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Squirr-El (The metropolis, England.)

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Green Lanterns TP Vol 1 (Rebirth)
Green Lanterns TP Vol 1 (Rebirth)
by Sam Humphries
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “Which one of you is Hal Jordan?”, 20 Feb. 2017
This volume collects the first six issues of the post-Rebirth “Green Lanterns” comic, along with the “Rebirth” issue for this title. This comic focuses on the two newest human Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, both of whom are considered to be trainees by Hal Jordan, who, in the Rebirth issue, fuses their lanterns together and tells them to learn to get along as a team before abandoning them to look after Earth while he heads off to look for the missing Green Lantern Corps in his own series.

The Rebirth event (DC Universe Rebirth Deluxe Edition HC) saw the revelation that a mysterious force has been messing with the DC Universe timeline, and the Flashpoint reset of the universe has begun to break down, allowing lost characters and memories to resurface. This has little effect on the two Green Lanterns however, other than to regress their characters a little so that this opening volume can make something of their overcoming their personality defects and insecurities in order to (re-) establish their characters and abilities. The Red Lanterns also get a bit of a makeover/reset, and will be the main protagonists of this volume.

The two main characters can be a bit annoying as they continually go on about their personal shortcomings as we build up to the finale of the book, but, we must remember that this was written as a serial, and that when read in monthly instalments, it probably helped to re-establish the ongoing problems. However, that doesn’t make it less annoying when you read the collected edition, but at least it should be over with when we get to the net volume.

The main plot element is the Red Lantern Corps, who have chosen Earth to be their new homeworld, and attempt to infect it with something or other. Simon and Jess have to overcome their personal and inter-personal problems as they struggle to stop the Red Lanterns. There is also a minor plot element involving yet another rogue Guardian who has done something stupid a long time ago and got himself fired from the Guardians. He is probably a lead in to a future big event.

The artwork is excellent on this book, and is suitably “big” for a Green Lantern title, despite there being 16 artists listed on the title page. Is that any way to start a brand new series? That is the sort of nonsense that killed so many of the New 52’s opening series – editorial neglect, changes of writers artists and direction, all leading to reader-apathy. This story actually got me through to the end without noticing, fortunately.

So, this is an excellent start to a new series, apart from the bits I mentioned above, but we hopefully will be past that in the next volume.

Nueva York De cerca 6 (Lonely Planet-Guías De cerca) (Spanish Edition)
Nueva York De cerca 6 (Lonely Planet-Guías De cerca) (Spanish Edition)
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A readable and interesting guide, 20 Feb. 2017
This 452-page book - the 10th edition of August 2016 - is an interesting and readable guide to New York City, capital of the World. This is a well-designed and presented guide, with a fold-out map inside the back cover. This is not a glossy guide with lots of colour pictures, but it is well-designed and laid out, with colour illustrations used as part of the design, not to fill up gaps or break up blocks of small-print. It is intended to be a helpful guide to things to see and do, and not just a list of things to see and do.

It is broken down into four major sections:

Page 4 - Plan Your Trip:
This is an introduction to the city, telling you what to look out for, what you need to know in advance, and giving you advice on eating, drinking, shopping, etc.

Page 58 - Explore New York City (“the guide”):
This contains sections on 11 districts, each with a thorough description and mini-guide, as well as day trips away from the city, and accommodation details
P062: Lower Manhattan & the Financial District
P083: SoHo & Chinatown
P105: East Village & Lower East Side
P100: West Village, Chelsea & the Meatpacking District
P161: Union Square, Flatiron District & Gramercy Park
P175: Midtown
P211: Upper East Side
P228: Upper West Side & Central Park
P246: Harlem & Upper Manhattan
P263: Brooklyn
P302: Queens
P318 Day Trips from New York City
P330: Sleeping

Page 351 - Understand New York City
This section features articles on local culture - history, arts, cuisine, etc.

Page 383 - Survival Guide:
This contains the A-Z Directory and advice on transport
P397: Index
P407: New York City Maps (44 pages)

X-Files: Year Zero (The X-Files)
X-Files: Year Zero (The X-Files)
by Karl Kesel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If only the TV series was this good, 20 Feb. 2017
This volume collects the 5-issue “Year Zero” mini-series of the X-Files comic. This was a very readable and entertaining comic, with two artists bringing a differing style to the modern-day and the “flashback” story set in the 1940s.

