Review: Groot #1

G4551039-groot_1_coverroot and Rocket are hitchhiking across the galaxy for a visit to Earth. Rocket is only there for support, of course, and witty repartee with our limited-vocabulary hero. Groot wants to visit Earth because he’s never been, well, as a tourist. But along the way their ride breaks down, there are (endangered) space sharks, alien invaders, terrorists, and bounty hunters. But as Groot says, it’s not the destination so much as the journey, right?

This is quite the fun comic with hopeful (near hippy) Groot and bitter, short-fused Rocket trapped in space. A lot of other Marvel comics focus on Earth, here writers get to play in space, literally since these characters are a sci-fi Abbot and Costello. There’s plenty of amusement and imagination fuel for younger kids and older. Recommended, 10 and up.

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Review: Teen Titans volume 2: Family Lost by Geoff Johns

tt2With the Titans newly reformed despite the adult heroes’ disapproval the team begins to act less as punishers of evil and more like a support system for a bunch of kids abandoned—or worse—by their parents. If they even have them.

The Titans get a mysterious phone call that Rose, the cast off daughter of the villain Slade, is in trouble. They arrive in time to help foil an assassination attempt on her, but are then knocked out. When they recover Rose is gone.

After the rest of the Titans finish escorting a pair of super villains to Alcatraz for San Francisco (and Super Boy finishes at school, and Robin finishes with Batman) the team assembles for brainstorming in their big mission—finding Raven, who appears to be reaching out to them for help. “Appears” become void when they literally begin hearing her screams. Raven is in the sadistic hands of the newest Brother Blood, who seeks to use her to open hell on earth, literally because she’s the daughter of a demon and his doorway to the realm. What was a pressing goal becomes an immediate mission (what with the water turning to blood and plagues of screaming birds and all).

The team has to fight a cult, and happens to run into Slade and the new Ravager, none other than Rose, twisted by the same drugs as her father plus his vile manipulations. Slade says he’ll help them defeat Brother Blood…if they give him Raven to slaughter.

This volume has a ton of bad guys, a ton of action and loads of teen angst. One can hardly wonder why all our heroes seem so depressed and anxious if this is what their teen years looked like. Also there’s this building element of nihilism, since it’s almost easier for all these characters to battle to the death or lay down their lives, rather than actually live them.

While a lot of younger kids were brought in to the super hero fold with the cartoon Teen Titans (and they should have been, I’m a big fan.) this is not the same Teen Titans. This band is sunk much deeper into a shadowy crack of the DC-verse and the mood and tension from these scarred, struggling heroes might be too much for younger readers.

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Review: Arrow Season 2.5

by Marc Guggenheim, Keto Shimizu, Brian Ford Sullivan and Joe Bennett

arrow25Personally I always find tv and movies more fun when you can tell the creators, actors, and crew are having a lot of fun with it. One of the reasons why Marvel fan culture has been more interesting to me.

This book is loads of fun. They took great care to tie it into the show cannon (even stating in the introduction that this IS cannon), and using the show writers to write the comic script. This volume hits on all the past fun points—Brother Blood, Slade, Arsenal gets his costume, Malcolm Merlyn plots some stuff, and there’s a side plot with Diggle and the Suicide Squad.

The tones are spot on as well. Oliver struggles with letting others help him when Arsenal gets shot busting a drug ring. Diggle leads the Suicide Squad on a covert mission to save young girls. And most importantly Felicity awkwardly charms her way right into Oliver’s heart.

Arrow is past third season, but this is still a fun fleshy read, worth seeking out and adding to a collection. The writing is great, the art is wonderful, and it offers a little bit of a patch for those off season withdrawls.

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Review: Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender

Alexis, a budding photographer and anti-popular-kids activist, lives in the oldest house in town. Like all old houses, this one has a long and strange history, and some very odd things begin to happen after a photo shoot in the backyard. Her younger sister, thirteen year old Kasey, starts behaving very strangely:  her eyes flash from blue to green, she has violent outbursts, becomes utterly obsessed with dolls and has no recollection of any of her weird behavior. Strange things also happen in the house: the air conditioner stays on, even with the breaker turned off, and strange lights hover near the bedroom windows. Alexis is worried about what’s happening: is she going crazy, or is there something evil causing all of these strange things? Most of all, can she stop her sister before she hurts herself…or anyone else?

