Monday, December 24, 2018

Batman Vol. 8: Cold Days by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Author Tom King pens the next epic volume of his critically acclaimed, best-selling Batman series in Batman Vol. 8!

In the aftermath of the wedding of Batman and Catwoman, the Dark Knight's life has changed completely. Having walked down the aisle, how will this new Bruce Wayne view himself? What is to become of Batman now? 

Don't miss out on the newest installment of this best-selling, critically acclaimed graphic novel series written by breakout star Tom King, and featuring art by Lee Weeks and Tony S. Daniel.

Collects #51-57.

Batman Vol. 8: Cold Days by Tom King picks up following the events of the Batman/Catwoman wedding. Rather than deal with his heartache, Batman starts to go off the deep end, beating Mr. Freeze viciously to get him to confess to three murders, before leaving him to be arrested. The first arc of this book follows the trial of Mr. Freeze, where Bruce Wayne happens to be selected to be a member of the jury. Over the course of this arc, King intersperses Batman's actions with Bruce's interactions with the other jury members. We end up with a fairly deep meditation on how our feelings cause us to react, whether the end justifies the means, and what Batman's responsibility to justice really is.

The next story is a heartwarming one. King juxtaposes Dick Grayson's early days (following the murder of his parents) with Bruce Wayne trying to comfort him and help Dick process with the present day Dick trying to return the favor to Bruce. This is a terrific character piece and really showcases the father/son relationship between Bruce and Dick.

The final story arc of this collection focuses on the return of the KGBeast. This vicious Russian assassin shows up in Gotham again, looking for revenge against Batman. After attacking a member of Batman's inner circle, Batman begins tracking the Beast, looking for vengeance.

King continues to delve into the heart of Batman, and while his stories have plenty of action, they are incredibly deep, taking a good, hard look at what kind of man Bruce Wayne is, along with examining many of Batman's inner circle. Another terrific part of this book (and the past couple) is King laying the groundwork for a much bigger story to come. Many of the recent events in Batman/Bruce Wayne's life have been orchestrated as part of brutal attempt to destroy the him, and they have been put together by one of Batman's most dangerous foes.

Batman Vol. 8: Cold Days is another excellent book by Tom King, who continues an amazing run on Batman. King is fast growing into one of the most important writers of Batman. I highly recommend this book, to Batman fans and to fans of Tom King's writing.

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

War Cry by Brian McClellan - Book Review

From the publisher: Brian McClellan, author of the acclaimed Powder Mage series, introduces a new universe, new armies, and new monsters in War Cry

Teado is a Changer, a shape-shifting military asset trained to win wars. His platoon has been stationed in the Bavares high plains for years, stranded. As they ration supplies and scan the airwaves for news, any news, their numbers dwindle. He's not sure how much time they have left.

Desperate and starving, armed with aging, faulting equipment, the team jumps at the chance for a risky resupply mission, even if it means not all of them might come. What they discover could change the course of the war.

I've put off writing this review for about 6 months, mostly because I didn't know what to write. I really enjoy Brian McClellan's Powder Mage stories (both novels and short stories), so I expected to like War Cry as well. This novella length introduction to the world of War Cry had an interesting premise. However, something in it just didn't connect with me. I'm not sure if it was the characters, the short format (which prohibited full immersion in the world), the writing style, or some combination of all of that.

War Cry follows Teado and his squad as they try to wait out the enemy, in a war that has been going on for years. Teado is a shape changer, and other members of his squad have powers, too. But, none of them really stuck with me; I don't have a lasting impression of any of the characters. I remember a few of the details of the story (a battle, a plane crash, a long journey across the wilderness) and an somewhat interesting, yet bittersweet, ending. There was definitely potential there, and plenty of room for more stories. I would probably even give this world another shot (after all, I didn't get totally sucked into the Powder Mage series until the second book).

Overall, I would give War Cry by Brian McClellan an average rating. It was just okay. As an introduction to a new world, it was alright, but didn't capture my imagination. It actually seemed like a story that had been written for a themed short story collection - Book of Swords; Unfettered - that type of thing). Anyway, if you enjoy Brian McClellan's writing, you should give it a shot; you might connect with it more than I did.

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

Cover #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Max is not having the best year of his career. Sales on his comics series are tanking, and his personal life is crumbling. Could it have something to do with his double life as a spy? Max learns the definition of “in too deep” as his worlds start to collide.

COVER is a major new project from longtime collaborators and Peabody Award winners Brian Bendis and Emmy-nominated artist David Mack. It’s a heartfelt valentine to comics creators, their creations and the genres they inspire.

Brian Michael Bendis's Cover #4 seems to wrap up the Max Field's initial adventure (if you can call it that) in the spy trade. The story continues with Max's torture and interrogation by fellow comics artist Essad Sinns. Fortunately for him, he is rescued, but finds himself stunned when he has to return to the Con and act like nothing happened. When he returns home, he crashes with his good friend Owen James and proceeds to relate what he has been through.

Once again, David Mack's art is beautiful. The style really fits the story.

I really like this book. It is fun, entertaining, and engaging. I'm not sure if there is a bigger story Bendis and Mack will be relating as the series moves along, but I'm in for the long haul. Max's cluelessness makes him an easy character to root for, and I'm curious to see how he develops as he experiences more of the spy life. I also really enjoy the glimpses at the art and stories of the fictional comics creators. I think I would really enjoy Ninja Sword Odyssey, Berlin Squad, etc.

Cover is a terrific book, well worth picking up. It's unlike anything on the shelf, and is a great read. Plus, since the characters are somewhat based on Bendis and Mack, I try to imagine the conversations they have regarding the circumstances their fictional counterparts are going through. Maybe a conversation between the two for the collected edition?

Additionally, this issue contains a reprint of the short comic-style tribute to Stan Lee that Bendis wrote for the NY Times. It is a sweet reflection on Bendis's relationship with Lee.

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Dreaming #4 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The Dreaming has a new master.

As its rightful steward, Lucien, wrestles with the slow decay of his mind, the realm of wonders slips into totalitarianism beneath the thunderous gavel of Judge Ezekiel Gallows.

But as the gates are fortified and the citizens terrorized by a foul new form of execution, something far greater and more terrifying slouches toward the Dreaming to be born.

With nowhere else to turn, it’s time to seek the counsel of the Endless...

With The Dreaming #4, Simon Spurrier begins to make some headway. There are several stories going on in the issue, and it appears that they may all converge soon. First, Cain has leapt into the chasm that appeared in The Dreaming, and has a revealing conversation with an as-yet-unknown character. There is some interesting depth to this dialogue, as Cain is forced to take a hard look at his past. Elsewhere, Judge Gallows is conducting a public execution in order to cement his rule by fear. Yet, when Lucien shows him to the gallery of the Endless, they notice a strange occurrence: a new Endless is being created. (This might be my favorite thing in this new series so far, because it reminds me of the type of thing Gaiman did in Sandman). Finally, Dora and Matthew the Raven decide to make a run for it, and where they end up may have longer term consequences in the realms of the Endless.

More than any other issues of The Dreaming to this point, I really enjoyed #4. And the reason is pretty simple: it has more of what made the Sandman so great. Spurrier is beginning to connect the threads of his story (which is still in its early stages, I know) to the greater mythology that exists in the world of the Sandman. And if my first guesses as to what the end of this issue mean are correct, we could be heading towards an epic Sandman-type story, more in the vein of how Dream died and a new Dream assumed the title. If that is indeed the case, or even if it's only partly right, then The Dreaming may shoot right up to the top of my To Be Read pile.

I highly recommend The Dreaming #4 by Simon Spurrier. Longtime Sandman/Endless fans will find a lot to like in this issue. I'm now anxiously awaiting issue #5.

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

Doomsday Clock #8 by Geoff Johns - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The critical and commercial hit series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank continues following the shocking revelations of last issue. As the truth behind Dr. Manhattan’s actions against the DC Universe are revealed, Ozymandias turns to the only being who can stop him: Superman.

Upon finishing reading Doomsday Clock #8 by Geoff Johns, I'll say that again the issue summary is misleading. There is no mention of Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias barely appears in this issue. Rather, the story focuses on Firestorm and Superman. Firestorm goes to Russia in a fit of anger, and a tragedy ensues. Superman, ever the peacemaker and representative of the world, tries to help resolve the problem. But sometimes things do go as planned...

Johns continues to spool out the huge story he is telling in Doomsday Clock. At this point, he is doing an excellent job of juggling the various characters and storylines. To me, it's hard to develop characters much with a story this large, so in my opinion, not much is being revealed about the various characters. On the other hand, this is turning out to be a truly world changing series, with the world on the edge of a massive war and metahuman heroes and villains facing persecution and death.

According to the issue blurbs, Johns is revealing more and more of Dr. Manhattan's plans, but at this point I have no idea what the endgame is, and multiple issue summaries have been flat out wrong. However, I will trust Johns to tell a good, complete story. With only four more issues, there is a lot that needs to be resolved. I'm anxious to see how everything is going to turn out. To that effect, I recommend Doomsday Clock #8 by Geoff Johns.

