Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Nightwing: The New Order #5 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: After a stunning revelation about the nature of Jake’s powers, the former Titans head to Metropolis to join forces with the one person who they believe they can restore the world’s superpowers—the depowered Superman! Caught between his old friends and the new order he created, Dick Grayson refuses to let his son become a weapon for either side…but is it even his choice anymore? How far will Dick go to protect his son?

Nightwing: The New Order #5 is the penultimate issue in Kyle Higgins's mini-series. At this point, Higgins has (seemingly) put everything on the table. Nightwing attempts to rescue his son, Jake, with the help of the former Teen Titans and Lois Lane. When the time comes to get Jake to Metropolis so a cure to help the depowered can be created, Dick balks. He is caught between what can and might happen to his son in the world he brought about, and he still firm belief that he made the right choice to eliminate people's powers. Plus, Superman at last!

Higgins is doing a great job with this alternate reality story. It deals with some very timely issues about the power of government and the rights of individuals. It also puts Dick Grayson/Nightwing, often the moral compass of the DC Universe, in a bind. Watching him deal with the internal conflict of helping his son or helping society (according to him) is very interesting. Higgins is doing a fine job of portraying Nightwing as a man who is villainized without being a villain. His relationship with his estranged wife Kory/Starfire and his son, Jake, is also getting deeper and more complicated. This is a high point of the story for me, and I'm looking forward to reading how Higgins wraps it up.

One of the things I've enjoyed about The New Order is seeing familiar heroes and villains, and discovering where they fall on the issue of powered individuals. It's made for some clever team-ups. We're also finally told why Dick made the decision to use the device to depower everyone in the first place. It is both simple and heartbreaking; no one can fault him for the reasoning behind his choice. In addition, what Superman has been up to, and who he's working with is another cool piece to the story.

With Nightwing: The New Order #5, Kyle Higgins brings his series to a peak. All that's left is to see if he can stick the landing, and how that will happen. I highly recommend this series to Batman/Nightwing fans, as well as those looking to read something a little different from the traditional line of superhero comics. Higgins's The New Order series is definitely worth reading.

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

Doomsday Clock #2 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: DC and Watchmen characters collide at last! The story that began in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 comes to a thrilling and unexpected crescendo in the pages of this titanic twelve-issue series by the all-star team that brought you BATMAN: EARTH ONE and SHAZAM!

In this second chapter: The Dark Knight discovers another relic from the Watchmen world. Lex Luthor pays a devil’s bargain. And killer clowns trek through Gotham seeking a madman.

Doomsday Clock #2, by Geoff Johns, continues the story of Adrian Veidt's search for Dr. Manhattan. With the assistance of the new Rorschach, Marionette, and Mime, Veidt takes a retooled Owl Ship to try and trace Dr. Manhattan's whereabouts before their world is turned into a nuclear war. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is trying to fend off a hostile takeover of Wayne Enterprises by Luthor Corp., run by Lex Luthor. Worlds are crossed (as well as dimensions) to bring our characters into contact with each other. And Veidt's plan to trust Mime and Marionette looks like it could go very wrong.

I liked this issue of Doomsday Clock. Johns does another fine job of letting the story unfold at it's own pace, dropping little nuggets of information here and there. I found myself looking for clues or trying to connect dots that may or may not exist, in the hopes of getting some idea of where the story is headed. However, at this point all I know is that the Watchmen characters will be interacting with mainstream DC heroes and villains, and I have no idea just what role Dr. Manhattan will be playing. Some of the clues left in previous issues of DC Comics point readers to certain characters (or a character) being responsible for all that's been going on in the DC Universe (i.e.: The New 52, Rebirth, etc.). However, with Doomsday Clock #2, Johns lays the groundwork for something involving Dr. Manhattan that I wasn't really expecting. I'm also not really sure who the "bad guy" is, if there even is one.

I have a feeling that the individual issues of Doomsday Clock are going to be hard to review without spoilers, and hard to evaluate because they are just pieces of a story that will need to be seen as a whole to be really understood. And I'm okay with that. I'm enjoying the story Johns is telling, and I like reading the twists and turns. Really, I'm looking forward to finding out just who is responsible for everything, and how and why it was done. I'm also curious as to just how much of current DC events spin out of Doomsday Clock; for instance, is Dark Nights: Metal a result of whomever's meddling in DC history? I guess it remains to be seen.

Overall, Doomsday Clock #2 by Geoff Johns is another solid entry in this possibly "world-changing" mini-series. I recommend it to anyone interested in the DC Comics universe. I also recommend it because of Geoff Johns's writing, and his efforts to echo the style of the Watchmen series.

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV - Book Review

From the publisher: The Dark Knight teams with his fellow Gotham City vigilantes to protect their hometown in the newest volume of this hit graphic novel series in BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 4: Deus Ex Machina!

The next big DETECTIVE arc is here! Stephanie Brown wants nothing more than to save Gotham City from the epidemic of costumed vigilantes and madmen who regularly tear the city apart. But before she can try to stop them, she must face the challenge of one in particular: the insane the Wrath is back, and Stephanie knows what he has planned--but she refuses to let Batman risk more lives to stop him. That means it's all on her...and a very unlikely ally! 

From writer James Tynion IV (BATMAN/TMNT) and the spectacular art team of Eddy Barrows (NIGHTWING) and Alvaro Martinez (BATMAN ETERNAL) comes the fourth volume of the return of DETECTIVE COMICS! Collects DETECTIVE COMICS #957-961.

Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina, by James Tynion IV, continues the excellent storytelling  going on in the Batman comics. This latest volume from Tynion IV focuses a little more on the heroes making up Batwoman's team, in particular Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael. When the new version of Azrael, known as Ascalon, comes to "convert" or "evangelize" Jean-Paul, Luke Fox (Batwing) jumps in to help save his friend. With some help from Batwoman, Orphan, Clayface, and Batman, Azrael confronts his past and paves the way for his future.

This was another terrific story. I really enjoyed Tynion IV's focus on Jean-Paul, as he is a very interesting character but not a lot has been revealed about his background. We knew he was created by the Order of St. Dumas as an avenging angel and has a strange symbiotic relationship with his costume, knows as the Suit of Sorrows, but not much more than that. Deus Ex Machina takes a deeper look into his life and sets the stage for future mysteries. I particularly enjoyed the further development of the friendship between Jean-Paul and Luke, which was strengthened as a result of this encounter. It was also nice to have Batman play a supporting, secondary role, as it let the other heroes shine more. One other thing I liked was the new Azrael suit Luke created; it had the look of Jean-Paul's Batman suit (from way back in Batman's past, when his back was broken and Jean-Paul stepped in for him). It was a nice nod to longtime fans.

The last chapter in this book focused on Stephanie Brown (Spoiler). She left the team because of the collateral damage to innocent people and is currently fighting the good fight and trying to remain off the radar. This story sets up the next major arc in Detective Comics, which should provide another interesting challenge for the Bat-team.

One note, though: The back cover copy provided by the publisher is not accurate as to the story inside. It both identifies the name of the volume incorrectly and leaves out the major story involving Azrael.

I highly recommend Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina, by James Tynion IV. It should be read by all Batman fans, and would also be enjoyed by fans of Azrael from previous Batman stories (going back to the 1990's).

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

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Few Games Before the Holiday(s) Break

To start with, Lexi's season FINALLY got underway. It seems like she's been going to practices and workouts for forever, but her team had a game and a game-like scrimmage this week. First, Lexi will be playing with the 8th grade team and the 7th grade team (they only have 4 girls, so several 8th graders will be doing this). Lexi played a bit in the first 7th grade game, then got to start in the 8th grade game. This was pretty cool, and I attribute it to all the voluntary workouts she attended, along with the early season practices. However, she was nervous and looked a little uneasy on the court. For the scrimmage, she started the 7th grade game and came off the bench in the 8th grade game. While she was nervous to start again, after being subbed out, she calmed down. When she was reinserted into the game, she looked like a different player. She was more aggressive, more confident with the ball, and had more court awareness. She was in position to get a backside rebound and put it right back up, getting fouled in the process. She made one of the free throws. However, it was in the 8th grade game that she excelled. Coming off the bench gave Lexi a chance to see how things were going, and when she came in, she picked right up with how aggressive she had been playing in the 7th grade game. In the 3rd quarter, she hit a jump shot from about 8 feet away, then got a rebound (but missed her layup). My favorite play was when she harassed a girl on the press, stole the ball, and took it to the hoop for a textbook layup. It may be the best pure basketball play she has ever made. She also had a chance to hit a layup right at the end game buzzer, but was fouled shooting (the ref didn't call it because Lexi's team was up by 20 or so). I was super impressed with how she grew just during these two scrimmages.

Griffin's team won their first game in the school league, and they won by a bunch. Griffin did a nice job on both ends of the court. He hustled as usual on defense, causing some havoc. He got a few rebounds and forced some jump balls. He also got off a couple of shots, but neither fell for him. He is now off for a couple of weeks for the holidays.