I caught a minute or two of the start of the most recent series of the X-Files on the television, and I immediately found it unwatchable once Mulder started babbling about conspiracies – he (and the writers) had learned nothing in the years since the original, whereas I had – and I wasn’t going to waste my life watching more of it, even if the conspiracy had changed. Now “Fringe”, there was a conspiracy series that actually delivered a conspiracy, and much, much more besides.

Anyway, despite all that, this was a readable book, since the writer kept Mulder away from the conspiracy babble, and made do with witty comments from him about conspiracies, which worked much better for me. And despite the lack of babbling, the characterisation of the two main leads was still very well maintained.

The artwork in the modern-day sections also caught the ‘feel’ of the TV series, with flashlights in dark places, and much shadow-work, and the likenesses of the actors was also very well maintained, though mainly in well-disguised photo-poses; in action scenes the likenesses tended to be lost in the distance.

The plot itself involves a parallel investigation in the present and by two ‘maverick’ agents in 1946 who are investigating a similar mystery to our present day team, and which eventually leads to the opening of an “X-File” in the FBI basement.

The two parallel stories work well, the characterisation of both teams is well-realised, with differing styles of artwork, which also match comic-book styles for the respective periods without appearing to be ‘faking it’. The two stories also eventually link together, and also present an open ending, in the best (but not in this case, the worst) traditions of the TV series.

If only the TV series had grown up to be more like the comic, I’d be watching it. However, I have met some conspiracy-theorist enthusiasts, and there really is no changing them. But everyone needs a hobby; mine is feeding squirrels in parks and reviewing on Amazon…

Wolverine: Old Man Logan Deluxe Edition
Wolverine: Old Man Logan Deluxe Edition
by Mark Millar
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Days of future gone, 19 Feb. 2017
Wolverine: Old Man Logan TPB (Wolverine (Marvel) (Quality Paper)) collects issues #66-72 of the 1st Wolverine series, along with Old Man Logan Giant-Size from c.2008.

This was a ‘future history’ story by Mark Millar set 50 years after the villains of the Marvel universe finally got their act together and ganged-up on the heroes and killed everyone. Logan was one of the few survivors, as was Hawkeye.

Anyway, the Old Man Logan storyline was resurrected for one of the Battleworld stories from the Secret Wars event (see Wolverine: Old Man Logan Volume 0: Warzones), and he has now been dropped into current Marvel continuity (see Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 1 - Berzerker), so, having read his present stories, I thought I’d better go and read his past one.

Most of what went on was recapitulated in the above two volumes, but it was still an entertaining read, with excellent artwork. The plot was fairly straightforward, though there are several twists as we follow Logan and Hawkeye on a road trip from the former California to deliver a mysterious package to SHIELD agents on the East Coast. The mystery of what happened to Logan during the attack, and why he has become a pacifist since, are slowly teased out along the way. Needless to say, it ends in violence, revenge and a new hope.

That new hope is dashed of course as that timeline is gone and Logan is now on Marvel Earth, and looking to stop it from ever happening.

Injustice Year Two The Complete Collection TP (Injustice Gods Among Us: Year Two)
Injustice Year Two The Complete Collection TP (Injustice Gods Among Us: Year Two)
by Tom Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blackest of Nights, 19 Feb. 2017
This volume collects the story running through issues #1-12 and Annual #1 of the DC Comics ‘Elseworlds’ mini-series ‘Injustice – Gods Among Us Year Two’. This is a superbly scripted and illustrated story, and I found myself swept along despite normally having an aversion to ‘imaginary stories’, as they used to call them when I was a child back in the 1960s. It is the second part of the story, continuing on from the “Year One” series.

This particular Elseworlds Universe appears to be a bit of a mix-up of Old and New 52 characters, old Green Arrow, new Captain Marvel, new Superman costume, old Kent/Lane marriage, which all went off the rails when the Joker and Harley Quinn kidnapped Lois Lane and set off a nuclear bomb in Metropolis. This leads into a slow descent into a world where the heroes are drawn into two camps: those who support Superman and Wonder Woman and their crusade to stop war, and those who follow Batman and the rule of law. This then escalated into open warfare, ending in Batman and Wonder Woman being critically injured and Green Arrow being killed.

