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Shazam! Vol. 1 (The New 52)
Shazam! Vol. 1 (The New 52)
by Geoff Johns
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.12
78 used & new from $10.12

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Oh, this is sweet." "Freddy was right. This is sweet.", January 10, 2014
Geoff Johns, how you entertain me so. I knew only a tiny bit about Shazam, but that doesn't matter. What we have here is Johns, and Gary Frank, delivering a fantastically fun, beautifully illustrated origin story of one of my new favorite characters. It has a rich story with loads of mythology that's just waiting to be explored further. The artwork is top notch and downright gorgeous at times. It's so good that you'd run out of wall space with the number of posters that this volume could produce. Fans of Geoff Johns or DC Comics are sure to enjoy this thoroughly entertaining volume. Seriously, read this. You will not be sorry.

We As Human
We As Human
Price: $11.32
55 used & new from $3.22

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great debut album that has me ready for more, June 25, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: We As Human (Audio CD)
I am a big fan and supporter of We As Human. I discovered them in early 2011 on Pandora and started searching them out, only to discover the only music readily available was their Burning Satellites EP, which is no longer available here or other stores (look it up on YouTube). I enjoyed everything I heard, and then they came out with We As Human EP, which I could not get enough of. Strong vocals, great rhythms, I believed that this was a band that needed more exposure and a chance to make a full length album*. Well, now they have it! When a band I like releases a new album, I usually approach it with some trepidation, because what if I don't like it? What if they go in a direction that just doesn't work? I discovered Red around the same time as We As Human and became immersed in their first three albums. Then Release The Panic came out. Truth be told, it was a bit of a let down as many of their songs deviated from what many of us grew to enjoy and love, and though I have grown to enjoy it for what it is, I still favor their previous works. So does We As Human's self titled debut match up to their two previous EP's? Mostly, and strongly.

The album leads off with their first previewed track, Strike Back, a lyrically simple, yet solidly strong song that I love to crank up and repeat. Next up is Dead Man, the band's third iteration of the song. Like the previous two versions, it does not disappoint and is still a fantastic song. I honestly do not know which one I like more because they all sound great. Bring To Life is where the album takes a small misstep, but it's not that bad of a song; it may grow on me over time. Let Me Drown definitely misses the mark and was my first disliked track. Zombie and We Fall Apart are both great songs that WAH can be proud of. Take the Bullets Away is a powerful song, but Lacey Sturm's contribution on the first verse is iffy. However, her vocals in the chorus are phenomenal. Taking Life is more of a mainstream track and sounds nothing like what I have come to know as WAH, making it my most disliked song on the album. Sever, one of my most beloved WAH songs, comes with a slightly different sound than on the EP. Once I reached the chorus, I realized that the strong, deep tone from the first version has been replaced with a slightly higher pitched version that takes away from an otherwise amazing song. I definitely prefer the EP version, but some may like the change. Last but not least is I Stand. This one is both a hit and a miss for me. While it is a great song, the original lyrics have changed from what many of us have come to know and sing. Gone are direct mentions of God and Jesus, and the dissing of evolution, instead we have mentions to the One, He and Your and no mention of evolution at all. I always felt the two evolution lines were silly to include, but replacing God and Jesus was a little disappointing.

That's my review and I'm sticking to it. As their first true debut album, this a great start and I am looking forward to more. While I did get a free copy for supporting their Kickstarter campaign, I am furthering my support by buying another copy to give to a friend. Rock on We As Human, I will continue to support your growth. Should you guys run another fundraiser, consider me ready to help.

Some additional info for anyone that cares. I got a chance to speak with Justin Cordle, the lead singer, while they were touring in Houston with Red. If the album sells enough, a deluxe edition will be released that contains (I believe) three more tracks, but I did not get a time frame on when that could happen. Deluxe editions are becoming a growing trend, much to my chagrin (booo, hisss, just release them all!). Concerning Dead Man, Cordle said that some of the guys liked the Burning Satellites EP version, while others enjoyed the We As Human EP version, so they decided to work on a third version that kind of meshed the two. For Sever, they could not use the EP version since it was recorded in a different studio, but he said it was pretty much the same song. What he failed to mentioned was the higher tone in the chorus, which I am no fan of. Cordle has strong vocals and the new version kind of takes away from it. At the concert, they played the EP versions of Dead Man and Sever, and used the original lyrics for I Stand.