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Heroes in Crisis #3 by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Tragedies deepen as more secrets behind the “superhero hospital” called Sanctuary are revealed! What compelled Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to create it in the first place? How was it built? And if the hospital truly is alive via A.I., who — or what — is the brain of “Sanctuary?” Another layer peeled back in the biggest mystery woven through the entire DC Universe. 

Heroes in Crisis #3 by Tom King peels back another layer of the murder mystery plaguing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (none of whom make an appearance in this issue). Instead, King gives us a flashback to the day Booster Gold checked into Sanctuary, which just so happened to be the day of the murders.

Booster is struggling with something, and his entrance into Sanctuary reveals a little about how the whole thing works. Visitors wear masks and robes to conceal their identities, there is a common room and dining room, the confessional room, and something called the Chamber. The concept of the Chamber is pretty interesting, because it can create a simulation of whatever the client/patient/visitor (?) needs or wants to see and experience. Throughout this issue, we visit with and contrast the Sanctuary experiences of Lagoon Boy, Wally West (The Flash), and Booster Gold.

King is definitely slow playing this mystery, and I'm hooked. I couldn't believe how fast this issue read, and I'm already looking forward to the next issue. The suspects (Booster Gold, Harley Quinn) are interesting, and the concept of Sanctuary itself bears further exploration (counseling for heroes?). I'm also saddened by the death(s) of some of the heroes and villains, as a few were major players in the DC universe, while others seemed to be brought in as cannon fodder.

Tom King is becoming a major star in the comics world, if he isn't there already. His storylines and ideas are interesting, and he's been great with established characters like Batman and lesser known ones like Miracle Man. King's approach adds a depth to the characters that is often absent, and it adds gravitas to the proceedings. And while the individual issues are terrific, King's stories need to be read as collected editions to get the full effect. To that end, I would highly recommend Heroes in Crisis #3, but this isn't a good starting point (at this juncture, I don't believe any of the new issues will be). Regardless, I have a feeling that this series will be even better when it can be read straight through.

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

Books of Magic #2 by Kat Howard - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Tim embraces his access to magic, trying to do as much as he can as quickly as his power will let him. Overwhelmed by enthusiasm and impatience, he ignores Dr. Rose’s warnings and fails to consider the consequences of his actions. And they could be dire.

Books of Magic #2 by Kat Howard picks up where the previous issue left off. Dr. Rose has encouraged Tim Hunter to learn magic, and Tim has been trying to read the books, which have no ink on them unless he is ready to read it, or something to that effect.

So, a couple of things are going on in this issue. One, Dr. Rose is chasing and fighting some sort of monster/evil/bad magic thing. In the other, Tim is beginning to learn how to use his magic, but is in a hurry and lacks experience. Add to that the fact that Tim desperately wants to find his mother while another group/cabal wants to find him, and you've got the makings of a problem.

At this point, I don't know what to think of Books of Magic. Howard hasn't hooked me yet, and I keep waiting to get invested in the characters. They are kind of cardboard-ish, and there isn't a lot to make them stand out. I know it's still early on, but I just don't care enough right now. I will hang in there for another couple of issues, but if I'm not drawn in soon, I'm going to bail.

Overall, Books of Magic #2 by Kat Howard is just okay. There is still some introduction going on, and it's a decent starting spot, but I'm not intrigued enough yet to make a long term commitment to this series. Give it a shot if you like Vertigo books, but be cautioned.

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cover #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Cover goes to Paris as Max is sent to the iconic Angoulême International Comics Festival, where he is about to receive their highest award. But did he earn it...or is it all part of an international spy cover operation? As the worlds of spycraft and comics clash in ways Max could never have imagined, his life—and more importantly, his artwork—begin to collapse around him! Don’t miss the latest chapter of this fierce new comic by the Inkpot, Peabody and Eisner Award-winning talents of Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack (SUPERMAN, Kabuki, Jessica Jones)!

Cover #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack is cool. We are dropped right back in to the story that left off in issue #2. Max Field has been captured and is being interrogated by Esad Sinns, international comics star and apparent foreign intelligence operative. The majority of the issue is spent with Max explaining how he got to where he is now, and he still hasn't given us the complete story.

Cover is becoming one of my favorite books. I've long enjoyed David Mack's art and stories (I loved the original Kabuki book) and Bendis is a terrific writer. Cover seems a perfect blend of their strengths, and the story flies by. Bendis does a great job adding depth to Max Field. He has a nice blend of naivete, wide-eyed wonder, and trust that makes him an easy character to root for. Julia, Max's CIA contact, is just believable enough yet still manipulating. I want to like her, but Bendis puts a touch of dishonesty and arrogance in her that causes the reader to second guess everything. With such a limited cast, Mack and Bendis are doing a wonderful job of creating a very believable world and scenario.

In addition to the main story, I really enjoy the panels from Ninja Sword Odyssey. Mack and Bendis have interspersed bits and pieces of the comic Max is famous for, allowing the reader to get a glimpse of why he is popular. I'm also sure that the parts of Ninja Sword Odyssey we get tie in to the theme and story of Cover. And I've got to say, if Ninja Sword Odyssey were an real comic, I definitely be reading it (hint hint, Bendis and Mack).

Cover #3 is another fun book from the duo of David Mack and Brian Michael Bendis. It's an entertaining what-if and this current issue continues the storyline, pushing the plot forward while still leaving us wanting more. I'm looking forward to seeing how or if Max Field can get out of his current predicament.

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Dreaming #3 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: As the Dreaming slips deeper into chaos, its frightened denizens yearn for strong leaders to guide them back to greatness. Enter Judge Gallows: nightmare of the major arcana, terror of the old frontier, whose thoughts and actions come knotted in hemp...

Released from Morpheus’ black chest after a century in the dark, he may not be merciful—but he’s always right.

His first case? Lucien’s fitness to lead...

Changes are afoot in The Dreaming #3 by Simon Spurrier. Judge Gallows has been set free from his captivity in the Black Chest and he's going to straighten out the Dreaming. With the assistance of Mervyn Pumpkinhead, Judge Gallows conducts a sly takeover of the Dreaming while taking on both Lucien and Dora along the way. Also, something is up with Abel; his timid behavior is changing and Cain isn't sure he likes it.

So, at this point, The Dreaming is moving right along. Spurrier keeps adding challenges to the people trying to solve the mystery of why Dream left and where he is. Unfortunately, those challenges are keeping the reader from finding out, as well. I'm still intrigued enough (and a long-time fan of Sandman) to keep reading, but at some point in the near future the story needs to begin moving forward. Long story arcs are something of a Sandman tradition, but Gaiman also told shorter arcs that made up the larger story. I'm hoping Spurrier follows this example, as there are quite a few interesting characters and situations. However, for me, I would like to see some resolution to the missing Dream story (or at least some significant reveals) going forward, or eventually I'll begin waiting for the collected editions.

The Dreaming #3 is more of the same, as Simon Spurrier continues to present a version of the Dreaming that is very discombobulated. It's still worth reading, particularly if you are a Sandman fan. Keep in mind, though, that this story is getting more involved and pretty soon it may be too complex for new readers.

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

Sunday, November 4, 2018

In Transition (Family Sports)

So over the past few weeks, both Griffin and Lexi made the school basketball teams, with Lexi just getting cleared to begin full practices as her stress fractures appear to be healed. She will be playing JV and Griffin will play on the 6th grade team. Cami's tryouts are near the end of the month.

Cami is wrapping up her travel basketball season, and the team has won all 3 of their games over the past two weeks, including a tournament game today. She scored 6 points today, and I think 6-10 in the two games last week. She had multiple steals, deflections, and rebounds. Last week she also had two blocks in one game. She is becoming a very good all-around player. Next week is the rest of the tournament; they play until they lose (not sure how many rounds are left).

This week, Lexi has her first two high school games, while Griffin's games don't begin until December.

Friday, November 2, 2018

James Bond: The Body HC by Ales Kot - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: As Bond undergoes a post-mission medical examination, he relays the story of his previous mission to the examiner. Each cut, bruise, and broken bone connected to a specific event of the mission. A connection is made between two people with different purposes: one to save lives, the other to take them.

PART TWO - THE BRAIN James Bond leads the interrogation of a scientist who allowed a lethal virus to be stolen. But when the investigation takes a surprising turn, Bond begins to question whether he is enough.

PART THREE - THE GUT One sauna. Twenty Neo-Nazis. One Bond. James Bond. This weapons deal won't go according to plan.

PART FOUR - THE HEART On the run from a lethal antagonist, weaponless and wounded deep in the Highlands, Bond finds solace with a woman who exchanged her job as a doctor and a life in the city for a cottage and solitary life of a writer.

Can Bond find a quiet peace unlike he has known before or will his life choices catch up with him? AND MORE..

James Bond: The Body by Ales Kot is the latest in Dynamite Entertainment's all-new James Bond mini-series/collected editions. They have all been good, and a couple of them I would even consider great. They have done a fine job of updating Bond to our current times, but keeping the spirit of Ian Fleming's original books. With The Body, Kot adds to this legacy with a fresh take on who Bond is. In this case, the story starts with Bond coming in for a routine physical/medical treatment after his latest adventures. The doctor observes his many scars and suggests that each tells its own tale.

