Wednesday, May 30, 2018


From the publisher: Ra’s al Ghul returns to have a heart-to-heart with his grandson, Damian. Once upon a time, Ra’s thought Bruce Wayne would be the heir apparent to his criminal empire, but now that Batman has turned his back on Talia for good, Ra’s wants to know if Damian Wayne will honor his mother by stepping into the family business at last.

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Robin vs. Ra's Al Ghul #1 by Tim Seeley starts off a series that, as it's name suggests, leads up the wedding between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Selina Kyle/Catwoman. In this particular issue, Bruce's son Damian comes face to face with his grandfather, who challenges Damian to question his place in this new "family".

Seeley has presented an interesting take on superheroes and blended families. This issue starts off with Damian and Selina spending some time together, but it's clear Damian is worried about how his life will change with a "new" mom, as any preteen might. To further complicate matters, Damian's grandfather Ra's al Ghul is the head of the League of Assassins, and he ultimately wants Damian to follow him. One thing leads to another, and Damian is forced to confront his uncertainty and insecurities surrounding the upcoming wedding. The resolution is nice and fitting. Finally, there is an epilogue, as a longtime Batman character has made his interest, and lack of wedding invitation, known behind the scenes in recent issues.

I enjoyed this story. Seeley did a great job capturing how a boy with Damian's background might be feeling about his father getting married. It was a nice side story to the main wedding plot that is going on in the Batman titles. I like having the opportunity to focus on some of the important figures in Bruce Wayne's life, both good and bad.

I recommend Batman: Prelude to the Wedding - Robin vs. Ra's Al Ghul #1. Tim Seeley has done a nice job, and if future issues are like this, there should be a well-rounded look at how people feel about Bruce marrying Selina. This is definitely for Batman fans, and is a self-contained story.

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

THE MAN OF STEEL #1 by Brian Michael Bendis - Book Review

From the publisher: A new era begins for Superman as a threat from his earliest origins reemerges to destroy the Last Son of Krypton. As Superman struggles to come to grips with what has happened to his wife and son, he must also face a new threat that’s determined to burn down Metropolis!

The Man of Steel #1 is Brian Michael Bendis's first full length foray into writing Superman for DC, and it's an interesting start. There are two separate storylines going on here, in two separate times. In the one that takes place in the past, we meet an alien named Rogol Zaar, who makes an appeal to various bigwigs in the galaxy (for example, the Guardians of Oa). His appeal? That Kyrpton will lead to the destruction of many other planets/civilizations so they should be eradicated. The other, in the present, follows Superman as he begins an investigation into some suspicious fires, which appear to be caused by arson. He also meets a nice looking new fire chief named Melody Moore.

I think it is safe to assume that these two storylines will eventually merge, but how and why remains to be seen. Bendis has taken what has come before and looks to be moving things in a new direction. For instance, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are still married with a super-son, Jonathan. Clark and Lois still work for the Daily Planet, with Perry White running things. However, there seems to be a hint of things being unsettled, with Superman having an interesting reaction to meeting Chief Moore that I find a little off-putting.

I haven't followed the Superman comics too closely in recent years, but I've been a fan of most of Bendis's work at Marvel. I'm curious to see where he is going to take these very popular and familiar characters, because things are never dull and the status quo rarely stays the same when Bendis is involved.

I would recommend The Man of Steel #1 by Brian Michael Bendis to his fans and to Superman fans. Due to this being a weekly series, it should quickly be evident to readers just how Bendis is going to approach Superman. Based on his track record, I'm going to give this series a shot.

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

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #5 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: The Comedian lives! The Mime and Marionette loose in Gotham City! Rorschach is locked in the bowels of Arkham Asylum! Secrets will be revealed as the Doomsday Clock ticks on...

Doomsday Clock #5 by Geoff Johns threw a lot at the reader. The point of view jumped around and a bit more was revealed.

