Friday, September 26, 2014

The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro

The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A well-written "issues" story for teens. The book has a hockey theme but except for the beginning is not really about hockey as such. As the book starts we are dropped into first-year college student Tom's career on the university hockey team but the story quickly turns to being about the characters rather than the sport. Tom meets his hockey idol and becomes involved in his life finding out that the man is not like what he is represented in the press at all. The book deals with many issues, and if it has any faults it would be that it tackles too many at once. Smoking, drinking, drunk driving, parental death, alcoholism, not losing touch with one's real friends on the way up and money/career are not the meaning of life. However when all is said and done the book's main theme is not idol-worshipping other people. It's a dramatic story that had me reading straight through. The art is a bit inconsistent, Tom's look becomes feminine at times, some facial expressions are downright ugly and while there aren't many female characters the young ones tended to have manga-looking eyes. Recommended for teens, especially boys, interested in hockey.

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Superman/Wonder Woman (New 52), Vol. 1: Power Couple by Charles Soule

Superman/Wonder Woman (New 52), Vol. 1: Power Couple by Charles Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New 52
Superman & Family
Wonder Woman

I came into this not quite sure how I'd find. I'm not into Superman or anything Metropolis but I am a Wonder Woman and anything Justice League related fan so I had some good expectations. This presented a top-notch story that was equally owned by Wonder Woman and Superman. It felt like both got their fair share of time and each's world was explored. Diana spends time with her sister, takes Clark to meet some of her God relatives and takes a visit home to the Island. Clark is found at work and surrounded by his Kent-identity friends, a good portion of the story takes place in Metropolis and the overall plot of the book centres on returning villains from Superman's past. I like the dynamics between Diana and Superman and am loving them as a couple, Steve Trevor shows up in a scene with the JL of A which reminds us that his relational aftermath problems with WW were based on his immature behaviour, something not likely to happen if Supe and the Amazon ever call it quits. The plot itself was great; we have two of the strongest superheroes alive and they're confronted with their matches in villains with Doomsday and General Zod along with the plans to open up the gates of the "Phantom Zone", Krypton's prison dimension. Great stuff!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Monster Soul 2 by Hiro Mashima

Monster Soul 2 by Hiro Mashima
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hiro Mashima: Monster Soul (2)

I'm really sad this is only a 2-volume series. I really enjoyed it! Vol. 1 was episodic but here Vol. 2 runs a whole story arc to finish off the plot. There are plenty of battles but this is really just a humorous fun piece of manga. I fell in love with all the characters, every one. This volume also takes time out to do a little flashback and give us the childhood story for each one of them. I'm going to miss these monsters as I had a lot of fun with them. Since it's only two volumes it would make a good gift, but it does carry a deserved T rating.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Savage Hawkman (New 52) Vol. 1: Darkness Rising by Tony S. Daniel

The Savage Hawkman (New 52) Vol. 1: Darkness Rising by Tony S. Daniel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The New 52: Savage Hawkman

Not bad. The first half wasn't very exciting. Hawkman gets his nth metal power and a bad guy is after him because he wants to suck up his energy. We are back to the original Hawkman here too, the human cryptologist, not the alien police enforcer who I've been most familiar with in my reading as a youngster. Anyway, once the first story was over, we suddenly had zombies appear and my interest piqued. Finding the second half of the book much more interesting story wise plus we got to know Carter much better as a person, along with some of the people in his life such as Emma Ziegler. Morphicus was a pretty lame bad guy in the first section but the ambiguous reptile looking shapeshifter Askana, present for the whole book, is a great villainess. Loved her! And my reading of the awful "Static Shock" volume paid off as Static shows up here (and at least I knew who he was and got his jokes) for a few pages to help Hawkman fight off the zombies! Hawkman is around a lot as a member of the Justice League and while this isn't fantastic, I enjoyed reading him on his own. He has one more volume left and I'll definitely be reading that.

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Zatch Bell, Volume 16 by Makoto Raiku

Zatch Bell, Volume 16 by Makoto Raiku
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zatch Bell! (16)

Oh my! Divine goodness on all accounts! The big battle with the big bad guy is finally here! What everything has been climbing towards for many past books. And what a thrilling conclusion! Almost had me in tears! Reminds me that I love this series because it can get sooooo emotional on top of the great battles and humour. And man is the big boss guy ever awesome this time, well worth the build-up. A huge great heaping of the true meaning of friendship is showered upon us too. Awe and double awe!

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Zatch Bell, Volume 15 by Makoto Raiku

Zatch Bell, Volume 15 by Makoto Raiku
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zatch Bell! (15)

I've been on a bit of a hiatus from this series so it was an especial joy to get back into reading another volume and remembering just how much I love Zatch Bell. The characters are all just so genuine and I love them so much! The plot doesn't progress too much for most of the book as we have our teams battling various 1000 year old mamodos the Zofis is controlling. The battle between good and evil is continuing with the good not necessarily winning but at least gaining more members. I love all the characters and the battle action. As the book nears end Zofis learns of a turncoat and comes to do battle himself bringing us the return of a very popular anti-hero team.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Young Justice Vol. 4: Invasion by Greg Weisman

Young Justice Vol. 4: Invasion by Greg Weisman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Justice League: Young Justice

My least favourite of all the Young Justice series. It is good but just didn't live up to the build-up of the first three. This book takes place five years later, though we have infrequent flashbacks to approximately the time period we left off with volume three on what is now Dick Grayson's 14th birthday. This is a major team-up volume and if you like lots of superheroes in one book you are in for a treat! First of all the Young Justice team has now expanded, five years down the road, minus a couple of the old team. Plus the book includes many, many, many appearances by major and mostly minor Justice League members. As for plot, what we basically have here is a re-imagining of the Braniac storyline where he first comes to shrink Metropolis to add to his collection. No one knows who he is and all the superheroes work together to figure out what is going on and stop him. To make matters worse at the same time a new character, (created for this series I think) Kylstar, is also on the scene. He's kidnapped the Justice League's most powerful members and intends to keep them as "weapons". Are the two aliens working together? I loved Kylstar, he's a cool new anti-villain. It was fun having Captain Marvel play such a prominent role. However, Young Justice just wasn't the same; too much was going on to really care about the new members or get to know them so they just weren't the lovable team I'd come to, well ... love. I did however like the background story of Nightwing and Batgirl's blossoming relationship, as I am a big fan of that couple. But what I most of all missed was "What happened in the missing five years?" Somebody has to write a series filling in the missing years!!! It's possible to just read the first three volumes and be sad the series ended when it did as this doesn't give any feeling of satisfaction on that count. This volume could also be read as a standalone.

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