Cami had her first practices for the school league. She is finding this a little more competitive and demanding than she is used to, but is having fun. She has her first games after Christmas break.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dark Nights: Metal #4 by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: The Justice League has been broken and scattered to the far corners of the DCU, each member forced to face their worst fears alone…and the fears are winning. When an unlikely ally reveals a glimmer of hope, they must seize their chance, or risk their window of opportunity closing for good!

Scott Snyder continues the story of the hunt for Nth Metal in Dark Nights: Metal #4. In this particular issue, our heroes are split in several groups, all looking for the final pieces of Nth Metal. They need the pieces in order to stop Barbatos from leaving the Dark Multiverse and destroying everything. Snyder deftly juggles the various groups of heroes, doling out clues, opening further mysteries, and pushing the story towards it’s climax.

Of particular note to me in this issue is the focus on Bruce Wayne aka Batman, who has been in the Dark Multiverse for 30 years, and Clark Kent aka Superman, who has been powering the battery the Clark Kent doppelgangers are using to draw the Earth closer to the Dark Multiverse. There are some nice character moments in their interaction. Additionally, Dream begins to take on a bigger role, making him more a part of the main DC Universe.

One of the highlights of Snyder’s Metal series has been how he is tying various corners of the DC Universe together into one cohesive whole. In some instances, Snyder just has easter eggs for characters or events, but in others (I’m looking at you, Hawkman and Hawkgirl), they are involved in major plot points. As a longtime fan, I appreciate these nods and attempts to bring everything together.

I recommend Dark Night: Metal #4 by Scott Snyder. It’s a good read, and provides another chapter in the overall Metal story, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to unfold over the next several issues.

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

The Wild Storm #10 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: The WildCAT and Jackie King at IO are planning elaborate heists. One heist could save the world. One could end it. And there’s no guarantee that either the CAT or Jackie and her team will get out of their respective capers alive. And IO director Miles Craven is distracted by many troubles and questions, including: What was Project Thunderbook? 

The Wild Storm #10 is another piece in the interesting story the Warren Ellis is telling. Once again, we are given bits and pieces of the bigger picture. In this current issue, Cole Cash and his WildCAT team are trying to figure out how to gain access to IO headquarters using their various talents and abilities. The folks at IO, including Jackie King, are trying to figure out how to infiltrate Skywatch. In addition, more characters from the history of Stormwatch/The Authority make an appearance, including one of my favorites, Jack Hawksmoor.

I really want to be able to review this as an individual issue, but Ellis’s writing and story prohibit that. He just keeps adding bits and pieces to a greater whole, which makes it hard to evaluate each individual chapter. However, this is not a criticism, more an observation that it appears The Wild Storm might be one of those books best read as a whole. Unfortunately, I’m not patient enough to wait for the collected series, so I’m left trying to assemble each part in my mind as I read. And thanks to Ellis, I’m having a blast, because he is fantastic at telling big, weird, stories with huge stakes while still providing enough characterization for each hero and villain to put meat on the bones of his story, providing a lot of depth.

I’m also really enjoying seeing how Ellis is able to bring multiple characters from Wild Storm’s past into the present book. Each new addition is a nice wink to longtime readers, but the roles the characters play are not any any way just fan service. I can hardly wait to see the finished project and where the Wild Storm universe stands at the end of Ellis’s story.

Once again, I highly recommend The Wild Storm, in particular issue #10. Warren Ellis is in the middle of a fun and entertaining story. I would recommend this book to any fans of Ellis or the old Wild Storm line of comics. I would caution new readers about the complexity of the current story line. This issue may not be the best place to jump in.

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth) by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: In the tradition of BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, the next great Batman graphic novel is here in BATMAN VOL. 4: THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES!

Zero Year. 12 months in which Gotham City was left without power, without laws, without hope. 365 days in which the Riddler ruled the streets. But once again, Batman was victorious. 

In the aftermath of Zero Year? War. The Joker vs. The Riddler. They called it the War of Jokes and Riddles and it's story has been untold... until now. 

Written by breakout star Tom King and illustrated by Mikel Janin, the newest installment of this best-selling, critically acclaimed graphic novel series see a flashback tale of the Dark Knight facing two of his greatest foes ever! Collects BATMAN #25-32.

Tom King continues his excellent run on Batman with Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles. Following the events of Zero Year, the Joker "forgot" how to laugh, so he decided to kill and destroy even more than usual. The Riddler, in custody, was asked to help Batman and the GCPD in finding and stopping Joker. Riddler refused, then escaped and confronted Joker with a proposal: Team up and let the Riddler kill Batman. Joker said no, and the two went to war. The resulting carnage was devastating. As for Batman, he is almost secondary as he is left to try and prevent more devastation and protect the innocent citizens of Gotham.

I really enjoyed The War of Jokes and Riddles. It was a spectacular story. King deftly handled the characterization of both Joker and Riddler, raising the level of genius and crazy to extreme heights. Both are equally menacing and unforgiving, refusing to give in or bow out so that the other might have the opportunity to kill Batman. King also does a great job juggling the various supporting villains the two gather to assist them in their war. Of particular note is Kite-Man, a seemingly "C" list villain, almost a joke himself. Kite-man gets several chapters of the story to show his role in the war, and King adds a level of pathos to a formerly ridiculous villain. It is in moments like these that King's talent shines through.

With his new relationship with Catwoman, Batman decides he needs to reveal his true self to her, and that is how the story of the War of Jokes and Riddles is presented. Batman promises to tell her something that may cause her to reevaluate their relationship and the way she sees him. This provides an interesting and suspenseful framework to an already enthralling story.

Over the past 30+ issues, King has proven to be a great writer who excels in characterization. He is adding layers and depths to characters who have been around for decades (Batman, Bane, Riddler, Kite-Man). This raises his writing above the average. He has also created some intriguing plots, especially I Am Bane, but the War of Jokes and Riddles has the chance to become one of the legendary Batman arcs.

I highly highly recommend Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles by Tom King. With each successive volume, King continues to raise the bar, putting himself in the discussion for all-time greatest Batman writer. This is a must for Batman fans, and because it's self-contained, it makes for a great story for anyone wanting to give it a try.

*My review copy did not include the final volume of the story, so as of this writing I'm unaware of the secret Batman promised to reveal to Catwoman.

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Championship + More Basketball

Cami finished her rec league season with two wins, including the championship game. In the first game, she went scoreless but contributed with good ball-handling, rebounds, and defense (she caused several jump balls). She saved her best for the championship game, though. She scored 6 points, including making 4 free throws with less than two minutes left to help ice the game away. She also had multiple steals, rebounds, and tough defense. This was her second year in a row winning the rec league championship. Her school team season starts with practice next week.

Griffin had two school games this week; the boys lost both, one on a shot with 2 seconds left. They played a 6th grade "B" team and a mixed 5th/6th team, so in spite of the age difference, they competed well. Griffin had a couple of shots (they didn't fall), but excelled with passing and defense. He gets after it on defense and is fun to watch on the press. He also had an awesome box-out rebound on a kid probably a foot taller than him. Both of his coaches were very complimentary (said at times he was the best 6th man). He had two travel games, as well, and they won both. He played a bunch, causing havoc on defense and playing solid on "O". He scored once, had a free throw attempt, multiple rebounds and forced jump balls, and a steal or two. In fact, he stole the ball on the press, then drove, stepped back when he came to a defender, and sank an 8 footer. It was a pretty cool series of events. He has a school game this week, and then a couple of weeks off for Christmas break.

Lexi (along with the other middle school cheerleaders) hosted a youth cheer clinic, and all the girls performed at half time of the varsity boys game. She also (finally) gets the game portion of the basketball season underway with two games this coming week. She is pretty excited about that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #3 by Bryan Hill and Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Crime forensics expert Barry Allen has a dark secret—and a prototype suit that makes him the fastest man alive. Michael Cray wants to make him pay for his sins, but is he able to catch a man faster than justice? And what will happen when Barry Allen turns his psychosis on Cray at hyper-speed?

Once again, Bryan Hill has written an engaging story with Michael Cray #3. He is slowly doling out bits and pieces of Cray's life, tied in with his missions for IO. And once again, Hill has taken a familiar face from the DCU and created a warped version of the character for The Wild Storm universe. Last time it was Oliver Queen, better known as the Green Arrow; this time its Barry Allen, aka The Flash. Oh, and what a warped and twisted version of Barry it is.

Hill continues to take Cray on a dark tour of a twisted DC universe. While he is still trying to figure out just what/how he has alien DNA (or something) in him, Cray is taking on and taking out a number of "bad" guys. The Wild Storm Barry Allen is similar enough to the mainstream version, but this guy has a bit of the Unabomber about him. After writing a manifesto about the dangers of developing AI, Barry now using his genius, a supersuit, a cocktail of drugs, and his position as a CSI to murder scientists working on AI's. Cray is tasked by IO to assassinate Allen. It all just kind of goes from there.

