Adding My Book and Graphic Novel Reviews – Update

Cross-posting my book reviews from GoodReads is going much better than I initially thought. This is good! I’m posting two reviews a day – one book and one graphic novel. Yesterday, I published my book review and was working on the graphic novel review when my Internet crashed. So today, I’m thinking I will technically publish (cross-post) three reviews just to be up-to-date.

I’m also getting positive feedback on my reviews! I really appreciate it everyone! And don’t be afraid to leave comments as well as push that like button!

One other thing – as anyone who reads this blog regularly may have noticed – I’m starting with my Doctor Who book and graphic novel reviews. I decided to go with a more topic-based approach for this mini-project. So, I’m starting with my Doctor Who books and Doctor Who graphic novels. There are a lot more Doctor Who books than graphic novels, and even if/when I get caught up on reviewing my Doctor Who graphic novels – there’s still a lot more books than novels. So after the Doctor Who graphic novel reviews are posted – I’m going to post my DC Comics Graphic Novel reviews, then the Other comics. I’ll keep that more-or-less chronological too, however, as with Doctor Who, I will keep series together. Once the Doctor Who books are all posted, I’ll go back and cross-post reviews of other books, again in chronological order.

Once everything from GoodReads is cross-posted (all the reviews, that is), I’m thinking of re-reading and reviewing some Doctor Who books and some DC Comics Graphic Novels that I read years ago. Anyone with strong opinions on that, feel free to post a comment or shoot me a message. Just be nice. I’m a bit too stressed right now to deal with mean people. As always, all reviews will be posted to GoodReads first. I like the site, and I really love having a reading journal. If you’ve never used the site, check it out.

Adding My Graphic Novel and Book Reviews

After much thought, I’ve decided to add my Graphic Novel and Book reviews on this blog.  I was cross-posting them to LiveJournal, and trying to deal with the technical problems, but with Live Journal going under – I wanted a second place to post my reviews. Everything will still be posted to GoodReads first, but I hope to keep a copy here as well, and to tag everything to be easily searched.

Flashpoint – Is there more to be revealed on the CW DC Shows?

I have now caught-up on the current seasons of all four DC CW shows. And I’ve noticed something. The Flash mentioned Flashpoint at the opening of the season, and Barry attempted to reverse Flashpoint. But his attempt failed. The Flash is now in an alternate reality – Cisco, as Vibe, is much more powerful than he was last year when he was first discovering his powers. In some ways it’s like that character has skipped ahead in time. And that’s not all – somehow, as a result of Barry messing with time – Cisco’s brother Dante is dead, killed by a drunk driver. Meanwhile, Caitlin is exhibiting cold powers – and she fears she is turning in to Killer Frost. And at the Central City Police Department a new guy is in charge of forensics and he’s a total, well, you know, to Barry. By the mid-season finale, we know a lot more about this guy who’s suddenly appeared from nowhere.

But it isn’t just The Flash that’s in a new reality. Arrow is also subtly changed. One thing I’ve noticed – last year on Legends of Tomorrow they visited future Star City – where they met future Green Arrow Connor Hawk (aka John Diggle Jr) and there was a skyscraper called Smoak Technologies. Due to Flashpoint, Diggle now has a son – John Jr, not a daughter, Sara. Felicity has also lost Palmer Tech – and in last night’s episode, Curtis mentioned he and Felicity were working on a start-up company (he mentions this as a cover for his Mr. Terrific duties to his husband) which Felicity seems to know nothing about. But easily, that could be the spark of an idea for her – especially if she pulls back from Team Arrow for other plot reasons. Flashpoint seems to be bringing the Arrow universe closer to the disaster we saw in last season’s Legends of Tomorrow. And let’s not forget – this season’s bad guys on Legends are the Triumvirate of Evil: Reverse Flash (from Season 1 of The Flash); Damien Darhk (from Season 4 of Arrow); and Malcolm Merlyn (aka “The Magician” in the comics, but he’s been hanging around Arrow since the beginning). I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think it’s all related to Flashpoint (which was a world-ending event in the comics and the animated movie).

