Green Arrow Volume 5: The Outsiders War by Lemire and Sorrentino

I got into Green Arrow when Kevin Smith brought him back from the dead.  Don’t get me wrong, any kid growing up in the early 80’s loved Green Arrow, but mostly as a member of the Justice League of America.  No, I started seriously following the character when Smith returned Oliver Queen to the land of the living and then began expanding his cast of characters.  Then Meltzer came along with “The Archer’s Quest” and took an already complex character to a whole new level of sophistication.

When The New 52 began, I heard that Green Arrow really suffered in terms of story quality.  I steered clear.  Even as the show on the CW captured my interest, I still kept my distance from the comic book because of its negative reviews.

However, when Jeff Lemire came aboard the title, I knew it was time for me to join as well.  “The Outsiders War” is a fantastic read.

First of all, the mythology Lemire built concerning clans centered upon The Spear, The Sword, The Fist, The Axe, The Mask, The Shield, and The Arrow is something both fresh and unique.  Lemire delivers a fascinating story involving Green Arrow’s past on the island, his father, his half-sister, as well as both Shado and Katana.  The repercussions of this story could have lasting effects upon the character for years to come.

However, Andrea Sorrentino is an even greater force behind this title.  I’ve honestly never quite seen art such as this, and I’ve read comic books for well over thirty years.  The layouts, the pictures within pictures, the sheer fluidity from panel to panel – it is the work of an extremely talented person.  But, even with that being said, the art is even further enhanced by Marcelo Maiolo, surely one of the most interesting colorists in the industry.  If I sat here and described the colors to you, you’d think me insane because nothing is the conventional color you’d expect .  But they work. They work beautifully.

If you’re a fan of the character, I definitely recommend “The Outsider’s War” as well as it’s predecessor, “The Kill Machine.”

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In the Shadows by White and Di Bartolo – A Book Review

Believe it or not, I saw In the Shadows in a Scholastic book order and thought that it both looked and sounded very cool.  Several of my high school students did, too.  A few ordered it and I got a copy for my classroom, and we’re all very pleased with the read!

In the Shadows is unique in that it alternates between a prose chapter and then a wordless sequential art chapter.  Though the alternating story lines are clearly interconnected, it isn’t until the end of the book that the reader realizes exactly how so.

I’m a fairly well-read individual, and I must admit that the ending actually surprised me.  I wasn’t totally clear on the chronological ordering of the alternating chapters, but by the end of the book it all made sense.

Kiersten White handled the prose, which is about two brothers, one of whom is dying, that come to a little Maine town to get away from the city life.  Little do they know their father has actually set them up for sacrifice while there to a demonic cult.  At their boarding house, the daughters of the owner befriends the brothers, and they have their own history with a local witch.  The daughters have a guardian, Arthur, who may be their brother, perhaps a cousin, or maybe he isn’t related to them at all.  He watches over them, though, and when the brothers and sisters get themselves into trouble, Arthur must decide how far he’s willing to go to protect them.

The sequential art chapters are handled by Jim Di Bartolo, and they feature a young man with a scar under his eye both chasing and being hunted by what we presume is the same demonic cult.  We learn he is not just any man, though, as he displays characteristics resembling the very villains he pursues.  The art is edgy, dynamic, and does an excellent job clearly progressing the story.  And while it’s not immediately evident how it connects to the Maine story, it becomes more and more obvious the deeper you get into the book.

Though a fast read, In the Shadows is incredibly satisfying.  Furthermore, I wouldn’t say it presents a story that is entirely fresh, but even so, it struck me as both unique and imaginative – thanks in large part to the wordless sequential art.

Aimed at young adults, I think book lovers of any age would find In the Shadows an interesting read, especially if interested in horror, graphic novels, or the supernatural.

The Flash’s Second Wind

Earlier this month, I bemoaned the fact that I thought The Flash television show began to stale.  I said that the episodes were beginning to feel too formulaic and did not provide enough depth to the main character, Barry Allen.  Other than Eddie Thawne and Dr. Harrison Wells, I didn’t find any of The Flash’s characters particularly interesting.  (Though for the record, I find Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin by far the best actors on the show.)

I’m happy to report that last night The Flash hit its stride again and matched the action, emotion, and charisma of its premier episode.  The man in yellow, or the Reverse-Flash as comic book aficionados refer to him, brought a whole new element to the show.  Seeing Flash battle one of his greatest enemies with excellent special effects was a true joy.  Plus, they brought the perfect level of creepiness to Reverse-Flash, especially by keeping him in a constant blur with those glowing eyes.

For a life-long fan of The Flash, last night’s episode satisfied on every level.  I like that they finally pushed Barry’s love for Iris in a new direction, that Ronnie Raymond is back and very cool as Firestorm, that Caitlin Snow is rounding out a bit, and that Eddie may have a developing problem with Barry that could become very serious in the future.  I love that they made Firestorm look cool, and that when he flew, it felt more like an ignition than anything.  But, the big moment, the huge reveal at the very end, that was what made me jump out of my seat.  I had my suspicions as to the man in yellow’s true identity, as I’m sure you did, too, but it’s a whole new game when it’s laid right out there.

