Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comics of the Week (11/26/08)

Reign In Hell #5 (of 8) - This mini is starting to bore me. It seems a lot of groups running around, encountering one another, but getting us no closer to a conclusion. I'm very disappointed - and am thinking I might drop it now and save the money from the last three issues. I have no interest in how it ends, the worst thing a mini series can do for a reader.

Trinity #26 - ugh, another slow issue here too. What is going on? Is it something in the air? Am I just tired? Get Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman back in this book - please!

Teen Titans $65 - Wonder Girl faces off against Lycus, while the rest of the team takes on the giant hellhound. I did like the way this issue moved and how Wonder Girl has grown into a better character because of this challenge. That's what a book should do - help the characters grow.

Justice Society of America - Kingdom Come Special: the Kingdom - another nice chapter from the creative team. Not only do we get close to the final events of this Gog storyline, but we also get a great focus on the character of Damage. Geoff Johns really plays off the characters well and provide changes that make sense. Again, good writing. The art is outstanding too. I cannot wait for the final two chapters of this storyline.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Comics of the Week (11/19/08) part 2

Trinity #25 - well, I'm now getting tired of the story moving so slowly. It looks like more and more individuals are realizing that something is wrong with the reality the Earth is in and that the trinity is missing, but I'm ready to see folks do something more about it than talk. The story needs to pick up the pace again soon.

Rann-Thanagar Holy War #7 (of 8) - in the penultimate chapter, the space heroes put their plan in place, and it looks like Synnar is perfectly fine with that. Where is this story going? We'll find out next issue. Again, the art is stunning and epic, like this story deserves.

Batman and the Outsiders #13 - combined with artist Fernado Dagnino, Frank Tieri is making this book resemble more the writing he did on Gotham Underground, and I'm liking that. With Batman gone and the Outsiders broken apart, Batgirl decides to build a new ally list. But someone isn't so thrilled with her. I do like how Tieri is taking advantage of the rich elements of Gotham City for the book. That will keep me reading it.

Justice Society of America - Kingdom Come Special: Magog - this one shot by Tomasi and Pasarin has the look and feel of the regular monthly title. This one focuses on Magog as he comes to terms with his past and his present role. There is also a short but interesting back up feature on Starman by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins. It ties in nicely with what is going on in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. Overall a great special as we get closer to the finale of this long running storyline.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Comics of the Week (11/19/08) part 1

Brave and the Bold #19 - this is part one of a four part adventure teaming Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) with the Phantom Stranger. The story so far is a bit heavy on the exposition - setting up a plot that involves weirdness on Earth and activity on an alien world. It seems more a GL tale so far with the Stranger just tagging along. I hope it gets better but I fear it won't.

Tangent: Superman's Reign #9 (of 12) - okay, this issue plodded along and didn't move the story too far along. I think the whole thing got stretched out a bit too far. Having it go eight issues might have been better, just to trim the fat out of the story. Ah well - three more issues to go so I might as well stick with it until the end.

Ambush Bug: Year None #4 (of 6) - after last issue being so-so, this one comes back nicely as it parodies 52, takes pot shots at Dan Didio (which many fanboys will love) and then takes just as many shots on the fanboys themselves. Keith Giffen is an equal opportunity offender and that's what I like about his humor sometimes. Looks like Countdown will get satirized next issue, leaving Final Crisis hopefully for the last. I hope Giffen and Fleming don't disappoint.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes

Just like with Watchman, I was never a reader of Sandman when it hit the comic shelves in the late 80's. I remember I bought issue #1 but wasn't so thrilled to continue picking it up. Now, I know it is a brilliant series and Neil Gaiman really weaved an incredible tapestry over the book's run. I just never got into it. That is, until I picked up the first collected volume at the library last week.

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes collects issues 1 through 8 of the Sandman book from 1988 and 1989. As even Neil points out in the Afterwards, the first few issues jump around a bit in theme, style and approach. One could easily tell he was trying to settle in a bit to something beyond the first story arc - the tale of how Morpheus, the god of Dreams, is captured and then escapes and has to reclaim his lost power. This first arc tries to tie-in basic DCU elements like the hosts of the 60's/70's mystery books, the Demon, the JLA and such. The book really seems to find a solid voice in the eighth issue which we see a conversation between Morpheus and his sister Death.

