My knowledge of the Justice League and some of the characters who comprise the epic team-up of powers come from watching various incarnations of DC heMy knowledge of the Justice League and some of the characters who comprise the epic team-up of powers come from watching various incarnations of DC heroes on television -- most likely from the classic cartoon show The Superfriends.
So, I come to the New 52's reboot of the team with a fresh palate, even though I've read around the epic team-up for a while now with various characters in their own collections. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the epic team-up and having read these six issues, I have to say that I'm not exactly excited by what I've seen. The story, such as it is, is an origin one of how the team got together. Apparently this happened due to an epic invasion from another dimension and the evil Darkseid sending wave after wave of various monsters to our dimension to (as near as I can tell) destroy every major city in sight.
Geoff Johns wisely uses the larger page count to give each hero on the team his or her own introduction to being part of the Justice League. In some cases, this works well such as with Aquaman who gets to be pretty all-around bad-ass when he emerges onto the scene. In other cases, it's not quite as strong as it could be such as with Wonder Woman who we find out has never, ever had ice cream and thinks it's the greatest thing ever. I have to admit this plot line made me stop and scratch my head a bit because it seemed so, well, pointless in comparison to all the other characters getting an epic debut in the story. I wonder if I hadn't read the New 52 take on the character before this is it might have stood out quite as much. *
*I'm thinking it probably would, but I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
The one new character whose origin we get to see is Cyborg. I don't know much about his background or previous appearances so I can't comment on whether this new take is better or worse than what has come before. It does establish some things well and overall it works.
The big problem I had with this collection (well, beyond the Wonder Woman stuff) is how it felt a bit like the last hour of Man of Steel. This is not a good thing in my book. It felt too much like a mindless excuse to have various characters bash on things and destroy large chunks of various cities and settings rather than an actual story or an exploration of these characters. If the only thing bringing these characters together is the potential to bash on things in new and interesting ways, I'm not sure if or how that can sustain a comic book series for any length of time. It also makes me a bit more wary than I already am of the upcoming Justice League movie. I'm hoping that someone over at DC realizes that fans want more than just cool CGI renderings of things getting destroyed and that maybe some character work and depth might be in order.
Looking at other reviews on various social media outlets, I have a feeling I'm a bit in the minority on not out and out loving this book. I don't expect great literature from my comic book reading, but I do expect to enjoy it more than I did this collection.
After being disappointed by the first collection of the New 52 Justice League, I didn't have high expectations for the first set of stories surroundinAfter being disappointed by the first collection of the New 52 Justice League, I didn't have high expectations for the first set of stories surrounding the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman. So, I was pleasantly surprised at not only how well this collection of six issues worked but how much I ended up enjoying what was unfolding on these pages.
With two of the DC Universe's iconic characters dating, Superman/Wonder Woman seeks to give us some insight into what a relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman would be like. It shows the connections these two have as well as the differences they have -- one of the biggest early stumbling blocks for the two is if and when they should publicly acknowledge their relationship. Superman wants to keep things on the down low for now while Wonder Woman says that they should acknowledge their relationship. The decision is quickly taken out of their hands by a tabloid blog run by Cat Grant (who is in this venture with Clark Kent, ironically enough). The news and its impact on the characters and their world is nicely done.
The story ties their romantic relationship in with their battles with certain villains. In this case, it's Zod who is freed from the Phantom Zone and comes to threaten our heroes and the world at large. As threats go, this works well and what is presented on these pages easily beats what we saw in Man of Steel. I'll admit the battles with various villains worked far better than what we got in the first Justice League collection, where it seemed liked the heroes were given mindless and faceless bugs to pound on, all while destroying several cities.
How long these two remain together remains to be seen. But I'll give DC and the creative team props for bringing them together in an interesting, believable and readable collection. ...more
Annie Black seems to have the perfect life -- a wonderful husband and three children. But when her oldest son is involved in a car wreck, secrets fromAnnie Black seems to have the perfect life -- a wonderful husband and three children. But when her oldest son is involved in a car wreck, secrets from Annie's past rear their ugly head, threatening to destroy the life she's built.
