Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Doomsday Clock #10 by Geoff Johns - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: This stunning issue of the critically acclaimed hit maxiseries reveals the secrets behind Dr. Manhattan and his connection to the DC Universe.

Finally! We finally get the backstory. Geoff Johns uses Doomsday Clock #10 to finally reveal Dr. Manhattan's backstory regarding the DC Rebirth universe, and apparently the previous ones as well. And it was awesome! This story has been slowing unfolding letting various storylines come and go, but issue #9 brought all the heroes together against Manhattan for a battle on the moon. The aftermath of that fight left Manhattan waiting for Superman, and this issue details Manhattan's wait. While he is waiting, he narrates his journey to the Rebirth universe and what he has learned, seen, and done.




Without wanting to spoil too much, I'm going to summarize. Apparently, Superman is the lynch pin of the DC multiverse, or at least of the central earth/main universe. Each reboot or event that DC has had over the years has affected things (obviously). Manhattan wants to see what happens when he does something to the past, and that is how the New 52 reboot happens. Now, he is left waiting for the fallout from his actions.


Johns is a great writer, and has transformed and reinvigorated quite a few DC heroes. He also seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of DC's history, along with a reverence for it. And I have to say, what he's done with that knowledge and reverence, the Watchmen characters, and an opportunity to clean up a mistake (I'm looking at you, New 52) is nothing short of spectacular. I wasn't sure where he was going with all the many storylines in Doomsday Clock, but I was willing to trust him and go along for the ride. I'm glad I did, too, because issue #10 was totally worth it. The depth of the effort and intelligence that is on display is amazing, as only that could have tied everything from DC's past together so neatly and logically.

I HIGHLY recommmend Doomsday Clock #10 by Geoff Johns. I'm not sure that any prior knowledge of the series is necessary to understand it, but longtime DC Comics fans will surely get more out of it. Johns's writing and plotting is simple amazing, and I would not be surprised if this is the type of issue that wins awards, particularly the Eisner. I cannot wait to see how the final two issues play out, but they will need to reach very high to pass the bar that Johns set with this issue.

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

Heroes in Crisis #9 by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The most-talked-about miniseries of the year reaches its stunning finale! The mystery behind the murders at Sanctuary is solved, but the mind behind it is one the heroes never expected. With their deepest secrets exposed, the Trinity has to consider how to carry on. Should the tragedy cause them to redouble their efforts to help their hurting comrades, or will they need to close up shop? The answers will be found in the ashes of this final showdown, and the fates of Booster Gold, Harley Quinn and the rest hang in the balance.

Heroes in Crisis #9 wraps up Tom King's look at what happens when superheroes need mental health help and something goes wrong. It's a different type of story than the usual "crisis" heroes face, as it focuses on a crisis on a much smaller and personal scale.

Wally West, the Flash (or at least one of them), was responsible for the deaths of multiple heroes. In a moment of weakness, he lost control, and now his solution to the problem is to travel forward in time and take the life of his future self, in order to cover things up and make amends for his wrongs. Anyway, the plan makes sense, but what he didn't count on was a group of colleagues (sort of?) time traveling to stop him. All of that makes this seem like a very action packed issue, but the real heroism is in the help Booster Gold and Harley Quinn give Wally, particularly in sharing their failures and mistakes and encouraging Wally to persevere. They come up with a solution that works, and everybody begins the long journey forward. In addition, Sanctuary is reopened and legitimized thanks to its exposure earlier in the series.

I think the most interesting consequence of this book is what happens to Wally going forward. I'm not sure anyone was more affected by the events of DC's various reboots over the years than Wally West. He has lost so much, including his own existence, that there has to be trauma to be dealt with. Additionally, much like Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Wally has always been a symbol of hope, often having funny quips when he is fighting villains. I can't really see that happening going forward. Wally is also a major part of the Doomsday Clock series, yet another event that seeks to explain the events of DC's last two resets, The New 52 and Rebirth. I'm curious to see how this affects him as well.

I liked Heroes in Crisis. It was an emotional series, and the personal nature of the story was a change from the normal big events. It reminded me a bit of the famous Astro City # 1/2 from Kurt Busiek. It's nice to see stories touch on the emotional effects of all the superheroing from time to time. It grounds the more fantastic elements of these stories and adds some gravitas to characters and situations that sometimes seem to lack it. King has shown an ability to write these kinds of stories well.

I would highly recommend Heroes in Crisis by Tom King. This is a wonderful, impactful story and would probably be even better when it is collected and can be read in one sitting. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

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

The Wild Storm #23 by Warren Ellis - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The storm of accidents, deaths, mistakes, confusion and anger has led to this. Miles Craven has lost his grip and Henry Bendix has lost his mind. Angie Spica’s journey is ending. And so is life on Earth.

So The Wild Storm #23 by Warren Ellis is more of the same. The last couple of issues have been Jenny Sparks and her crew (The Authority?) battling Skywatch. More of that happens in this issue. However, some of the other members get in on the action. John Hawksmoor has a nice role, as does the Doctor. Meanwhile, both Skywatch and IO seem to want to go the scorched earth route in order to defeat each other. In fact, Skywatch triggers their experiments, giving them orders to go to New York City and destroy IO and anything in their way. Oh yeah, Apollo, Midnighter, and Hawksmoor are all Skywatch experiments, so that's interesting.