Now, I am not sure yet if my local library carries more of the volumes. If they do, I will certainly check them out. I enjoyed the first one enough to invest the time in reading more if/when I can. It definitely is not your typical comic book and that is probably why over the years it has appealed to many of the non-traditional comic book fans.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book Review: The Book of Lies (2008)

In September of this year, Brad Meltzer's seventh novel the Book of Lies came out in hardback. I usually wait for Brad's books to come out in paperback (usually a year after their release) as I have all of the previous ones in the format. The first time I discovered his books was in a Raleigh bookstore that sold copies that were signed - my copy of the Millionaires was that way. Since then, I've met Brad at the San Diego ComicCon where I got personally signed copies of Dead Even and the Tenth Justice - my two top favorites of his books to date.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Comics of the Week (11/12/08)

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #20 - this final issue had a lot of tribute panels to the LSH over the years, including a happy 50th anniversary in the final page. It was okay but the series never really gelled as well for me as some of the other animated line books. I do plan on replacing it in my pull list with the new animated Brave and the Bold book in a few months.

Action Comics #871 - per the corner symbol, this was part 4 of the "New Krypton" storyline. Now, I only follow Superman in this title because of writer Geoff Johns, so I have missed a few pieces. But the issue didn't confuse me too much. Basically we've got all these Kryptonians from the restored Kandor flying around, and that is going to mean trouble to be sure. Just the way they handled Doomsday was enough to show me that this could turn out a bad thing - they will need to get off Earth soon.

Trinity #24 - the storyline continues to move as the weekly title really allows them to explore the ramifications of having the trinity missing. Hopefully they'll be back in their own book soon, though spotlighting other characters has been enjoyable as well. And we finally learn what is going on with GL John Stewart.

Kingdom Come Special - Superman - this one-shot continues the story line from the JSA book, as Alex Ross writes and illustrates this spotlight on the Superman from the KC Earth. It does help flesh out some elements from the original Kingdom Come mini series, and the added notes in the back of the book are a nice look into the creative process in making the book.

Booster Gold #14 - part two of the Starro storyline concludes with lots of action, lots of mystery and lots of setting up for future stories. The Lady Chronos from the recent Atom series shows up and looks to be a part of the book down the road. That should add some tension to future issues. The rest of the story uses the time-travel elements of the series nicely as Booster and Skeets try to fix the trouble caused last issue when Starro took over the Earth. I'm very psyched for next issue as Dan Jurgens will be back as writer/artist full-time and we have an appearance by the Elongated Man (yeah, he's dead in present time, but with a time-travel book we can see him in his prime in action again, always a good thing).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bring It On: All Or Nothing (2006)

My wife was watching E! last night and at 8pm up comes the showing of the film Bring It On: All Or Nothing. The third film in this franchise (I've not seen any of the others) is about a rich California girl who has to change schools when her dad loses his job. She goes from the school where she is head cheerleader to one where she barely fits in. But cheering is in her blood and that helps her cope with new friends, a new love interest and a chance to get back at her bitchy rival.

It stars Hayden Panettiere of Heroes and came out just prior that show hitting the airwaves. We all know how Hayden looks in a cheerleading uniform. It also stars Solange Knowles. Intesting little fact: it also stars Marcy Rylan who took over for Hayden on the soap opera the Guiding Light in the role of Lizzie Spaulding. So, basically you have two actresses who played the same soap character playing rivals. Go figure.

It was a nice, distracting film. Not a lot of meet. Typical girl in new school, girl is unhappy, girl finds a way to fit in, girl gets revenge on her old friends who shunned her by kicking their butts in the big cheerleading competition in the end. Very formula film. But the soundtrack totally rocked. With music by Gwen Stefani and Rhianna, it really helped make the film feel very today.

Worth a watching when you've got nothing else on the tube.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Batman: Lovers and Madmen

I checked out the hardcover Batman: Lovers and Madmen from the library yesterday. This book reprints issues 7 through 12 of Batman Confidential, published in 2007 and 2008. I have to say I wasn't very impressed overall.

The story takes place in week forty-two of Batman's first year as a hero, so we're talking about a Batman who is still honing his craft and making mistakes. Okay, I know this is a popular period for writers to explore for the hero as they can show him as infallable. I get the lure. But we've been here, done that - with Frank Miller's exceptional Batman: Year One. Strike one.

Next, we're introduced to a love interest we've never heard of before. Okay, that'll work - new territory is good. But we also get some rather adult full-page spread (thus the "lovers" in the title). And what happens to her? You can probably guess - she ends up getting in the way of Batman doing his job effectively. Cliche. Strike two.

Finally, the six part story basically serves as a retelling of the origin of the Joker. Um, hello? Hasn't the Joker's origin been reinterpretted dozens of times before? Did we need another one? I don't think so. This writer doesn't add a lot to it really. My thinking is someone said "hey, we got a Batman movie coming out in 2008 with the Joker, who can do us a tale that is sort of like the film but not really?". I mean, seriously, that had to be the rationale, right? Otherwise, what editor would allow someone to tread the same ground that has been tread by many others before. It bores the readers. Strike three.

This book failed at bat (no pun intended) for me. Glad I didn't pay real money ($18+ for the six issues on the stands or $24.99 for the hardcover) for this one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We Wii Fit!