Told as a letter written from Annie to her comatose son A Small Indiscretion chronicles Annie's life then and now and the mistakes she made along the way. At nineteen, Annie impulsively decides to head to Europe to find herself. What she finds instead is a job, working for an older, married man named Malcolm. A large part of her job involves going to the pub each evening with Malcolm and hearing about his wife and their unusual marriage -- seems that the wife is having an affair with an artist named Patrick. Before long, Annie is drawn into this world and finds herself sleeping with Patrick all while fending off Malcolm's growing advances.
Twenty years later, Annie has created a seemingly perfect life. Married to a doctor and running her own business, Annie seems to have it all. Until it all comes crashing down on her when an old face from the past emerges and her secrets begin to come to light.
I'll give A Small Indiscretion credit for coming up with an interesting little twist that I didn't necessarily see coming (I thought I'd figured out exactly what the titular indiscretion was long before Annie is ready or willing to reveal it to us) but that is nicely set-up and paid off during the course of the novel. The letter writing style is nicely done, allowing us to see inside some of Annie's thought processes but only giving us as much or as little as she's willing or able to give at the time.
And yet I couldn't help but come away from the novel feeling a bit disappointed overall. The first and final thirds of the book are utterly riveting as we get to know Annie, her family and the situation. It's in the middle third that I felt like things were treading water a bit, with Annie dropping hint after hint things but not offering anything more to her son and readers. I found myself growing frustrated with the middle section of the book wishing that Annie would tell us something that we didn't already know already. Maybe that's the point or what Jan Ellison is trying to have readers feel in this section.
Overall, the novel is a good one. I've seen the marketing materials compare it to The Girl on the Train which I think is a bit unfair to both books. This one is uniquely different and doesn't have quite the same central, driving mystery Train does.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review....more
This new comic series takes a page from the original PhotoNovels, but instead of re-telling classic original series stories, it offers up new adventurThis new comic series takes a page from the original PhotoNovels, but instead of re-telling classic original series stories, it offers up new adventures from the original five year mission. Using screen captures from the original episodes (and even The Motion Picture in a short story that’s included here) and the magic of PhotoShop, writer Johnny Bryne and his team have created a series of new stories. The first three issues were collected in volume I and Volume II is set to hit shelves later this year.
These were fun, at first. I read the first couple of issues and found myself enjoying them a great deal. It was a fun novelty idea and it made me nostalgic for my early days in Trek fandom when I eagerly checked the PhotoNovels out of my local library.
But with this collection, I find that the bloom is off the rose a bit. Part of that comes down to the stories which I felt were more miss than hit this time around. The first installment with Harry Mudd felt like it was trying too hard -- up to and including Captain Tracy returning to the storyline after the events of “The Omega Glory.” The basic plot is that Tracy and Mudd stumble across a device that allows a person to become a virtual clone of another person. Tracy forces Mudd to use it to make himself become a duplicate of Kirk (because we’ve never seen that before!). The Enterprise finds Mudd and begins to unravel what happened. The seams of the story start to show through early and there is some jarringly PhotoShopped images late in the story with a Harry Mudd moustache slapped onto Captain KIrk .
The next installment involves an alien ship from Spock’s past and includes flashbacks to his time on the Enterprise before the current five year mission. The linking piece (besides Spock) is Number One, who comes back to the Enterprise as part of the mission. Of the three, this is the weakest of the stories and the one where I felt my patience was running thinnest. Part of it could be the limited number of stills that creative team has to pull from for PIke and his crew. But a larger part of it was that there were some obviously PhotoShop created backgrounds for the alien ship during the PIke era that looked out of place in the story.
The final story is set right after the Doomsday Machine and answers the question of who would create such a thing. Putting aside that Peter David did a far better job of tying this thread to the Borg in his novel Vendetta two decades ago, this story suffered from the art work. Not the screen captures of the crew, though if you look closely you can see that they have sampled season one Kirk and season two Kirk within a few panels of each other. No, again it’s the added artwork -- in this case a science vessel and then the alien we meet whose people created the Doomsday Machine. The difference between screen captures and the created artwork is just a bit too obvious and took me out of the story too much.
The most satisfying story in the collection is a short one that looks at Spock on Vulcan before the events of TMP. This short story finds Spock having to let go of T’Pring and his past, paying homage to the recently deceased Adrian Martel. At six pages, this is the most effective of the stories and the best realized from an artistic standpoint.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Hitchhiking his way across the country, Reacher ends up in Maine near the Canadian border. Picked up by tourists from Canada, Reacher shares a ride anHitchhiking his way across the country, Reacher ends up in Maine near the Canadian border. Picked up by tourists from Canada, Reacher shares a ride and a meal with them (in a diner, because where else would Jack Reacher have a meal?!?), he parts ways with them. Only to find a few hours later that the trails are closed and the military police are out in force.