Kot goes about telling his story in an episodic manner. Each chapter shows Bond on a different mission, yet by the end, they all pull together to show one cohesive plot that needed to be stopped. I thought this was a nice change from the more traditional longer story arc, as each chapter tells a complete story. This approach forces Kot to tell a tighter story, which results in very little, if any, filler. It also allows him to use different tones, ranging from violent anger to quiet contemplation. This presents us with a well-rounded James Bond, and I've always appreciated a deeper approach to the character. We see Bond a whole person, with both strengths and flaws, and Kot does a terrific job of balancing both. Additionally, each issue is drawn by a different artist, which further differentiates that each chapter is its own piece of a much larger story.

Overall, I found James Bond: The Body by Ales Kot to be an entertaining and fun Bond story that felt like one of Fleming's, which is a high standard. It is self-contained, so prior knowledge of previous series is not necessary, but a familiarity with the character adds to the level of enjoy. I will make one observation, though. The story was advertised as presenting a stories that coincided with Bond's scars; however, to my knowledge, that idea was only addressed at the very beginning and used as a springboard for the reader into the story as a whole. That doesn't change my thoughts on the book, but it could be misleading.

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Wild Storm #18 by Warren Ellis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: You can never go home again, but John Lynch needs to go somewhere to begin the last act of his life. Jack Hawksmoor never really had a home, especially since he became something other than human.  As the war between IO and Skywatch gets hot, Marc Slayton has somewhere for Lynch to go, and Jenny Sparks may have a new home for Jack Hawksmoor...and Angela Spica.

I really don't know how to review The Wild Storm #18. In this current issue, Warren Ellis is basically moving pieces around. The series is 3/4 of the way done, and the climax and endgame are quickly approaching. So, Ellis drops in on all the various factions in play and we spend a couple of pages with each one: Jacob Marlowe's wild CAT team; Jenny Sparks and her crew (which expanded to include two new members - someone actually refers to them as the "authority" 'nudge nudge wink wink); Miles Craven and IO; Henry Bendix and Skywatch; John Lynch and Marc Slayton (and probably some of the other Thunderbook subjects soon); and even Michael Cray (fresh off of his own mini-series). Apparently, a war between them is coming.

Ellis continues with the big, crazy ideas, and while there isn't a bunch of character development, this isn't really an action issue, either. Ellis sets up his characters with dialogue and exposition, with the promise of action, and plenty of it, to come in the next couple of issues. Basically, if you've liked The Wild Storm so far, this is more of the same. I've really been enjoying it and can't wait to see what comes next, as the build-up over the last year and a half is about to pay off.

I highly recommend Warren Ellis's The Wild Storm #18. Big concepts, highly motivated characters, and the promise of a massive climax all make this one of the books to be reading.

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

Heroes in Crisis #2 by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Suspected of murder, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] find themselves on the run from the super-hospital called Sanctuary —with each thinking the other one is the real killer! It’s up to Batman to solve this heinous crime, but suspicion falls on him when Superman and Wonder Woman ponder just how much Sanctuary’s A.I. is telling them. Meanwhile, [REDACTED] tries to make a shady deal to hide from the Trinity, while [REDACTED] searches out an old friend to help him out of this mess—and only gets deeper in trouble.

Heroes in Crisis #2, by Tom King, picks up where issue 1 leaves off. Several heroes and villains have been murdered at Sanctuary, a haven for heroes to help them deal with PTSD and other consequences of what they do. The two suspects are Harley Quinn and Booster Gold. However, neither of them are quite sure who did it, what happened, or why. All the while, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are investigating the tragedy.

This issue lets us look in on both Booster and Harley and see the guilt and concern they are dealing with. King once again shows his strength in writing characters in conflict, making both empathetic but also a little despicable. In addition, King gives us a very human trinity of heroes with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman struggling to process the murders while also showing concern with the fact that all the many Sanctuary confessional sessions may be exposed. In fact, King presents us with all three of them in confession mode, which only adds depth to the heroes. The story ends with the trouble far from resolved, and possibly getting deeper.

I like Heroes in Crisis. It's a fresh idea and King is a master at showing the mental and emotional struggles heroes can carry around with them. This series is proving to be a deep read, with (possibly) real DC universe consequences. In fact, I'm shocked that Wally West was a part of the Sanctuary murders. That poor character can't seem to catch a break lately. I'm also curious to know if this series will have an impact on the Doomsday Clock series and the eventual entrance of the Watchmen characters into the regular DC universe.

I highly recommend Heroes in Crisis #2. Tom King continues to write a series that is unlike any superhero comic currently (or formerly) available. Jump on now, because it's soon to be too far into the storyline for new readers to easily join in.

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Batman Vol. 7: The Wedding by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: It's the marriage of Batman and Catwoman! The wedding of the century is here in BATMAN VOL. 7, written by the critically acclaimed Tom King!

The day has finally arrived: the nuptials of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. But their road to wedded bliss won't be easy. With visitors from this time and beyond, the Bat and the Cat will have to undergo even more trials and tribulations before they walk down the aisle. 

Written by generational talent Tom King and featuring art by Mikel Janín, BATMAN VOL. 7 features one of the biggest milestones in DC history! Collects BATMAN #45-50.

I really enjoy Tom King's Batman, and have been fascinated by the storylines leading up to the wedding of Batman and Catwoman. It has been a terrific character study of what Batman/Bruce Wayne would be, and is, like when he is happy. This latest collection, Batman Vol. 7: The Wedding, is the culmination of a story that began 50 issues ago.

The first of two story arcs in this collection focuses on Booster Gold, a time-traveling superhero from the future who is often looked at as comic relief. With Batman getting married, Booster is thrilled to get him the perfect wedding gift - Booster saves Bruce Wayne's parents from being murdered. Unfortunately, Booster has a butterfly effect moment, and the present is no longer one he recognizes. Oh, all the major players are present, but they are very different from the regular timeline. This three part story looks at one consequence of Batman being happy, and it is definitely a bittersweet story. I also wonder if this storyline is connected to Booster Gold's role in the Heroes in Crisis series going on currently in the DC Universe.

The other story arc is a Joker story, because who is Batman without the Joker? The arc starts with a lot of action, but quickly turns into a very deep conversation between Catwoman/Selina Kyle and the Joker. Both characters are very philosophical about their past and engage in a fun give and take; however, the circumstances of this conversation are anything but normal. In the end, once again King brings the narrative back around to Batman's happiness.

The final chapter of this book isn't an arc; rather, its the wedding day itself. King employs a narrative that unique in comics, at least in my opinion; he tells the story through intercutting a letter from Bruce to Selina with a letter from Selina to Bruce. As the couple approaches the wedding, they talk to their own confidantes, but the driving forces are the letters. And the story builds to an unexpected, but not surprising, ending that again taps into the theme of Batman's happiness. I want to mention the artwork in this particular chapter as well. The main story art is interspersed with one page pin-ups of classic scenes or designs of Batman and Catwoman drawn by a who's who of artists. These pages contain the texts of the letters, and this contrast with the regular art is a nice piece of storytelling from King and the artists.

I love Tom King's Batman stories. They are getting better and better each time out. And Batman Vol. 7: The Wedding is no exception. What might have been a cheesy event story took on a depth that I wouldn't have imagined when the wedding idea was announced. At this point, I would highly recommend any Batman stories by Tom King, and would give The Wedding my highest recommendation. I can't wait to see where the story goes from here.

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

Books of Magic #1 by Kat Howard - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: From the SANDMAN UNIVERSE #1, it’s the return of Neil Gaiman’s magical morality fable in an all-new series written by Kat Howard (Roses and Rot, An Unkindness of Magicians) and drawn by Tom Fowler (DOOM PATROL)!

Timothy Hunter may be destined tobecome the most powerful magician in the universe, but he’s still a London teenager, and having magical abilities complicates things more than it helps. It’s not like he can use magic to pass his exams, stop being bullied or convince his cute friend to date him. And while Tim’s trying to live his life, there are cultists who want to kill him, believing his power will eventually corrupt him into becoming a merciless mage. Oh, and those are the good guys. Luckily, his new substitute teacher is more than she appears, and may be able to help Tim discover the mystery behind the Books of Magic…

First, a little background. In the 1990's, Neil Gaiman wrote a mini-series about Tim Hunter, a boy who was destined to become the most powerful magician in universe. Following the success of the mini-series, a full series (not written by Gaiman) about Tim and his adventures ran for awhile. I read the Gaiman series, but I'm not familiar with any of the storylines from the regular series. All that to say Kat Howard's new Books of Magic series seems to pick up where Gaiman's left off. Tim Hunter was taken on a journey by four magic/supernatural-type DC characters and shown who and what he was destined to become, with the decision left up to him.