* Side note: technically they released a full length album in 2006, titled Until We're Dead. It lacks the polish and quality of their more recent work and could go through the rewrite treatment that Dead Man has gone through. This album, We As Human, is their first major studio release.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 18, 2013 9:04 PM PDT

Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls
Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls
Price: $9.68

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great conclusion for the Court of Owls, March 26, 2013
The City of Owls is another fantastic volume for Batman fans. It continues right where Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52) left off, sucking you into a compelling story with artwork that fits greatly with the narrative. It is a fun ride that ends up feeling cut short by being resolved by issue #11. Issue #12 gives a proper introduction to Harper Row, the seemingly random character that saved Batman's life in issue #7. Given her level of involvement thus far, it's probably a safe bet that we will see more of her, not only popping up when convenient, but likely joining Batman in an Oracle-esque role, if not becoming a new Oracle. Like issue #12, the Annual issue is a stand alone issue, giving us an enjoyable story of Victor Fries, who has always been one of my favorite Batman villains.

So if this is such a great read, why four stars? In another review, Anarchy in the US nailed it when he likened the Talons to bullies. They get chatty and lose some of the allure and mystique that Court of Owls provided. Another squabble that I have concerns a certain revelation. Not the revelation itself, but the person behind it. If the Talons were chatty, then this person would talk your ear off. Another issue was abrupt change of pace between issues #11, #12 and the Annual. There's a case to be made with the inclusion of issue #12. Not only does it come after the conclusion to the Court of Owls arc, but it also provides clarity on Row's brief appearance in #7, so it ends up being a useful and beneficial tie-in. Personally, I read the Annual after I finished the rest of the novel, but not doing so will probably throw readers off if read in the order this novel provides.

Scott Snyder has done some engaging story telling with The City of Owls and it is another great collection that's sure to please. I have it at 4 stars, but it's a solid 4.5 rating. The Court of Owls are broken, but they are not gone, and I look forward to their inevitable return with glee.

Earth 2 Vol. 1: The Gathering (The New 52)
Earth 2 Vol. 1: The Gathering (The New 52)
by James Dale Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.03
82 used & new from $10.00

14 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great artwork, so-so story, misleading cover art, March 21, 2013
If you were like me, you probably saw the cover and thought, "Sweet! A series about Earth 2's Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman!", while also neglecting to read the product's description. And if you had a similar thought, you were probably disappointed to have the trio around for only the first issue as the story focuses on other characters. Again, this is having neglected reading anything about the series. So who is this really about? Green Lantern (Alan Scott), The Flash (a young Jay Garrick), Hawkgirl and the Atom.

Our new heroes reluctantly come together to fight a life sucking force, Grundy, who seems to be the yang to Green Lantern's yin. You see, Scott has been chosen to be Earth's champion, Green Lantern, from the embodiment of the earth's energy, and because there is a new champion, Grundy must rise in the name of the Grey. Sounds iffy, right? I am relatively new to comic books, but I know Scott was not a true Green Lantern, as his ring was made of magic, not Will. This seems like a big departure, though it is not necessarily a bad thing. Before Grundy is awoken, Garrick inherits the Roman god Mercury's power of speed and shortly comes across Hawkgirl, who knew Garrick would be there at that moment. I know less about Garrick gaining powers than Scott, but the tie-in of Mercury with Garrick and in the first issue with Wonder Woman was a decent setup. Very little is revealed of the Atom, even less of Hawkgirl, and Mister Terrific makes a quick cameo appearance before being captured.

The artwork is great, the cover is terribly misleading, and the story leaves much to be desired. It was not bad, but it was not necessarily good either. I plan continue to read this series and hope it improves like the Red Lantern series has, but the disappointment of having none of the big players is somewhat off putting. The most intriguing part of this series is Sloan, so there may be hope yet.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 22, 2013 8:11 PM PDT

Red Lanterns Vol. 2: The Death of the Red Lanterns (The New 52)
Red Lanterns Vol. 2: The Death of the Red Lanterns (The New 52)
by Peter Milligan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.43
71 used & new from $6.36

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A step up from volume one, but still plenty of room for improvement, March 12, 2013
Red Lanterns Vol. 1: Blood and Rage was a painfully slow read that felt several issues too long, so I approached Red Lanters Vol. 2: Death of the Red Lanterns with some reservations. Death of the Red Lanterns improves the pacing of its character establishing predecessor, though it does sometimes get hindered by lengthy expositions or seemingly dumbed down dialog, and even more back and forth infighting. Bleez sees some character growth while the newest Red Lantern jumps in and out of the story and often fills the role of a situation player than an integral one. The artwork is definitely the strongest aspect of this volume and the napalm blood spraying attack is a nice upgrade, if you will, to a Red Lantern's arsenal. The Stormwatch #9 crossover, while seemingly unnecessary, does help readers like myself in becoming vaguely familiar with the Stormwatch group, as I had no idea who they were prior to this read. Though the two crossover issues do not provide anything more than fun action and a particularly humorous scene with Dex-Starr, it will likely have a bigger payoff in future issues with another possible crossover.