I suspect since we also saw Damien Darhk in the Legends of Tomorrow last season; and he’s clearly working with the Reverse Flash this season, and later with Malcolm Merlyn. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think something is going on. I suspect time travel is most definitely involved. And I think the disappearance of Rip Hunter is also involved. I would love to see Rip return, maybe with his father, Booster Gold. I think the time paradoxes are only getting started and they will get more and more complex.  The four shows, but especially The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, will have a bang-up complexly-related “super-crossover” feel by the end of this season. Maybe they will even change the “Supergirl is it’s own universe with no other Heroes” left over from last year when Supergirl was on CBS. Have I mentioned how that never made sense?

But I have to say, I love, just love, how all the DC shows are inter-related, just the way the comics are. Yes, you could just watch one or two of the shows – and you wouldn’t be lost. But when you watch all four, everything is connected. Also, just as is traditional for DC – all the Heroes know each other: they know each other’s real names; they know each others allies, friends and family; they know each other’s superpowers; and they work together when needed to overcome major threats (as in this year’s 4-part crossover event). That’s something that’s always been important in the DC Comics Universe. The heroes cooperate with each other. They don’t see each other as threats or rivals. When I first read Justice League International (later Justice League America / Justice League Europe) in the late 1980s and early 1990s – every hero, from the most powerful like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, to the ones who really had no powers at all, like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were members of the Justice League. In between the two extremes were a lot of single power individuals such as Fire, Ice, Black Canary, Vixen – all of whom were female. There were many minorities in the League as well, including John Stewart – the Green Lantern at the time and an African American. And there were the magic users: Zatanna, Dr. Fate, etc. There was something for everyone, and a well-balanced League. Young Justice, the animated series, although it had a modern aesthetic and look, also reflected the width and breadth of the Justice League with many female and minority characters or both (Rocket and Bumblebee are both African American young women). The CW Shows have women and minorities on every show. And the women are not simply there as set dressing or to be rescued by the “male hero” – they are smart, educated, career-oriented women (reporter, scientist, computer expert), minorities have viable roles (engineer, army veteran), and Legends of Tomorrow has a balanced team of women and men with minorities on the team. Plus, you have to love a team of self-styled “screw-ups” who manage to be heroes, um, excuse me, Legends, anyway. The CW Network is doing a better job at this point of doing live action DC stories that Warner Brothers is doing with the films – though Suicide Squad was fun (though Arrow did a suicide squad storyline in it’s first or second season) and I have high hopes for Wonder Woman.

The Flash Season 2 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 24
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen 

The Flash continues to be a highly enjoyable series. Season 2 brings in Earth-2 from the very beginning. Jay Garrick’s, who’s Golden-Age helmet had come through the time portal at the end of last season arrives in person, to warn Barry Allen and the others about Zoom – an evil speedster from Earth-2, who having conquered that world, and has plans to do the same to Barry’s Earth. Not to mention Zoom wants to steal Barry’s speed so he can go even faster.

Barry, Cisco, and Dr. Wells (from Earth-2) do eventually travel to Earth-2 – to save Dr. Wells’ daughter, Jesse, who has been kidnapped. The two-part Earth-2 episode is marvelous. Everything has a golden look, and the architecture and even set design has a marvelous Art Deco quality. While on Earth-2, Barry meets his doppleganger, also a forensic scientist for the police, but one with no powers who is married to Iris West – a police detective. That version of Barry does not get on at all with Iris’s father, Joe, a jazz singer. And that Barry’s mother, Nora, is still alive. Our Barry is brought to tears when he hears an answering machine message from his mother. But Cisco’s doppleganger is the evil meta – Reverb. And Caitlin also has an evil meta doppleganger – Killer Frost. the entire two-part episode is extremely well done and well constructed. It looks beautiful, and the characterization is wonderful.