We join Tim at school, where he is trying to impress a girl with his "magic". Unfortunately for him, he hasn't learned anything yet, and just ends up being picked on. When confronted in class by a teacher, Tim discovers there is more to her than he thought; she is aware of who he is and what he is destined to do. She even provides him with a book (hence, the books of magic) that will start him on his journey to become the greatest magician ever. But first, he has to figure out how to read the book, because it's pages will remain blank until he is "ready". And then, he'll have to track down the other books.

Books of Magic #1 was a quick read. There is a lot of set-up going on, and not much in the way of explanation. We see Tim at school and at home, and he doesn't really seem to fit in at either place. He is very preoccupied with learning magic, which is natural if you're a teenager predicted to become a powerful magician. He seems a bit mopey, but I'm hopeful that changes in future issues, as that can make for a very unsympathetic main character. Tim's teacher is a mysterious lady who seems to know something about magic, and there is some sort of group who appears to be concerned that Tim has the first Book of Magic in his possession. Howard uses all of this to lay a foundation for a fine opening chapter in Tim's story. There is even a mini-flashback to show what happened in Gaiman's original mini-series for those unfamiliar with the story.

Overall, I enjoyed Books of Magic #1 by Kat Howard. This book appears to be continuing a terrific story begun 20-ish years ago, which should please longtime fans, but it is a great jumping on point for new readers, as well. I was intrigued enough by this first issue to come back again next month and see what Howard has planned for Tim Hunter.

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Cover #2 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack - Comic Book Reveiw

From the publisher: Nazi-hunters? Escape artists? Some M.I.A. for decades? Exactly how long have comics creators been part of the intelligence community? Follow the latest recruit from the Comic-Con circuit as he falls in with this mysterious crowd. The secrets he uncovers about its legacy will shock and delight, well, just about everyone.

This whip-smart multimedia explosion by lifelong collaborators Brian Michael Bendis (writer of SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS) and David Mack bring the worlds of spies and comics together in a loving mash-up that celebrates both. Fans of David’s multimedia comics work are in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat.

Cover #2 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack picks up where the first issue left off. Max Field, comic book writer and artist, has been recruited to the CIA by the mysterious Julia. His cover? Comic book writer and artist. With comic book conventions popping up all over the world, and Max's status as a "star", his career makes a natural cover. Plus, who would suspect a comic book guy of being a spy? And that's what this issue is about.

Max is going to Turkey for his first international comic-con and along the way he is given his first mission: pass along a trinket related to his comic series to the president of Turkey, whom he has the opportunity to meet as a guest of honor at the con. Simple enough, right? Bendis has used a framing device for this story, though, so we see right away that things haven't worked out; Max is tied to a chair, being interrogated about why he is in Turkey. What happened, why, and how he was found out form the basis of this issue, and probably one or two more.

Bendis nails the character of Max. He is curious, yet often naive. He is patriotic, but not excessively committed. The whirlwind of emotions that we would all feel upon being recruited by the CIA are on display. In fact, Max stands in a kind of everyman, letting the reader experience the events along with Max. The plot is cool enough, and Bendis is letting the story breathe slowly, not rushing things and turning Cover into just another action book.

Mack's art is beautiful, as usual. His style lends itself to the mysterious air that surrounds the CIA and Max's mission(s).

I really enjoy Cover, and issue #2 was terrific. I love the concept and the execution, and it is perfect for readers looking for something different from the normal superhero comics. Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack definitely have a hit on their hands, and it's still not too late to jump on.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Don't Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile by Jacob Lambert - Book Review

From the publisher: While Batman is busy fighting crime on the mean streets of Gotham, it's up to us to keep an eye on the Batmobile. The only problem? The Penguin really, REALLY wants to drive it! Should we let him?

In this all-new story from the Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine, the best-selling children's book Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus is parodied with the heroes and villains from the world of DC Comics' Batman!

When my kids were little, I must have read Mo Willems's Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus one hundred times, and that's not including the two sequels we owned, as well. However, I never minded because the story was so cute and on point (the pigeon behaved like a toddler), that it was entertaining. It was short, with only a few words per page and some very simple illustrations. I liked it, and my kids liked it.

Enter Don't Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile by Jacob Lambert. First, I'm a huge Batman fan. Second, as I mentioned, I have fond memories of reading Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. So, when I had the opportunity to read and review this book, I jumped at the chance. The verdict? Don't Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile is FANTASTIC!

Lambert perfectly captures the tone and style of Willems's classic. The Penguin acts just like the pigeon, hence he acts like a toddler. The way Penguin asks to drive and the emotions that go with it echo perfectly the original book. The pacing is similar and many of the story beats are the same. Additionally, Lambert manages to slip in many familiar Batman characters (Commissioner Gordon, Joker, etc.) to add to the fun.

The art is also picture perfect. Tom Richmond has emulated Willems's style. The simple, almost child-like drawing make the characters very kid friendly and charming.

Don't Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile by Jacob Lambert is an absolute winner. More than just a spoof, it can be seen as a loving tribute to a children's classic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I'm a little sad that my kids are no longer young enough to ask me to read it to them nightly. I highly recommend this, particularly if you are a parent and Batman fan. This would also make a nice gift to young Batman fans.

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A sparse update

A short update on the past two weeks.

First, Lexi is getting to cheer for longer periods of time each week. Unfortunately, the team has lost it's last two game. Playoffs start this week.

Cami had her last rec league volleyball games, and her team split them. She finished getting all but one serve in and had some bumps and hits. She also had a good time. Club volleyball starts in January, I think. Her travel basketball team split their games today. Cami had a basket in each game. She also had a handful of rebounds and steals, and played nicely overall. Her next games are in two weeks.

Griffin's basketball gets started in a couple of weeks.

Until next week(-ish).

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Michael Cray #12 by Bryan Hill - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Michael Cray carries an alien intelligence in his mind. Diana Prince seeks an apocalypse. John Constantine wants to control them both. In Greece, death will find them all in the explosive conclusion to THE WILD STORM: MICHAEL CRAY. 

Michael Cray #12 brings us to the conclusion of Bryan Hill's series, and it is an actual conclusion, not just a set-up for another series. Over the second half of the series, Hill has been building to a confrontation between Cray and the duo of Constantine and Diana Prince. This issue delivers that confrontation, but not necessarily how the reader might have thought it would go. Cray has also had to deal with the alien that has developed a symbiotic relationship with him, constantly encouraging Cray to kill. We get to see a resolution to that conflict, as well.

I want to look at Michael Cray #12 as a single issue capping a series, and as a part of a full story (I'll try to distinguish, as that statement might seem redundant). As a single, concluding issue to a series, this issue was great. All of the characters had their story arcs resolved, the major crisis was confronted, and the story that spanned 12 issues was wrapped up satisfactorily. Hill stuck the landing (although to me, it was a bit anti-climactic).

As a part of whole story, it was okay, but that's more about the series as a whole. Overall, I wasn't really impressed with Michael Cray. It started with a lot of promise, with Cray confronting the thing in his head and a twisted DC hero in a sort of villain of the week format. Halfway through, the series took a right turn and became something else. Looking back on it, I don't really see how those early issues did anything for the overall story. The main arc (Cray vs. Constantine and Prince) could have been told without any knowledge of Cray's encounters with Flash, Green Arrow, or Aquaman. The early issues also played up Cray's association with I.O. and Trelane, but they quickly fell into the background, as did Cray's team. Even the alien in Cray's head didn't seem to be developed that much (I'm would expect backstory at some point). It just wasn't super engaging as a series, which is disappointing because I'm really enjoying The Wild Storm, the series Michael Cray was a spin-off from.

So overall, Michael Cray #12 by Bryan Hill was a fine conclusion to this series. However, as regards the series as a whole, I just give it an average rating. Michael Cray will have its fans, but I feel like there was more there that could have been done with the concept.

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Dreaming #2 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Merv Pumpkinhead ain’t happy.

Sure, Merv Pumpkinhead doesn’t exactly radiate happy at the best of times, but now? Right now a bunch of blank-faced strangers from between realities are taking local jobs; foreign criminals are profiteering at the realm’s expense; and the VIPs seem more interested in themselves than getting back to the “good old days.”

The Dreaming used to be somewhere a vegetable-headed guy could be proud to call home, y’know?

Fact is, Merv Pumpkinhead’s been pushed too far. It’s time for change. Right at the top.

The Dreaming #2 by Simon Spurrier dives deeper into the mystery of where Dream is and just who or what Dora is. In this issue, we follow everyone’s favorite grumpy maintenance man, Mervyn Pumpkinhead, or Merv as he is known. In the past, I’ve always liked Merv, because he acts as a sort of every-man for the reader, putting us on the ground floor of all the strange and wonderful happenings in the Dreaming, and that’s how he functions in this story, as well. When a particularly powerful (and stoned) lucid dreamer appears, Merv is forced to deal with all of the craziness, but things are getting harder with Dream missing. Full of his usual grumblings and complaints, Merv attempts to recruit some help from some of the other leader-types in the Dreaming: Lucien, Cain, Abel, and even Eve. However, they are all dealing with their own issues. When Merv notices Dora stealing food and distracting his workers, Merv has decided he has had enough. But, Dora isn’t quite what she seems. All of this chaos seems to push Mervyn Pumpkinhead into making a bad decision, the consequences of which will be felt for a while.