This is very much a can’t-put-it-down-‘til-I’ve-read-it-all kind of book. Although some of Alender’s description reads like a textbook tutorial, especially when elaborating on subjects like photography and microfiche, she creates an engaging atmosphere and draws the reader in, evoking the same emotions in the reader as the characters are feeling. The family and peer relationships are very real, although Kasey often comes across as much younger than she is, and is often treated by the characters as if she were half their age. There are excellent twists in the plot and the book was very satisfying on the whole. Recommended for public library YA horror collections.

Contains: violence.

Review by Stacey L. Wilson, Master of Library and Information Science candidate at The University of Western Ontario


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Review: ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte Usher is friendless. She wants to be noticed, but her classmates, including handsome, popular Damen Dylan, don’t know she’s alive. And then she chokes to death. Charlotte has unfinished business, though, and she ends up in Dead Ed with other teenage ghosts. She is sure that going to the Harvest Ball with Damen will resolve her issues, but that’s a challenge, since she’s dead. .

Charlotte is pathetic, but she isn’t sympathetic. She admires popular and beautiful Petula, whose main personality traits are vanity, viciousness, and super-sized ego. She uses her ghostly invisibility to stalk Damen, and she even convinces Petula’s defiant goth punk sister, Scarlet, to let Charlotte possess her so she can use Scarlet’s body to get close to Damen. But Damen turns out to have a little more going on under the surface than the standard popular jock, and Scarlet actually starts to like him herself.

Readers with a dark sense of humor will enjoy ghostgirl. Occasionally subtle, often sharp, and in places, almost slapstick (Scarlet’s bizarre tryout for the cheerleading team while possessed comes to mind), ghostgirl has subversive appeal. The story is seeded with descriptive details and contemporary references teens will appreciate. The book’s design is unusual and visually striking, with a “ghostgirl” in silhouette on the cover, and elaborately framed epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. Hurley is also an independent filmmaker, and as the events speed along, with acrobatics, car accidents, and ghostly antics taking center stage, it’s easy to see that the book could translate well to the silver screen. The growing depth of Scarlet and Damen’s characters, and the awkward beginnings of their friendship are probably the most interesting part of the story, but it is Charlotte’s first attempts at real friendship that take the story beyond satire. Ghostgirl is not a book that needed a sequel, but Hurley managed to leave a door open for one, and ghostgirl: Homecoming is due out this summer. Recommended for high school library media centers and public library teen collections.

Contains: mild sex, lighthearted treatment of death, destructive behavior, possession.

Review by Kirsten Kowalewski

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Justice League Season 1 Episode 13


“The Brave and the Bold Part 2”

When Central City vanishes Wonder Woman, Jo’nn, and Hawkgirl go to investigate, unaware that Green Lantern and Flash are already in the thick of things. Following the trail to a similar energy signature  in Africa (with Batman’s help) they end up in just as much danger as Flash and Green Lantern–in xenophobic Gorilla City.

With each part of the League only getting part of the picture they have to stop Grodd from destroying Gorilla City as well as protect the secret of existence of an entire race.

The only question I have is, how do the gorillas not know of who the Justice League is? One would think they’d stay up to date on the news of the creatures all around them, which is easy t find since we blare it through the air waves all around them.


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Review: Demon Queen by Richard Lewis

Jesse has grown up in the foster care system, never knowing his real parents. Unfairly seized by Homeland Security, he is released to the Mindells, a foster family living in the town of Longview. As Jesse begins to settle into his new community, Honor Clarke moves to town, dealing with the death of her father in a freak accident. Jesse feels a mysterious connection with Honor. He suspects that Honor is behind a number of strange occurrences, including a rogue pig interrupting a funeral, a student suddenly being attacked by a wasp, and an unexplainable illness contracted by Jesse’s friend. It is up to Jesse to find out what is going on and put a stop to the bizarre events.