Last month, my wife decided that we should get for her birthday the Wii Fit board and game. Though it was her present, we all are getting benefit out of it.

For those unfamiliar with this, basically this is a wireless exercise board that interacts with the Wii video game system. The board is able to take a person's weight as well as use shifts in footing and balance to play a variety of games and such. What kind of games? Balance games like slalom skiing, tight-rope walking, soccer ball heading and more. It allows a person to do a variety of yoga poses to help tighten muscles and increase flexibility. It also has aerobic activities like hula hooping, running in place, step aerobics, rhythm boxing (using the Wii numchuck) and more. There are also strength building exercises too. It is pretty amazing the variety that it has.

It also allows you to set goals for weight loss every two weeks or month. It keeps the data daily so you can track your progress. It keeps track of your activity and even allows you to add outside activity (I do that when I go walking some nights or when I work out at the YMCA on the weekends). And when it takes your weight, it also calculates your BMI (based on your height entered). It is really an amazing piece of equipment/software.

The best part, for me and our son, is that you really don't realize you are getting a good amount of exercise while you "play" some of the games. It is fun and it makes getting fit a joy, not a pain like it can be.

Downsides? Well, the board does tend to guilt you when you don't weigh in every day. Heck, my wife and son missed almost a week of weighing in and it kept asking me if I had seen them! LOL. It also keeps wanting to give you health tips (you don't have to listen to them). Still, as I said, it is fun for the whole family - and family that fits together gets, well, fit together. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is 16 Old Enough For College?

I read an article just this morning about New Hampshire trying to pass state legislation to allow 16 year olds to graduate from high school (assuming the pass all the required testing to meet graduation standards). Their rationale is to allow students to work at their own pace and, if they are properly prepared, go off to start their higher education two years sooner.

I have to wonder: is 16 old enough for college?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Comics of the Week (11/05/08)

Final Crisis:Resist - this one-shot focuses on the Checkmate organization (and in particular, Mr. Terrific, Snapper Carr and the Cheetah) as they try to deal with the spread of the Antilife Equation on the Earth's population. This was on okay issue that focused more tightly than Final Crisis has itself in its main book on specifics. That was good. But the story spins right back into the fifth issue of the main mini-series at the end, so we don't get a truly standalone story.

Terror Titans #2 (of 6) - this mini is a good read so far with good artwork. I like the further exploration of the fight club angle, however the book loses a couple points overall. Here's why: in the recent DC Nation columns they made a point to focus on this mini and the fight brackets. What did they do in the second issue of six? They pretty much handled the first round of brackets with two panel fights for each matching. That's cheap. I wanted to see much more, especially when we have characters we know nothing about like TNTeena and Hardrock.

Trinity #23 - the waves of rememberance continue to ripple across the altered reality as more and more folks figure something isn't quite right. I am hoping the book starts to pick up the pace as each week lately seems more like a mirror image of the last. I'd like to see things start to escalate and build again as we're nearing the halfway point.

Justice Society of America #20 - I loved the meeting of the JSA with the Earth-Two heroes, even if it was to fight. The Alex Ross cover was, as always, gorgeous. One big complaint: again, not enough time devoted to this. This could have easily been a two issue event. Hopefully this isn't the last we'll be seeing of the Earth-Two heroes.

Secret Six #3 - another solid issue from Gail Simone and company. They continue to move the plot while adding some great characterization of all the villains involved. We get a lot more about the mysterious "Junior", including another violent act so casually executed. Not sure what is up with Bane being so protective of Scandal. That makes for an interesting side point. And the final revelation of what this card is was a great payoff (no wonder everyone wants to get their hands on it!!!). This is another monthly books, like Booster Gold, that I cannot wait to read each month. Definitely one of my top five favorites going at this time, and that says a lot after just three issues being out. When the creative team has a passion for the book that shines through, the readers notice it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Comics of the Week (10/29/08) part 2

Trinity #22 - another slower issue as the man who would be Hawkman of the ancient past discovers there is something amiss in the world's future. In the present, Firestorm is rescued by some interesting allies. I'm hoping we shift out of this alternate reality in the next month or so. I can't get totally vested into it since I know it'll all go away when the trinity is restored to their rightful roles.

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns - this one-shot is basically an extra Green Lantern issue for the month, giving us a prelude of sorts into the "Blackiest Night" arc. The colors are coming out of the woodwork as the rage inspired Red Lanterns make their move on the day of Sinestro's execution.

Justice League of America #26 - great cover featuring an alternate world JLA as Vixen must get out of the trap Anansi has woven. While it was interesting to see this alternate team, they were quickly gone as fast as they came. We didn't get time to invest any interest in them - which is a shame as they had me curious indeed. Ah well.