There was a lot going on in this issue. Lucien continues to cover for Dream, but he is also losing his ability to narrate. Cain and Abel are distracted by a giant void hole. The riverboat from the new House of Whispers shows up unexpectedly. Dora turns into a giant rage monster. Abel nearly reveals the “secret” of what Dora really is. And Merv is told to fix things, since that is his role.

I have to say that The Dreaming #2 has me thoroughly confused. I know there is a mystery going on, and that there is confusion on multiple levels for the residents of the Dreaming. I’m trusting that Spurrier is just laying out the groundwork for the story he is telling, and that eventually it’ll all make sense. But right now, it just seems like this issue only added to my lack of understanding. I’m not sure whether I should be focusing on why Dream left, where he is, and when he’ll return, or who and what Dora is. Hopefully Spurrier knows the answers and plans to reveal them in due time. I’m also hopeful that some mysteries are addressed sooner rather than later, as I don’t see myself following this series for the long haul if each mystery is answered by another mystery. I’m particularly thinking about Dream’s absence. This seems like something that needs to have resolution sometime during the first two years of this book, otherwise it becomes a distraction.

I would still recommend The Dreaming #2 by Simon Spurrier. The Sandman books are known for telling deep stories that last for multiple issues (in the case of The Sandman it was 75 issues). This is definitely a book for Sandman fans and Vertigo readers, but it may appeal to fans of fantasy stories or non-traditional comics.

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

Monday, October 1, 2018

Love Like That: 5 Relationship Secrets from Jesus By Les Parrott - Book Review

From the publisher: Loving Like Jesus Just Got Doable

In this inspiring, utterly practical new book, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Les Parrott writes a viable prescription for becoming more loving with family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. In his trademark approachable style, Dr. Parrott takes the latest findings from psychology and sociology and blends them with biblical teaching to reveal five transformative ways of relating to people demonstrated by Jesus himself: being mindful, approachable, grace-filled, bold, and self-giving. With questions to ponder, self-assessments, and insightful quotations, Love Like That will revolutionize every relationship in your life—especially the ones that matter most.

Dr. Les Parrott’s Love Like That: 5 Relationship Secrets from Jesus is a short but deep, book about how to love others better. In it, Dr. Parrott looks at the life and words of Jesus to present five different ways (Mindful, Approachable, Grace-full, Bold, and Self-Giving) we can love like Jesus.

First, the structure of each of the five chapters follows a similar pattern. Each chapter begins with a paraphrase of a Bible verse and an anecdote from Dr. Parrott based on the characteristic to be discussed. This is followed by examining how Jesus lived each characteristic.  Next is a definition of the characteristic, and a look at what keeps us from living each characteristic. There is a short personal survey helping the reader to be more aware of how close they are to living the characteristic (there is an online version as well, with the website given). The survey is followed by a look at how Jesus lived out the characteristic, and ideas about how we can live more like that. Each chapter ends with a To Ponder section that provides thought-provoking questions for the reader to think about. Sprinkled throughout the chapters are quotes and verses that pertain to each characteristic being discussed.

As for the content, I liked Love Like That. Dr. Parrott has the ability to take tough or complicated subjects and ideas and turn them into something that is easy to understand and digest. And while the basic ideas behind Love Like That aren’t that hard to grasp, seeing how they work in Jesus’s life and how to practically apply them in our lives can be hard to work through. Dr. Parrott has also taken five fairly simple ideas and done a deep dive into what they really mean. For example, in the chapter about being Bold, Dr. Parrott talks about pluralistic ignorance, a social phenomenon wherein “a group of people go along with something because they incorrectly assume everyone else understands and accepts it”. Jesus, on the other hand, would speak the truth in love boldly, even when it meant making people uncomfortable. Dr. Parrott goes on to explain how fear of rejection can prevent us from being bold, and then uses Jesus as an example of how to act and speak boldly. This seems like a very simple idea, and it is. But the practical application of this is challenging if we are honest with ourselves. Dr. Parrott is very transparent and open about himself, as well, and he calls himself as well as the readers to love more like Jesus.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Love Like That is a very good book with some simple but challenging ideas. Dr. Les Parrott has done a superb job in creating a blueprint to help us demonstrate love like Jesus in a country, and world, that could desperately use it.

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

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Pretty Good Week of Sports

Lexi was able to cheer a bit at her J.V. game, which was an improvement. Her legs continue to heal, and we're hopeful she'll be fully cleared soon.

Cami had a volleyball match, and her team split the games 1-1. She got all but one of her serves in and had some other good hits. Next week, her volleyball season finishes up. She also had two travel basketball games, and this week she won both. The first game was a close one, with Cami scoring 4 points, grabbing some rebounds and playing pretty good defense. She also took two free throws, but missed them both. The second game was a more decisive win, and again Cami had 4 points. This time, though, she had multiple assists and a steal or two. I also think she blocked a shot. It was a good day for her on the court. The next set of games is in two weeks.

Griffin had two football games this weekend. The first game was the last regular season game. The team picked up its first win, which was cool. However, Griffin was a madman on defense (I would've named him defensive player of the game). He forced a fumble to stop a drive inside the 10, he intercepted a pass and returned it about 10 yards, he knocked down a pass in the endzone, and twice he held his ground at corner and made a tackle to stop a reverse from going big (including one awesome solo tackle for a loss). He also tackled the QB for a loss/sack. On offense, he blocked well, including one crack-type block where he would've planted the kid if Griffin weighed more. The second game was the first round of the playoffs and was against the other team from our school. We ended up losing 2-0 on a safety with under two minutes left. It was disappointing, but the team, and great, showed a lot of improvement over the season. Griffin finished up with 3 tackles, including one on a sweep that saved a touchdown as part of a goalline stand. He also did a fine job on offense. I'm really proud of him, particularly his heart and effort. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to coach him. Next up for Griffin is basketball tryouts in about a month.

The high school lost a tough one and will look to bounce back this week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Heroes in Crisis #1 by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: There’s a new kind of crisis threatening the heroes of the DC Universe, ripped from real-world headlines by C.I.A.-operative-turned-comics-writer Tom King: How does a superhero handle PTSD? 

Welcome to Sanctuary, an ultra-secret hospital for superheroes who’ve been traumatized by crime-fighting and cosmic combat. But something goes inexplicably wrong when many patients wind up dead, with two well-known operators as the prime suspects: Harley Quinn and Booster Gold! It’s up to the DC Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to investigate—but can they get the job done in the face of overwhelming opposition?

Lately, everything Tom King has written has turned to gold. He writes intriguing stories with interesting characters, and often lends an emotional depth that the reader didn’t realize the character had (see: Batman, Vision, Mister Miracle, etc.). Heroes in Crisis #1 is his first (I think) event series, and it looks to be another entertaining and thought-provoking story.

So our story goes like this: At some point, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman established Sanctuary, a safehouse/hospital for heroes who need a place to go or someone to talk to when they have been affected by the battles they’ve been in and the consequences they’ve seen. As issue #1 opens, we have Booster Gold and Harley Quinn in a conversation about “something” happening, and just who is responsible. At the same time, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman come upon Sanctuary, where there has been a tragedy: a group of patients/heroes has been murdered. Who did it and why appears to be the focus of the series.

The idea of Sanctuary is fascinating to me. There have been a handful of writers who have approached superheroes from a realistic viewpoint (I’m thinking of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City in particular), but I don’t know that anyone has come at it like Tom King. To place Sanctuary at the center of a murder mystery just turns up the intensity, because Sanctuary is no longer a sanctuary for the heroes. King has also placed to very different characters at the center of the story: Booster Gold and Harley Quinn. Harley appears to be at her most psychotic in this issue, but Booster has always been sort of a joke as a hero (his team-ups with Blue Beetle were full of wacky antics). He doesn’t seem like a natural fit for this role, but King writes him with a deep weariness and melancholy that is far from the way Booster normally presents himself. I’m curious to see where King takes both Booster and Harley.

As far as the murder investigation, Batman is considered “The World’s Greatest Detective”, so I would anticipate his skills coming in handy. I’m not totally sure how Superman and Wonder Woman will fit, but I trust King to make it all work. I’m also hopeful to get some background on Sanctuary itself; when was it created? What prompted its creation? Are there other stories to tell about the patients who visited in the past? King also excels at writing complicated characters, and this series should have plenty of opportunities for him to use this skill.

Heroes in Crisis #1 by Tom King is a terrific opening to what promises to be one of the most fascinating stories of 2018. I’m all in on this series, and I’m extremely interested to see how it all works out. I highly recommend this book!

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

Doomsday Clock #7 by Geoff Johns - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The critically acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank continue the groundbreaking miniseries bringing the world of WATCHMEN to DC. In this chapter, the truth behind Dr. Manhattan’s curiosity with the DC Universe is revealed as the planet teeters on the edge of the Super-War.