Of course, I don’t think it’s completely cut and dried.  But now The Flash has a much-needed new layer of complexity, and there are myriad directions for this plot twist to take.  I can’t wait to see how the man in the yellow suit story plays out, what they do with Ronnie and Caitlin, and what the new dynamic is between Iris and Barry.

The Flash picked the perfect time to catch its second wind.

Read “Christmas At the Cemetery” – A Story To Warm the Heart

Why would a mother and father bring their small child to a cemetery every Christmas? Why would that child actually be excited to do so? Here’s a hint: there’s a grandmother involved! Some holiday traditions are stranger than others, but rest assured, “Christmas At the Cemetery” will warm the heart.  Read my $00.99 short on your Kindle or Kindle app by clicking here!

Edge of Tomorrow – A Movie Review

There’s been a lot of hype concerning Edge of Tomorrow, and let me tell you, it’s all well deserved.

The premise is familiar, to be sure.  Tom Cruise plays “Cage,” an unwilling, inept soldier who is better suited as the military’s brilliant public relations man.  Cage pisses off the wrong superior and finds himself on the front line of an alien war.  He dies, and then he wakes up at a set point before leaving for the battle.  He goes to the front line again, dies, wakes up again at that set point, and this goes on for a bit.

After a while, he meets up with Emily Blunt’s “Rita,” humanity’s greatest soldier.  The two team up for reasons I won’t divulge, and Cage slowly but surely begins to learn from his mistakes with the help of Rita.  The bad news is, if they don’t destroy the alien leader, mankind is doomed.

If you’ve seen Groundhog Day or Starship Troopers, this movie does not, at first, seem terribly original.  Yet Edge of Tomorrow inexplicably feels fresh, even unique.  I think it has to do with the editing in large part.  Though many of the scenes are similar by design, they always feel new, we always see Cage develop, and we always are awarded with new information, a killer action scene, or true gallows humor.

I haven’t seen Cruise this charismatic in quite some time, and I’m glad to have him back.  He was wise to pick a character who starts off as a real jerk, a guy you delight in seeing get killed time after time.  Emily Blunt is always great, and this movie is no different.  She’s tough, smart, and an action hero through and through.  Best of all, she and Cruise actually have chemistry.

I took issue with only one aspect of the film, and that was its very end.  I didn’t care for it.  It didn’t turn me off of the film as a whole, but I felt it pandered to the masses which disappointed because it previously blazed a trail all its own.  Otherwise, the movie delighted me from start to (almost) finish.

With lots of action, awesome special effects, a dark sense of humor, incredible editing, and a plot that manages to surprise despite its familiarity, Edge of Tomorrow really is a must-see.

This Suicide Squad Has Life!

I’m the first to admit that I never really cared for the Suicide Squad.  I’ve got the first issue seen below from it’s original publication in 1987, and I can tell you, as a ten-year-old at the time, it wasn’t really my thing.

I’ve been amused by their various incarnations throughout the decades, especially their appearance on the television show Arrow, but when I heard DC and Warner Brothers were committing to a feature film starring the squad, my jaw hit the ground.  With so many wonderful properties under the DC tent, they were not on my radar as a possibility.  Needless to say, my expectations were not high.

But then I started hearing rumors of actors interested in the film.  Will Smith, Tom Hardy, and Jared Leto are the real deals.  These are not actors who have to work in an ensemble film.  These are actors who can carry films just fine on their own.  And when the casting became official (read about it here), my jaw hit the ground again.  There must be something to this film.  If these guys want to be a part of it, the pitch must be excellent.

I’ll watch a Batman movie no matter what.  I’ll watch a Superman movie regardless.  You can always count on me for Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and the Justice League.  But the Suicide Squad?  Until a few days ago, I would have said no thanks.  But, with these actors playing Deadshot, Rick Flag, and Joker?

I’m in.

This Is a Great Time To Read “A Christmas Confrontation”

A Christmas Confrontation: A Short Story

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Traditionalist James Henderson is enraged and he’s got a bone to pick with Marty Yaple, a youth minister. In fact, James is so angry that he raids Marty’s church, catching Marty off guard. It’s James, though, who is surprised in the end, because Marty is not what James imagined, and because the minister helps James realize that his real issue isn’t with Marty’s Christmas Eve service—Get Jiggy With Jesus’ Birthday—but with something else entirely.

But just what is at the heart of James’ fury? How does Marty help James deal with his ire? What is so different about Marty that James hadn’t expected? To learn these answers, read “A Christmas Confrontation.”  It’s available on your Kindle or Nook for $00.99.