Overall, Ellis is beginning to bring most of his story threads together in the hopes that some sort of resolution to this series will happen, since the next issue is the last one. I'm having fun reading The Wild Storm because Ellis is outrageous and his ideas and characters just seem to get bigger and wilder. This issue continues that tradition.

I highly recommend The Wild Storm #23 by Warren Ellis. It's a blast! However, this is NOT a good starting point. If you're not up to speed, you might as well grab the collected editions. As for me, I'm looking forward to seeing if and how Ellis sticks the landing.

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Middlewest Book One by Skottie Young - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The lands between the coasts are vast, slow to change, and full of hidden magics. The town of Farmington has been destroyed sending an unwitting adventurer and his vulpine companion in search of answers to quell a coming storm that speaks his name. From author SKOTTIE YOUNG (I HATE FAIRYLAND, DEADPOOL) and artist JORGE CORONA (NO. 1 WITH A BULLET, FEATHERS, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA: OLD MAN JACK) comes the tale of Abel, a young boy who must navigate an old land in order to reconcile his family's history.

Collects MIDDLEWEST #1-6

Middlewest Vol. 1 by Skottie Young is a really good comic. It's the story of Abel, a 12-14 year old boy, who ends up on the run across the country, while accompanied by a talking fox. Along the way, he meets several interesting characters, including a hobo/wizard (?), an orphan/carnie and her robot friend, and a mind-reader/mystic. All the while, he is just trying to escape his abusive father and control a mysterious power that is growing within him.

First, the characters of Middlewest are terrific. Abel is a well-drawn protagonist, with all of the angst, insecurity, and bravado of a young teenager. He is at times supremely confident and at others, very unsure of himself. His power manifests when he gets angry or upset, and it frightens him. His quest of self-discovery is the backbone of this book, and there appears to be a lot of room for growth. Abel's father is depicted as an angry, abusive man who's wife left him. Some backstory shows that there is more to him than that, but it's his own display of power that sends Abel off on his own. Fox is the talking fox that seems to be Abel's only friend and companion on his journey; he also functions a bit as Abel's conscience (there's a funny Jiminy Cricket joke in the first couple of issues).

While reading Middlewest, I was reminded of several other graphic novels: The Amulet series, Bone, and I Kill Giants. The publisher suggested Return to Oz as a similar book. While none are exact, all of these books feature a young(ish) protagonist(s) in a strange land that is just familiar enough, but not quite like our world. They are pitted against unusual and often frightening circumstances. Several of these books also have the protagonist dealing with issues relating to their parents or family, or a great tragedy. Middlewest has all of this to some extent. And the depth Skottie Young has developed in just the first story arc is great.

I really enjoyed reading Middlewest Vol. 1. Skottie Young has the makings of a classic on his hands, and I can see this book ending up in middle school/high school libraries. Pick up a copy and get in on the ground floor.

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

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Devotions from the Beach - Book Review

From the publisher: Life is better at the beach—but you already knew that. Dig your feet in the sand, and let the water cool your toes as you escape in the beauty of God's seaside wonders. The gorgeous photography and 100 devotions in Devotions from the Beach will take you right to the water's edge, where God's voice is often clearer than ever.

Sand on warm skin, salty breeze in your hair, the crashing of waves in the distance, saltwater taffy, and a pace that takes its time . . . There's nothing quite like the warmth and relaxation of the beach, away from the stresses of everyday life. Devotions from the Beach is the winding road that takes you to a front-row seat to God's majestic creation. Breathe deeply and open your heart and soul to the One who shaped it all.

Devotions from the Beach includes beautiful four-color photography on every spread and 100 devotions that explore life's parallels with the elements of the shore—to help you see God, find hope, draw strength, and rest in the comfort of His arms throughout your day.

Bring the best parts of beach life to each day with Devotions from the Beach. It's the perfect gift for every beach lover or a lovely way to keep a little sand between your toes every day of the year.

Every woman will want a copy of this book as a gentle reminder of days at the beach and the call of God's love.

Devotions from the Beach is a nice devotional book. There isn't a lot I can add that the publisher's description doesn't cover, but I'll try.

This book is roughly the size of a gift book (maybe a little bigger). It has 100 devotions in it. Each devotion is beach/ocean themed and starts with a Bible verse to focus on. The verse is followed by a not-quite one page devotion (for lack of a better word) that uses a theme from beach life to then connect to the verse and God's message for us. This devotion is wrapped up with a short prayer or thought to help the reader in focusing on the lesson contained in the devotion. Each devotion is accompanied by a beautiful picture on the facing page that corresponds to the theme of the lesson. Topics include Buoyed by Grace, Shoreline Surprises, Ties That Bind, Sea Oats, The Path Less Taken, and others of that nature.