Ah-ha! Doomsday Clock #7 by Geoff Johns pulls back the curtain a little bit, not a lot, but enough to reveal some things to the reader. There are a couple of focal points in this issue, which moves the story forward nicely.

First, we finally get some Dr. Manhattan information. At one point, we see him actively messing with DC continuity; however, he doesn’t explain why, yet. Second, Johnny Thunder and Saturn Girl meet up with Adrian Veidt and Rorschach. Finally, Mime and Marionette (with the Joker) get to spend some “quality time” with the Comedian. Eventually, all three threads intersect, which provides the most interesting part of the story. Veidt and Dr. Manhattan have a heart to heart, wherein we discover some of Veidt’s motivation and Dr. Manhattan’s present ideas.

I know that summary is rough, but there is so much going on, particularly with the dialogue, that a more detailed look would just be spoiling stuff. What I liked about this issue was Johns started to reveal more of the bigger picture, which is good because the series is past the halfway point. It’s time for the readers to be clued in on some of what is happening, or what happened in the past. Otherwise, the end will feel rushed and maybe a little hollow. And after all the buildup surrounding the mystery of “Who messed with the DC Universe” and the DC Rebirth event, a rushed or unsatisfying ending will feel cheap and empty. I want to come out of this series in awe at all the ends that are brought together to tell a fun and coherent story. Fortunately, based on my past experience with Geoff Johns stories, I’m trusting this to happen.

I still highly recommend Doomsday Clock #7, but this is not a good place to start. By now, you’ve either committed to the story or you’re waiting for it to conclude and be collected. I’m glad I’m getting it as it is released, but I wish I didn’t have to wait a month to discover what comes next.

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

Scarlet #2 by Brian Michael Bendis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Scarlet has declared war against those who would abuse their power against innocent people—and that war has shut down the city of Portland and brought the eyes of the world upon her. But as the revolution grows, will it slip through her fingers? Oh, and the president is on the phone. It’s another blistering chapter of a world we may one day find ourselves in from the creators that brought you the  Eisner Award-winning Daredevil and Iron Man.

Scarlet #2 by Brian Michael Bendis starts off right where issue #1 left us. A Navy Seal trooper from the US Government has parachuted into Portland with a message from the government: What are your demands? And that’s the question that this whole issue deals with.

To start out, we get a glimpse of how Portland was taken over by Scarlet and her group of followers. That was a nice peak into the backstory for those of us who didn’t read the previous series. From there, Scarlet is tasked with figuring if she wants to deal with the US Government, and if so, what exactly she hopes to get or achieve. We see her in a moment of quiet weakness, as well as summoning her courage and strength as she broadcasts to her followers/supporters throughout the country. There are also a couple of scenes with other members of Scarlet’s group that promise to have an impact as the story progresses.

I enjoyed this issue, even though it was mostly just talking. It was a great look inside Scarlet as a character, and Bendis excels at this. There is depth to Scarlet; she is not just an angry mob leader/terrorist or figurehead. Her reasons for fighting back are still warring inside her, and Bendis portrays that. She also has a chance to talk things out with a trusted friend, which provides clarity as she comes to a decision about bargaining with the government. There is definitely still room for character development, especially for the other close members of the group, but this issue did a fine job of adding layers to Scarlet.

This is an interesting series. It seems very pertinent to the conflicting ideas about America that exist in our country today, and might provide a nice vehicle to examine much of what is happening in our world. Scarlet is an intriguing character, one worth building a series around. However, I’d like to learn more about Scarlet’s fellow rebels, and maybe even what this revolt in Portland looks like to the rest of the country. I would recommend Brian Michael Bendis’s Scarlet #2. It is a good and thought-provoking read, and is still new enough that new readers should be able to jump aboard without too much of a problem.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

This Week Was A Little Less Busy

Due to parent/teacher conferences, Cami's volleyball games were canceled. She is also on the off week for travel basketball.

Lexi is getting closer to full health and was supporting her fellow cheerleaders at the JV game this week.

Griffin was our busy guy. His football team lost 14-7, but aside from giving up one big play, we played pretty well. Griffin didn't have any tackles this week, but he did force a fumble and nearly had another interception. On offense, we didn't really throw so he kept up his steady blocking. Next week is our last regular season game. In basketball, he had two games, both of which the team lost. However, Griffin did a nice job. He had several good shots which just didn't fall. He had a nice steal that he took coast to coast on the right side and attempted to shoot right handed (like he'd been taught). He then got his own rebound and shot again (a foul should have been called). He was all over the place on defense, playing with a lot of heart and hustle. The fall tournament is next week.

On a positive note, the varsity football team evened our record by picking up a big win.

All three kids have school basketball tryouts coming soon, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Batman: Damned #1 by Brian Azzarello - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The Joker is dead.

There is no doubt about that. But whether Batman finally snapped his scrawny neck or some other sinister force in Gotham City did the deed is still a mystery.

Problem is, Batman can’t remember…and the more he digs into this labyrinthian case, the more his mind starts to doubt everything he’s uncovering.

So who better to set him straight than…John Constantine? Problem with that is as much as John loves a good mystery, he loves messing with people’s heads even more. So with John’s “help,” the pair will delve into the sordid underbelly of Gotham as they race toward the mind-blowing truth of who murdered The Joker.

BATMAN: DAMNED is a bimonthly super-natural horror story told by two of comics’ greatest modern creators—a visceral thrill-ride that proudly puts the “black” in BLACK LABEL.

I love Batman and I've also enjoyed Brian Azzarello's books over the years, so when I saw Batman: Damned #1, I naturally took the opportunity to read it. I was intrigued by the premise: The Joker is dead, and Batman has no memory of how it happened or if he was involved. In the meantime, something mysterious or otherworldly is "haunting" Batman and he can't seem to get his mind straight. Enter John Constantine, the master of the supernatural, who tells Batman he can help him. However, with Constantine there always seems to be a catch. Mixing those two characters together has a lot of potential.

First, the artwork by Lee Bermejo fits this story perfectly. It is atmospheric and moody, and there are little hints of hallucinations around the edges. It really sets the stage for Azzarello's writing. And the writing is pretty good, too. Because this is a limited series, Azzarello drops us right into the story without any explanation, just some mysterious images and a narrator who can't seem to speak in anything but riddles and veiled references. We have to muddle our way through (not a bad thing), much like Batman has to do as he's faced with his past and the apparent death of the Joker. Constantine is his usual smart-mouthed self, always just a little untrustworthy.

I don't feel like Azzarello is trying to do anything new with Batman, in a character sense, but he's definitely putting him through his paces. My initial feeling is that this story is driven by the mystery of what happened to the Joker and whatever Batman's role in that was. And I'm alright with that. If I want more character-focused pieces, I can check out the mainstream Batman books. I'm curious enough about this story that I don't need any of that to keep me reading. In fact, the way this issue ends is enough to get me waiting for the next one.

Two things you should know about Batman: Damned, though. One, it is apparently a sequel (at least of sorts) to a book Azzarello and Bermejo wrote a number of years ago called The Joker. I'm fairly sure I read it, but I don't really remember much of it. It might be beneficial to those wanting some background on this story. Second, this book is the first from DC Comic's new Black Label, which will tell out of continuity stories that are more mature or horror-tinged in nature. If that's not really your thing, this book and imprint might not appeal to you.

I liked Batman: Damned #1 by Brian Azzarello. It was interesting, intriguing, and confusing in a good way. At this point, I'm curious about where he is going to take Batman and just how Constantine fits in with it all. I would recommend it to Batman fans who are looking for something a little different from the norm.

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

The Wild Storm #17 by Warren Ellis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Stephen Rainmaker was the most dangerous man John Lynch knew even before he was inducted into the Thunderbook program. So much so that nobody could quite define how Thunderbook changed him. On his trip around America to warn his old team, Lynch left Rainmaker until last— for a reason. This is the visit that Lynch always knew could kill him. Meanwhile, Marc Slayton is discovering new things about America, IO and Skywatch.

I still don't have any idea where Warren Ellis is taking us with The Wild Storm. The latest issue, #11, keeps the story moving along, but there are so many different conspiracies and moving parts that its hard to see how they are all going to come together. That said, its still a fun read and I'm committed to seeing it through.

So, this issue is basically divided into two parts. The first involves John Lynch making contact with the last of the Thunderbook experiments, a process that has been taking place over several issues. In this case, he meets up with Stephen Rainmaker, a man Lynch considers the most dangerous of them all. They basically dialogue for several pages, but what we learn could have ramifications on how this all wraps up. The second part of the issue is Jacob Marlowe and his group discussing what they believe is going on; however, they don't know that Angie Spica is listening in and she has a secret that could potentially shift the balance of power. This issue also lets the reader in on a little more information about the daemons and it has a very intriguing "post-credit" type scene.

For an action-filled series, The Wild Storm #11 was very light on action and heavy on talking, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Ellis is taking a slow approach, moving his pieces around very deliberately, sometimes even ignoring entire groups of people for several issues. I really enjoy this book, and this issue comes highly recommended. However, once again I would caution that new readers probably shouldn't start with this issue; track down back issues or collected editions. I'm looking forward to seeing how this all comes together over the next handful of issues.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

This Sports Update Was Late; Sorry

So over the past two weeks, we've had a bunch of events.