That isn’t the only two-parter. This box set, unlike last year, includes both parts of the “Legends of Today”/”Legends of Tomorrow” crossover which has Team Flash working with Team Arrow, and introduces Hawkgirl (Kendra) and Hawkman, as well as the villain – Vandal Savage. It’s a backdoor pilot for Legends of Tomorrow but it works. I’ve already reviewed Legends of Tomorrow, so I won’t repeat myself here, but suffice it to say the two-part story was fantastic – and had some impressive special effects. It also shows just how dangerous Barry’s time travelling can be – something which the series will come back to later.

Season two of The Flash, alters between Barry and Team Flash tracking down and defeating meta-humans, often sent from Earth-2 by Zoom, and increasingly complicated personal relationships. And it’s the nitty-gritty of how these characters care about each other that makes the show really work. Barry and Iris also grow much closer together. Caitlin also grows close to Jay Garrick, even creating Volocity 9 a speed drug to help cure him of his illness and get his speed back. But this Jay has a dark secret, and it’s revelation is devastating to Caitlin. Meanwhile, Cisco discovers he is also a metahuman, with the ability to see visions of the present, past, and even sometimes – the future, if events involve a metahuman – he takes the name, Vibe. Cisco’s fear of his own power and eventual acceptance of it becomes another them of the season.

Once it’s revealed who Zoom really is, the season focuses on him, and his need to take Barry’s speed. When he kidnaps Wally West, Joe’s long-lost son, Barry chooses to give up his speed to Zoom to save Wally. This gives Barry a few episodes as a normal guy. Wells then says he can re-create the experiment that made Barry a speedster – but when he does, Barry disappears utterly. Wally and Jesse are both knocked out by the backlash of the experiment as well. But Barry isn’t dead – he’s in a Speed Force limbo – where he talks to everyone important to him – then returns, with his speed.

The final confrontation between Barry and Zoom is – wow – very much a lot to take in. I covered it in a review of The Flash season finale. Overall, Season 2 of The Flash was excellent, even better than Season 1 of the Flash, which I enjoyed very much. I highly recommend this show, which is still appropriate for all ages. It’s very much a must see show.

DC Rebirth – A Review

I started reading DC Comics in the late 1980s-early 1990s. I had just seen Tim Burton’s Batman and loved it, and when I was away at college I would walk every week to 25th Century Five and Dime in downtown Bloomington Indiana to buy my weekly stash. But after college, I moved to a town without a good comics store. The Internet meant e-mail and posting boards (not to mention dial-up) and there was no Amazon or other on-line shopping. For a while I bought comics from catalogs, but it got expensive, and I fell away from the habit.

Warner Brothers Animation’s excellent DC Comics series (Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman the Animated Series, Batman Beyond which is the order I saw them in, and various movies), the fantastic Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and Amazon brought me back to reading comics – or at least graphic novels. When New 52 started I was so excited. I tried several graphic novels from Amazon, but I just couldn’t get it New 52. The characters seemed all the same. There was a negativity to the stories. I just did not like New 52. And I was disappointed. My graphic novel “itch” was satisfied by the occasional classic (or reprint – Nightwing and Birds of Prey, both by Chuck Dixon were and are favorites of mine).

This Summer has been the Summer of Rebirth and I love it. I also love that I have a small, independent comics store I go to – with a knowledgeable, chatty, and largely female staff. And I love Rebirth. This is my DC. Rebirth sweeps away the dark, stark, yet everyone is the same quality that New 52 had. Rebirth gives us diversity in how the characters behave, and hopefully will bring back more diverse characters (the mid-to-late 1980s were a very diverse time at DC with many African American characters and a lot of women) – Rebirth has already given us a Muslim Green Lantern and his partner a female Green Lantern. One can hope that the few diverse characters introduced during New 52 (Cyborg (already a keeper in the New Justice League), Kate Kane the Batwoman, Bat-Wing, the new Dr. Fate etc.) will stick around. But the story and writing in the new books is simply a joy to read – these are the characters, and even situations, I love.