As a beach lover and a Christian, I really like this book. I appreciate the length of the devotions, which makes them easy to read, digest, and apply to my life. I enjoyed the connection to the beach, which is one of my favorite places to be. I also thought the pictures were amazing! The photography by itself would make this a terrific book. I will say that the publisher's description mentions that "every woman will want a copy of this book". In the devotions that I read, I didn't see anything that made this a gender specific book or that touched on women's issues as opposed to men's issues. I think it would be great for any Christian who loves the beach.

I would highly recommend Devotions from the Beach for anyone looking for a beach themed devotional book. It's an easy way to combine two great loves: God and the beach.

I received a review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's BookLook Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Stranger Things: The Other Side by Jody Houser, Stefano Martino, Keith Champagne - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The hit Netflix series from the Duffer Brothers is now a spine-tingling comic that recounts Will Beyers’ harrowing survival in the treacherous Upside Down!

When Will Byers finds himself in the Upside Down, an impossible dark parody of his own world, he’s understandably frightened. But that’s nothing compared with the fear that takes hold when he realizes what’s in that world with him!

Follow Will’s struggle through the season one events of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things! Written by Jody Houser (Mother Panic, Faith) and illustrated by Stefano Martino (Doctor Who, Catwoman)

I'm a recent fan of Stranger Things, having only seen Season 1, but I was drawn in immediately. So, when I saw the opportunity to read and review a comic story in the same universe, I jumped at it. Jody Houser has written Stranger Things: The Other Side, which tells the story of of Will Byers's adventure (probably not the right word for it) in the Upside Down. This is a companion tale to what was happening in Season 1, and presents Will's view of events.

For those not familiar, Stranger Things gets going when a shadowy governmental facility accidentally opens a hole between our world and another dimension (it's referred to as the Upside Down). On his way home from a Dungeon and Dragons game with his friends, Will slips through the hole, where he is trapped for the majority of the season. In fact, the main plot thread is Will's friends trying to find and rescue him. The tv show doesn't spend a lot of time with Will, which left room for this story.

The Other Side follows Will as he tries to figure out what happened, how to make contact with the real world, and how to fight and/or escape a monster known as the Demogorgon. There isn't a lot of room for depth here, as Will is sort of the damsel-in-distress of the story, but Houser does a fine job tying the two stories together. There are several references to "Will the Wise", Byers's D&D character, and the game he and his friends were playing. It's also interesting to see the process by which Will communicates with his mom, Joyce. Additionally, Houser provides several other nods to events from the show, almost Easter eggs for those who've seen it and pay attention to the little details.

Overall, Stranger Things: The Other Side by Jody Houser is a fun read that is excellent at what it does; support the main story of the tv show. Houser doesn't break any new ground, but does succeed in telling a story that is canon (I believe) in the Stranger Things universe. I would say that anyone could read this story; however, it is definitely intended for those who have seen, and are fans of, the tv series Stranger Things. I would also be interested in reading any further stories Houser, or other authors, write in this universe.

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Dreaming #9 by SImon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Chapter 9: “Entrances and Reflections.”
It seeks him here, it seeks him there,
The nightmare seeks him everywhere.
Is he in faerie, or among damned screams...?
That doomed, elusive Lord of Dreams...

The Dreaming #9 by Simon Spurrier pivots away from the setting of the past few issues, but still focuses on finding Daniel/Dream in order to save the Dreaming. In this case, we find ourselves back with the crew in the Dreaming, as Dora, Abel, Merv, Matthew and the gang begin their quest with a little help from the new "ruler" of the Dreaming, the sentient AI/Code/Program that doesn't really have a name but was born from the crevice during the first arc of this series.

And their quest starts in Faerie, where Dora and Matthew meet up with Nuala, a fairy (?) and former resident of the Dreaming, back when Morpheus was running things (see The Sandman series for more on her). Nuala informs them that she has indeed seen Daniel recently, as he met with Titania, the Queen of Faerie. Nuala also makes some interesting observations about Dora, who still doesn't know what she really is (neither do we, but I have a feeling that might be a major future storyline). Nuala sends them on their way, and we are left hanging as to just what Daniel is up to.

Once again, Spurrier works to tie this series into the greater Sandman mythos that Gaiman developed, this time using the character of Nuala. Nuala is a very well-developed character, and Spurrier just adds to her, rounding out her story from the previous series in a way that rings true. It's also nice to see what was happening in the Dreaming again, after a brief sojourn on Earth. However, I'm curious to find out what happens to the characters we left off with in issue #8.

I'm really enjoying the story Simon Spurrier is telling in The Dreaming. He is weaving a multilayered tale that is very much his own, but still feels like a part of the whole Sandman saga. And this current arc is just expanding the narrative. I mean, we've barely scratched the surface with the new "boss" (as Merv refers to him), let alone gotten a handle on Dora, and just how (or if) Daniel will regain his realm. I'm really curious to see where this goes, and whether the next issue closes this arc or if Spurrier has something different in mind.

I highly recommend The Dreaming #9 by Simon Spurrier. It's more of the same, but even better. I'm becoming more invested in this series as it goes, and it's definitely worth picking up.

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