Reacher is drawn into the mystery of what happened to the hikers and what the military police are so intent on hiding from the world at large.
As far as Reacher stories go, this one is a perfectly entertaining enough one. Honestly, it felt a lot more complete and enjoyable that the last longer Reacher novel in the series. It doesn't overstay its welcome and it tells an effective little mystery.
One of the better Reacher novellas that Lee Child has published in the last few years. ...more
In many ways Emily Maguire's Taming the Beast feels like a companion novel to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. But instead of getting inside the head of a cIn many ways Emily Maguire's Taming the Beast feels like a companion novel to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. But instead of getting inside the head of a charming liar like Humbert, Maguire examines how an illicit romance between a teacher and student can impact the lives of just about every one involved.
At the age of fourteen, Sarah Chalke is seduced by her English teacher. At first it's their love of words and literature that brings them together, but one afternoon things become heated and the two begin an illicit (and illegal) romance, including lots of after school encounters. Sarah keeps the affair a secret from everyone but her best friend, Jaime, who is secretly in love with Sarah. Things end with Mr. Carr's takes a new job at a different school and decides to try and work things out with his wife, who has become aware of the affair.
The emotional and psychological impact of the affair follows Sarah for her entire life, influencing every relationship and decision she has after that. Despite having an interest and drive to further her education, Sarah is estranged from her conservative family and forced to make it on her own in the world, taking on a string of short-term lovers, none of whom satisfy her needs in quite the same way Mr. Carr did. Sarah even strings Jaime along over the years, including during Jaime's engagement, marriage and becoming a father. In many ways, Jaime sees himself as the only thing keeping Sarah from going off the deep end and maybe he can save her if he simply loves her enough.
Then one day, Mr. Carr wanders back into Sarah's life and things go from bad to worse. Controlling and manipulative, Carr wants to dictate to Sarah all aspects of her life.
Taming the Beast is a book full of fascinating characters, none of them extremely likable. Each character is blinded by self-destructive tendencies and an ability to justify their behavior to themselves as "doing the right thing." In many ways, this is a novel about addictions and self-delusion. It makes for a fascinating read for the first half of the book, but once Mr. Carr shows back up things take a left turn and the novel never quite recovers. It makes a bunch of likably unlikable characters completely unlikeable and I found myself becoming frustrated with the bad choices everyone was making. Maybe that's what Maguire is going for in the novel. I'm not one who feels that every book should have a "happy ending." But it still feels like this one just misses the mark when it comes to sticking the landing. ...more
After sitting on my bookshelf for three years (and multiple attempts to make it past the first twenty or so pages), I finally decided it was time to gAfter sitting on my bookshelf for three years (and multiple attempts to make it past the first twenty or so pages), I finally decided it was time to give J.K. Rowling's first non-Potter book The Casual Vacancy my full attention. I'd read and enjoyed her two mystery novels and hoped that maybe having read those, I wouldn't be looking for bits of magic and fantasy in the novel. I will also admit I was motivated by curiosity about the mini-series and I'm enough of a bibliophile that I don't generally like to watch the adaptation without reading the book first.
And so, I was determined to read The Casual Vacancy. And I did.
And I didn't actually care for it all that much.
Now before all the Rowling fans get up in arms and start heading up the mountain with pitchforks and torches, let me say that I felt the novel had an interesting starting point and the first third of it actually held my attention and had my intrigued to see what would come next. When council member Barry Fairbrother passes away suddenly, he leaves an opening on the council and some gaps in the lives of his family and the people he touched. I'll admit that early on, I was intrigued by the lives of the various people that Barry's life touched and how his death had an impact on them. But somewhere around the middle third of the book, I started to lose track of characters, their relationships to each other and their general story arc. Part of this I blame on an excessive number of characters in the book and part of I blame on Rowling for not really having much for them to do in the middle third of the book but tread water. It all means that by the final third of the novel, I'd lost most of my interest in most of the characters and couldn't help but wonder if Rowling couldn't or shouldn't have wrapped things up sooner. Or perhaps had a better editor. I have a feeling if this one hadn't had the name J.K. Rowling on the manuscript it might have got a tighter editing and been a better book.