I like this series. Hill is writing an interesting character, one who is hard to root for at times, but seems to have a moral code of his own. As each issue passes, Hill is peeling away more layers to give us more insight into who Michael Cray is and why he does what he does. I'm curious how long this process will take until Hill catches up with the time frame in which Warren Ellis's The Wild Storm series is taking place (Cray also shows up there). The supporting characters in this series are okay, but I'm not terribly interested in them, at least right now. It's Cray who's the star and takes the focus.

Michael Cray #3 by Bryan Hill (with Warren Ellis) is another fine story. Hill continues to write an action-packed series with a multi-dimensional character. This is an okay starting point if you missed the first two issues. I would recommend Michael Cray to fans of The Wild Storm or anyone looking for a different take on familiar DC heroes.

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Games, Games, Games

Griffin had his first official "school" game this week. They lost (they played a 6th grade B team), but Griffin did a nice job. He hustled on defense, made some good passes, took a shot, and made the most of his playing time. He has another school game this week. In the travel league, the team won both games. He didn't play a bunch, but did make an impact. His defense was good in the first game, but excellent in the second; he played at the top of the press and forced a 10 second violation. He made a nice drive in the first game and was fouled; he made one free throw but landed over the line so it didn't count. In the second game, he made a great drive from the left wing (off a nice pass) and made a layup. Two more travel games next week.

Cami's rec team lost a close one. She didn't score, but did draw a foul and two free throws on a nice fast break (the first shot rolled off). She had 4 or 5 rebounds, several steals, at least one deflection, and a deflected shot on a girl much taller than her, all while having a sprained thumb. Next week is her tournament and the end of rec season, with the school team starting soon after. Cami is also getting ready to start club volleyball in a few weeks, after participating in an evaluation last week.

Lexi continues to juggle basketball and cheer. She had one cheer game this past week (two this upcoming week), and multiple basketball practices. She was also chosen (along with a few other girls) to participate in a controlled practice/scrimmage with another school. She did a nice job. Her first games are in a little more than a week, and we're all looking forward to seeing how she does.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #3 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: Tragedy strikes, and the Bat-family face the fight of their lives against an army of super-villains and waning public support. A new discovery reinforces Jack’s plot to jeopardize the Dark Knight’s standing in Gotham City, and Harley’s obsession with The Joker reaches a new height—and threatens to change the game for good!

Sean Murphy continues to spin an unusual Batman story with Batman: White Knight #3. In the latest installment of the mini-series, Jack Napier's plan gets a little clearer, Batman gets a little closer to the edge, yet more familiar faces show up, and tragedy strikes.

I struggle to review White Knight for fear of spoiling anything, but I'll give it a try. Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl attempt to stop a large group of supervillains, who are working together. In the course of the conflict, Backport (a lower income neighborhood) again feels the effects of Batman's vigilantism. This plays right into Napier's hands. Napier is again accompanied by Harleen Quinzel. Meanwhile, there is a conflict brewing between Batman and the pair of Nightwing and Batgirl. Duke Thomas makes an appearance, and so does Joker's Daughter (I think).

I'm enjoying Murphy's take on the Batman mythos. He pulls in enough familiar characters and situations to ground it in what's come before, but has tweaked things just enough to make the world of White Knight unique (Dick Grayson's relationship with Bruce Wayne?). As the series nears the halfway point, Murphy has me fully engaged and looking forward to seeing how he plays this story out.

I highly recommend Batman: White Knight #3 by Sean Murphy. It's a fun, creative take on Batman that is sure to please fans both new and old. Grab a copy (and the first two issues, as well) and get caught up.

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

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It Resumes

Cami's rec team won their game this week. She had 6 points, several rebounds, some good passes, and at least one steal. It took a little for her to get going, but once she did, she turned up the intensity. She has another game next Saturday.

Griffin's team played a couple of travel games. They lost both, but one was by one point, with several chances to win right at the end. Griffin had a decent day. He played some good defense, forcing a couple of turnovers. He also had at least one rebound. My favorite play, though, was his basket. He caught the ball on the left wing, made a strong dribble move and drive to the basket, then shot the ball off the glass for a perfectly executed layup. He has his first school league game Monday, and two more travel games next Sunday.

Lexi had two cheer games, and continues basketball practice. She is encouraged by how practice is going for her. The first game is in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Nyxia By SCOTT REINTGEN - Book Review

From the publisher: Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller—the first in a trilogy—that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. 

What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

Scott Reintgen's Nyxia is a fun and entertaining book. It engages the reader from the first page and flies them through to the end, with barely time to breathe in-between. This is definitely a book I'll try to put in the hands of my middle school students.

First, a brief summary. Emmett is our point of view character. He is an African-American teen from Detroit. Along with 9 other teens from around the world, he has been chosen to compete for a spot to visit Eden, a new planet discovered by the Babel Corporation, and to basically be paid like millionaires. Babel needs the teens to mine for nxyia, a wondrous substance that can be manipulated by the mind into becoming whatever one can imagine. The Eden natives, known as Adamites, will not allow adults on the surface of the planet, resulting in the need for the teenagers, as well (this back story is necessary to explain why kids are going to Eden, but otherwise not really that important). Over the course of the journey to Eden, Emmett and the others will be pitted against each other, individually and as teams, to determine which 8 will actually be chosen. Friendships grow, rivalries form, and the very real prospect of injury or death hangs over the competitions, not to mention the chance to be financially set for life and pull their families out of poverty.

In his author's bio, Reintgen mentions that as a teacher, he discovered that "inspiration isn't equally accessible for everyone, so he set out to write a novel for the front -ow sleepers and back-row dreamers of his classrooms. He hopes his students will see characters like Emmett." As a fellow teacher, I think he has succeeded. Emmett is a fully realized character that should appeal to all students, but especially boys. He has self-doubt mixed with a high level of self-confidence; he experiences disappointments, anger, and successes just like any kid. He is guarded and open at the same time, trying to protect himself but be known, as well. His arc is well done, with plenty of room for more growth in the coming sequel(s). The other characters are a collection of different races and genders, and are written well. They don't have the depth that Emmett has, but that may be more a function of the first person narrative than anything else. There are a few adults in the story. Defoe is the Babel Corp. supervisor, who is sketchy and untrustworthy. Vandemeer is the caretaker/doctor for Emmett and his suitemate, Kaya. They are kind of stereotypes, but fill their roles well.

The plot flew along, constantly propelling the reader forward. As the competition progresses, Emmett becomes more suspicious that all is not what it seems with the Babel Corp. There are plenty of twists and turns, and several plot twists that I did not see coming. The substance of nyxia itself is very mysterious, with more of it's capabilities being revealed as Emmett and the others move through their journey. The book ends, not exactly on a cliffhanger, but definitely with a great transition point for the next book, which I'm planning on reading as soon as Reintgen publishes it.

The publisher compares Nxyia to The Maze Runner and Illuminae; I disagree. I didn't particularly find the mystery behind The Maze Runner as interesting as Nxyia, and the only thing Illuminae has in common with Nxyia is the space setting. While reading, I found myself thinking about Ender's Game, Hunger Games, and Divergent. Ender's Game has a similar tension between teens/kids training both as allies and competitors, and the space setting is a little closer in tone than Illuminae's. The writing style and level, and the character depths, reminded me of Divergent; it was written well, but to me it didn't reach the level of a Hunger Games or Harry Potter (this is not a dig, but where the bar is set for me). The tension in Hunger Games, along with the violence, was a notch above Nxyia, but there is a clear danger and risk involved in all of the games Emmett and his comrades compete in. Reintgen did a great job for his first published novel, and now it remains to see if he can raise the bar with Nxyia's sequel(s).

I really enjoyed Nxyia by Scott Reintgen. It was well-written, engaging, and full of interesting plot points and characters. This should appeal to middle- and high school readers, especially boys who were looking for a Hunger Games or Divergent type book with a male protagonist. I'm looking forward to Reintgen's future books in the Nxyia universe.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie by Anthony Del Col - Book Review

From the publisher: A Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery unlike any other you’ve ever read! When the teenage brothers Frank and Joe Hardy are accused of the murder of their father – a detective in the small resort town of Bayport – they must team up with Nancy Drew to prove their innocence (and find the real guilty party in the process) in a twisting noir tale, complete with double-crosses, deceit, and dames. Writer Anthony Del Col (Assassin’s Creed, Kill Shakespeare) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Batman: Detective Comics, House of Mystery) bring the iconic teen detectives into the modern age, and redefine noir for a new generation of readers!

As a kid, I read every Hardy Boys book I could get my hands on. I also read a couple of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew team ups. I even occasionally read a Tom Swift story (no Bobsey Twins, though). I say all that in order to explain why I took a chance on Anthony Del Col's re-imagining of  Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys for the 2010's. The book he created, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, follows some other recent updates of classic and beloved characters. So, as a former fan, I was interested to see what Del Col came up with. It turns out it was pretty good.

So, The Big Lie is the story of how the Hardy brothers were accused of the murder of their father, Det. Fenton Hardy, and how Nancy Drew helped them solve the mystery. However, it's much deeper than that, involving drug smuggling brothers (the Rovers), a broken relationship between Nancy and her father, Federal Prosecuter Carson Drew, the seedy underbelly of Bayport, and the mysteries that lie beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic towns. It's also about families, and quite possibly about the dreams and innocence of childhood turning into the reality of being an adult.