Though Death of the Red Lanterns is a step up from Blood and Rage, there is room for improvement. However, I think Peter Milligan is starting to find his groove with the Red Lanterns, and unlike how I felt after Blood and Rage, I am looking forward to more.

Green Lantern, Vol. 2: Revenge of the Black Hand (The New 52)
Green Lantern, Vol. 2: Revenge of the Black Hand (The New 52)
by Geoff Johns
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from $31.47

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hal Jordan will be the greatest, January 8, 2013
A year ago, I would have told you that Green Lantern was one of my least favorite superheroes. Green ring? Constructs? Meh. My how things have changed, and I have Geoff Johns to thank for that. I say with only slight hesitation that Green Lantern just might be my most favorite superhero, beating out my beloved Batman. Again, I have Geoff Johns to thank for that. Minor spoilers follow.

You know Hal just cannot not be a Green Lantern, even if it is a knock off made by Sinestro himself. As Sinestro starts to inform Hal on a glimpse of the prophesies he saw in the Book of the Black, both are captured by the Indigo tribe. Their capture eventually leads to many revelations and twists, such as the Indigo Tribe's origin, their true purpose, whether or not Sinestro can find redemption, and just how immorally inept, pompous and twisted the Guardians have become (was it possible for them to be worse?). The character focus provides great insight into both Hal and Sinestro, seeing their strained friendship, if you could call it that, find a more respectable level where they move beyond helping one another out of pure necessity to the point where Hal is coming to terms with whether or not there is any good left in Sinestro or the Guardians. Geoff Johns has proven to me that he knows where he is taking Green Lantern's story, and that he knew it would lead to this point since the earlier stages of his involvement. The brief look we get at The Third Army compels me to think that they are far more dangerous than the rising dead during The Blackest Night arc, as if that were even possible. We see another glimpse of prophecies from The Book of the Black, catapulting a new crossover story arc throughout the Green Lantern universe, which I am eagerly anticipating.

The Guardians have gone largely unchecked for billions of years, until recently, with the latest being Hal killing Krona in War of the Green Lanterns (thus leading to the loss of his own ring). Revenge of the Black Hand offers one final tease at the end of the annual that things in the universe are about to change dramatically. Read at your own discretion: The Guardians' final descent into madness begins. And their war over free will shall be forever remembered for those that die... and those that rise.

If you have enjoyed Johns' work thus far, this volume is sure to please. The artwork might be the weakest part of this volume, but it still looks great overall. There is plenty of action and character depth, even some humor mixed in, to make this yet another solid read. If you are new to the Green Lantern universe, do yourself a favor already and go read what Johns has built for most of the last decade. He has crafted one amazing tale that you would be foolish to overlook. Starting here or with volume one does yourself an injustice.

Tangled Ashes
Tangled Ashes
by Michèle Phoenix
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.04
73 used & new from $4.27

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A character driven story of internal struggles with no plot, November 5, 2012
This review is from: Tangled Ashes (Paperback)
I typically read Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, and occasionally Thrillers and Mysteries, so Tangled Ashes, being a Drama and Historical Fiction genre, was quite a change of pace. The premise sounded interesting, which is why I decided to give it a shot. While Michèle Phoenix has a great writing style that makes reading this novel a breeze, the book suffers from having virtually no plot while meandering through the castle's renovation for the majority of the novel as Becker and Jade provide enough drama to make things a little interesting.

Though Tangled Ashes' primary focus is Becker battling his demons and perhaps finding some kind of redemption, the more intriguing part is the supporting character Jojo, who provides the story's aimless wandering some genuine interest, though that element is not without its own problems. The book's sole mystery element had some quirky elements that boil down to learn it now, forget it later. Becker has a drinking problem and a foul temper, which is seen often throughout the novel, even after going through a few major ordeals that one would think perhaps he would have learned something. When it is all said and done, Becker leaves almost unchanged, practically blowing off whatever relationships he may have developed, producing an ending that felt uninspiring and incomplete.

Again, Tangled Ashes is well written and Phoenix's prose makes it easy on the reader to keep reading, even if the subject matter is not particularly engaging. There is no plot here and often I found myself wondering what this book was building towards, which ultimately was nowhere. It is character driven, which is probably its strongest asset, but not strong enough for one to really care about said characters. There is much drama between the characters, nearly all of it due to Becker's feisty attitude, but not so much drama or tension in circumstances, with the exception of two brief parts late in the story. The environment's were well described and vivid, though perhaps under utilized. Unfortunately I finished Tangled Ashes with a mixed to slightly negative impression. It was book not written for me, but really, I do not regret giving it a chance. I have read far worse books that were twice as long and twice as bad.