First, I found myself noticing a lot of parallels to Watchmen as I read this issue. Johns is definitely drawing comparisons between the world of Watchmen from the original series and the current DC continuity. Tensions are escalating around the world, particularly due to the Theory of the Supermen (or something akin to that). Many nations are raising their own superteams in response to the US's many heroes. Additionally, the rumor going around the world is that metahumans have been and are being created by the Dept. of Metahuman Affairs. This adds to the tension worldwide.

In the midst of everything, Johns has multiple stories going on. In what seems to be the main storyline, Ozymandias and Batman meet, while Ozymandias continues his quest for Dr. Manhattan. In addition to this, there are a couple of other threads going on. Punch and Judy go in search of the Joker. Johnny Thunder continues to search for his Thunderbolt and the rest of the JSA (I'm really curious as to how this will all play out). Rorschach and Saturn Girl team up. Black Adam opens Khandaq as a refuge for metahumans. And Lex Luthor finds himself being grilled by Lois Lane.

Johns has an awful lot of pieces in play, and right now his juggling act is working. I'm frustrated in that I really want to read the whole story now and don't want to wait for a new issue each month. I'm fully hooked and committed to the tale Johns is telling and I'm anxiously awaiting each new morsel. I also like how well he is telling a new story while honoring Watchmen. He has even woven in a story within a story with the Nathaniel Dusk movies that Johnny Thunder watches (think the Black Frigate story from Watchmen). He is also supplementing each issue with "articles" detailing some of the politics discussed in the main storyline.

I really enjoy Doomsday Clock and highly recommend it. Geoff Johns has done another excellent job with issue #5. However, we are quickly approaching (maybe already passed) the point where new readers either need to pick up the previous issues or wait for the collected edition. Doomsday Clock is not a story that lends itself to jumping in in the middle.

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

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Greatest Adventure by Bill Willingham - Book Review

From the publisher: In ancient days, Jason gathered the greatest heroes of his age and set out on the ultimate sea voyage. Now, in Tarzan's era, Jason Gridley does the same. The greatest heroes of the Edgar Rice Burroughs universe come together as the crew of the good ship Venture, with none other than Tarzan as their captain. It's a race this time, against a battleship of dark hearted villains, and the fate of many worlds hangs in the balance.

I'm a fan of Bill Willingham's work on Fables, so I jumped at the chance to read The Greatest Adventure. The plot summary sounded interesting, sort of a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but with Edgar Rice Burroughs's characters, of which there are a lot more than I was familiar with. However, I found The Greatest Adventure just okay.

First of all, there were a ton of characters. In addition to Tarzan, Jane, and John Carter, there were about 20 other characters, none of which I was really familiar. There may have been some nods and winks from Willingham to his readers that I didn't pick up on, but this lack of familiarity prevented me from getting very engaged with the story. And honestly, it seemed like Willingham didn't really know what to do with all of the characters either, as several encountered challenges along the way that left them by the wayside with not much said about them the rest of the story. At no point was I overly concerned about any of the characters.

Second, the plot was kind of basic: Bad guy works with aliens to create a weapon to conquer people/planets/etc. The villains weren't very well rounded, more stock characters. The group of heroes encountered many challenges to their mission, including a journey to the center of the earth, a land that time forgot, and a visit to Mars. As far as I'm concerned, the action on Mars was the best part of the story, but that might just be because I'm more familiar with the John Carter stories. Speaking of being familiar, there was very little jungle adventure, which seems strange when Tarzan is a main character. I didn't find myself engaging with much of the plot, and had to push myself through a large chunk of the story.

I really appreciate how Willingham told a deep and far-reaching story with a boatload of familiar characters in his Fables series. Unfortunately, The Greatest Adventure just didn't work for me. I'm going to chalk it up to not really knowing many of the characters. It's possible that Willingham was trying to write in the style of the early 20th century pulp writers as well, and if that's the case, I get it, I just didn't care for it.

If Willingham tries something in this vein again, I'd certainly give it a shot. However, I can't really give a high recommendation for The Greatest Adventure. If you're a Burroughs fan, you should give this a shot. Willingham fans might want to check it out as well, but it wasn't really my favorite.