The mystery behind The Big Lie was interesting, and not to easy to figure out. It was an enjoyable story which sets the stage for bigger mysteries to come in future Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mini-series. I think what I enjoyed the most, though, was the updating of the characters and their lives. The shine is definitely off Frank and Joe Hardy, and, really, Nancy Drew as well. The brothers bicker and fight, and see the world in grayer tones than they used to. They are sure not the simple, unchanging characters of my youth. Nancy is still very confident, but has lost her innocence too, through a broken relationship with her father (who used to be her best friend). It was neat seeing this more adult version of the characters, and while it's different seeing them as imperfect, it makes for a much more engaging story and allows the characters the potential to grow and change.

The other fun thing about The Big Lie is all the nods to the books these characters have been in, together and by themselves. There are allusions to solving mysteries on the beach as children, and how nothing ever seemed to change (over 100 books and the characters are still the same age). Del Col also throws in Tom Swift and the Bobsey Twins to add another nod to childhood reading.

Overall, I would highly recommend Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, by Anthony Del Col, especially to readers who grew up with the original characters. Enjoy the Veronica Mars-ish vibe.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #4 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: When the pursuit of his missing son brings Dick Grayson face to face with his ex, old wounds are reexamined and a tentative new alliance is formed between former enemies. But when a stunning discovery is made about his son’s unique superpowers, the stakes become much higher and Grayson must take the fight straight to the Crusaders!

Nightwing: The New Order #4, by Kyle Higgins, begins to seriously push the story forward. The issue begins with Dick Grayson, who was rescued by the Flash in the previous issue, waking up surrounded by his old teammates, the Titans. However, its not a happy reunion because they all view him as a traitor due to his work with the Crusaders. Elsewhere, Kate Kane and the Crusaders investigate and interrogate Jake Grayson, as they try to find out more about his powers. What they, and the Titans, discover could be a gamechanger for the world. The Titans decide to attempt a rescue with the hopes that Jake could change the world, while they run afoul of another classic Batman character.

I liked this issue. Seeing Dick have to explain himself and interact with his former best friends was very interesting. Of particular interest was the discussion between Dick and Kory, aka Starfire, Dick's ex-wife and Jake's mother. I'm curious to see how Higgins resolves the tension between Dick and the Titans while both sides still have a philosophical difference regarding "super" heroes. Jake's role continues to grow in importance, and his voice as the narrator is reflective and well done.

Overall, I would recommend Nightwing: The New Order #4, by Kyle Higgins. Batman readers will enjoy it. Additionally, Higgins has managed to tell a superhero story that is a reflection of its times; The New Order is very much a take on some of the fears of totalitarianism and intolerance that are prevalent around the world today. I'm looking forward to the final two issues to discover just how Higgins attempts to stick the landing.

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

ASTRO CITY #43 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: The story of Resistor, who’s making headlines all across the nation. And one reporter is determined to find out the truth—not simply to report it, but to find her missing father. A story of protest and power, love and loss, and an enigmatic, ever-changing hero.

Kurt Busiek always manages to tell unique stories with his Astro City series, and issue #49 is no different. Louisa Garneau is a reporter who is always chasing a story. While covering a protest that was attacked by a terrorist group and defended by the new hero Resistor, she caught a hint of her father, a brilliant scientist who was always leaving Louisa and her mom to join one protest or another. She decides to chase protests in the hopes of learning more about Resistor for a story, with the underlying mission of finding her long lost father. What she discovers is both hopeful and bittersweet.

I enjoy Astro City's hero-focused stories a lot. But Busiek excels at the smaller character moments that happen around the supers. Astro City #49 is a perfect example of this. Louisa is involved in a superhero story, but the true focus is on the broken relationship she has with her father. Busiek also has taken a moment to reflect on the current political climate, with our nation's focus on protests for various rights and the violence that surrounds some of these protests. As far as Resistor goes, he is a hero who fits the climate of the story, but there is very little time spent on what he is and how he does it. As I said, this is a father/daughter relationship story that just happens to take place in a superpowered world.

I enjoyed Astro City #49. It wasn't my favorite Kurt Busiek story, but it did show his skill at getting down to the personal level. This is a good one off story for fans looking to sample Busiek's Astro City. As an aside, it appears that Astro City #50 will be a sequel to probably the best Astro City story, "The Nearness of You". This is the perfect example of Busiek's skill at writing ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events and the consequences that often follow. Be on the lookout for it.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

James Bond: Felix Leiter by James Robinson - Book Review

From the publisher: Felix Leiter finds himself in Japan, tracking down a beautiful, Russian spy from his past. But when the mission takes a turn for the worse, he will discover that there are more deadly schemes afoot in Tokyo and beyond! From superstar creative team James Robinson (Starman, Red Sonja) and Aaron Campbell (The Shadow, Uncanny) comes the Bond spin-off highlighting 007’s American counterpart, blending spy thrills with the dark alleys and darker deeds of crime fiction!

James Bond: Felix Leiter is awesome! James Robinson has written a winner and I highly recommend it to Bond fans and to others who enjoy a well-written ex-spy-down-on-his-luck protagonist taking on a femme fatale. It's got a very noir-ish feel to it while retaining a real sense of the bigger James Bond world. Pick it up and read it now!

Okay, I've got that out of the way. Felix Leiter was a supporting character in several of the James Bond books and movies. He's even made a couple of appearances in the new comic series. Leiter is currently ex-CIA (he has some medical issues, i.e. - he's missing some limbs and has prosthetics). He now "works" as a private investigator, which is how this book begins. Leiter has been hired by an old acquaintance, Tiger Tanaka (from You Only Live Twice), to find and identify another old acquaintance, Alena Davoff. First, Tanaka is sort of the Japanese James Bond. Second, Leiter and Davoff go back to a joint Russian/American mission involving a war on Afghanistan's heroin trade. There relationship is complicated, to say the least. While he's in Japan, Leiter and Tanaka investigate a biological terror event stemming from a cult. The plot thickens from there.

I've read nearly every Fleming James Bond story and seen nearly every movie, and enjoyed them all on one level or another. However, I found I knew little about Felix Leiter. And I've got to say, I find him an interesting and fun character. The voice Robinson has given him is very much in the old noir detectives style, minus the slang. Leiter is very self-effacing but ready to take on anything. He knows what his strengths are, yet finds he often overestimates his abilities. He is a complicated man, living with the knowledge of the spy he used to be, and the physically broken P.I. he is now. Altogether, this makes him a terrific lead character and narrator.There is also room for character growth, which sets him apart from James Bond.

Robinson also does a nice job fleshing out the supporting characters, like Tanaka and Davoff. They are believable in their abilities and play vital roles in the story. Robinson has also provided a couple of nods to the traditional Bond tale, and has set this story very much in the Bond world of Warren Ellis's comic stories.

Further, because this is a collected edition, there are several bonuses. Various covers are collected in the book, as well as the script to issue #1, and an interview with James Robinson.

To echo my earlier statements, I really enjoyed James Bond: Felix Leiter by James Robinson. It was fun, exciting, and entertaining. I look forward to seeing where this character goes in the future.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: DC Comics presents to you a 12-issue maxiseries from the critically acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson. You are not prepared for what lies ahead within these pages, good readers.

Ever since I finished reading DC Rebirth #1 and the hints at Dr. Manhattan's involvement in Rebirth, I've been looking forward to Geoff Johns's Doomsday Clock series. In what is clearly an homage to the Watchmen mini-series, Doomsday Clock #1's cover sets the stage for what promises to be an epic tale from Johns that promises to explain (and clean up) all the DC Continuity from the New DC through Rebirth. It is also a good opening chapter in the story.

I'm going to try to summarize spoiler-free: Doomsday Clock opens in the aftermath of Ozymandias's last gasp attempt to prevent nuclear war in the 1980's. It is the early 1990's and the political situation on Earth has pretty much pushed us to the brink of nuclear war again. Totalitarianism is running rampant, and everyone is pretty much resigned to a nuclear holocaust. However, a classic Watchmen hero is on a mission to free a dangerous prisoner, one who can help he and his partner "find god" and stop the end of the world. Because Doomsday Clock is supposed to connect the New DC and Rebirth, there is also a small scene with a prominent DC hero. I believe Johns was reminding us that these are separate universes and the story involves them both.

Doomsday Clock #1 answered no questions, and posed several others. It was, however, a great opening chapter in what should be a complex story that has a lot to accomplish. In my opinion, Geoff Johns is the perfect man to take on this task. He has proven himself over the years on numerous DC books and projects, rarely having a misstep and usually knocking it out of the park. I have absolutely no idea where he is going with this story (there are some obvious guesses that can be made based on the last year or so of stories, but I hope it's not that simple), but I trust Johns. He has proved himself a deft hand at handling all of DC's convoluted history and is great with characters, both famous and less well-known. I'm looking forward to reading Doomsday Clock very much, and I'm happy with the first issue.