Demon Queen is a very high quality, well written bit of young adult occult horror. The plotting is well done, and Lewis does an excellent job of making Jesse a likable and sympathetic protagonist. The characters have depth and are interesting, avoiding the stereotypes that often populate y/a literature. As an added bonus, the book may appeal to both male and female readers. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.

Contains: minor gore, references to the occult and witchcraft, animal mutilation and killing

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Review: Birds of Prey volume 2 by Chuck Dixon

birds2 ISBN: 9781401260958

Still hunting down the sleaze of the world Black Canary (with Oracle at the assist) stumbles into a slave ring with a twist. These slaves are also kidnapped heiresses, business moguls and other member of the One Percent. The scheme is a good one (forced labor and ransom? Score!)

Also included in this volume is a semi-romantic interlude with Nightwing, and the adventures of the female mercenary group, The Ravens, who cross paths with the Birds off and on. And sea monsters, for good measure.

Dixon expands all of our troubled favorite ladies and challenges them in less than physical ways. Oracle dodges the military and Batman’s babying. Black Canary tries to help people who really need it, sometimes even if they don’t deserve it. It’s nice to see them come together to a place where they’re standing up for people because it’s what’s right, not because they’re invincible or martial arts masters.

bop2Dixon also touches on the issues that super powered people would bring, like people suddenly becoming weapons in the nuclear arms race.

This volume has its fun moments, but also has a more sober tone that the first book. Still, it’s a fantastic read, very recommended for comic fans, and public libraries wanting to build a collection.

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Justice League Season 1 Episode 12


“The Brave and the Bold Part 1”

After the seriousness of the last few episodes we get this one, starring the stubbornly joking Flash. Not that Flash doesn’t take his job seriously, but his role as “heart and soul” of the Justice League is evident and even younger viewers can tell sometimes he’s joking and happy to protect his fellow heroes from the mental stress that facing the crappiest parts of the multiverse can inflict.

Green Lantern is less than amused, though, as he ends up being the one to help Flash break up a science robbery. Even as silly as “a gorilla escaping the scene by driving a car away” sounds, he knows to take Flash seriously. Someone puts a whammy on Flash and he wakes up hours later in jail.

Green Lantern, though skeptical, supports Flash when the police show them video of Flash finishing the robbery that he earlier thwarted. They track down the talking, driving gorilla and discover just another intelligent being trying to save his city. (We already know that superheroes come in many forms, right? And though a lot of the Justice League LOOKS, or can look, human, this season has already taught us that being, or looking human does not equal good guy. Likewise being or looking military, or police, or even looking like a superhero doesn’t make you a good guy.)

This plots bad guy? None other than the hyper-intelligent, mind-controlling Gorilla Grodd. He’s promised to destroy the city of peaceful, hyper-intelligent Gorillas because they too stood up against his evil.

Can I just say we need more “animal” and outright non-human-looking super heroes in these stories?

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Soul Eater Season 2 Episode 7


se2-6“The Black Blood Resonance Battle! – A Small Soul’s Grand Struggle against Fear?”

Black Star and Maka go against Stein’s commands when they come against Crona. Maka is determined to face Crona and Ragnarok alone. Maka seems to feel a kinship with the tormented meister, or maybe she is just determined to figure out the puzzle of Crona’s magic.

Medusa reveals to Stein that Crona is her own child, twisted and corrupted from a young age to become the Demon Sword. Meanwhile Soul tries to fight the call of the black blood inside him, only to have Maka agree to let it take her instead, in the hopes she can solve the riddle of Crona’s madness and defeat the Demon Sword, maybe even undo it.

But can Maka handle the insanity that black blood brings?

A lot of this episode is slow because it’s in Soul’s head. But there’s a little part of me that hopes that Maka and Soul can detangle the Demon Sword and save Crona. No one deserves the torture that Crona has seen.

(Side note: Crona is ambigiously asexual and which gender Crona is is never revealed. So sometimes if wording gets odd this is why.)

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