Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Zatch Bell!, Volume 17 by Makoto Raiku

Zatch Bell!, Volume 17 by Makoto Raiku
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zatch Bell (17)

Major battle mode volume that ends a major story arc! The big battle with Demolt to free the human souls continues to its exciting conclusion. Then we switch to Sherry and Brago who had taken off by themselves to fight the evil leader Zofis and find her long lost friend. This is a great battle, Brago is a bad-*ss, but it also brings in the emotion with some flashbacks to Sherry's childhood with her friend. This takes up the rest of the volume and we're now left with the major story arc we've been following for almost the entire series. There have been some loses and now the remaining mamodos all return to their homes for well deserved rest knowing they will meet again soon to battle each other for the crown of the Mamodo homeworld.

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Creepshow by Stephen King & a RANT about an OOP Book

Creepshow by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my 2014 opinion of my first re-read of this since the original. I bought this when it first came out and am sure I read it multiple times then but haven't read it since. I have seen the movie though about 3 or 4 times. This is horror "cheese" and an homage to the old EC comic books such as "Tales of the Crypt". There are 5 short stories here and they are all enjoyable for the artform they represent. A great book that was written to coincide with the movie and a wonderful, unique addition to King's work at this stage of his career. I'd give the book 5 stars if it was in print.

I am currently (re)reading King's books in chronological order and I had just planned on purchasing this book for my shelves as a bit of fun, expecting an old backlist title to be about $12-$14.99. What a surprise to find that it is out of print! I thought the only title King had put a moratorium on was "Rage"; I thought *all* his book were in print and with the popularity of graphic novels today was shocked to find this not in print. So then I thought I'd just download the digital edition but, nope!, no digital edition either. Huh? So now I'm wondering is King ashamed of this book; did he have some shlock artist illustrate it and didn't want it on the shelves with all his new fancy graphic novels now? But again, nope! The legendary Bernie Wrightson illustrated this book, the co-creator of "Swamp Thing".

So now I'm going the used route and having been a used book dealer for ten years in the past myself found to no great surprise that the book was priced as a "collectible". $40 plus bucks, yeah, right. I want to read it not collect and preserve it. An inter-library loan request at my library came back negative. I live in SW Ontario, the most populated area of Canada, and there are no library copies of this book? Probably because they've all been stolen and are now for sale online at $40 plus! So now I'm looking for an illegal scan online, not something I do and not proud, but I want to read the damn book. Again nothing except one thing that looked fishy and was going to infect my computer with malware or something. So I gave up and knowing I'd have to skip it and move on to the next book certainly ticked me off but occasionally I'd plug in a search now and then. Then, finally I came across something on youtube which is a digitized, sound effect enhanced video adaptation of the original book. Not my ideal way to read a book but it contains the real book 100% so I read it. Now I don't know if there are enough changes to the original format for it to be "legal" or if King knows about it and lets it be or what. But I am just thankful that I was able to read the book. I'm going to post the link even though I'm afraid the extra traffic will get it removed from youtube but this guy could do like anybody else and find somewhere else to upload it.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

But the whole problem would be solved if they would just REPRINT THE BOOK! C'mon if the less than stellar "Firestarter" and "Tommyknockers" are in print, why not "Creepshow" which is a fine entry in King's canon.

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Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers by Dav Pilkey

Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers by Dav Pilkey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Super Diaper Baby (2)

This was a big disappointment for me. I loved the first Super Diaper Baby, finding it hilarious. Book 2 fell flat on its face for me. I just didn't laugh at all and found the story forced and really way below Pilkey's usual rib-tickling hilarity. I'm a huge fan of Captain Underpants and Dav Pilkey in general but this one just read like a slap-dash effort. Oh well, still looking forward to a new title from him now that I've completed his popular backlist.

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Lazarus, Vol. 2: Lift by Greg Rucka

Lazarus, Vol. 2: Lift by Greg Rucka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lazarus (Vol. 2)

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Probably the best comic of the year! I'll keep this short or else I'll just end up gushing. This is a dystopian tale that is totally believable making it all that much more exciting. Reads like a spy story with a gripping plot and unexpected ending. The art is fantastic too. I'm addicted to Lazarus! Can't wait to see where it goes from here.