I highly recommend Doomsday Clock #1 by Geoff Johns. If you are a Watchmen fan, this is for you. If you're curious about how the New DC resulted in Rebirth, read this. If you just like big events, they don't come bigger than Doomsday Clock. Issue 1 is out now, and you should start here.

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Basketball keeps rolling

Cami's rec league team lost a tight game this week. Cami played really well, making a basket and both of her free throws. She took several other shots, including a shot with a couple of seconds left that would have tied it, but it just rimmed out. She played great defense, getting several steals and deflections. She also rebounded well. She has next Saturday off, but returns the following week. She also has tryouts for the school team this week.

Griffin's team lost both travel games by close scores. Griffin continued playing well, getting another basket and harassing the other teams on defense. He had several steals (including just picking the kid's pocket a couple of times), a few rebounds, and some good passes. In fact, one of his coaches was extremely complimentary of his passing today. It's fun to see his growth, and after taking Thanksgiving week off, I look forward to watching Griffin continue to improve.

Lexi has a cheer game this week, and continues to practice for basketball. Her first game is in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE WILD STORM #9 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Angie Spica is given access to Jacob Marlowe’s secret lab, and discovers a treasure trove of technologies and sciences strange, ancient and alien. In this underground hold, she begins the process of fixing herself—and, perhaps, even evolving herself. In another hidden room, Jackie King and her team at IO begin planning a covert cyberwar attack against Skywatch—something even her own boss doesn’t know she’s doing.

The Wild Storm #9, by Warren Ellis. Yes. I read it. I tried to keep up with everything going on. But Ellis has such gigantic ideas and concepts that the more issue of The Wild Storm I read, the more I'm convinced this book is going to have to be read as a whole once all the issues are out. Which is not to say I'm not enjoying it; I am. It's just a lot to take in when you are only given small portions on a monthly basis.

In this issue, we see Jacob Marlowe take Angie Spica to his secret lab. She finds lots of cool alien stuff, and begins to use it to fix herself. We get a glimpse into IO, where Jackie King is confronted over a secret spy project she is running. We also see John Colt go all crazy ninja kill destroy on a group of people guarding a wagon containing something valuable. Yeah, I'm not going to even pretend I can understand it all right now, but it was big and fun and loud and insane. Or, a Warren Ellis book.

I really look forward to The Wild Storm each month, and issue #9 is no different. Warren Ellis is writing a crazy interesting book and I highly recommend it.

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Basketball Go!

Cami's rec league team lost this week, but played a fine game. Cami did a nice job, playing really tough defense, anticipating passes well, which resulted in multiple deflections and steals. The ball didn't drop as well for her this week, but she did make a free throw. She also grabbed several rebounds and created jump balls. She has another game next week.

Griffin's team split their first two games on the travel circuit. I thought Griffin played as well as I've ever seen him play. He made his first shot, which was huge for him. He made confident moves with the ball, and made smart passes. He hustled on defense, got a steal, and I think a rebound or two. It was a lot of fun to watch, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the season plays out. Next games are next Sunday.

Lexi continues with practice, getting ready for the upcoming season. Basketball things appear to be progressing well for her. In cheerleading, the squad is going to perform their state championship routine for the school board at the next meeting, so that's pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #2 by Bryan Hill - Book Review

From the publisher: Michael Cray hunts Oliver Queen…by making himself the prey. Stripped of his weapons and his newly formed team, Cray becomes the most dangerous game in Queen’s manufactured island, where the only law is survival. Queen has mastered his domain and the art of hunting men—Michael hasn’t mastered the tumor in his brain, and neither man is prepared for the extremity of the other…but only one will survive.

The first spinoff series of Warren Ellis’ hit reimagining of THE WILD STORM continues in MICHAEL CRAY #2. 

Bryan Hill continues his The Wild Storm spinoff with Michael Cray #2. This issue begins where #1 left off, with Cray, an assassin for IO, being assigned a hit on Oliver Queen, better known as the Green Arrow. In the meantime, Cray assembles a team and deals with a change he's undergoing on a cellular level, one which allows him to disintegrate objects with his hand. Eventually he confronts Queen, and a classic battle ensues.

I like this series, but it's not quite as insane as The Wild Storm. I am enjoying finding out more about Michael Cray, who appears like he may be a main player in The Wild Storm series, but with a lot of mystery about him. I believe that Bryan Hill is trying to peel back the layers on Cray a bit, and its working. Hill's Cray is grumpy and borderline unlikable, but he has a code about who he is willing to kill and who he's not. The Cray in The Wild Storm is very conflicted; Hill is providing some insight into how and why Cray is like that. As for Cray's team, to this point there isn't much we know about them. Cray's boss, Trelane, has less to do in this issue than the first.

One of the really interesting aspects to this series, at least to this part, is the appearance of some mainstream DC characters, in this case Oliver Queen, and another one hinted at for next issue. I'm curious as to how this will dovetail with the main DC universe, and whether this is an alternate Earth, if there are imposters running around, or some other explanation. This is something that has not been touched on in The Wild Storm, so I'm looking to Hill to expand on the concept. I feel like there is the potential for a lot of cool stories if the DC characters can be used. That would mean a bunch of high profile targets for Michael Cray.

I recommend Michael Cray #2 by Bryan Hill. It's a good read, and can be read without having read the first issue, but I try to pick it up anyway. This has the makings of a fun series.

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Paradox Bound by PETER CLINES - Book Review

From the publisher: Nothing ever changes in Sanders. The town’s still got a video store, for god’s sake. 

So why doesn’t Eli Teague want to leave? 

Not that he’d ever admit it, but maybe he’s been waiting—waiting for the traveler to come back. The one who’s roared into his life twice before, pausing just long enough to drop tantalizing clues before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires. The one who’s a walking anachronism, with her tricorne hat, flintlock rifle, and steampunked Model-A Ford. 

The one who’s being pursued by…something. 

So when the mysterious traveler finally reappears, Eli’s determined that this time, he’s going to get some answers. But his hunt soon yields far more than he bargained for, plunging him headlong into a dizzying world full of competing factions and figures straight out of legend. 

To make sense of the mystery at its heart, he must embark on a breakneck chase across the country and through two centuries of history­—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.

I want to open by saying that I'm a fan of Peter Clines. I enjoyed the Ex- series and both 14 and The Fold. So, when I heard about Paradox Bound, I was eager to have a chance to read it. I'm glad I did, because I really enjoyed the book. There is something to Clines's writing that propels the story forward, always leaving the reader eager to discover just what happens next. Paradox Bound was much the same; the pacing of the story was great and never seemed to lag. In addition, the characters were engaging and the plot was fun and interesting.

A quick summary: Eli Teague lives in a small town in Maine, where nothing much seems to happen and nothing seems to change. He works an IT job at a bank in a neighboring city and hangs out with his friends. But Eli is waiting for something, searching, even. You see, twice in his life (when he was 8 1/2 & 13 years old) Eli encountered Harry, a mysterious stranger dressed straight out of the 1800's and driving a Model-A Ford. The mystery of who Harry was and where she was from haunted Eli. And then one night, he encounters her again and it changes his life. He joins Harry as she "history travels" in search of the American Dream. But they're not the only ones looking for it; beware the "faceless men".

Time travel stories can be tricky, so Clines stays away from that trope. Rather, Eli and Harry "history" travel, Clines's own unique take on the genre. I found his version of time travel, and the mechanics of it, very interesting. The limits, restrictions, and rules for history traveling are also logical. Part of the fun of moving through history is encountering famous or recognizable figures, and Clines doesn't forget that. Our protagonists run in to several fairly famous, or infamous, characters from American history.

Character-wise, I found Eli to be a likable main character. He is well developed and has a nice sense of humor, in addition to the wide-eyed wonder most of us would display upon discovering we can time travel. There is both nerd and hero wrapped up in Eli, and his arc finishes nicely. Harry is also a good character. She is a bit abrasive at times and there is a sense of mystery about her, but she is definitely a strong heroine. Like Eli, she too finds a nice resolution to her arc. The faceless men are fine antagonists, and the blankness of their features adds a level of horror to them. Clines also provides a clear connection between them, the search for the American Dream, and Eli and Harry. This is not just a random group of bad guys.

Clines typically writes with a bit of humor and Paradox Bound is no exception. As this is a sort of time travel story, there are no shortages of pop culture nuggets strewn throughout the narrative. I found them to be a natural fit and not forced, as can sometimes happen.

I highly recommend Paradox Bound by Peter Clines. As I mentioned earlier, I'm a fan, and this book did nothing to change my mind. If you're looking for something by Clines to try in order to see if you like his style, this book is not part of a series or connected to any other stories by him (at least as of this writing). It would make a great starting spot.

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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

We're Off And Running - Basketball

Today was the first game of the winter basketball season, with many more to come. Cami gets our family started, with her first game in the school rec league. She did a terrific job. It may have been the most complete game I've ever seen Cam play. She had six points, several rebounds, a steal (I think), and multiple inbound passes. She got out on the fast break a bunch and converted her last attempted very nicely. I'm really proud of her and can't wait to see how she continues to improve.