Two weeks ago I read Nightwing Rebirth – grown-up Dick Grayson has always been one of my favorite characters in Batman’s world (I also love Alfred and Oracle). I’m a fan of the Chuck Dixon Nightwing series (if someone can still be a fan of a comics series from the 1990s). I picked up my comics that week, then went to meet some people at the movie theater to see Ghostbusters (which was AWESOME but that’s another post), I was too late to go home, but too early to want to stand around in the multiplex lobby. I headed over to the local Starbucks that ended-up having a huge line. Deciding to skip the green iced tea I normally get there, I headed to a table, carefully opened Nightwing Rebirth and started to read. And two tables away from me another woman was also carefully opening her new comics, and starting to read. By the end of the book I was grinning like an idiot. This was my Nightwing, my DC. Back in his black and blue costume, Dick looked fantastic – and, well, like Dick Grayson – not in the red and black costume that made him look like Terry McGinnis from Batman Beyond. I love Batman Beyond, which is why giving Terry’s costume to Dick both made no sense and was disrespectful of both characters. And as to Dick’s years as a secret agent – really? He’s an acrobat with no family (bar Bruce, Alfred & company of course), not James Bond. But after reading Nightwing Rebirth I was just grinning – I loved it. Detective Comics is continuing the “Batman Family” idea – with several female heroes. Justice League and Green Lantern are starting arcs that will probably be long and weave through the other titles – which is as it should be, but means it will be a while before the storyline can be judged fairly. I’m reading Wonder Woman – which is running two plots that publish every other week (Week A is “The Lies” and Week B is “Wonder Woman Year One”). First issue of Birds of Prey I also loved, but it would take some effort to mess-up that series – I’ve liked every version of it I’ve found including the television series and New 52 (though I prefer the Chuck Dixon version the best).

If you’ve been thinking of trying out DC Comics Rebirth but have been hesitant, I can honestly say that I highly recommend it.

Agile Update – June 2016

Wow, has it really been a month since I’ve posted anything? I actually feel quite nervous about writing again, even though I’ve accomplished a lot in the last month. Again, as I pointed out in another post, I’ve been moved to a different shift – I now work second shift, which I really, really like. No more getting up at 6:00 am, which any time but high Summer, means getting up in pitch darkness. No more driving during rush hour traffic that doubles my commute time. And most importantly, no more being exhausted all the time by a schedule that just doesn’t fit my body clock so to speak. But it’s still an adjustment to schedule things almost reverse of a “normal” schedule.

However, that’s not why I’ve been so short of posts recently. I’ve actually been very focused on professional development. For my job I need to be A+ Certified. It’s a very basic certification from CompTIA, and one I’ve held before, though I let it lapse (re-certification is expensive, so unless it’s necessary for your job or directly related to the type of jobs you’re applying for – Why bother?) Anyway, I studied a lot in May, and June – and the week of June 12th to June 17, I was really cramming for my second test in the two-test sequence (I passed the first in January, but was unable to even schedule the second test until the Spring.) I haven’t crammed that much since I was an undergrad in college. I’d get up, study for a couple of hours, and go to work. I’d bring my book and notebook to work and study and review during every spare moment I had. But it paid off, because on the 17th I took and passed the second test becoming A+ certified.

However, because I spent so much time working on that, other things fell by the way side. I spent last week getting caught up. I also, in the midst of all that, had some medical things to deal with that were annoying and not fun, and very much not for public consumption. But anyway.