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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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Captain Atom (The New 52), Vol. 1: Evolution by J.T. Krul

Captain Atom (The New 52), Vol. 1: Evolution by J.T. Krul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

New 52

A so-so introduction to the New 52 Captain Atom. The story deals with a few issues but really doesn't have a major plot line. Basically, this is an introduction to Atom, not exactly a complete origin story, though throughout we're given enough info to piece together a good idea of his past. Atom is completely unstable at this point and is doing a lot of soul searching as he tries to understand what he is, the book get's a bit science-y as Atom tries to understand his new nuclear self and of what exactly he is capable. The second half of the book is better as Atom has a team-up with Flash in a brief cameo and Atom ends up battling a monster by book's end. But still through the second half Atom starts to contend with whether he is more weapon or bringer of justice and healing. He also learns he may have to except a solitary life. Not exactly a thrilling story, rather ho-hum, but an introduction that gives a deeper understanding of a superhero who pops up here and there in the New 52 Universe. There is a sequel to this which I will read but wouldn't run out and buy. New 52 readers could easily skip this one, unless you are a completist. (like me, LOL!)

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Static Shock (New 52) Vol. 1: Supercharged by Scott McDaniel

Static Shock (New 52) Vol. 1: Supercharged by Scott McDaniel
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

New 52

Well, I've read a lot of The New 52 by this point and while some of them fall short of being good this is the first one I've read that was a total and utter dudd. Static was new to me; I'd never even heard of him, but I've had fun meeting plenty of new-to-me heroes through The New 52. Static was mostly a very boring story with new made up villains just for this series and it felt like it didn't even belong to the DC universe. There were no connections with anyone or anywhere else, except for two very slight insignificant items. I really had to force myself to continue reading this and finish it. Static is a pretty arrogant kid too, not very likable and I wasn't even partial to the art. You can skip this one and you'll miss out on nothing.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby (1)

This was just absolutely hilarious! I loved it! Set up as one of the comics that George and Harold are always writing it starts off with the two of them getting in trouble with Mr. Krupp who assigns them an essay but tells them they cannot write one of their offensive Captain Underpants comics. Soooo, they invent a new superhero, Super Diaper Baby, and give a rollicking, laugh-out-loud comic. The whole book is written in graphic novel format and toilet humour abounds, much more so than in the Captain Underpants series, but that's ok. I thought it was plain silly and all in good fun. There are a couple of jokes that are there simply for the parent who will be reading this aloud that got a good guffaw from me. Captain Underpants fans will love this and now I'm off to read the sequel! Great fun read!

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Young Justice Vol. 3: Creature Features by Greg Weisman

Young Justice Vol. 3: Creature Features by Greg Weisman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Justice League series

OMG! This was absolutely fantastic! At some point during the publication of these issues the cartoon was cancelled but the comics continued for a while longer. We start off with a nice long story that takes place in Atlantis (minus Aquaman because he's busy with the JL) but everyone else you could almost imagine from Atlantis shows up with Ocean Master the villain, though no one knows his identity here. Only Aqualad, Superboy and Miss Martian are in the story so we next jump back a few days in time and visit our other heroes who are each out on a mission with their partner: Artemis & Green Arrow, Kid Flash & Flash and Robin & Batman each have separate crimes to solve which lead them and the 3 others to the same place where they find all are linked to the Kobra Cult for another good story. Finally the coup de grace is a gorilla story. It was with glee I realised we had three Gorilla villains in one story! Monsieur Mallah, Ultra-Humanite & Gorilla Grodd! But they weren't even the real bad guy! Great story, loved it. Then the book ends with one little panel that says 5 years later and Robin is Nightwing! OMG! I can't wait for the 4th and final volume of this series. An excellent series, suitable for all ages.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Young Justice Vol. 2: Training Day by Greg Weisman

Young Justice Vol. 2: Training Day by Greg Weisman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Justice League series

cellent! These volumes tie-in with the cartoon so I do feel like I'm missing out a little bit but still they are whole stories and becoming much more serious and intense. There are some inconsistencies with the main DC universe canon but that is the norm for these cartoons. A fantastic start with the introduction of Artemis and how she goes against her villainous parental heritage to become a hero, joining Young Justice under the guise of being Green Arrow's niece. I like her already! Then some serious stuff when Captain Atom is teaching them a course and decides to send them into the field on a cold case to solve what really happened to "Captain Nathaniel Adams". Then finally we have some Batman vs the al Ghuls and a unique take on Clayface's origin story with Young Justice battling the clay dude. This is a great kid's comic which should satisfy all ages.