Lexi continues to practice and Griffin has his first practice this week, followed by his first game (his team is playing a travel team schedule and will also play a regular school schedule).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #2 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: Public support for Batman dwindles and Gotham City’s 99 percent rally around ex-Joker Jack Napier’s crusade to expose decades of corruption within the GCPD. A proposition inspires new revelations about Harley and The Joker’s past; and as Jack transforms into a hero of the middle class and takes extreme measures to mobilize a revolutionary army of super-villains, Bruce struggles to stay focused on engineering a technological breakthrough to save Alfred.

Sean Murphy's Batman: White Knight #2 continues the unique story he began with issue #1. In the world of his White Knight, Jack Napier aka Joker has been cured and the city has turned against Batman. It is an unusual situation to say the least.

Issue #2 focuses on Jack and provides some background on how the new status quo came about. Highlights include an impassioned speech delivered by Jack Napier expounding on how Gotham fostered his development as Joker; TWO Harley Quinns; Batman working with Victor Fries; and Jack's meeting with his former supervillain competitors.

I really enjoyed this story. Murphy did a nice job with the first issue, setting up the idea of Jack as victim, but there wasn't a lot of depth. However, this changed with this current issue. Murphy adds depth to Jack Napier, making him a sympathetic figure that you want to believe, but Murphy leaves just enough room for doubt. His handling of multiple versions of Harley Quinn was borderline genius; I don't want to spoil it, but Murphy just came up with a fantastic explanation for why there seems to be such a disparity in looks and actions between the different iterations of Harley.

I highly recommend Batman: White Knight #2 by Sean Murphy. While you should start with the first issue, this book functions as a fine introduction to the series as well. I can't wait to see where Murphy and Jack Napier go from here and look forward to reading the next installment in White Knight.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

James Bond: Black Box by Benjamin Percy - Book Review

From the publisher: In the snowbound French Alps, James Bond finds himself in the cross-hairs of an assassin who targets other assassins. This is the first puzzle piece in a larger adrenaline-fueled mystery that will send Bond across the globe to infiltrate the underworld, risk everything in high-stakes casino gambling, evade deadly pursuers, and root out a digital breach threatening global security. 

The James Bond comics from Dynamite Entertainment have been fun. They are very much in the spirit of the latest movies and Ian Fleming's books (at least more so than many of the earlier movies were). It was in that spirit that I decided to read Benjamin Percy's James Bond: Black Box. And you know what? It was fun, too.

Black Box finds James Bond on the trail of a tech mastermind named Saga Genji. It seems Genji has hacked the information of MI-6, along with the spy agencies of nations around the world. It's Bond's mission to reclaim the missing data, stop Genji, and maybe bring home information that would give England a leg up on other countries. Along the way, he has to deal with a mysterious woman and an assassin who makes and wears a death mask of his victims.

Percy checks off all the Bond boxes with this story. Exciting pre-credits opening? Check. Beautiful, mysterious woman? Check. Outrageous villain? Check. Felix Leiter? Check. Foreign locales? Check. Gadgets? Check. Let me be clear, I don't think any of these are bad, just formulaic. And a major part of what Bond fans like is the formula, me included. Just don't expect any lasting characterization or permanent changes. Only Fleming did that, in the original books.

Overall, I enjoyed James Bond: Black Box by Benjamin Percy. It was a fun, exciting, and entertaining Bond story. As long as Dynamite keeps putting these out, I'll keep reading them. I recommend Black Box to any and all James Bond fans.

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

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Fall Ends; The Winter Begins

Here's a summary of our last couple of weeks: Lexi's cheer squad won the state championship in the Time Out Division. It was super cool and very exciting. They even had a police/fire truck escort when they go back to town and drove in a sort-of parade through several of the small towns in our school district. Lexi also made the 8th grade basketball team, and is very excited about that. She is practicing now, with games to come in the next month or two.

Griffin's football team lost in the semi-finals, but he had a successful season. He nearly had an interception in our last game. Griffin also made the school basketball team. He starts practice in a week, and then games start soon after.

Cami finished her fall travel basketball season by winning her last two games. She made a basket and two free throws, had multiple rebounds, and stole the ball and drove to the basket on a fast break, just missing the shot. She really improved during this season, and we're looking forward to seeing further development over the winter. She has her first rec league game next Saturday, and will have tryouts for the school team (she should make it) at the end of November. She also wrapped up volleyball with a win, and had a good time doing it.

We are now getting ready to eat, sleep, and breathe basketball for the next four months.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #3 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: After an unthinkable tragedy strikes the Grayson family, Dick finds himself a prisoner of the very system he helped create—with his son’s life hanging in the balance. With nowhere else to turn, Grayson seeks out an old friend for help…but some mistakes are impossible to forgive. 

Nightwing: The New Order #3, by Kyle Higgins, continues to tell the story of a world without superheroes. This issue picks up where #2 left off, with Dick Grayson and his son, Jake, in custody, due to Jake's manifesting powers and Dick's failure to report them. As Kate Kane, Dick's partner and the former Batwoman, comes to interrogate him, Dick uses his old skills to escape and go on the run looking for help from an old friend. He eventually runs into several classic DC characters.

To me, part of the fun of these alternate history-type stories is seeing the Easter eggs and discovering how the writers will bring other well-known characters into the story. This issue doesn't lack for fun, bringing in Kate Kane and Tim Drake, as well as showing us what the Bat-cave currently looks like. Plus, Higgins has some surprises at the end.

I'm really enjoying this fascist take on the DC landscape, as it's a huge departure from the normal status quo. Higgins is doing a good job portraying all the characters and situations as believable, especially when the motivation of the various characters is brought in to it, particularly the rivalry between Dick Grayson and Kate Kane. Now that the series is halfway done, I'm curious how he's going to bring it all together. As a Nightwing fan, I'm hoping for a return to a more heroic Dick Grayson, but I'll trust Higgins to finish the story well.

I highly recommend Nightwing: The New Order #3 by Kyle Higgins. It's a fun look at a different DC universe. However, as this is a mini-series, this issue is not the best place to start reading. Track down the previous two issues, or wait for the collected edition.

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Astro City #48 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: A tale of redemption and farewell, as G-Dog learns the secrets of his origin, faces personal tragedy and joins a very unlikely superhero team. Featuring the return of Kittyhawk and Rocket Dog, and the debut of Ghost Ferret. Part two of a special two-parter with art by guest artist Mike Norton (Revival, Battlepug). 

Astro City #48, by Kurt Busiek, finishes the story begun in issue #47. It's a story of a former criminal (Andy) turned hero (G-Dog) by teaming up, literally, with his pet corgi, Hank. Over the course of their hero career, Hank helped Andy find redemption and turn his life around. But when you have a symbiotic relationship with your dog, what happens when he comes to the end of his shorter life-span?

The magic of Astro City comes when Busiek takes a look at the ordinary, personal lives of heroes and villains. While there is always plenty of super heroics, it is the small intimate moments that add depth. The premise of G-Dog's story is a little silly, but when the action takes a back seat to Andy's relationship with Hank (man's best friend, you know), Busiek strikes a bittersweet but honest chord. This was a great story of redemption, and well worth a read.

I highly recommend Astro City #48, by Kurt Busiek; however, don't read it if you haven't read issue #47. This is for all Astro City fans, and anyone who is close with their pets.

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

The Wild Storm #8 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Jacob Marlowe told Angie Spica that he isn’t from around here. He is, in fact, from a long way away. And the story of how he and his friends got here is probably the oldest secret on Earth. The Wild Storm cosmology begins here.

Okay, so Warren Ellis is at it again. Just when I thought I was beginning to understand what was going on in The Wild Storm, issue #8 comes out. And I'm feeling lost again, but not without out hope that it'll all make sense eventually. Three things of note happen in this issue: One, Jacob Marlowe explains (however simply) his alien origin to Angie Spica. Two, the people at IO identify Cole Cash aka Grifter, from Marlowe's wild CAT team, and decide to form a plan. Three, we are introduced to the Doctor and Jenny Sparks, two characters from the old Stormwatch/The Authority title that Ellis wrote some 15 years ago.

I really enjoy The Wild Storm, partly for the craziness, partly to revisit old favorite characters (still crossing my fingers for Jack Hawksmoor), and partly to see just how all of Ellis's pieces will eventually fit together. Ellis is a master at taking gigantic ideas with insane potential and turning them into excellent stories. So, once again, I'm going to trust Ellis as he leads his readers along the trail that is The Wild Storm.

I highly recommend The Wild Storm #8 by Warren Ellis. If you aren't already reading it and it sounds intriguing, go back to the first issue (or the collected edition). I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition by Tom King & Joshua Williamson - Book Review

From the publisher: The Watchmen begin their invasion of the DC Universe here in this deluxe graphic novel BATMAN/THE FLASH: THE BUTTON, complete with a lenticular cover!

