Friday, April 28, 2017

A little track and another ribbon

Lexi just had one meet this week. She ran the 100m and 4 x 100m, and did okay. Her best event continues to be long jump, though. This week she finished 4th, and because it was a three-way meet, she earned another ribbon. Next week she has two (maybe three) meets.

Cami and Griffin had their first session at the Indiana Basketball Academy this spring. They are in the Shoot, Shoot, Shoot clinic, which focuses on shooting. For nearly an hour straight, they did multiple shooting drills, combining dribble moves, ball fakes, and passes with taking good shots. They were both exhausted, and Cami wasn't thrilled. I don't think she was used to being coached by someone who wasn't a parent of one of her teammates. Griffin went through this last year, and the work on form really helped him improve. Also, their coach this session was Jim Crews, former IU player (1976 National Champ) and D-1 head coach (Evansville and St. Louis University). They get back at it again next week.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy (Rebirth) by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of BATMAN, Scott Snyder, comes his newest Dark Knight project as a part of DC Universe Rebirth, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY! 

Snyder is one of the most critically acclaimed authors in the comics world, with titles that include the genre-defining BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS, as well as BATMAN: BLACK MIRROR and AMERICAN VAMPIRE. But this time, he teams with Eisner Award-winning illustrator and comics legend John Romita Jr. (Avengers, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: THE LAST CRUSADE) and critically acclaimed artist Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight)!

In this new graphic novel, Batman finds himself trying to help old friend Harvey Dent…now known as the villainous Two-Face! The Dark Knight accompanies his foe on a cross-country trip to fix his scarred face and hopefully end the Two-Face identity forever. But when the former Gotham City D.A. sets a plan into motion to free himself, the road gets bumpy and every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide comes out in force with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to Bat-hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before! 

Following the success of COURT OF OWLS, DEATH OF THE FAMILY and ENDGAME, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY is the industry-shaking graphic novel for the Dark Knight, with one of the biggest creative pairings in DC Comics history sharing their take on one of the greatest heroes ever in ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1! Collects issues #1-5.

In his introduction to All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy, Scott Snyder mentions that after he finished his iconic run on the Batman title, he still had stories he wanted to tell. However, he wanted to take Batman out of Gotham and use new artists to tell each story. Well, mission accomplished with this first volume.

My Own Worst Enemy is a Batman road trip reminiscent of Midnight Run or The Book of Eli. In short, Batman is taking Harvey Dent/Two-Face to a secret location in order to provide him with a "cure" for getting rid of his Two-Face personality forever. To defend himself, Two-Face has promised to release every bit of compromising information on the citizens of Gotham unless they stop Batman.  To add to the chaos, Two-Face has promised the combined fortune of Gotham's top three crime bosses to anyone who frees him and stops Batman. Let the madness ensue.

This was a very entertaining story. The road trip aspect allowed the setting to be constantly changing. Also, it allowed for a large number of B list (and C and D, etc.) villains to take their crack at Batman, with often amusing results. Ordinary people were put in difficult positions, and Penguin and his cohorts (the top 2 crime bosses) were desperate, as well. On top of all this, James Gordon and the Gotham police force find themselves compromised as well, due to some information Two-Face has on them.

There were two things I particularly enjoyed about My Own Worst Enemy. The first was the relationship between Batman and Two-Face. Snyder reveals a rather poignant encounter from their childhood, and I found that it added depth to both Bruce and Harvey. (Snyder has become a master at adding background to Batman's past and making it feel very natural, like the reader knew about it all along). I also enjoyed the focus on Duke, Batman's new non-Robin partner. He plays a pivotal role in the story, and his relationship with Batman is just different enough from the Robins of the past/present to add an interesting perspective (Duke also gets a back-up story that adds depth to him as well).

If this first volume of All Star Batman is any indication, Scott Snyder has again got a hit on his hands. If he hasn't already, he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the top Batman writers ever. I highly recommend All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy. It will thrill long-time readers and is a fine starting place for new readers.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Track Update

This week, Lexi only had one track meet (the other was canceled due to bad weather). Fortunately, this was a pretty successful meet for her. Lexi competed in the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay, as well as the long jump. She was a couple of hundredths from winning the "JV" heat of the 100m, and looks better and better running it every time. She did a nice job in the relay, but her team is all 5th-7th graders, which makes it hard for them to win. However, the long jump is where Lexi excelled. For the first time ever, Lexi placed in a "varsity" event. She finished in 2nd place, and was really excited to earn her first ribbon. That was a goal she set before the season, and she was super stoked to meet that goal. She has told me that her new goal is to finish 1st in an event. She has one, maybe two, meets coming up this week.