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Young Justice Vol. 1 by Art Baltazar

Young Justice Vol. 1 by Art Baltazar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Justice League series

I had previously read 2 issues of the comic and greatly enjoyed them so wanted to try the series proper as I'm a Justice League junkie. The JL pops up now and then as the guardians and bosses of Young Justice but mainly they stay out of the picture. This first volume starts off with friends Aqualad, Robin and Kid Flash having just rescued (let loose) Superboy from Cadmus where he was being made as an ultimate weapon. He and Miss Martian also come along and the five teenagers form a covert team that the JL will use on League cases where they think it will make a difference sending in the new YJ instead of themselves. First off Superboy has some time adjusting from the things done to his mind while at Cadmus and has a run in with the Joker (who is drawn like David Bowie from his Ziggy Stardust days. What a look!). Then Kid, Robin and Lad take off by themselves to try to figure out how to work as a team before the whole group training starts. Of course their egos get in the way until they can actually gather some effort to try teamwork. The last issue was great as it gives each character a chance to give themselves a background story as they all sit around a campfire and we learn which person each hero is and what their origin story is compared to DC Canon. Here Kid Flash is Wally West, Robin is Dick Grayson but he had more relatives die in the acrobat "accident" with one surviving in a coma. This is a great all ages kids' comic. Not just for little kids, aimed at older readers with the characters being mid aged teens 14-16, but the material is all ages safe and the story is exciting. It has continuity and a large cast of both heroes and villains. It does feel a bit like if I'd watched the show I'd have been a bit more clued in on things. I just had that feeling I had perhaps missed something and that may well have been something from the show. Otherwise, a top-notch comic for kids, but then that's what I've come to expect when I see Art Baltazar listed as an author!

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Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 22 by Hiroshi Shiibashi

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Purification, Vol. 22 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (22)

This picked up speed as it went along. I've got to say that the cast is so huge at this point with some characters only involved for certain periods that I'm losing track of any who aren't the major ones who've been around from the beginning. The first half of the book had a lot of players and was bit confusing as it centred on Rikuo obtaining a special sword. I just wasn't into this. Then things picked up and my interest was back in full swing as Rikuo gathers all the yokai clans together for a big meeting asking them to work together against the powerful Gokadoin clan who are gathering for the Purification, the elimination of both the other yokai and humans. A good ending as they come face to face. Only three more volumes to go in this series!

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Amulet, Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi

Amulet, Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amulet (Book 6)

Finally book six arrives. It feels like a long wait for this volume and with two years between it would have benefitted from a basic "the story so far" blurb but I settled back into the story fairly quickly. The plot is piquing at this point and we have the first resolution within this intricate quest fantasy. The main characters have developed and progressed so much since we first met them. Kibuishi gives the story real emotion by allowing characters to perish in the act of duty or as inevitable retribution but we also see the return of characters set aside a few books ago which always brings delight when there is a lovable recurring cast. The art, as always with this series, is stunning and almost seems ready for big screen. Great addition to the middle grade quest fantasy series.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bigfoot Boy: The Sound of Thunder by J. Torres

The Sound of Thunder by J. Torres & Faith Erin Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bigfoot Boy (3)

And so concludes the Bigfoot Boy trilogy; a fun romp for the elementary grades. This book picks up the story from the previous books and assumes the reader knows what is going on as it jumps right into the dilemma with our characters, along with the creatures of the forest, as they set out to save the woods. I automatically read anything Hicks draws and this entry in the series is just as exceptionally drawn as I've come to expect from her. Her characters have that distinct style that is recognizably Hick's own and the Bigfoot Boy series gave her a chance to branch out into drawing animals and nature which I've really enjoyed her approach to as well. This story jumps right into the action and never stops until the satisfying ending. A fun ending to a fun series for the 8-12 age group

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Outlaws of the Marsh Volume 1: Spirits and Bandits by Wei Dong Chen

Outlaws of the Marsh Volume 1: Spirits and Bandits by Wei Dong Chen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Outlaws of the Marsh (1)

The first of a twenty volume series retelling a medieval Chinese legend. Set during the Song dynasty demons and fiends have been set free upon the world allowing chaos and lawlessness to run rampant. In this volume we are introduced to two outlaws, one who fights with honour and one without. Jin Shi is a young man who trains to become one of the greatest martial artist while Major Da Lu starts with good intentions but his drunkenness and temper bring him quickly to murder and mayhem. This is an exciting fast-paced story which I really enjoyed. It has the same format as "Three Kingdoms" starting each chapter with a map showing what area the story takes place and a summary of events to come. "Outlaws" is a different kind of story though, than the historical "Three Kingdoms", it's humorous and over-the-top in a tall-tale kind of way. This is a fun story and has that fairy tale/legend feel to it though it is very violent. The art is stylistic and very Chinese, not what we are used to seeing in Western comics of today or even manga; it is more similar to perhaps eighties cartoons. I really enjoyed this, probably better than "Three Kingdoms" and I am a great fan of Chinese tales.

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Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't have a lot to say about this. It's for a younger audience than Telgemeier's previous two books and not anywhere near as good. An enjoyable but mediocre story of the dynamics between typical sisters. This is again biographical like the author's first book, Smile, and takes place concurrent with it as well. The girls learn a few things about their family and themselves but the only real plot of mention is that of a pet snake that escapes. Not bad, but only fair to middling compared to the author's previous work.

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