As it stands, Rowling's first post-Potter offering is a bit of a disappointment. Thankfully, she's shown off some skills in the mystery genre since this one hit the shelves. ...more
Have you ever heard the saying that if you meet a jerk in the morning, you just ran into a jerk. But if you keep encountering jerks all day, maybe it'Have you ever heard the saying that if you meet a jerk in the morning, you just ran into a jerk. But if you keep encountering jerks all day, maybe it's you who is the jerk.
Thomas Covenant is a jerk. Or at least as far as I can tell he is. Contracting leprosy, Covenant is sent to away for six months to for counselling and treatment. Upon returning home, he finds his wife has left him and taken their son with her. His community wants nothing to do with him, even to the point that complete strangers are paying his bills so he won't have to come into town to conduct his business. None of this sits well with Thomas, who decides that he'll walk into town and pay his phone bill, only to find that he gets hit by a car and sent into a fantasy world.
This fantasy world finds Thomas given the task of delivering a message. It also has Thomas encounter a young woman named Lena who shows him who the dirt of this world can help cure him of his leprosy. He repays this kindness and the kindness of her family's village by proving himself virile again and forcing himself upon Lena. Luckily for Thomas, the village has some kind of kindness pact that doesn't allow her family to seek out vengeance on him, but instead forces his mother to lead him to the people to whom he is supposed to deliver his message.
And so they set out on ye olde fantasy quest. Thankfully, Donelson decides not to describe every leaf on every tree, but there are still some long stretches in the middle third of this book where not much happens but Thomas and his guide go wandering around.
Fantasy novels with a less than noble and unlikeable protagonist aren't exactly a new thing. And yet somehow Thomas Covenant comes across as more unlikeable than the entire case of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire And Ice series. Donaldson seems to have little interest in creating any redeeming qualities in Covenant or at least allowing readers to understand why he's such a jerk to begin with. That makes it difficult to want to spend much time with him -- and all of this is before the infamous rape scene. Reading the book I can see why it's so polarizing among fans of the genre.
While not being the worst book I've ever read, it's certainly up there among the less enjoyable novels I've read in quite a while.
There are more entries in this series, but it's highly unlikely I am going to pick up any of them. ...more
Being a big fan of Peter David and Spider-Man, you'd think I'd have read the entire original run of Spider-Man 2099. And despite glowing recommendatioBeing a big fan of Peter David and Spider-Man, you'd think I'd have read the entire original run of Spider-Man 2099. And despite glowing recommendation from friends that I should pick up the books, I never did.
But that doesn't mean I can't stop in now that David and Marvel are picking up the series mantel once again.
And I'll admit that while I may miss some of the nuances of this story, this collection of the first five issues of the new series never made me feel like I was being left behind. In fact, I'd argue that what David is doing here is every bit as enjoyable -- maybe even more enjoyable -- than what is being done with the flagship title for the Spider-Man universe.
Stuck out of time, our hero is trying to find his way home without messing up the time line too much. Along the way, he's having some interesting adventures that span not only New York City but also the entire globe. David has always been a writer who can find ways to tell unique, fun stories in a corner of a particular universe that stay true to the universe but also explore some interesting areas and do some nice character work. (I'm looking at you New Frontier.
While I wouldn't mistake the hero here for Peter Parker, there is enough of that sense of what makes Spidey so much fun to read (at least the way I remember it) that these issues flew by. The only negative is the final issue included which is forced to do some heavy lifting for what I can only assume will be an all-inclusive Spider-verse storyline that is coming up next. At this point, if I never see Morlun on the pages of a Spider-Man comic again, it will be too soon. Quite possibly the most overused or going back to the well one too many times the Spidey-verse has seen since Venom. ...more
What can you say about a collection of stories that includes everything from the disturbingly sublime to a tie-in story featuring the Matt Smith DoctoWhat can you say about a collection of stories that includes everything from the disturbingly sublime to a tie-in story featuring the Matt Smith Doctor to poetry?
If it's a collection from Neil Gaiman, you just say thank you and enjoy reading it.
