Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Batman: Night of the Monster Men (Rebirth) by Tom King; Steve Orlando - Book Review

From the publisher: The first Batman crossover of DC Rebirth is here in BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN!

It’s the storm of the century, and it’s headed straight for Gotham City. The guardians of this sprawling urban center—Nightwing, Batwoman and the Batman himself—think they’ve prepared for the worst.

They have no idea.

Thanks to the machinations of the macabre scientist Dr. Hugo Strange, the storm has unleashed a rain of monsters upon the city. Colossal creatures are stomping through the streets, terrorizing the citizens and challenging the skills of even Gotham’s greatest heroes.

Can the Dark Knight and his allies stem the tide of destruction? Or will the Night of the Monster Men mark the fall of the Bat?

Find out in BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, the first crossover of the DC Rebirth era from the creative team of Steve Orlando (MIDNIGHTER), Tom King (BATMAN), Tim Seeley (BATMAN ETERNAL), James Tynion IV (DETECTIVE COMICS), Riley Rossmo (CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER), Roge Antonio (BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY) and Andy MacDonald (THE NEW 52: FUTURES END). This epic of horror and heroism collects BATMAN #7-8, NIGHTWING #5-6 and DETECTIVE COMICS #941-942.

Night of the Monster Men, by various writers, is the first Batman crossover since Rebirth started. And overall, it was entertaining. A quick summary: Hugo Strange has developed a serum that creates monsters. These are Godzilla type monsters and they began to run rampant. To make matters worse, a hurricane is threatening to hit Gotham. Batman and Batwoman gather their team (Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface), and enlist Nightwing to help them defeat the creatures and save Gotham. What starts out as a relatively simple mission turns out to have a deeper meaning and possible long-term repercussions.

I enjoyed this as a crossover event. It basically spanned one night, and taking two issues from each of three different comics wasn't a huge departure for any of their regular storylines. Additionally, it was fun to see Batman take on literal monsters as opposed to the more figurative type he usually battles. I thought the character interactions were terrific: Gotham Girl and Nightwing, Batman and Batwoman, Duke and Alfred, and Orphan and Spoiler. Clayface is also becoming a very intriguing character as he continues to try to be a "good" guy. The writers are coming up with some new and unique opportunities for him to show some new uses for his abilities. I also liked the concept of the Wayne Watchtowers; they absolutely need to become a recurring thing.

As far as villains go, I think Hugo Strange has potential. With his psychology background and his willingness to misuse science, he could be a very formidable adversary for Batman. This story did a nice job of pushing that idea.

Batman: Night of the Monster Men is a fun and entertaining book. It is a decent place for new readers to begin, but it will definitely appeal to Bat-fans. It also seems to be setting up events for future books down the line.

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Slow Week

This was a relatively slow week for the Knights. Lexi had track practice (meets start after Spring Break) but her big news was that she tried out for, and made, the Cheerleading squad for next year. She also received the MVP award for last season. She was named MVP because she played two sports but went out of her way to be at all (or nearly all) cheerleading practices and games. She also did every position in her stunt group (base, front spot, back spot - apparently she is a natural and saved a group -, and flyer). She is very excited about the upcoming year.

Griffin and Cami played in a 3-on-3 tournament at school. Griffin's team finished in 3rd place, and he did a great job, scoring a few times (2 jump shots went in!). Cami's team did not win any games, but she did a good job and scored on a nice lay-up.

This week is the first of two for Spring Break. We have lots of relaxing planned.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE WILD STORM #2 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: All Angela Spica did was save someone’s life. And now hers is over. The rogue engineer lies bleeding in a place she hopes nobody will find - but she’s wrong. The people embedded in the secret power structures of the world are tracking her. Skywatch. Halo. International Operations. A covert operative called Grifter. 

If only she hadn’t unknowingly foiled an assassination planned by her boss. If only her boss wasn’t the one person more interested in the Engineer’s transhuman implants than in her life.

It’s all going very wrong, very quickly. There’s going to be more blood.

The Wild Storm #2 continues setting the table for the story Warren Ellis began with issue #1. The general storyline consisted of various groups looking for Angela Spica, who transformed/changed/became so kind of techno-organic being to save a life. The groups looking for her include Halo, Skywatch, and IO. As they all try to track her down, it becomes apparent that there is some sort of conspiracy going on. Where it goes, and who finds Angela, remains to be seen in future issues.

With several of the main characters already on stage, Ellis uses this second issue to bring in Cole Cash, better known as Grifter. He was a favorite character of mine in the old days of Wildstorm comics with Image, but he wasn't nearly as interesting in DC's New 52. I was happy to see him get a fresh start, as I'm sure many old fans are. Once again, though, Ellis has dumped the reader in the middle of the story and we are left to piece things together. This is not a complaint, though. I trust Ellis enough as a writer to believe that all (or at least most) will be made clear as this series progresses. However, I'm left wondering if The Wild Storm would be better read in a collected form, rather than in small issue-sized bites. I'm left waiting anxiously for the next issue, and am excited to see where this all goes.

I would highly recommend The Wild Storm #2 by Warren Ellis. This series should be required reading for fans of the old Wildstorm comics, while the series offers a fresh starting point for new readers as well.

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

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Volleyball (and Choir)

Cami had what may have been her last volleyball tournament of the season. They won one match today, and played another pretty tight, going to a third game. Cami had fun, as did the team, and you could see the improvement. And while their may not be any more tournaments, they will continue to practice through the end of the school year.

Lexi's middle school choir attended the annual Choir Competition. They performed 3 songs, and earned a Gold rating for their performance. Lexi sounded, and looked, beautiful. Now her focus will be on cheerleading tryouts and track, where she will run and jump (although she doesn't yet know for sure which events).