So besides the career development step of becoming A+ Certified again, I’ve taken other steps too, and plan on more for the rest of the Summer, but without formal classes.  I bought the Serif Suite of Graphic Design Programs, which are desktop, not Cloud, programs similar to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. Remember that I took a couple of Adobe classes last Summer? Well, I’m going to be teaching myself Serif PagePlus, Serif WebPlus, Serif PhotoPlus, Serif Photo Stack, and Serif Draw Plus this Summer. In addition, I’ll probably spent time using Inkscape, Coral Paint Shop Pro, and maybe even Gimp, Microsoft Publisher, Scribus, and Pixlr. In other words, reviewing and learning new skills in the graphic design software I downloaded last Summer after finding out that not only was Creative Cloud out of my budget, but with it’s “Cloud” nature I wouldn’t be able to use it anyway because of the type of Internet I have. Yesterday I watched the training video for Serif Page Plus and used it to design a cover for a .pdf and EPUB I’d put together of notes and transcripts that I studied for my A+. Purely for practice. Though I should see if I can put the document on Linked In as an example of my work. I’d have to seek permission of the publisher of the actual training material, though – I just compiled everything into a single e-book. Additional watching of training videos, learning how to use the software, and practice with the software is something I’m definitely planning on.

A third area of professional development I’ve been working on since I started my new position as an IT Help Desk Technician is to read the Intercomm magazine published by the STC, the Society for Technical Communication. I’m getting caught-up on my professional reading. My membership expired at the end of last year, and I need to renew it. I might even look at their professional development opportunities, and investigate certification.

The other area of professional development I need to look at besides graphic design and technical writing is Agile and project management. I need to see what type of professional societies and maybe even certification I can look at in Agile. I love the system when it’s done right, and it fits with my other interests – professionally.

But what else have I been doing in June? Well, I spent so much time studying I didn’t read a lot of regular fiction books. But I did read a lot of graphic novels, and I’m currently reading a twelve-book series of Doctor Who novellas. All my book reviews are on GoodReads. And I added all my graphic novels to GoodReads so I have an easy-to-access list, one that’s public and shareable, and one that’s easy to reference.

And in May I joined the fitness club at work. I received a basic fitbit as a membership “gift” and I’ve been averaging 3000 – 5000 steps a day. My goal is to get closer to 6000 steps a day. I also want to start exercising in the morning. Not crack-of-dawn morning, but I don’t start work until 12:30 pm (noon-thirty) now, so I have time to do some exercise and shower before work if I try. It’s just hard to be motivated. I do walk on at least one break at work, and if the weather is bad I walk on the treadmill at work. I also have a goal to lose 20 pounds in the next six months – this is my doctor’s advice.

With all my accomplishments, though, I’ve been bad about remembering to record them. So, another goal is to get back in the habit of setting goals, recording accomplishments, and writing a weekly Agile post.

So on to specifics:

6/1/2016

  • Added all of section 1.4 to Messer Notes .pdf
  • Studied Wireless in A+ book at work

6/2/2016

  • Finished adding all of Section 1 Professor Messer Video Notes to .pdf document
  • Watched video on Windows Command Line Networking Tools
  • Reviewed Doctor Who Hyperion on GoodReads

6/3/2016

  • Finished downloading and adding Section 3 & 4 of Professor Messer Notes to .pdf

6/4/2016

  • Reviewed Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 on GoodReads
  • Added section 4 .pdfs to full .pdf notes (Professor Meser A+ Notes)
  • Reviewed All-Star Batman and Robin on GoodReads
  • Finished adding all Professor Messer Video Notes to full .pdf
  • Finished Word document on creating the .pdf, saved as .pdf, added to full .pdf, then imported the full .pdf to Calibre and converted to EPUB

6/9/2016

  • Installed Serif PagePlus program on computer

6/11/2016

  • Installed rest of Serif Software (Web Plus, Photo Plus with Stack Plus, Draw Plus)
  • Studied for A+ Exam – read Prof. Messer notes – up to and including Network Commands
  • Wrote review of Doctor Who The Nameless City on GoodReads
  • Wrote review of Batman/Superman Vol. 1 – Cross Worlds on GoodReads