In his introduction Gaiman notes that certain books these days comes with warnings about things that may be disturbing to certain readers. However, he notes that once you get beyond a certain age that good writing shouldn't have to come with these "trigger warnings" but instead that readers should expect them. He then offers a wide variety of stories, including ones with a tie to previous novels and other universes and a lot of original material. And while not all of these stories triggered a response with me, there were some that connected with me more than other. Of course, the Doctor Who story to help celebrate the show's fiftieth anniversary was a hit with this fan, if only to (once again) see Gaiman's love of the long running show come through yet again.
Another hit was "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury" in which Gaiman channels his inner Bradbury.
In the introduction, Gaiman admits that were it not for his reputation and name, many wouldn't pick up a collection of short stories all by one author or see it as anything more than a vanity project. It's kind of a shame to admit he may be more right than he knows -- especially when you see just how good at the short story he can be. Like Bradbury, Gaiman works well in long and short form.
And while this may not be his best collection, it's still got enough good and great stories to make it worth your reading time. ...more
Before the Avengers assembled and Batman meet Superman on the silver screen, crossovers were limited to characters we saw on the Superfriends and theBefore the Avengers assembled and Batman meet Superman on the silver screen, crossovers were limited to characters we saw on the Superfriends and the second second Batman installment with the Green Hornet and Kato. Uber-fans Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman clearly recall how monumental that crossover and have channeled that love into this six-issue storyline.
The plotline finds the Dynamic Duo and the Green Hornet and Kato once again believing they're on opposite sides of the law but working together for a common good. The dialogue is spot-on and the art works well. About mid-way through the collection, I dusted off my recently acquired complete series box-set and re-watched the original story that served as the starting point for this episode. While it's not necessary, it did help refresh my memory of who one of the villains was in this collection.
Sure, there's a bit of running around in the middle, but given that this series is intended to be read as single installments and not in one giant feast, I was willing to overlook this.
Moving as often as she does, Avery West doesn't allow herself to connect much with her new environments or classmates. It's a defense mechanism againsMoving as often as she does, Avery West doesn't allow herself to connect much with her new environments or classmates. It's a defense mechanism against the always inevitable move looming just over the next horizon. But just as she's considering violating that rule at her new school, thanks to the cute new guy in several of her classes, her mom announces it's time to move again -- and move quickly.
Fed up with her mom's evasiveness, Avery decides to defy orders and attend the prom anyway with Jack (hot guy from class). This decisions thrusts Avery into a world she barely knew existed and she soon finds herself globe-trotting across the world, tracking down the family of her (presumed) dead father as well as discovering her role in an ancient, far-reaching political agenda that may have ramifications far beyond just attending prom. It seems that Avery is an unwitting part of an on-going battle between two forces and she could, quite possibly, be the missing link in a global prophecy.
Oh and in case you should forget this is a young adult novel, there's also a love triangle to help keep the pages turning. (Or in my case, to keep my eyes rolling since it relies on that young adult trope -- instant attraction!). Avery's torn between Jack and Stellan, two guys who showed up at her prom and nearly came to blows over her. As Avery eludes the various forces coming against her, both guys show up at various times to save her bacon and for her have insta-love crushes on. It probably helps that both guys are the hunkiest hunks to grace the printed page since the last young adult novel.
Listening to The Conspiracy of Us as an audio book while working out, I was at times entirely caught up in Avery's story and at times entirely put off by it. The moments when Avery and her various suitors are piecing together bits of the far-reaching conspiracy and puzzle are fun and fascinating. Alas, these are completely off-set by long passages (at least they feel that way) of Avery reflecting on Jack and Stellan as well as how her life has changed so much since that momentous Friday afternoon just a few days ago. Add in that potentially every person who has shown kindness to Avery since she was a young child is apparently part of this conspiracy and some wild coincidences that had me shaking my head while pounding out my mileage and you've got a book that can be extremely entertaining and extremely frustrating -- often within the same chapter.
A lot of this comes down to Avery, who seems to be a smart-cookie except when the plot calls for her to do silly things. Or there's the fact that she's so willing to accept this new world without much question or to even begin to question her mother's roles and motives in hiding this world from her for sixteen plus years. Based on the cliffhanger ending and the fact that little, if anything, is resolved (another frustration) I can only assume this will be dealt with in future installments. Whether or not I pick them up and continue with this series remains to be seen, however....more