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

County Track Meet

Just a quick note on the end of the track season. Lexi competed in the county track meet in the long jump and the 4x400m relay. The relay wasn't real successful. However, Lexi won the long jump by jumping 14' 1/2". This was also her personal best. It was a great way to finish her middle school track career, and we're all really proud of her.

Our competitive seasons are over, but with summer comes camps, workouts, etc. Fall seasons will be here before we know it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

THE WILD STORM #13 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: John Lynch, once the director of IO, the secret deep-state agency that runs Earth, is on the road. His darkest project, Thunderbook, has been uncovered, and he needs to warn the principals, now scattered across America. Hiding. Because they were his most successful experiments. And none of them are completely human anymore.

Warren Ellis starts the second year of The Wild Storm with issue #13. John Lynch steps to the forefront for much of this issue, as he attempts to track down former IO agents that were experimented on as part of Thunderbook. Just what Thunderbook is, we are beginning to find out, and it looks like this might have some long-term ramifications in The Wild Storm universe (and maybe a direct tie-in to the Michael Cray series?). Meanwhile, Henry Bendix is looking to take the fight to IO, and IO is going after Skywatch. This might be the first step towards an all-out secret agency war.

As I’ve been reading The Wild Storm, I’ve been trying to place the current characters with what I remember from their original 1990’s incarnations. Some of the names have been very familiar (Cole Cash, Jack Hawksmoor, Jenny Sparks), while others are floating on the edge of my memory. Regardless, I’m enjoying Ellis’s new take on the concept. He keeps dropping in new faces and has a precarious balancing act going on, where he is juggling multiple people, agencies, and storylines. I’m generally able to keep tabs on what is happening, but there are times when I feel like I’m trying to look at a puzzle that’s still missing a bunch of pieces. I have a feeling that when this Wild Storm story (or arc) is through, a rereading might be necessary to grasp everything that Ellis has thrown in. And that’s not a bad thing; Ellis is well-known for his high-concept ideas and twisting storylines. In the meantime, I’m going to keep reading The Wild Storm and doing my best to make sense of each issue.

I recommend The Wild Storm #13 by Warren Ellis. The second year is off to a great start, but this is not a comic series that lends itself to new readers very easily. If you’re interested in the story, grab the first two compilations (the second comes out next week) and join in the fun.

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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Track is Wrapping Up

The kids had two meets this past week. Cami ran her usual 800m and 4x400m relay, and long jumped. She set a personal record (PR) in the 800m. Griffin ran the 100m (once), 200m (twice), 4x100m (twice), and long jumped (once). During the last meet he set his PR in both the 100m and the long jump. Lexi continued her fine run of finishes, winning long jump twice, 4x400m relay twice, and she ran and finished second in the open 400m.

This week is the county track meet, where only Lexi will be competing. Schools are only allowed to enter their two best in each event. As far as the twins go, I'm really proud of their effort and accomplishments this season, and I think they had a good time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #8 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: In the extra-sized finale of Sean Murphy’s top-selling miniseries, Jack Napier’s suspicious seduction of Gotham City comes to its twisted conclusion! With the city on the verge of becoming an icy tomb for the GTO, Batgirl makes a crucial assist and Gordon is forced to reevaluate his judgment of Batman to secure the greater good. As the true Joker’s return becomes imminent, Harley seeks vengeance and reckons with the bleak future that looms for her loved ones.

Sean Murphy's Batman: White Knight series has been an interesting and unique take on Batman and Joker. Issue #8 wraps up the series in fine fashion, bringing the main storyline to a close, but leaving just a few side threads undone for possible sequels.

As Batman and Jack Napier/Joker lead the rest of the heroes and GTO group against Neo Joker and her gang, things hit the boiling point. Batman is determined to save Gotham and Neo Joker is determined to force the Joker to surface from Jack's subconscious. When he does, havoc breaks loose. Plans fall apart and some sacrifices are necessary in order to reverse the deep freeze Gotham is under and to catch Neo Joker.

