Book Review – Baxter Barret Brown’s Cowboy Band

TITLE: Baxter Barret Brown’s Cowboy Band
AUTHOR: Tim A. McKenzie
ILLUSTRATOR: Elaine Atkinson
FORMAT: Hardback
PUBLISHED: 2006

 

So, Baxter Barret Brown’s Cowboy Band looked interesting enough and I picked it up to check it out and realized it came with a CD of bass fiddle music.

*Sigh*  I really shouldda left this one on the display.

I googled the guy and apparently he’s a moderately successful fiddler, so of course he’d write a series about it (Note – I had no idea, apparently this is book 2).

I wanted to like this book, but it’s every single stereotype that I hate and by the time I was 2 pages in, I realized I was using one of those hick accents to read with because the book is written with the expectation of one.

But the book is… weird.  BBB wants to fiddle with the cowboys so he takes his Bass, which is about 3x the size of Baxter,  shows up at a ranch, and proves all the ways he and his bass can be useful – melting down a string for a branding iron, using it as a bridge for cows, a wagon, a….  ARGH.  You don’t treat an instrument like that and doing it cutesy in a book like this for kids isn’t going to teach kids how to treat an instrument.  (And yes, I do expect a little realism in my children’s books, even the silly ones… FIT THE WORLD YOUR STORY IS IN)

The words are part of the illustrations and in some places are a little hard to read.  Also, the toddler had ZERO interest in this book when I tried to read it to him.

The music on the CD isn’t bad, but it’s not worth the book.

I’m giving it 2/5 pages for the book and 3/5 musical notes for the CD.  Because I can.

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Book Review – Teen Titans: Team Building by J.T. Krul & Fabian Nicieza

Title: Teen Titans: Team Building

Author: J. T. Krul & Fabian Nicieza

Illustrator: Nicola Scott, Marcus To, Adriana Melo & Georges Jeanty

Format: Paperback

Published: 2011

 

Recently I decided to re-read my favorite comics in the world Red Robin. I had a blast reading it and I have decided it is high time for me to try and fill in more of the back story gaps I have and see what I can learn about Tim, his background and the background of the characters surrounding them. Thus, I concluded to read this particular comic as it is directly referenced in my Red Robin comic as the events of this comic lead right into the Red Robin I was reading.

In picking up this particular comic I was all the more in the middle of things but I was still curious and so I went along with it and I saw a bit more of the story surrounding Damien joining the Teen Titans for the brief stint that he was with them and it introduced a lot of other stories and ideas that I am curious about but it didn’t give me what I really wanted and that was more of my favorite Robin, Tim. It did give me a little bit of my second favorite DC comic book character Super Boy but it was more a Cassie AKA Wonder Girl centric which isn’t a problem because I also like her and I am fascinated and curious about her story but again not much was given and there are a lot more questions than answered for me in this particular comic.

Additionally, in this comic there is an Issue of Red Robin featured in it that I have already read in my Red Robin trade book, so there was a large section that was nothing new or of additional interest to me because I had already read it, and recently too. To be honest the vaule of this book to me is slim until I read it in the context of other Teen Titian comics. So as a stand along I rate this particular trade at a 3 out of 5 pages. Of course once I read more surrounding stories that may change and I feel it should have a higher rating after I have more story, till then my rating stands.

Book Review – Robin a Hero Reborn

Title:  Robin a Hero Reborn

Author: Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle, Steve Mitchell, Chuck Dixon, Tom Lyle and Bob Smith

Illustrators: Not Listed

Format: Paperback

Published: 1991

 

Again I have another old Robin book that has a very old school drawing to it that I admit I’m not as fond of but I suppose I can adjust.  I admit having started at the end of Robin’s Career as Tim at least the end before the new 52 (which I won’t rant on and absolutely loath), it is interesting to move to the start of Robin’s career as he is first determined to be Robin and his first acts as Robin.

 

To be honest it was kind of cool I loved how he figured out what was going on in a rather interesting mystery and then chooses to potentially sacrifice his role as Robin to be there to support Batman as Robin because he knows it is the right thing to do.  Additionally the villain who I won’t reveal for spoiler reasons was a lot of fun to read and I rather like the character and find them interesting to say the least they aren’t my all time favorite Bat Villain but interesting to say the least.

 

The story following is the story of Tim’s training and how he becomes who I love and adore and how he gets his staff weapon which I say I just love that weapon of choice.  I will say this set of comics weren’t as fun as the ones where Tim becomes Robin but it was interesting to say the least and I simply love the intelligence that Tim exhibits even in this story.  Tim’s robin is less fight and more brains and I absolutely love it.  I am always more into the brains than the brawn on any given day.

