is different from the norm.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Batman Vol. 9: Bloom by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo conclude their #1 NEW YORK TIMES best-selling, critically acclaimed saga. 
Bruce Wayne has a nearly perfect life. He’s in love with an amazing woman and works by her side every day at one of Gotham’s youth centers, helping the children of the city he loves. His memory has been patchy ever since he nearly died in the last Joker attack, but even so, he’s confident that this is the happiest he’s ever been.
And yet…he sometimes feels himself being tugged back to another life. In the negative space of his missing past is a half-remembered history, filled with violence and darkness, but also greatness. 
The Batman is calling Bruce back. But if he returns to his past, what will become of the perfect, happy life he has built?  
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s character-defining run on the Dark Knight demonstrates why Batman truly is forever. Collects BATMAN #46-50, as well as a short story from DETECTIVE COMICS #27.

With Batman Vol. 9: Bloom, Scott Snyder wraps up his long run on Batman, and sets the series up for the Rebirth event. This book is a direct continuation of Batman Vol. 8, with Bruce Wayne still not aware he is Batman, and a villain called Bloom terrorizing Gotham. Additionally, Jim Gordon is operating as Batman, with the assistance of a mechanical Batman suit. The story involves Bruce coming to terms with who he was/is, the fight to stop Bloom, and Duke (a member of the Robins) facing up to the realities of his life.

Snyder has done another wonderful job with Batman. Of particular interest to me was the conflict Bruce Wayne experiences and goes through on his journey back to being Batman. There is a lot of soul searching and sacrifice as Bruce processes this change, and the visuals are a unique way of showing him dealing with all of these issues. Alfred is once again the emotional center of the book, as the reader sees and feels his anguish as his "son" has to sacrifice his happiness once again. I also enjoyed Duke's role in this story, and his interaction with Bruce Wayne and growth as a character should be an interesting thread to follow in future issues. 

I have enjoyed Snyder's Batman stories; he has added a lot to the mythology surrounding the character. There is a short tale at the end of this collection that is a perfect little end to his run, as the reader is taken way into the future as the legend of Batman continues to endure.

I highly recommend Batman Vol. 9: Bloom by Scott Snyder. It is a must for Batman fans, and while it is not a great jumping on point, it sets up the new Rebirth storyline well.

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

An Interesting Week aka More Rain

This was another week that saw some interesting weather impacting the kids' activities.

Lexi had two tennis matches (an invitational was rained out). She played 3rd singles in the first one, and lost. However, she was very excited and felt that playing singles helped her improve. She also played a doubles exhibition match that day, and won. In the next meet, she played 1st doubles, and she and her partner won. At this point, I have no idea how the team overall is doing, but Lexi is getting better everytime out, and is seeing success fairly consistently. She has a match or two this coming week. The football games she cheers at were canceled due to weather, but there will be another this week.

Cami had her first fall softball game. Her team lost, but she did get a hit. I'm not sure if she had any fielding chances (Griffin had practice at the same time). Today, she participated in the fall softball clinic, with an eye on improving her hitting. She has a game (maybe two) next Saturday.

Griffin's team lost their game, after a rain-shortened week of practice. He played a series on defense and was involved in making a couple of tackles. Offensively, this was a rough game, as there was very little success as a team. This week he has two games (one a weather make up): Wednesday and Saturday. We are hopeful for a better showing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

EVERAFTER: FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #1 by Dave Justus & Matthew Sturges, Travis Moore, Micheal Wiggam, Todd Klein - Book Review

From the publisher: From the team that brought you FABLES: THE WOLF AMONG US comes a new chapter of the FABLES legacy! In a post-Fables world where magic abounds, it can be wielded for the greater good or used to plant the seeds of anarchy and terrorism. The Shadow Players are a global network of agents—both Fable and mundane—tasked with policing a newly enchanted world and protecting humanity from itself. EVERAFTER features the return of series favorites Bo Peep, Peter Piper, Hansel, and Connor Wolf, as well as exciting new characters and a terrifying new villain! Written by FABLES: THE WOLF AMONG US veterans Matthew Sturges and Dave Justus with gorgeous art by Travis Moore (Fables: The Wolf Among Us, JLA All Stars), you won’t want to miss this series that FABLES creator Bill Willingham himself told us we had to get into your hands as quickly as possible!

Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges have done a spectacular job with Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #1. Following on the heels of the events in the final arc of Fables, Everafter picks up with a group of Fables who remained in the mundane world. They have formed a group called the Shadow Players, and are tasked with protecting the world from "new" fables and magic, formed from our new stories.

In this opening to the Pandora Protocol, we find Hansel, Bo Peep, and Peter Piper in the midst of tracking down a dangerous new "package". Meanwhile, Connor Wolf, son of Bigby Wolf and Snow White, has joined the Shadow Players, anxious to use his abilities for good and to find adventure. This opening chapter does a fine job of introducing the main players and setting the stage for the rest of the arc, and future stories still to come.

I was a huge fan of the original Fables series, and Everafter seems to be hitting the same sweet spot. However, instead of the struggle between the various Fable factions, now we get more of a James Bond/Mission Impossible-type story. I'm really looking forward to future installments, and highly recommend this new book. Sturges and Justus have stepped in to a much-beloved world and seem to know exactly how to recapture the magic.

Pick this up if you were a fan of Fables, or you're looking for a twist on the super-spy, action-adventure genre.

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

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Lull In-Between Events

While none of the kids have events during Memorial Day weekend, we had plenty last week.

First off, Cami got 1/2 an inning in before lightning started. She has yet to play a game of fall softball, but we've got a reschedule for this Tuesday, which adds to the regular game this Saturday, along with practice. Should be a full week, weather permitting.

Griffin's football game was also on Tuesday, and actually was called with 4 minutes left due to the lightning. At that point, we were up 28-12. Griffin blocked much better this week and scored a 2-pt conversion that was so open he could have run the entire length of the field. Griffin also got to play defense, which made him happy. He was involved in a few tackles, and showed more aggressiveness. We're back at it on Saturday.

Lexi had 3 tennis matches, and unfortunately, she and her partner lost all three. However, Lexi was able to play a singles exhibition match, and won. She showed much improvement during that match, and the doubles match earlier that afternoon. She used both forehand and backhand strokes effectively, which she had not been doing. I actually like her playing singles better, because it forces her to move around the court more. She also tried to go to the football game and cheer after one match, but as with the twins, by the time Lexi was able to get there, the game had been called due to the lightning.

We are hopeful for better weather this week, allowing the kids to compete in their activities.