The cataclysmic events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 continue here! The Dark Knight and the Fastest Man Alive, the two greatest detectives on any world, unite to explore the mystery behind a certain blood-stained smiley button embedded in the Batcave wall. What starts as a simple investigation turns deadly when the secrets of the button prove irresistible to an unwelcome third party--and it's not who anyone suspects! It's a mystery woven through time, and the ticking clock starts here!

Written by breakout stars Tom King and Joshua Willamson, with art by Jason Fabok (JUSTICE LEAGUE) and Howard Porter (SUPERMAN), this crossover is one of the most-talked about events in all of comics. This deluxe edition graphic novel features a lenticular cover and collects BATMAN #21-22 and THE FLASH #21-22.

DC's Rebirth event was a way to restore/correct their comics to a more traditional history. There have been so many different world-shattering events, that the continuity spun out of control. So, Rebirth was to fix all of that, while still making the books friendly to new readers. One of the great mysteries hinted at in the book was the return of the Watchmen to the DC Universe.

Jump ahead to Batman/The Flash: The Button by Tom King and Joshua Williamson. Batman and the Flash are investigating a mysterious smiley face button (with a blood stain on it) that showed up in the Batcave during the Rebirth special last summer. The button appears to be the same one the Comedian (of Watchmen fame) wore.  In the course of their investigation, Batman is confronted by Reverse-Flash, who grabs the button for the power it's emitting. Chaos ensues from there, with time travel, alternate universes/histories, and deaths all around them. And at the end, some questions are answered, but more are asked, as this story leads into the Doomsday Clock event (another Watchmen reference).

I enjoyed this book, and have liked seeing this mystery unfold. I'm one of those readers who didn't care for the New 52 or the results of Flashpoint, and I like the creativity that DC is using to restore some of the traditional history to it's line-up without erasing (again) even more continuity. Whether you are a fan or not, I also think using the Watchmen and bringing them into the mainstream DC Universe is a clever idea. King and Williamson have done a nice job with this story, revealing what they can, yet making it very personal to both Batman and Flash.

I really enjoyed Batman/The Flash: The Button, by Tom King and Joshua Williamson, and recommend it to fans of the Rebirth event. I look forward to seeing where this story continues to go in the future.

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Wonder of Advent Devotional by Chris Tiegreen - Book Review

Image result for The Wonder of Advent Devotional
From the publisher: Rediscover the heart of the Advent season
As the year comes to a close and the stress and busyness of the consumer Christmas holiday grows, it can be easy to lose sight of what the season really calls us to: worship. In today’s world, is it even possible to slow down, to ponder, to wonder in the coming birth of Christ?

This Advent, recapture the mystery and beauty of the season with The Wonder of Advent Devotional. In this insightful and thought-provoking book, beloved devotional author Chris Tiegreen brings you into a deeper experience of this integral time in the church calendar. After completing a week of short readings to prepare your heart for the Advent season, you’ll journey through December with daily Scripture readings, prompts for reflection, and guided prayer to help you savor this remarkable divine story. With each day, The Wonder of Advent Devotional will reconnect you with what happened in Bethlehem long ago—and experience it anew in your life right now.

Chris Tiegreen's The Wonder of Advent Devotional is a nice little book designed for daily devotionals before and during the Advent season. There are short readings for the week preceding Advent, focusing on preparing for the season. Beginning with the 1st of December and running throughout the rest of the month, the devotions change a bit. Each reading gets a longer (approximately 4 pages compared to 2). Each day includes the following: A passage of scripture, with a specific verse or two highlighted; a devotional reading focusing on an aspect of Jesus, His birth, Mary, Joseph, etc.; a short prayer; some questions for reflection; suggestions for further reading; and a passage from various Christmas hymns.

Tiegreen does a nice job by taking a small part of the Advent and concentrating on it each day. The readings are short enough to be done in the morning before work, in the car on the way to school, during a break, or even before bed. They are straight to the point and help the reader to really zoom in on the Advent season.

I recommend The Wonder of Advent Devotional by Chris Tiegreen. This would make a good devotional to use alone or with your family during Advent time. If you're looking for a way to connect with God during the busy holiday season, The Wonder of Advent Devotional is a terrific way to do it.

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women by Lindsay A. Franklin - Book Review

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women  -
From the publisher: In an ever-changing world, we can be certain of one thing: we are beloved by God. Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women tackles tough topics girls face, from bullying and social media to friendships and dating, all the while showing readers how infinitely precious they are in God’s sight.

Each day features an easy-to-read, relevant devotion paired with a scripture verse and journaling space to help readers reflect on the day’s message. With honest, poignant, and sometimes humorous text, every page will speak to the pressures and changes girls face, giving them real-world applications to find God in their hearts and in their lives. Perfect for everyday use, Adored will resonate with girls searching for truth and guidance. Gift givers will love this highly designed book featuring a beautiful, foiled cover, and two-color interior pages.

The new devotional Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women, by Lindsay A. Franklin, is pretty nice. It is in the tradition of the 5-Minute type devotional books, and is structured to last a year. However, rather than start with January 1, it just numbers its devotions by days, ie. Day 1, Day 2, etc. For someone who likes to read a year long devotional, but wants to start at the beginning, this is a nice feature.

Each separate devotion begins with a a passage of scripture, anywhere from 1 verse to several, but no passages are too long. The devotion then focuses on an aspect discussed in the day's scripture. For example, how much God adores you; a massively powerful God loves you; the defining characteristic of a Christian is love, etc. Each reading is no more than a page long. Finally, the daily devotional ends with several blank lines for the reader to respond to the message.

As a father of girls, I appreciate that Adored is directed towards young women. It's important for them to find their self-worth in God and this devotional focuses on making that clear. To be clear, anyone can read this book, but it is written in a conversational style and with references that pertain to girls.

Finally, the design of the book is terrific. It has a nice, sturdy hardback cover (with no removable cover). The pages are a little thicker than normal paper, which would appear to make them more durable. The art on the page margins matches the cover, resulting in an attractive, girly design.

I highly recommend Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women, by Lindsay A. Franklin. If you have a young woman in your life (daughter, girlfriend, niece, granddaughter, etc.), it would make a fantastic gift book.

P.S. If you're interested in a free sample or some other resources, please click here.

I received a review copy of this book from Zondervan and Handlebar in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #1 by Bryan Hill - Book Review

From the publisher: Warren Ellis’ critically acclaimed relaunch of THE WILD STORM gets its first solo spinoff series! Michael Cray, professional assassin, has been betrayed by International Operations and has an alien life-form in his head that’s either killing him, transforming him, or both. The only thing that can bring sense to his life is for him to do what he does best: kill the wrong people for the right reasons. But Michael needs support and resources to hit back against I.O., and he gets them in exchange for working with Trelane, taking out her targets, his way. First up? A sociopathic Silicon Valley billionaire by the name of Oliver Queen! 

Bryan Hill's Wildstorm: Michael Cray #1 is the first spin-off title from Warren Ellis's take on the Wildstorm properties. Michael Cray is hired by International Operations to create a team to assassinate enemies for IO. His first target? Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow!

This first issue introduces the reader to Cray, a young man with a tendency towards using violence to resolve conflict. Thus, he was in the military, where IO recruited him. We meet his handler, Trelane, who encourages him to form a team. We also meet his father, who provides some background on Oliver Queen. Additionally, we are given a glimpse in to Queen's activities, which appear to be somewhat less than heroic.

Much like The Wild Storm (Ellis's title), Michael Cray starts off deliberately slow and a little vague. This is a series that looks to build as it moves along, where it's probably better to look at each story arc as a whole rather than individual chapters.

I'm significantly interested to find out what happens next, so Hill did a nice job with this initial issue. There was just enough characterization to hook me, and I'm looking forward to see how Cray and Queen resolve their coming conflict. I recommend Wildstorm: Michael Cray #1 by Bryan Hill to readers of The Wild Storm, fans of the former Wildstorm universe, and anyone interested in a more spy-type hero book.

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

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #3 by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: Superman is pulled into the mystery of the Dark Multiverse while the Justice League follows the trail to a weapon that could keep the forces of the Dark Multiverse at bay!

At this point, I don't know what else I can say about Scott Snyder's Dark Nights: Metal. With issue #3, Snyder continues the crazy story he started several books ago. In this issue, Superman and his allies discover just what has been happening and form a plan to take on Barbatos, rescue Batman, and save the world. Anything more would be risking spoilers, and I'd hate to do that.

I like this series. It's big, fun, and very different from any event series I've read before. Snyder knows his stuff, especially Batman, and he is a terrific story-teller. The portrayals of the various heroes during this crisis are done well. I particularly like Nightwing, who is showing a different side to himself. I'm looking forward to seeing how everything plays out during this Dark Nights event. I'm also curious as to what the long range effects will be. There are many elements in play, and the potential ramifications are far-reaching.

I highly recommend Dark Nights: Metal #3 by Scott Snyder. However, if you aren't up to speed with the series, don't begin here.

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV- Book Review

From the publisher: Batman's team of vigilantes continues to protect Gotham City in the next volume of the best-selling series, BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 3: LEAGUE OF SHADOWS!