 

Overall the comic was an interesting and good read and I think I would give it a 3 out of 5 pages as it was worth of my time considering my interests but it isn’t as much of a must read.  Knowing the information is good though and helps bring life to the later Tim comics that I would always highly recommend.

Book Review – Robin Flying Solo by Chuck Dixon

Title:  Robin Flying Solo

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Illustrator: Tom Grummett, Phil Jimenez

Format: Paperback

Published: 2000

As I have expressed many times Tim Wayne Drake is one of my favorite comic book characters as he takes on the mantel of one of my favorite super heroes Robin.  So seeing that my library had a few comics featuring Robin I  was all on top of it.  When I opened the book I was surprised to see a very classic and old school form of drawing.  Yellowed paper pages with a cartoonist style drawings rather than the clean smooth and digital images that I’ve gotten used to in a lot of comics.  This story is about in the middle of a story arch.

At this point Bruce Wayne is not in Gotham, Tim is having issues with his parents being dead or missing and in Bruce’s place in Gotham is a man named Paul who is filling in the role of Batman.  It was a decent read but it was different and I had little past experience with which to reference the context of the story.  This seems to be the start of Tim’s career in with Batman as he figures things out and stops crimes as Paul isn’t the best at the job that he is doing.

Really there isn’t much I can say about this comic but it was a decent read and I would give it a 3 out of 5 pages because it was decent but it wasn’t my usual for Tim and though I appreciate the old style drawings but it wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Book Review – Batman War Crimes

Title: Batman War Crimes

Authors: Anderson Gabrych, Devin Grayson, Bill Willingham, Bruce Jones, & Will Pfeifer

Format: Paperback

Published:  2006

 

I will start this review with a warning to readers that my next several reviews are going to be comics and manga as I went on a massive comic manga kick as they are quick and easy to read and I happen to really like them so bear with me during this time and I promise real books will come eventually!  Today I am presenting you with Batman War Crimes.  If you have read a lot of my reviews, you know that I am a big Batman fan particularly when it comes to the Boy Wonder Robin.  My affinity sits chiefly with Tim Drake also known as the Red Robin.  Considering that there isn’t a lot of Red Robin comics and a lot of other stories I have ventured out into other Batman and Robin comics, several of which I have not reviewed, for that I am sorry.

 

Anyway the back of this comic got my attention as this story takes place after the death of Stephanie Brown as Robin.  She was the next person to take on the role of Robin when Tim retired for a while from the cowl.  I had read the story where he retired and I would love to continue reading what happens there and I thought though I’m missing all of Stephanie Brown’s time as Robin this could be interesting this might be a really good comic!  I picked it off the library shelf and was excited to read it but it was nothing compared to the other comics I read.  Tim made an appearance but it wasn’t for long and it wasn’t a very strong or memorable story.

 

The gist of the story here is that Batman is getting blamed for Stephanie’s death and the death of other people as he is being framed for these other deaths as there is another person who is running around in the cowl pretending to be him.  This story follows Batman as he tries to get to the bottom of things and understand how and why Stephanie dies because it shouldn’t have happened.  It is to be honest a very dark time for the Bats as he deals with this and to me it is clear that he is dealing with a lot of guilt about the situation as well and thus becoming obsessed with his work.  To match and reflect the darkness of the story the drawing are very dark and gritty and the lines are very angular.  I’m not as fond of the artistic style found in this story.  There were really a lot of artists, letterers, inkers, and colorists involved with this story,  20 to be exact (this is why they are not listed in the specs about the book).

 

In short, I was not that enthused or gripped by the story like I have been with all other stories I have read of course this wasn’t focused on Robin and that might be the big difference as everything else I have read has a focus on Robin and I expected the same here to have a focus on a Robin.  So I will give this a 2 out of 5 pages as I wouldn’t really recommend this as a story to read or own.  It was what it was and I appreciate it for that but really you are not missing much if you skip this read in the overarching story of Batman and his Robins.  At the very least the plot important things found in this story can be easily picked up in other stories that have a much higher entertainment value than this comic.

Book Review – Robin: Search For A Hero by Fabian Nicieza, Freddie Williams II and Joe Bennett

Title: Robin: Search For A Hero

Author: Fabian Nicieza, Freddie Williams II and Joe Bennett

Format: Paper Back

Published: 2009

 

In my journey into the world of Batman and Comic books I’ve come to two conclusions, 1.  I have an obsession with Tim 2. I am practically destined to read the story in reverse order.  If you have been following my adventures in the world of Batman following the character Tim, you know I started toward the end by reading the Red Robin series before slipping back and reading Battle for the Cowl which occurs just before the start of Red Robin.  Well I stumbled upon a Robin comic book that focuses on Tim and it was an instant must read for me because it featured my favorite young detective Tim Drake Wayne.  It turns out that this random Robin book is the precursor to Battle for the Cowl.