This volume sees the fightback beginning in Gotham, as the Bat-Family have developed a means of enhancing humans with, err, enhanced abilities, while the Green Lantern Corps (the old one, with the Guardians still in control) begin to get concerned with events on Earth. Sinestro also takes an interest, seeing Superman moving down the same path that he took, and brings the Sinestro Corps to join in. The initial Green Lantern Corps expedition finds itself confronted by the Sinestro Corps and Superman’s group, and it is obvious that Sinestro is up to something on his own account…

Superman’s faction are not villains, per se, and even Superman has not gone over to the dark side, refusing to let Sinestro kill any Green Lanterns, but we expect something to go wrong in due course (for it always does). This is not a continuous big battle story, as there is character development aplenty - more than in some of these characters’ own series, and certainly more than in the regular Justice League title.

Issue #7 and the Annual come before a seven-month break in the storyline (allowing Black Canary to have her baby in peace, while all the planning goes on). Then the war begins. There is a lot of character-development going on in between the action, mainly involving the Gotham-based characters, as we see Commissioner Gordon and Barbara preparing for the worst, as the super-drug is also enhancing the Commissioner’s cancer, and he doesn’t expect to survive the battle, one way or another. We also see an unexpected friendship developing between Harley and Dinah. Sinestro also comes in for some character development, all bad, as we see his plans slowly reveal themselves, climaxing in a couple of new recruits to his Corps at the end of the big battle.

There is a lot of excellent storytelling in this series, and the characters are handled much better for me than they are in the regular New 52 universe. The stand-out scene for me (though there are some superb ones involving green and yellow rings which I can’t mention because of spoilers) is Dr Fate taking off his helmet at the end of the battle, standing over a critically (if not fatally) injured Black Canary, and… (Hands up - who read the JLA/JSA team-ups in the 1960s? Who remembers what happened with the Black Canary?)

One final note - the dying Commissioner Gordon is last seen trapped and alone in the Justice League satellite; there are a lot of spare Green Lantern rings looking for new hosts. You have to wonder, don’t you…?

The writer manages to make it all so plausible, subtle, and even humorous at times - which might be why he got drafted in to write the Earth 2 title recently. This really is a superb comic book.

SupermanTP  Vol 1: Son of Superman (Rebirth)
SupermanTP Vol 1: Son of Superman (Rebirth)
by Peter J. Tomasi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The real Lois Lane! The real Krypto! The real Superboy! Still no red trunks, though…, 19 Feb. 2017
The first six issues of the post-Rebirth Superman title are collected here, along with the “Rebirth” issue of Superman.

The Rebirth issue is a sort of bridge between the New 52 Superman series and this one, which continues the story from Superman Lois and Clark TP, which in turn was a bridge between the recent Convergence event and the New 52 finale.

“Rebirth” itself (DC Universe Rebirth Deluxe Edition HC) was yet another “Flashpoint”, in which a mysterious force is revealed to have been meddling with the timestream, leading to the return of several characters and deleted timestreams lost in previous Crises. The Rebirth event has not had any major noticeable effect here, as the New 52 Superman was already on his way out, but Krypto has reverted to his Silver Age look, rather than the wolfhound of the New 52 timeline.

The main story sees the Smith (formerly Kent) family settling into their new farm, son Jonathan discovering his emerging abilities (and the girl next door, who also discovers his emerging powers), Superman establishing himself as a superhero, and the return of a menace from Krypton’s past, and though it is this continuity’s version, it has been a pest in previous continuities.

This is an excellently-written and illustrated volume, with a proper ending to it too. We get to see everybody put through their paces, with a “super” villain to give them a run for their money, and the Justice League also establishing themselves as part of the supporting cast.

Despite being written by the same chap who had to start the New 52 Superman series with, figuratively speaking, one hand tied behind his back by the continuity constraints, here he has, with different, but even more continuity carry-overs, managed to produce a superb Superman storyline, ably aided by his artist-writer partner in crime-fighting.