6/18/2016

  • Reviewed Doctor Who – Spear of Destiny on GoodReads
  • Reviewed World of Flashpoint featuring Batman on GoodReads
  • Started adding “Doctor” tags to all Doctor Who items on GoodReads (tags are DW1, DW2, DW3, etc and First Doctor, Second Doctor, etc all the way to Twelfth Doctor)
  • Professional Development – read Intercomm (STC magazine) June 2015

6/24/2016

  • Reviewed World of Flashpoint featuring The Flash on GoodReads
  • Updated some Doctor Who books, audios, graphic novels with tags on GoodReads
  • Reviewed Doctor Who – The Root of Evil on GoodReads
  • Reviewed Doctor Who – Tip of the Tongue on GoodReads

6/25/2016

  • Watched PagePlus training video
  • Created cover for Professor Messer Video Transcripts and Notes Using PagePlus
  • Tried out homemade stuffed sweet peppers recipe (goat cheese and ground beef
  • Reviewed The World of Flashpoint featuring Green Lantern on GoodReads

I’ve been busy with the professional development and with reading and reviewing short fiction (graphic novels and Doctor Who novellas), as well as my steps on my fitbit for fitness. But I need to do more and get back in the saddle towards my goals.

 

The Flash Season 2 Finale Review

The season finale of The Flash ended in a shock in that Barry Allen, as we know him, no longer exists. Follow. Our Barry went into the Future then returned to slightly before he left. It was our Barry who ran in the opposite direction, stopping the magnetic ring of doom that would destroy the multi-verse, thus it was our Barry who was disintegrated in the Speed Force.

The Barry who destroyed Zoom and also ditched Iris was the second Barry, a copy, “created” by our Barry returning to the past before he left. It was this second Barry who traveled back to the Past to save Nora, Barry’s mother.  Second Barry rescued Young Barry and his father, as well as killing Reverse Flash outright and saving Nora.

But when Second Barry did that – you’ll notice that First Season Barry, who was watching disappeared. That is because First Season Barry – the one we’ve followed through two seasons of The Flash – no longer exists. As Zoom predicted Second Barry has now destroyed himself twice, as well as Zoom and Reverse Flash. This Second Barry is the only Speedster left, assuming he also didn’t wipe himself out of existence in a paradox.

Think about it – with Second Barry destroying Reverse Flash and saving Nora, that means young Barry was raised by Nora and Henry Allen. Nora never died. Henry was never accused of and found guilty of her murder. Young Barry was never sent to live with Joe West. Young Barry may have never even met Iris West, much less fallen in love with her. And, to make things worse – Young Barry would have never been driven to become a police officer – or with Joe West’s influence to not be a cop – to become a forensic analyst, a CSI. That Young Barry probably went to college, given his parents, but who knows what he studied – or if he even returned to Central City after college. There’s no reason to assume he’d become a CSI anyway. And he never became The Flash.

But it’s worse than that – because without Barry, What would have happened. Thrawn mentions Dr. Wells Particle Accelerator happening “15 years” later and he needs for it to happen earlier. Thrawn also rigged the explosion that created both the MetaHumans and The Flash. Did this never happen? Did it happen differently? Second Barry may have created Earth 2 where Barry has no powers, Caitlin and Cisco are “evil” – Killer Frost and Reverb, specifically, as well as giving rise to Zoom in the first place.

Also, don’t forget – in the finale of Season 1, Barry goes back in time to save his mother and stop Reverse Flash. Yet, in the house – he’s warned off, by himself. In Season 1, Barry heads the warning of, well, himself, and Nora dies.  Now, we have an alternate timeline, and a second Barry goes back in time, saves Nora, and Barry (our Barry) disappears.  What is going on?

I’ve seen the animated Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which I’ve also reviewed, but I haven’t read the 6-book Flashpoint (and World of Flashpoint) series from DC Comics. However, with DC’s new Rebirth maxi-series picking up from Flashpoint, and the fairly consistent dropping of Flashpoint hints and references in CW’s The Flash, one thing’s for sure, next season is going to be very interesting.