Lexi continues to heal from her stress fractures, and she was able to cheer for a bit in a game last week. She keeps pressing on and hanging in their.

Cami had three volleyball games, but didn't win any. However, she is still improving on both serving with an overhead, open hand and getting good hits and bumps when the ball is put in play. She also had two basketball games in travel league. The team lost both games, but they were winnable. Cami scored a total of 9 points and had multiple steals and rebounds. She went coast to coast on one of the steals, but the ball rolled out on the shot. She also plays aggressive defense. She is growing into an all-around good player. This travel league is every other week, so she will have next week off.

Griffin had two football games this week due to a weather make-up. His team lost both, but he played pretty well. In the first game, he had multiple solo tackles out at corner, stopping the jet sweep and several other plays to his side. In the second game, he had a nice tackle on a screen pass, defending a deep post and had a pick off a tipped ball in the end zone. He really had to concentrate to make the catch and was able to run it out of the end zone a little bit. He also had four travel league basketball games. The team went 1-3 in the games, and Griffin was his usual pesky self. He did have several rebounds and jump balls, plus took a couple of nice shots that just didn't fall. The highlights for me were the drive to the basket/lay-up combination that resulted in his first basket, and the final minute of a game where Griffin was told to guard a kid who was a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than him. Coach said he wanted to know what flavor of gum he was chewing (ala Hoosiers) and Griffin responded that he might not be able to see that high.

The high school varsity team lost both games, as we still are struggling with consistency and growing pains on both sides of the ball.

More action next week!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Michael Cray #11 by Bryan Hill - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: What is the price for keeping death inside your mind? For Michael Cray, it could be the lives of anyone who cares about him...and his sanity. As Michael is drawn closer to the truth of the consciousness living inside him, the brutal desires of Diana Prince threaten the entire world. After this long night in London, Michael Cray will either face the power inside of him, or succumb to its will.

Michael Cray #11 is the penultimate issue, but Bryan Hill is still dropping background information. In this issue, we see Cray get a little information about the alien in his head, and they come to an agreement of sorts. But the main focus of the story is the background of Diana Prince, or Wonder Woman as she is known in the regular DC Universe. And it's a heck of a story.

No longer is Prince a demi-god, made from clay on Themiscyra, the home of the Amazons. Nope. Her dad is trying to bring the "old gods" back, and whether they are real or not doesn't really matter. He tasks his daughter with doing everything she can to make it happen. It's in this capacity that we see several familiar DC faces, including Lex Luthor. We also learn how Diana and Constantine meet and join forces. As the issue comes to a close, Diana Prince, John Constantine, and Michael Cray are on a collision course, with the fate of the earth in the balance.

At this point, it doesn't do any good to recommend Michael Cray #11. You are either on board or have checked out. But, the story is building to an explosive climax and I'm eager to see if Bryan Hill can stick the landing. Hang on for the ride, because issue #12 should be big.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: It's the marriage of Batman and Catwoman! The wedding of the century is commemorated here in Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album, a special collector's item hardcover in designed packaging!

The day has finally arrived: the nuptials of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. But their road to wedded bliss won't be easy. With visitors from this time and beyond, the Bat and the Cat will have to undergo even more trials and tribulations before they walk down the aisle. 

The historic wedding of Batman and Catwoman is commemorated in this must-have collector's item, featuring never-before-seen photos from the wedding album, behind-the-scenes design sketches and variant covers. 

Written by the critically acclaimed Tom King, this hardcover celebrates one of the biggest milestones in DC history and features art by superstar artists Mikel Janín, David Finch, Joëlle Jones, Mitch Gerads, Lee Bermejo, Rafael Albuquerque, Neal Adams, Andy Kubert, Becky Cloonan, Ty Templeton, José Luis García-Lopez and more! Collects Batman #44 & #50.

First, I want to be clear: Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album by Tom King is not a collected edition of all the issues leading up to the wedding. I would guess that will be done in a different compilation. Rather, this book has a couple of stories that highlight the Batman/Catwoman relationship, hitting some important relationship high points, and then it finishes with Batman #50, the wedding issue.

The first story in this book focuses on Batman and Gotham Girl, with a juxtaposition of Batman and Catwoman. The issue is basically a discussion about why a person chooses to be a hero, and if they can make that choice and be happy in their private life as well. Bruce Wayne/Batman makes a realization that helps him make an important choice regarding Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

The next story focuses on Selina. In what appears to be Selina reverting to her old cat-burglar ways, she sneaks out from a night with Bruce, but winds up making a trip to a wedding dress store. As any married woman will tell you, picking the right dress is a very important step in getting married. I think Selina would concur.

The best part of these two stories is Tom King's focus on the personalities of Bruce and Selina. Instead of putting the "super" part in the forefront, we get a look at what an ordinary life might be like for these two. I have really enjoyed King's examination of Bruce and Selina as people, and not just Batman and Catwoman.

The final story is the wedding. There are multiple threads coming together here, and King makes the decision to tell this story through letters. It adds a personal dimension and puts us in the heads of Bruce and Selina. That adds weight to the story, allowing the reader to experience the emotions that the characters are feeling. It makes for a terrific read.

The rest of The Wedding Album (probably around a third of the book) is variant covers and pin-up tributes from a variety of artists. Each picture portrays Batman and/or Catwoman in a scene from their long history together, both as a couple and as adversaries. Much of the artwork is amazing, with quite a few being worthy of the poster treatment.

Overall, I'm a fan of Tom King's work on Batman. The Wedding Album is no different; the story of Batman and Catwoman getting to the altar is wonderful storytelling. However, I have one caution with this book. It is light on story and heavy on extras. Obviously, this book is for Batman fans, and I would recommend it as such. But, if you're not a fan of extras or want more story value for your dollar, I would hold off.

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

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Cover #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Years in the making, from the award-winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and multimedia sensation David Mack, comes a brand-new graphic novel experience. And it’s all kind of based on a true story. Sort of…

Deep in the American intelligence community, someone realizes that comic book creators, who travel all over the world to sell their wares, might make the perfect cover for operatives in the dangerous, topsy-turvy world of intelligence and counterintelligence…and that’s when all hell breaks loose. This is the story of the time the world of comics and the world of international spywork smashed together—with unexpected results!

Artist David Mack, follows his Emmy-nominated work on Jessica Jones and his critically acclaimed video work for Dashboard Confessional and Amanda Palmer, brings another completely unique vision to this driving comedic spy story that is also a beautiful Valentine to all those creators who sit alone and make beautiful stories.

Close to 20 years ago, artist/writer David Mack had a very interesting mini-series/ongoing series called Kabuki. It's hard to sum up in a few words, but it had a secret agency, Japanese assassins, and a deep storyline with beautiful art. In the meantime, one of Brian Michael Bendis's first books was called "Fire" and told the story of a college student recruited into the CIA (if I remember correctly). Combine these things together, and you have the general idea of Cover #1 by Bendis with art by Mack.

Presented as "based on a true story. Sort of...", Cover tells the story of a comic book artist who is recruited to work for the CIA. This premise alone was enough for me to give it a chance, but I'm a fan of most of Bendis's work, and loved Mack's Kabuki series and his art on Daredevil, among other things. The first issue introduces us to Max Field, the artist/creator and very reminiscent of David Mack himself, and Julia, a CIA analyst and recruiter. Their introduction at a comic convention leads to another "coincidental" encounter in London. It is there that Max and Julia have the conversation that sets the stage for the rest of the series going forward. And I for one am looking forward to seeing how this story develops.

As for the writing, Bendis just has a way with words, especially with this type of crime/noir/espionage book. There is a slow approach to the plot that allows all the players to find their place. Bendis is a master at characterization, and you can see the beginnings of that in Cover #1. He is also adept at putting in some humorous dialogue, and the character that seems to be based on him is pretty funny. The art is gorgeous and is typical Mack. It adds to the overall atmosphere of the story.

I highly recommend Cover #1 by Bendis and Mack. It hearkens back to some of the early work of both, but with the benefit of their many years of experience. Of the new Bendis books DC Comics is putting out under the Jinxworld imprint, this is my favorite so far. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the story goes. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

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

The Dreaming #1 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: From the upheaval of THE SANDMAN UNIVERSE #1 rises THE DREAMING—a kingdom in chaos.

There is a place where stories are born. Today its walls lie slashed and bleeding. Dream has abandoned his realm, and until he is found, its residents must protect its broken borders alone. But the most senior storysmiths are tormented by invasive secrets, the warden Lucien is doubting his own mind—and beyond the gates something horrific waits with tooth and talon.

 Only Dora, the monstress, finds opportunity in madness, stealing dreams for the highest bidder. But she has no idea how deep the danger lies.

Meanwhile, in Dream’s gallery, something new is growing...