Ghosted Volume 3 (Ghosted Tp)
Ghosted Volume 3 (Ghosted Tp)
by Joshua Williamson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another very readable instalment, 19 Feb. 2017
This volume collects issues #11-15 of this series. Like the previous two, it is a very well scripted and illustrated story, with plenty of over the top blood-splattered violence, bad language and macho strutting. It reminds me of “cheap” action-hero/horror films, but better scripted and better illustrated.

The plot sees some back-story revealed for the living and dead characters, a few new twists, and plenty of carnage. No sex or nudity though, gratuitous or otherwise, so the title is maturing.

New Avengers: A.I.M. Vol. 3: Civil War II
New Avengers: A.I.M. Vol. 3: Civil War II
by Al Ewing
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The secret origin of Evil Reed Richards, 18 Feb. 2017
This volume, the final one for this New Avengers series, collects issues #12-18. Although it is billed as “Civil War II”, like “Standoff” in the previous volume, the story here is running alongside the main Civil War event, and is following its own course.

The main course happens to be, on the surface, an all-out three-way war involving “our” AIM, SHIELD’s off-the books and currently off the reservation black-ops team run by a cyborg and using army of Dum-Dum Dugan LMDs, and Evil Reed Richards’ WHISPER and their super-villain team of New Revengers.

This is all well and good, and very entertaining, as it involves double and triple crosses, and many flashbacks to explain how clues have been planted in previous issues; and whenever you are thinking “there MUST be something going on here”, up pops a friendly flashback to explain what is really going on.

And then, on top of all that, we get to see some of the really serious stuff that writer Al Ewing has been carefully hinting at, if not beating us over the head with in his just-finished Ultimates series, when Evil Reed Richards reveals just how he escaped the end of the universe, and we realise that Mr Ewing is obviously Up To Something involving the fall-out from Secret Wars (and my money is on the return of the Fantastic Four somewhere down the line).

This is a real epic New Avengers rollercoaster of a story that sort of resolves the stuff that has been going on in this series, and we will be getting two new series coming out of this conclusion (if not three, if we include Songbird’s new job).

This is how big team comics should be handled, and Mr Ewing has come into his own with his work on his Avengers books.

Teen Titans Year One New Edition TP
Teen Titans Year One New Edition TP
by Amy Wolfram
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rather lacklustre collection, 18 Feb. 2017
This six issue mini-series was first collected in 2008, and is now reissued, I assume, to coincide with the “Rebirth” event which is restoring confusion to the DC post-crises timeline, as the Teen Titan timeline is particularly convoluted and so this might as well be thrown in to the mix.

This is, I think, tied in to an older Teen Titans TV series, but not he Teen Titans Go one. The characters are costumed as the Silver Age characters, as are their Justice League elders. The opening two-part story is quite a good one, as the junior characters are pushed together by their rejection by their elders, due to a [spoiler].

However, they take refuge in their already-established meeting place, which implies an “origin” story of sorts predating this Year One collection.

The subsequent stories, while following a sort of continuity, are a bit all over the place, and some of them reminded me of some of the New 52 Titans stories/characters, which was a bit confusing as these stories pre-date the New 52.

It was mildly entertaining nonetheless, though I read a library copy.

Superman: American Alien
Superman: American Alien
by Max Landis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another secret origin – but a 5-star one (in German - be warned), 18 Feb. 2017
This volume collects the seven-issue “American Alien” mini-series. This series is seven (mostly) stand-alone stories, though they do relate to each other, beginning with young Clark Kent beginning to develop his powers, and ending with Superman finally fully-realising who and what he is.

I don’t know if this fits into any particular continuity, but it has got the “real” Lois Lane and Clark Kent, as opposed to the New 52 versions of the characters. I don’t know if this is deliberate – due to the current Rebirth event – or whether it is merely a stand-alone volume. The writer and some of the artists (a different team for each issue – but by choice not editorial incompetence) have worked together on the recent “Adventures of Superman” out-of-continuity title, which was so much better than the New 52 continuity, and he has now been given the chance to establish himself with this story.

I do not wish to spoil this for anyone by giving details of the stories, as I read them without any foreknowledge, but as someone who has been reading comics for at least 55 years, I fully accepted this as the latest and best version of the origin story, with Clark Kent being the baseline character, and Superman the ‘disguise’.

And it is much fun also, and not deadly serious; though it masterfully manages to steer a course between the two poles; and it guest stars everybody who is relevant. No dog though.

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