Cami and Griffin will be starting a once-a-week basketball camp this week. They will be participating in a session that focuses on good shooting form. Griffin participated in this last spring, and it was clear that his shot was becoming better and his form was improving, so I'm excited to see how they grow over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

THE WILD STORM #3 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Angela Spica is wounded, alone and hiding from black-ops killers sent by her own benefactor, the man she thought responsible for her well-being—the mastermind behind an assassination attempt the Engineer just foiled. But, unknown to her, she might yet have a chance to survive this terrible day. The Grifter has a plan.

A storm is building. And through it all, a mysterious woman crackles though the electrical devices that inhabit our lives, slipping among the invisible networks of the world.

There’s something new in the world. 

Warren Ellis is at it again with The Wild Storm #3. Angela Spica is still on the run and in hiding from IO, while Grifter and his friends attempt to find her and bring her in. When IO finds them, chaos ensues.

Once again, I'm at a loss as to how to describe this comic book. Ellis is in his element, with craziness and giant ideas all over the place. There is fighting, revelations, explosions, superhero stuff, and Grifter doing Grifter-type things. While there is a little background as to how Angela created her bio-metallic suit/form, the reader is still left to trust Ellis to reveal what we need to know only as we need to know it. I was happy to have more of Cole Cash aka Grifter in this issue, with him actually donning his mask, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how this story progresses and learning more of the background of the characters and organizations. I really feels like Ellis has this really deep backstory and has dropped us in the middle of it. I'm extremely curious to discover just how this arc will turn out.

The Wild Storm #3, by Warren Ellis, is another excellent book. At this point, I would only recommend it to readers currently following the series, however. New readers may find themselves very confused. It is worth tracking down the previous issues to catch up, and it would also be worth it to read the story in a collected edition when it is published. Finally, I hope this series continues for a long run, as I find myself sucked into it immediately and disappointed when I reach the end.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide (Rebirth) by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: Still reeling from the events of "I AM GOTHAM," the epic first arc in Tom King's brand new BATMAN series, the Dark Knight finds himself up against some of the biggest (literally) threats he's ever faced within the city limits of Gotham. To save the city he loves, Batman enlists the help of the toughest members of the Bat-family including Nightwing, Batwoman and more!

Also in this volume, Batman must take on some familiar foes who have stolen something from Gotham--and the Caped Crusader's limits will be tested as he fights to get it back.

Breakout writer and former CIA analyst, Tom King (GRAYSON, THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON) is paired with superstar artists Riley Rossmo and Mikel Janin in this knock-down, drag-out superhero story! Collects BATMAN #9-15.

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide, by Tom King, took the promise of the I Am Gotham storyline and ramped it up. This was a great book with many twists and turns as the story progressed. In the wake of her breakdown, Batman decides Psycho Pirate is the only one who can help Gotham Girl. However, the Pirate is being held captive by Bane on the prison island of Santa Prisca. Bane relies on the Pirate to help in the absence of the Venom Bane used. To get the Pirate from Bane, Batman puts together a team that includes the following: Catwoman, Bronze Tiger, Punch, Jewelee, and the Ventriloquist. How they get in to the prison, and how they go about trying to take Psycho Pirate, make up the bulk of the book. The final two chapters act as an epilogue, with a focus on Catwoman and Batman.

I thought this was a fantastic story. King told a Batman story like none I have read before. I'm not sure that I can put my finger on a specific thing, but it just felt different and right. For one, the team Batman was using very unusual and atypical, with more of a villain feel. Also, Batman's attitude was different, more desperate than he's been in a long while, maybe ever. He is also more brutal and devious. This almost felt like a Dirty Dozen type story. It was very cinematic in scope, and the art added to the feel. It was big and bold, full of action and emotion. Additionally, King did a great job exploring the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. He was able to add depth to this very complicated relationship.

I highly recommend Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide. Tom King just keeps getting better. I'm anxiously awaiting the next volume in this opening "I Am" arc, I Am Bane.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Track and an Academic Honor

Lexi had one and a half track meets this week (one was canceled due to weather half way through). Twice she ran the 100 m, both times as part of the 1st heat. The second time she set a personal best time, and finished 4th or 5th (she wasn't sure and I couldn't tell). She long jumped at both meets, setting a personal best with a jump of 12' 3". She was in the 4 x 100 m relay in the first meet and did okay, and ran the 200 m in the second heat of the second meet. She ran out of gas near the end, but looked good running up to that point. All in all, it was a good first week of meets for Lexi.

In addition to track, Lexi was accepted into the National Jr. Honor Society this week. She will be inducted next week, and is very excited. Several of the current members were "fighting" over who was going to get to induct her at the ceremony.

The twins are still biding their time, waiting for camps and such.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spring Sports are Underway

Lexi has been practicing for track over the last several weeks. Finally, she is supposed to have two meets this week (Monday and Wednesday, weather permitting). She is currently going to be competing in four events for most meets: 100 m, 400 m, 4 x 100 m relay, and 4 x 400 m relay. She is super excited and has been doing really well so far.

The twins are currently in a holding pattern, with the chance Griffin will be going to a basketball camp and Cami with the possibility of some more volleyball.