Saturday, March 11, 2017

James Bond Vol.2: Eidolon by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: James Bond is trapped in Los Angeles with a MI6 agent under fire and a foreign intelligence service trying to put them both in bags... and possibly more than one foreign intelligence service. And things may not be any safer in Britain, with bodies dropping and ghosts moving in the political mist...

Collecting issues #7-12 of the ongoing James Bond comic book series written by Warren Ellis, the New York Times bestselling author of Gun Machine and critically-acclaimed comic book writer (Iron Man, Planetary, Astonishing X-Men), and featuring artwork by Jason Masters (Batman Incorporated).

I'm really enjoying these new James Bond graphic novels. With Vol. 2: Eidolon, Warren Ellis has written another entertaining Bond tale. When an undercover MI6 agent needs to be escorted from Los Angeles back to London, James Bond is given the assignment. However, what appears to be an easy job quickly turns bad. Bond and the agent are attacked on their way to the airport, and thus begins a race to discover a hidden Spectre cell, one with sleeper agents in multiple intelligence agencies, including MI5, Britain's answer to the FBI. As Bond and friends track hidden funds and off-the-books weapons caches, the tension mounts. Will they be in time to stop an episode of domestic terrorism?

Ellis does a great job capturing the characterization of the James Bond stories. There is humor, dry wit, action, emotion, and consequences. Bond, Moneypenny, and  M are portrayed quite well. The villains, in this case Spectre agents, are sufficiently threatening. Their leader, Beckett Hawkwood, has an interesting backstory, and fits in with other Bond villains.

As I said about the previous volume, VARGR, Ellis has done a nice job creating a logical extension of the Bond stories and the more recent movies. I highly recommend James Bond Vol. 2: Eidolon. If you are a James Bond fan, this is a fun ride. Additionally, it can be read independently of the previous volume, as it contains a complete story.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Astro CIty #42 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: They call him Mister Manta, the Scourge of the Seven Seas. At least, they called him that a long time ago. Nobody's called him anything for years, but that's about to change. What happens when a long-forgotten villain makes his dramatic return? Can he find his place in the world, or has it moved on without him? Featuring guest artist Matthew Clark (Wonder Woman, Doom Patrol)

*Note* Due to a scheduling/artist conflict, the original solicitation for Astro City #42 has been switched with Astro City #43.

With Astro City #42, Kurt Busiek has written another nice slice of life type story. One of my favorite things about the Astro City comics is how Busiek is able to take well-known superhero tropes and put a different spin on them. With #42, he examines the life of a supervillian; however, this villain was defeated and was lost at sea. As a result, Mister Manta has spent the last 30 years marooned on an island. His days consist of creating new tech from the resources he has on the island, and building/perfecting the home he created. When the opportunity to escape the island appears, Manta, somewhat reluctantly, takes it. What he discovers about himself is the heart of this story. Once again, Busiek has written a great story, full of character and heart. Mister Manta is an empathetic villain, but the empathy comes from an unexpected realization.

I highly recommend this issue of Astro City (#42) and would recommend any of the collected editions.

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Give me a follow

If you are a regular reader of my blog, feel free to give me a follow. Some publishers look at followers as an important metric when considering whether to allow a blogger to review books for them. The more actual followers I have, the better it appears.



Titans Vol. 1: The Return of Wally West by Dan Abnett - Book Review

From the publisher: Spinning directly out of the events of the smash-hit DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, witness the rebirth of the greatest team of young heroes in history in TITANS VOL. 1: THE RETURN OF WALLY WEST!

They were heroes, yes, but more than that—lifelong friends. There was a special spark that held them together. It was a rare thing, like a lightning strike. You couldn’t make it happen. It just did.

Then it became a memory. And then the memory faded. Taken. Stolen. Ripped apart. And only one person remembers.

His name is Wally West. Once upon a time, he was Kid Flash. Now a refugee from a lost universe, it’s up to him to reawaken his former friends and reforge the bond that made them great. 

Nightwing. Donna Troy. Beast Boy. Arsenal. Lilith. They must come together and defeat the enemy who destroyed their memories—or be destroyed themselves.

This great new jumping-on point for comics fans of all generations, written by Dan Abnett with art by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund, is the long-awaited reunion that collects TITANS #1-6 and TITANS: REBIRTH #1!

Titans Vol. 1 - The Return of Wally West is a terrific book by Dan Abnett. Of all the characters affected by DC's New 52 reboot, Wally West and the rest of the Titans (formerly Teen Titans) were probably changed the most, especially since this version of Wally West no longer even existed. It's nice to see that DC is using Rebirth to correct this, and bring Wally and the Titans back into their continuity.

In the Rebirth special, Wally West was finally rescued from the Speed Force (where he had apparently been throughout the New 52) by Barry Allen, who's remembrance of Wally brought him back. Titans Vol. 1, then, is about how Wally goes about restoring the memories of his former teammates and investigating how/if the magician Kadabra was responsible for his disappearance. This volume is full of the excitement and humor that is typical of the Titans' adventures. There is also an undercurrent of emotion, as Wally meets his true love, Linda Park, and discovers she doesn't remember him.

While Titans is an ensemble book, this volume really focuses on Wally West, and it's his story that is told. Nightwing, Arsenal, Wonder Girl, Trident, and Omen support Wally in his quest, and the family dynamics of this group are on full display. (Beast Boy is listed as being in this book, but he is not a part of it). In addition to this main story arc, there is a hint as to the greater overall mystery of who/what actually caused the New 52 to occur, and why all of the DC characters are missing time or events.

Dan Abnett's opening volume of Titans was a fun read. I highly recommend it, particularly to fans of the previous Titans books. It's also a great jumping on point for new fans.

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