The next big DETECTIVE arc explodes here as the League of Shadows goes from mysterious rumor to deadly fact! With two new members of the team, Azrael and Batwing, will the Dark Knight's squadron of crime-fighters be able to discover the League's plan? And what deadly personal seceret will be unleashed on the team? 

From writer James Tynion IV (BATMAN/TMNT) and the spectacular art team of Eddy Barrows (NIGHTWING) and Alvaro Martinez (BATMAN ETERNAL) comes the third volume of the return of DETECTIVE COMICS! Collects DETECTIVE COMICS #950-956.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows, by James Tynion IV, is another in the line of excellent Batman books. Tynion builds on the idea of Batman forming a team of Bat-heroes to help him protect Gotham. Trained by Batwoman, this group, consisting of Clayface, Orphan, Azrael and Batwing (replacing Red Robin and Spoiler), is growing in confidence and ability. But, the League of Shadows may be too much for them.

When Lady Shiva and the League of Shadows come to Gotham, they plan to destroy it. Along the way, they run in to the remains of the Colony (a group run by Batwoman's father), Batman's new crew, and Ra's al Ghul. Cassandra Cain, aka Orphan, is particularly spotlighted. The story speeds along and comes to a fantastic and heartwarming conclusion.

I really liked this collection. Tynion has done an excellent job with the group, and in this book he focuses on Orphan. I thought he did a terrific job portraying a young girl with limited speaking skills (but strong non-verbal communication), raised to be an assassin with no remorse for killing, who desperately wants to be someone and something different. There are several heartbreaking scenes with Cassandra, yet some of the most heartwarming as well. I also found the League of Shadows, whom I had little previous knowledge of, to be a worthy opponent for Batman, and a worthy challenger to the better known League of Assassins. Lady Shiva is formidable and I look forward to future stories about her and the League.

Additionally, there are some interesting developments with Kate Kane (Batwoman) and her father. Tynion has done a nice job with Batwing and Azrael, who form an interesting partnership (science vs. faith). I also like the depth Tynion is adding to Clayface, who is no longer a one-note villain.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows, by James Tynion IV, is a terrific book. I highly recommend it to Batman fans. It is also a fine self-contained story (minimal knowledge of previous storylines required) and a good beginning point for new readers.

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City.

He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the “Clown Prince of Crime” but “white knight”? Never. Until now…

Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as “Jack,” sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman!

Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero—and which the villain?

Sean Murphy, the writer of Batman: White Knight #1, has come up with an interesting premise: What if the Joker was cured, began trying to make up for his wrongs, and Batman became Public Enemy #1? That's what the series White Knight tries to answer and its off to a good start.

The story opens with Jack Napier (the cured Joker) visiting Batman in prison, where Batman is being held. Then Murphy takes us back to how this happened. Batman is in hot pursuit of Joker, who has escaped Arkham Asylum once again. As Batman becomes increasingly more reckless, he endangers many people, finally cornering Joker in a factory with pills of unknown origin stored all around. Batman shoves a handful of them down Joker's mouth and is filmed doing so. From that, chaos erupts.

Murphy's opening chapter in this story provides mostly back-story for the cured Joker concept. There are some nice character moments, both involving Joker, and involving Batman and his "family". I'm curious how this story will progress, and while this part was a little heavy on exposition, I'll definitely be checking in when part 2 is released.

I recommend Batman: White Knight, by Sean Murphy, to Batman fans. It's a good beginning to a story with a new concept. It looks to be a fun read, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Murphy tells his story.

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Our fall sports seasons near they're end

Lexi cheered again while the football team won again. There is one more game this season. She also continues to participate in open gyms, preparing for basketball season. This weekend, Lexi and the cheer squad participated in their second cheer competition. They won again and this time they had no deductions on their routine.

Cami's volleyball team split their games again this past week. They've shown a lot of improvement and will finish their season with a tournament this week. Cami has shown a consistent overhand serve and is doing a nice job with hitting the ball when it's coming to her. Cami's basketball team won one and lost one, again. She had 3 points in the first game and had 2 rebounds. She has next weekend off, then plays a couple more games, I believe.

Griffin's football team played their last regular season game this week. The team lost a hard fought game, 14-8. Griffin did a nice job, blocking from his wide receiver position. He also a fine game at DB. They completed a pass on him, but he had good coverage and helped make the tackle. He also knocked a pass down the next time they threw on him, so he learned from previous experience. In the first playoff game, the team won 34-0 and played our most complete game so far. Griffin played good "D" and was in a pile for a tackle. He also carried the ball twice. The first time, I think he lost a yard. The second run was spectacular, though. He started off left, made it harder by running outside the hole and to the sideline, where he dodged a guy and stiff-armed another, then reversed field and outran everyone (with some helpful blocks from his teammates) for a touchdown. It was the most fantastic 179 yard 20 yard touchdown run and nearly made me cry. Our next game is Tuesday in the semi-finals, and if we win, the championship is on Wednesday on the new varsity turf field at the host school.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

NIGHTWING: NEW ORDER #2 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: Dick Grayson’s commitment to the Crusaders is put to the test after he learns a shocking secret about a member of his own family. Eager to keep the scandal as quiet as possible, Grayson turns to an old friend for some answers—and what he learns will alter his destiny forever.

I'm definitely enjoying Nightwing: New Order, by Kyle Higgins. Issue #2 was a great second part, and gave a lot of background on how the world without powers got to be that way.

The first thing to realize is that the narrator, Jake, is the son of Nightwing and Starfire. Secondly, Nightwing is responsible for wiping out the majority of superpowers, good and bad, in the world. Also, Nightwing is the leader of a group responsible for capturing powered individuals, and either providing them with inhibitors or putting them in suspended animation if the inhibitors don't work. Finally, Nightwing is put in to an almost impossible position, forced to make an incredibly hard choice.

While New Order #1 dropped the reader into the middle of this dystopian, facist world. With issue #2, though, Higgins begins to provide some context. With Jake, Higgins has found a new and interesting voice with which to narrate the story, and he does a nice job of explaining just how things ended up where they are. He also provides a new set of eyes on the heroes so many of us know so well. And while I can't put my finger on the title, Higgins has reminded me of another story with New Order. This isn't a bad thing, though. I really like the echoes of familiarity. I also like the emotions he has imbued this story with, particularly the family relationships.

I highly recommend Nightwing: New Order #2. Kyle Higgins is writing a terrific story of impossible choices and family relationships. I look forward to seeing where he takes it from here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Titans Vol. 2 (Rebirth) by Dan Abnett - Book Review

From the publisher: The classic team of former superhero sidekicks continue their adventures in TITANS VOL. 2, as a part of DC Rebirth!

As Kid Flash Wally West and the Titans adjust to their new lives in New York City and investigate a new threat, a mysterious company called Meta Solutions comes to the forefront. Who are they? And what stunning discovery will the Titans make about their new foe? 

Writer Dan Abnett (AQUAMAN) and artist Brett Booth (NIGHTWING) continue their critically acclaimed run with TITANS VOL. 2! Collects issues #7-10, TITANS ANNUAL #1 and stories from DC REBIRTH HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

I've been reading Titans for two reasons: first, I enjoy reading about Nightwing and find that the character is a natural leader; second, with Wally West (Flash) at the center of the Rebirth mystery, I'm hoping for some clues. Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan, by Dan Abnett, offers some of the first, but none of the second.

The main storyline in this volume involves the Titans setting up shop and (quite literally) growing Titans Tower in New York City. They are attempting to make their presences felt, and have hired a legal consultant (which is fairly humorous). Their friends Mal and Karen Duncan figure prominently, as Mal has used a company called Meta Solutions to remove his sound powers. Karen, who recently discovered she has powers of her own, just wants to be able to focus and control her abilities. When Mal runs into an old enemy, he questions just what Meta Solutions is actually doing. Enter the Titans, to help their friends, and the mystery deepens.

Most of the characterization in this volume focuses on Mal and Karen. It actually functions as an origin of sorts for Karen, who Mal affectionately refers to as "Bumblebee". Her quest to use her abilities is a positive contrast to Mal's PTSD that resulted from engaging an enemy while using his abilities. While this story is effectively concluded, it also serves to set up a larger mystery and coming conflict.

In addition to the main storyline, there is a short tale from the Rebirth Holiday Special that shines a nice light on Arsenal. Titan's Annual #1 is also featured here. Abnett tells a story that brings several of the Titans and their Justice League counterparts together in mentor/protege roles. He also manages to delve a bit into the history of Donna Troy (Wonder Girl). My favorite part is how Abnett contrasts the relationship between Barry Allen and Wally West (both Flashes) to that of Batman and Nightwing, Aquaman and Aqualad, and Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl. Suffice it to say that not all of them are functional relationships.

Overall, Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan, by Dan Abnett, was entertaining. I enjoy reading about the original Titans (no longer teens). While I was hoping for some Rebirth clues, I wasn't disappointed in the book. I recommend it to fans of the various heroes (Nightwing, Arsenal, Wonder Girl, Aqualad, Omen, and the Duncans) either together or individually. I look forward to seeing where Abnett takes this group of characters in the future.

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