 

When first looking at the book I admit I wasn’t that amazed by the art work.  I found the work of Marcus To in the Red Robin comics to be far superior. The position of Robin’s mask changed depending on the angle that he is drawn and the lines are a lot more angular and rough.  I admit I wasn’t sure on the book because of that alone but as I delved into the story the short comings of the art work were quickly forgotten.  This store quickly drew me in and I found myself having a hard time putting it down.

 

The story of Search for a Hero is about the fall out of what happens when Batman is gone.  Nightwing is left to deal with the major villains such as Penguin and Two Face while Robin found himself in charge of dealing with the up and rising gangs.  In addition to trying to control such a volatile group Robin has to face issues with betrayal from people that he has trusted in the past, facing off against Jason Todd a former Robin as well as someone parading around as Red Robin and a young man that wants to become his own personal Joker.  Everything seems to be unraveling and doing so quickly for Tim and you wonder how he is going to get through it all.

 

I was gripped by the mystery and intrigue of the story.  Also the humor that is played throughout the story was phenomenal as well.  The humor wasn’t over the top where I was rolling with giggles nor was it under played, it was woven in beautifully with the story and didn’t break the pace ever but had me actually laughing out loud a bit.  I think the best reference was when Tim compared the three Robins to the Brady sisters.

 

Overall, I truly enjoyed the read and will happily give this comic book a 4 out 5 pages and recommend this as a good read for any Robin or Tim fan.  In general it is a good story and it doesn’t expect you to know everything as most everything is explained in the story.

Book Review – Batman: Battle for the Cowl by Tony S. Daniel

Title:  Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Author:  Tony S. Daniel

Published: 2009

Format: Paperback

 

I will admit that I am reading this particular story arch rather backwards.  I started with Red Robin (which has become my obsession) who was searching for Batman because he didn’t believe he had died.  I have now branched out to read the store of the after math following Batman’s death that precursors Tim’s search for the Dark Knight.

In this story the “bat family” have enlisted and called upon the help of other super heroes to help keep Gotham in lines as it had turned to turmoil since the disappearance of Batman.  As the city and the super heroes try to recoup things continue to spiral downward through the void left by the lack of Batman.  These problems strongly indicate that there is a need for a new man to step up and take the mantle of Batman and stand for what he stood for.

Yet in this story the question remains as who?  The logical response would be for Nightwing aka Dick Grayson the first Robin to take the mantle but he is hesitant and while he hesitates, Tim Drake steps up to don the cowl as there is a need and there is another deranged being who has tried to take on the mantle of Batman but with a rather loose interpretation of Batman’s morals such as killing criminals rather than arresting them and using guns.  The question then sits who is this new poser as Batman, can the super heroes stop this man and keep Gotham in one piece as a gang war breaks out among many other near disastrous moments?

I admit that as I was reading this comic I was constantly turning from one page to the next to the next review pages over and over again taking in the great artwork and the meaning of what was going on.  This was a powerful story that I know I will probably read again.  My biggest complaint and is that there were characters in this story that I am less familiar with such as Squire.  I think it is cool that other super heroes came to help and I love the idea but my knowledge is limited to the world of batman.  There wasn’t major history that I needed and though I may not know anything about Squire I could still follow along with story and it really wasn’t a big problem.

Over all I would give this story a 4 out of 5.

 

BONUS

 

Title: Gotham Gazette

Author: Fabian Nicieza

Published: 2009

Format:  Paperback

 

At the end of Battle for the cowl was a bonus story called Gotham Gazette.  When I hit this particular story I was given pause as the art style and storytelling changed.  Additionally there was a strong focus on several tertiary characters to the Gotham and Batman story so I have very little reference point to work from which made the story rather confusing to me.  I read it any way as a lot of it was some of the after math to what happened in Battle for the Cowl.

 

This story was a lot more difficult to get through save for at the end when the characters I know such as Tim and Dick made an appearance it helped set up a bit for the Red Robin series.  Additionally toward the end the story was also leading to someone figuring out the Bat secret and that to me is an interesting story arch but it didn’t delve far into it leaving me almost hanging.  The story ended well and I understand it ending but it was disappointing for me to get interested in a plot that ends a bit prematurely and is carried on a bit in a different story.

 

Over all, I think I would give this bonus content a low three out of five pages.  It wasn’t bad enough for a two though I found the art style to be a bit odd and drab and the story to be a bit flat but it wasn’t terrible and it did give me some entertainment and helped to set up for the future stories that I have already read.

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