I received this book free of charge from Handlebar Marketing in exchange for my honest review.

by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from $100.00

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating idea that ended too soon, September 13, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Legion (Hardcover)
Infinity Blade: Awakening showcased Brandon Sanderson is his element, bringing an addicting story with a lot of potential, only to end just when the story got its hooks deep in you, leaving you wanting so much more. Legion, though different and not nearly as deep, is as entertaining, though not as fulfilling. Do not let that dissuade you, however. Legion provides plenty of entertainment.

The many hallucinations of Stephen Leeds provide a great variety of personalities that play well off each other and the protagonist. Sanderson continues to show his humor with an abundance of wit in how each hallucination behaves and interacts with each other and the real world. They are a treat to read and in typical Sanderson fashion, the plot is swift and engaging enough. Legion, though, is too short for my liking, which is why I did not give it five stars. Definitely a solid four, maybe four and a half.

Legion shares a similar trait to The Alloy of Law: both felt like incomplete stories, but Legion's even more so. I know it is a novella and they are supposed to be short, but that does not change how I felt when I finished both novels. It almost seems as if Sanderson did not want or did not have the time to finish the full story and instead provided a tantalizing, though mildly frustrating, cliffhanger. Ultimately it is a minor grievance, though I wish Sanderson spent a few more days finishing the story. Firstborn, also a great read, is slightly shorter yet more complete, and Infinity Blade: Awakening, around twice as long as Legion, had a fitting length. So why did Legion have to remain so open ended? I digress.

I am no less a Sanderson fan than before I read the story. Quite the contrary, I love seeing him venture into the science fiction genre and Legion only solidifies him further as my favorite author due to his consistent high quality of story telling. Legion is a solid read and if you have enjoyed Sanderon's previous works, I see no reason why you would not enjoy this. It is short, light, but through and through, very entertaining.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2013 11:06 AM PST

Green Lantern Vol. 1: Sinestro (The New 52)
Green Lantern Vol. 1: Sinestro (The New 52)
by Geoff Johns
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.28
68 used & new from $11.99

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Green Lantern continues to shine under Geoff Johns' direction, September 13, 2012
I am a recent comic book enthusiast, having read many Batman, Superman and Green Lantern graphic novels. Over the last few months, I have read a good portion of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern stories, and he has done a tremendous job making Green Lantern not only relevant, but elevating him as a top tier superhero. I am only recently exposed to The New 52 movement and have some reservations on it as a whole considering the problems that appear to keep coming up. However, I was quite happy to learn that Green Lantern's story would continue where the incredible War of the Green Lanterns left off instead of starting over, providing a seamless transition for Green Lantern.

Green Lantern Vol. 1: Sinestro has a slower, but great story and beautiful artwork. The only exception to the artwork in issue #6, a style I never have cared for and simply fails in comparison to the first five issues. This volume provides some great insight into both Hal Jordan and Sinestro, and is the start of what will likely become another great story with a very uncertain future. A solid four start graphic novel.

One final note. If you have not read War of the Green Lanterns, then I strongly recommend you do so, but before reading that, reading the Brightest Day arc would help too as some of the issues provide the setup to WOTGL. I also recommend reading them in chronological order (search: green lantern brightest day reading order). It is a lot to read and slightly cumbersome, but you will be in for a treat.

Green Lantern: War of the Green Lanterns
Green Lantern: War of the Green Lanterns
by Geoff Johns
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.12
37 used & new from $14.50

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a word? Incredible, September 8, 2012
Allow me to preface my review that a year ago, I had read virtually no comic books. My exposure to superheroes was through primarily through Saturday morning cartoons in the 90s, and later theatrical movies. I knew very little of Green Lantern, other than what the movie released, so I am only recently becoming acquainted with his character. In the last four months, I have had the pleasure, and sometimes displeasure, of reading many great and bad Batman, Superman and Green Lantern graphic novels. Naturally my reading also included what many to consider the greatest graphic novels of all time. So where does War of the Green Lanterns rank? I consider it to be among the best I have read.

If you have not read the Brightest Day comics, you might want to, at least the ones that tie directly to War of the Green Lanterns. I planned my reading of Brightest Day, reading the series in chronological order, which required going from one book to another between the seven Green Lantern Brightest Day novels. Though cumbersome, it was worth the effort and helped paved the way for WOTGL. Search "Brightest Day Reading Order" and you will a number of useful results (I used a link from comicvine).

War of the Green Lanterns is an incredible novel with a great plot and beautiful artwork. Geoff Johns has crafted some great stories, and this is among his absolute best. There are many surprises along the way, and the ending? Wow. After everything that just happened, THAT happens? Mind. Blown. I want to elaborate, I really, really do, but it is better if you read it for yourself. An amazing read and you will only be cheating yourself if you ignore it. Batman is probably my favorite superhero, but lately the Green Lantern character has grown on me, and this graphic novel only helps his case even more. Do yourself a favor and read Geoff Johns' work, you will be in for a treat.

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