I've enjoyed Murphy's characterization in this series. He does a nice job taking familiar characters and putting a unique spin on them, and adding layers and depth. Seeing Joker in his Jack Napier persona was pretty cool, and he actually became a sympathetic character. Harley Quinn was also well developed. Rather than portray her as a crazy support character or even like the more mainstream version popular now, Murphy focuses on Harley's love for Jack Napier and her intelligence. There were also some interesting character beats for Bruce Wayne, and I'm interested in seeing if/how Murphy moves his story forward in the future.

Overall, I highly recommend Batman: White Knight #8 by Sean Murphy. It's a great ending to a series that I would also give a high recommendation to. Batman fans should definitely check this series out, and it would appeal to readers who are looking for something outside the current DC continuity.

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

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #7 by Bryan Hill - Book Review

From the publisher: The organization he works for doesn’t trust him. The thing in his brain wants to transform him. Sanity is leaving him. Michael Cray is losing everything. The only hope Michael has to reclaim his mind and his life may come from his next target: a brilliant scientist in London who’s equal parts Nikola Tesla, Hannibal Lecter and Aleister Crowley…Dr. John Constantine! A man obsessed with death, the occult and the darkest powers of the universe, Constantine could hold the power to free Michael of the consciousness inside him—but the price is steep! Michael Cray doesn’t believe in magic, but he’s about to discover how much magic believes in him.

In Michael Cray #7, Bryan Hitch starts to move the story in different direction. The previous few issues have focused on Cray fighting and killing various evil, distorted versions of DC heroes as part of his job for IO. This issue starts the same, as he is tasked with tracking down John Constantine. However, Constantine doesn’t seem nearly as demented as the others Cray has killed, aside from his use of magick and the sacrifices that it sometimes requires. In fact, Constantine is creating a clean, renewable energy source using his magick, and is working for an as-yet-unidentified person/group. Cray has a run-in with Constantine’s companion, Dion Fortune, that leads him to question just what is going on in his head and whether Constantine just might be able to help him with his alien problem.

I had begun to question whether or not I wanted to keep reading Michael Cray, due to its repetitive nature and the fact that the story didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Additionally, I’m under the impression that this is a 12 issue series, so things needed to get moving soon. With issue #7, Hitch changes the usual status, or at least seems to be changing it. Unlike the others, Constantine seems to know about Cray’s condition and even offers his help. Cray, who seems desperate to rid himself of the alien presence, appears to actually be considering Constantine’s offer. This could be a turning point for both Michael Cray the character and Michael Cray the series, and I’m convinced and interested enough to see what happens.

I recommend Michael Cray #7 by Bryan Hitch. Aside from being for current fans of the series, this issue could also work as a jumping on point for new readers. If you like your heroes morally ambiguous with a dash of sci-fi, check out Michael Cray.

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

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Track Report

The kids had two more track meets this past week (Griffin only got to compete in one because there was a 3-way meet and we have too many boys). Griffin won his 100m heat and finished 2nd in his 200m heat. He also competed in the long jump and 4x100m relay. Cami finished 5th and 7th in the 800m and is learning how to run this race with some strategy. She also competed in the long jump and 4x400m relay. Lexi won the long jump at both meets (she set a personal record with 13' 9") and her 4x400m relay team also won both times. The boys team won both meets and the girls team won one and finished second by 2 pts (I think) in the other.

This week, the kids have two more meets.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

DC NATION #0 by Brian Michael Bendis, Joshua Williamson, James T Tynion IV, Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: Just in time for Free Comic Book Day, this special comic priced at just $0.25 US features three brand-new stories from a lineup of superstar talent—and each tale serves as a prelude to some of the biggest DC events of 2018!

First, find out how The Joker reacts when he discovers Catwoman has turned her back on crime and plans to marry his archnemesis. Can the Clown Prince of Crime stand to see Batman happy? Writer Tom King and artist Clay Mann set up the events that lead to BATMAN #50!

Then, DARK NIGHTS: METAL shook the DC Universe to its deepest foundations—now it’s time to rejoin legendary writer Scott Snyder, along with all-star artist Jorge Jimenez and co-writers James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson, for the prelude to JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE! Discover what universe-shattering mysteries have emerged from the most wondrous and chaotic corners of the cosmos to hunt the Justice League in DC’s summer blockbuster event!

