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review 2017-01-29 05:46
Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab (New 52) - Chad Hardin,Amanda Conner,Jimmy Palmiotti

This is my favorite one in this series. I'm glad I didn't give up. The silliness is tempered out a bit with good storytelling. Harley is much more of a heroic antiheroine instead of a neutral character who has no concept of right and wrong. Also, we get to see her psychiatrist roots in this book. There is still some gross humor, but not as over the top. Loved the Batman/Bruce Wayne storyline and the lesson about you might not want what you thought you did when you actually get it. A lot of good moments and this one actually had a feel good vibe to it. Not helping my Harley Quinn obsession here, folks.

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review 2016-08-25 21:42
Punisher Against the World
Punisher vs. the Marvel Universe (The Punisher) - Garth Ennis,Len Wein,John Ostrander,Greg Rucka,Doug Braithwaite,Ross Andru,Pasqual Ferry,John McCrea

This book is exactly what the name implies. Frank Castle takes on the various Marvel heroes, and it's usually not pretty. The stories span from the earlier (and cheesier) Marvel days to the more recent Greg Rucka run. My favorite is still the Rucka run. The artwork steals my heart. I love it. Castle is scaled down to hard edges and determination and his partner Rachel Cole-Alves has that same edge of determination in her eyes.

The first story is a what if, the question being that the marvel heroes (the Avengers) unwittingly caused the death of Castle's family, and as such, Castle becomes a one-man kill squad who sets out to eliminate every super-powered person on earth. That was not fun reading. While Castle is always an antihero, I don't like when he's the out and out bad guy. Having him systematically kill all the Marvel heroes was damaging to my psyche and my perception of the Punisher.

There's a few stories my feelings are in-between about. I don't mind when Castle comes into opposition with the Marvel heroes when they don't end in lethal confrontation. There is one story arc where he's very, very mean to Wolverine. Understandable that Wolverine more or less can't be killed, but Castle was downright cruel in the way he incapacitated Logan.

In the last story, it's a post-apocalyptic scenario in which Castle is one of the few remaining humans who hasn't been infected by a plague that has made people into carnivorous monsters, if not zombies. The remaining folks have split up into tribes run by ruthless leaders. Castle's mission is to eliminate the monsters and protect the innocent, and the mission is everything.

Punisher is always single-minded. His psychology is very simple. See criminals punished and deal with bad guys with finality. Typically, he doesn't kill innocents or even good guys, but in the first story, he crosses that line. I didn't like seeing him that way. Anyone who reads this book has to realize that Punisher is definitely not the hero, if he ever is.

Definitely worth reading for Punisher fans.

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review 2016-08-18 04:05
Death's Gift
The City of Death - Sarwat Chadda

This is even darker than the first book. Ash's problems grow exponentially. He suffers a terrible personal loss that drives him over the edge and forces him to return to the place of origin of his dark powers: India. This time, he is following the trail of Alexander Savage, his nemesis with strange companions, the street thief John and Parvati, a half-demon girl with a very ancient heritage. Ash has to face that the person he was before will never fit again. Too much has happened, and integrating all his past selves into that mundane existence doesn't work.

I know little to nothing about Indian mythology and folklore, but this book fills in a lot of those gaps. Ash has powers endowed by the black goddess, Kali, and that means that he draws from death energies. A horrible thing when it becomes apparent that those closest to him give him even more energy. Ash is learning the cost of his abilities and what powers they give him. He gains the accumulated knowledge of his past lives, but must suffer through the violent memories of those past selves and for them not to take control of him. The people, history, and places of India are vividly illustrated in this book.

Chadda writes excellent action, and there are no opportunities to be bored. Ash is an ideal hero, likable and snarky, and while he's powerful, he has not allowed those powers to give him a sense of overpowering arrogance, knowing how flawed those abilities truly are.

This book isn't for those who balk at seeing young people in danger. Oh, there is plenty of danger for the youngsters in this book. Some blood and guts, but not over the top. Ash and his companions end up in some nasty scrapes, and the bad guys aren't afraid of harming a young boy, or anyone else who gets in the way.

The characterizations are complex and layered. There are no blacks and whites, but instead each person has a little of both inside of them. Ash has to decided what path he will take and what he is willing to sacrifice to defeat Alexander Savage and to gain his greatest hope in this book.

The narrator does an excellent job with the various accents, Indian and British, not stereotyping either. I have enjoyed both books on audiobook and I hope to continue listening to the series in the future.

This series is a distinctive one, touching on a culture that is not often explored in young adult books. While the ending isn't strictly a cliff-hanger, it ends in a way that will make readers eager and ready for the next book, myself included. I'm looking forward to more adventures with Ash Mistry.

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review 2016-05-20 18:43
Who Says You Can't Go Home Again?
Catwoman, Vol. 9: The Long Road Home - Will Pfeifer,David López,Alvaro Lopez
I wouldn't recommend reading this out of sequence, because a lot of stuff happens and you're wondering what. There is a huge life change for Selina Kyle, one that has me intrigued when I read the blurb on the back of the book. I liked this, but I was really confused about what was going on, without having read the previous volumes. Sometimes you can skip around with characters in ongoing comic series. Not so much in this case. I liked the artwork, and Batman and Bruce show up, so I was happy with that.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.
 
 
 
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review 2016-05-17 22:00
...Do As The Romans Do
Catwoman: When in Rome - Jeph Loeb,Tim Sale

I liked this. It was an interesting look at Selina Kyle outside of Gotham and in a different setting. She's in Rome trying to find out about her parentage. She teams up with a Mafia hitman and another odd partner in crime, and everytime she turns around, one of her Gotham City foes is attacking her. How is it all related?

I think some parts were a bit confusing. The reasons why she was being attacked by what appeared to be Batman was explained, and I was like, okay. I didn't like what happen to one character, so I think that's why I didn't give it four stars. The artwork was good and had sort of a 60s Italian film vibe to it, which I thought was fitting. I'm not sure how well this fits into the continuity. Perhaps it was just a one shot.

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