The Dreaming #1 takes us back to the land of Dreams and the mythology of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. Simon Spurrier opens this first issue with Dream aka the Sandman aka Daniel missing from The Dreaming and the protective wards that keep out all manner of creatures failing. Lucien, Dream's trusty librarian, is left in charge but he is slowing forgetting things, both little and important.

While much of this story focuses around Lucien and Matthew the Raven's efforts to discover what is going on, the rest deals with Dora, a mysterious woman with wings coming out of her head. Dora is hurt and angry at Dream for "rescuing" her and then forgetting about her. Unlike most citizens of The Dreaming, Dora still has many fleshly needs and appetites. She also has the ability to step from realm to realm, or dream to dream. In the process of doing this, a demon discovers that the walls surrounding The Dreaming are weakening, and takes action.

I have long been a fan of Dream and his story, having read all of the Sandman series and subsequent graphic novels, etc. I've even read a chunk of the original The Dreaming series. I find this newest contribution to be right in line with the earlier stories. I believe Spurrier is setting up the current storyline, and maybe even future stories, with this opening issue. And while I'm currently as baffled about Dream's whereabouts as Lucien and the others (although Dream did make an appearance in an issue of Dark Nights: Metal, I think, or maybe it was in Doomsday Clock), I trust that all will be explained. There is always so much going on these stories, both above and below the surface.

I highly recommend Simon Spurrier's The Dreaming #1. Longtime Sandman fans will definitely want to pick this up, and it's a nice jumping on point for new readers, if they will be patient. I'm glad to have the chance to revisit these characters and look forward to Spurrier's story slowly rolling out.

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

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quick Family Sports Update

Griffin's football game was postponed from Saturday until Tuesday due to weather. The team lost, but did have some good plays. The highlight for Griffin was his first catch. He ran a Go route and got behind the CB for around an 8 yard gain (we aren't really a dynamic passing team). It was also the first downfield completion of the season. There is no game this weekend due to the Labor Day holiday, so we're back at it next week.

Cami had her 1st rec league volleyball match. Her team lost, but Cami played well. She really improved on her serving, getting most of her serves over by serving overhand, which was a struggle last season. She also had several nice hits and bumps. She has her next game(s) next week.

Lexi continues to be a cheerleading bystander due to stress fractures, but the latest update is that she could be seeing some improvement.

The varsity football team won last week and plays a ranked opponent this week.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Scarlet #1 by Brian Michael Bendis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: From the creative team that brought you Daredevil and Infamous Iron Man comes the latest explosive chapter in their creator-owned epic, which IGN called one of the best comics on the stands. SCARLET tells the story of a woman whose life has been ripped apart by police corruption. When she pushes back, she starts a chain reaction of events that will bring about the next American Revolution.

In this brand-new, new reader-friendly chapter, fully painted by Eisner Award-winning artist Alex Maleev, SCARLET tells the story of what happens when one young woman is pushed too far—and what one country will do to stop her.

Prior to reading Scarlet #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, I had heard of the original Scarlet series. I remember seeing the collected edition and may have picked it up, but I decided not to read it (I don’t remember why). With Bendis moving to DC and his back catalog of creator-owned series moving with him, the opportunity to revisit and restart some of these series providing readers like me another opportunity to see what they are all about. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m planning on trying out any of Bendis’s series that seem interesting to me, and that’s how I feel about Scarlet. The idea behind a modern revolution started by one woman fed up with the system is intriguing. Scarlet’s life was irrevocably changed (in the original series) because of police corruption, so she decided to fight back. As a result, she is now both a folk hero and a legitimate hero.

This issue starts with the city of Portland isolated from the rest of the country, with the power cut off and the bridges blown up. We are told the people living in the city are there for one of two reasons: either they support Scarlet or they didn’t get out in time. As Scarlet and her rebels engage the military, she continuously broadcasts what is going on to people around the country (I’m not real sure how she is able to do this). The issue ends with a surprise that sets the stage for a possible change in status quo.

Now that I’ve sampled Scarlet, I’m not sure whether I’ll continue or not. I really think that this is a series where knowing the story from the previous series is important. Bendis tries to catch the new readers up, but I still felt like there was a hole in my knowledge and understanding. It’s also hard to get a good sense of what kind of person Scarlet is when all I’ve got to go on is this first issue. The story is definitely relevant to our times, as many people believe that the government at many levels is corrupt. There is a lot of action packed into this issue, and as I mentioned, the ending could lead to some very interesting story choices.

Overall, I think Scarlet #1 by Brian Michael Bendis was okay. If you’ve read and enjoyed the original series, you’ll definitely want to pick it up. The same goes for fans of Bendis’s work in general. The last group that may enjoy Scarlet are readers that like comics that aren’t focused on powers and super heroics, but more grounded and gritty. Anyway, now is the time to check out all of the new/restarted titles from Bendis.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Batman: Kings of Fear #1 by Scott Peterson - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Legendary artist Kelley Jones makes his triumphant return to the Dark Knight in this explosive miniseries written by former BATMAN editor Scott Peterson! Batman’s been overseeing Gotham City for years now and isn’t sure how much of a difference he’s making. Doubt, fear and insecurity are starting to take over. And as all of those negative feelings set in the Scarecrow orchestrates a riot at Arkham Asylum to give the Dark Knight one of his greatest challenges yet! This six-issue miniseries will see the Scarecrow in a horrifying new way that you’ll have to read to believe. 

Having read Batman: Kings of Fear #1 by Scott Peterson, I have to say I was underwhelmed. There have been so many excellent, engaging Batman series available recently, that I was disappointed in reading this first issue.

First, a quick summary. Batman has a run-in with a psychotic and murderous Joker, resulting in his capture. Batman then takes Joker to Arkham, so Joker can be admitted/incarcerated. While there, Batman meets a new doctor, who opposes his treatment of the villains he encounters. Then, lots of villains attack Batman. And that's basically it.

I was looking forward to a new, scary take on Scarecrow; he was barely in the issue. I was looking to continue the current run of terrific Batman stories, or even a different view of the characters. I felt like I was reading something from the mid-80's, before comics began really telling engaging and creative stories again. This felt like more of the same ol', same ol', and not in a good way. At least in this first issue, Peterson didn't really break any new ground, he just retread over stories and character types that've been seen over and over. Angry doctor who disagrees with Batman's methods, check. Joker not doing anything creative, just pushing Batman's buttons, check. Villains break out of Arkham, check. The Batman bar has been set very high, particularly with the characterization of Batman and his rogue's gallery.

I don't really recommend Batman: Kings of Fear #1. Scott Peterson's story fell flat for me. There is still plenty of room for it to grow, and I may yet read the rest of the series, but I'll be waiting until the collected edition is out and I've seen some full series reviews. If you are a diehard Batman fan, I suppose you might like this, but this fan did not.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Unshakable Hope Promise Book (Student Edition) By Max Lucado

From the publisher: Get to know the God who keeps His promises. Unshakable Hope Promise Book, by bestselling author Max Lucado, explores the promises God made to His people throughout the Bible and how they are relevant to your life today. Get ready to discover the amazing plans and promises God has just for you!

What would you do tomorrow if you had no fear? How would you live your life if you knew that the promises in the Bible are for you? What if God Himself put promises there meant for you and has an amazing plan for your life?

In Unshakable Hope Promise Book: Student Edition, Max Lucado shows you how God has kept His promises in the lives of His people for all of history. Using examples from biblical characters and current examples from teens like you, Max will help you explore and understand the ways God has kept His promises then and how He keeps them now.

Embrace an exciting faith-filled life as you work through stories, Scripture, and journaling questions in Unshakable Hope Promise Book.

Max Lucado has a talent. He is able to take stories, lessons, guidance, etc. from the Bible and turn it into easily understandable bites. His latest book, Unshakable Hope, is not different. In fact, the book I'm reviewing is the Student Edition of Unshakable Hope, so Lucado has taken his ideas and presented them in a format that is perfect for 8-12 year olds (teens would probably enjoy this as well).  Unshakable Hope is based around the promises of God as recorded in the Bible, and Lucado excels at explaining them.

Unshakable Hope has 30 chapters (this makes for a perfect month-long devotional book study). Each chapter follows a similar structure. The chapter begins with a verse containing a promise, which compliments the title. Titles include: God Keeps His Promises; You Can Know God; God Takes Care of You; Jesus Calms Your Storms; Hope is the Anchor of Your Soul; and more. Next in each chapter is a two-page devotional explaining the promise for that particular chapter. Then there are multiple Bible verses that support the promise. After those, there are a handful of discussion questions, perfect for self-reflection or group study. Finally, there is a "My Promise to God" section, where the reader can commit to believing the promise of the chapter.

This is a great book and it is perfect for pre-teens and teens. The topics are timely and applicable, and Lucado makes the ideas easy to digest and understand. With each chapter designed to stand alone, this is a great book for a book study, or as an individual devotional book.

I have read quite a few Max Lucado books, and have enjoyed and learned from them all. Unshakable Hope (Student Edition) is just the latest in a long line of wonderful books designed to help readers draw nearer to and deepen their relationship with God. I would highly recommend this book.

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