And get your first glimpse at Superman’s new world in this exclusive preview of the upcoming six-issue miniseries MAN OF STEEL, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by José Luis García-López. With Truth, Justice and the American Way all under attack, both Superman and Clark Kent find there’s never been a more important time to stand up for what they believe in.

DC Nation #0 functions as a preview of upcoming storylines for three DC Comics: Batman, Justice League: No Justice, and Man of Steel.

The story I am most interested in is the upcoming wedding between Batman and Catwoman in Batman #50. This preview story focuses on the Joker and his reaction to the wedding. As Joker waits for his invitation, the story takes a twist in typical Joker fashion. Tom King has done a fine job with this story, giving readers a different take on the pending nuptials.

Justice League: No Justice spins out of the events of Dark Nights: Metal. The wall between the known universe and the unknown has been broken, and unspeakable creatures are preparing to enter our universe. It's up to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League to stop them. But new threats require a new approach, and the heroes have decided to create teams that wouldn't be expected, including having several villains as teammates. Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson lead this new take on an old favorite.

Finally, Man of Steel is Brian Michael Bendis's foray into DC Comics. This preview gives us a peek into Superman/Clark Kent's new status quo. And everyone's wondering, Where is Lois Lane? Check out Man of Steel to find out.

Overall, DC Nation #0 accomplishes what it sets out to do; it gives the reader a glimpse into where some of DC's biggest heroes are headed in 2018. The standout for me is Tom King's Batman, but this book will appeal to any fans of DC's mainstream titles.

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement (Rebirth) by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: Author Tom King pens the fifth volume of his critically acclaimed, best-selling Batman series in BATMAN VOL. 5!

Following Catwoman's answer to his marriage proposal, Batman leaves Gotham City on a quest of renewal and redemption in the desert. As he travels and fights, he encounters members of his family--each disturbed by Batman's journey, each ready to stand in his way and push back against his stubborn determination to evolve into something better than a superhero.

Has the Caped Crusader passed the point of no return? He's going to need a little help from his friends, but this help comes with a downside: Batman's true intentions will be exposed. 

This spectacular new volume further explores a key question throughout Tom King's entire Batman run: Can Batman be happy? Collects BATMAN #33-37.

Tom King's run on Batman has been terrific, and his latest, Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement, is no exception. Over the past year, King had Bruce Wayne/Batman deciding to be "happy" which led him to propose to Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Then Bruce felt like he needed to confess his biggest secret to Selina (the story in Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles). This volume picks up with Bruce and Selina journeying to a no-man's land country to visit Talia al Ghul (Batman's ex). This purpose for this journey is to see Holly Robinson, a former friend of Selina's, whom Selina took the blame for 237 murders for. Selina would like to be cleared of this so she is no longer a wanted murderer. King also takes some time to focus on how Bruce's proposal is looked at by Alfred and the various current and former Robins.

King tells two additional stories, as well. This first is a fun dialogue between Selina and Bruce, and also between Clark Kent/Superman and his wife, Lois Lane; the conversation concerns Bruce's engagement. This leads to an entertaining double-date. The final story hits on how Bruce and Selina met and their initial flirting, with a heartfelt postscript touching on their future.

Tom King has quickly become one of my favorite Batman writers. There is just something about how he writes that imbues the characters with heart and soul. He seems to have an excellent grasp on Batman's humanity, and how relationships with others, even for a loner like Bruce, make us whole. He has also taken a huge step with his story of Bruce and Selina being engaged. His Catwoman is a compliment to Bruce, and not at all a lesser figure. There is a balance between the two that seems to make each better than they are on their own. I'm really looking forward to following this story to see how it develops. King also does a great job with the supporting characters. In this particular volume that included the Robins, Superman, and Lois. All were well-rounded and three-dimensional characters.

This was an awesome book, and I highly recommend Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement by Tom King. While it is part of a continuing story, it can also be read on its own. It is a must for Batman fans, and I'd suggest it to readers looking for a sample of King's writing, as well.

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