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Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas Review

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From EricMetaxas.com:

Who better to face the greatest evil of the 20th century than a humble man of faith?

As Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seduced a nation, bullied a continent, and attempted to exterminate the Jews of Europe, a small number of dissidents and saboteurs worked to dismantle the Third Reich from the inside. One of these was Dietrich Bonhoeffer—a pastor and author, known as much for such spiritual classics as The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, as for his 1945 execution in a concentration camp for his part in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Rating 10 out of 10

Get to know one of the most incredible men from World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and his tale of faith and love in a time of hate and intolerance in Nazi Germany.  An incredible story which will give you a perspective of that fateful time from a unique and personal perspective, written with insight and wit by the grand Eric Metaxas.

You may have heard the name Dietrich Bonhoeffer in history but more as a side note than anything else.  This book brings this man’s story to life, impacting your mind, heart and soul.  A man who stood for the Love of Christ above all else and how it impacted a Germany overthrown by one of the most notorious mass murderers in history, Adolf Hitler.  This book tells not just Bonhoeffer’s story but the story of Germany’s eventual descent into shadows of despair and pain.

What made this book so powerful was the strength of a man who stood for his faith even when all power of the land stood against it.  It is what gave him his heart for each and for the unity in diversity of humanity, no matter the ethnicity or nationality, that through Christ we are to love one another and help one another.  A powerful lesson, impacting our hearts today more than we’d like to admit.  This biography reflects themes and questions which impact to this day.  The story isn’t merely historical, it’s relevant.

Providing wonderful insight into an insightful life, Eric Metaxas holds the attention of story, only deviating from the life story to give helpful historical information adding to the context of the content.  He helps you feel as if you are there with these historical figures, experiencing the joys and the horrors right along side them.  Highly recommend this book and hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

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Your Vote Matters

Has this election year left you disappointed? A little jaded? I think you’re among a plethora of folks who feel the same way.  Some of you have your minds made up, you’re either voting for Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump (whether it’s because you are Pro-Trump, Pro-Hilary, Anti-Trump, Anti-Hilary, or some combination) and this article may not apply to you.  I want to say a word directed at those who haven’t made up their minds on what to do or worse, have decided to forego voting entirely.

I know what you’ve seen in the news and read online and I think if we’re honest, we are not happy with the moral fiber (or lack thereof) of the two prime candidates of this year’s election (Trump’s lewd comments and apology for them {1}, Clinton’s laugh at getting a pedophile a lesser punishment {2}, not to mention the past crude behavior of one and the outright lies told by another, but hey, maybe he or she has turned over a new leaf).  This isn’t meant to tell you not to vote for your candidate, but let’s be upfront about what is going on.  You can all dig into these people’s past and, honestly, you may be more interested in their policies than them as people and I’m here to tell you, that is your right as an American Citizen.  It is also your right to vote for someone else, because it comes down to your conscience on these matters.  You may think that well I’m voting for him/her to make sure the other doesn’t get into office.  If that is what you think is best, more power to you.  Just be sure you’re going with someone who respects the people’s rights.

Now, let’s to turn our attention to those who plan to “miss” the voting day.  I really think you should reconsider.  If you aren’t going to vote for either one, why not write-in the name of the person you liked in the primary (and there is, of course, third party)?  You loved Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders or someone totally off the radar?  Write his or her name in the ballot. This does two things: First, you’re letting your  congressmen and representatives know that you were not happy with the caliber of candidates this year and you’re letting your voice be heard.  Second, you still somewhat tell your congressmen and representatives what kind of policies you support by telling them who you would have in office (which more than likely means they will probably elect the prime candidate who most closely represents that view, almost like an indirect vote, then again, they are mostly indirect anyway {3}. But still can clear your conscience that you voted for who you really thought was truly the best candidate).  I think we have a big opportunity to let our representatives know how we the people feel.  Don’t be afraid to let your opinion be heard.  This is still an America that believes in freedom of speech, thought, and religion.  Put it into action.

And if you’re worried about either candidate being elected, I would highly recommend you look into the Convention of States (coming from Article V of the U.S. Constitution).  States banning together to make sure Federal Government doesn’t stick it’s nose in the affairs of the States too much.  Research and join up.  Time to speak up.

One last thing.  You may disagree with me on this but the honest truth is that God is still in control no matter who is in charge.  Jesus still saves, we are forgiven!  So it may be an old saying but it still holds true, “Do your best and let God do the rest.”

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Superman #1 Review

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Specs from DCComics.com:

“THE SON OF SUPERMAN” Chapter One

The Last Son of Krypton must decide whether to help his young son use his new and rapidly increasing abilities, or hide them from the world.

THE CREATORS: The team supreme that brought fans the adventures of Damian Wayne in BATMAN AND ROBIN returns for the adventures of Superman and his offspring.

NOW SHIPPING TWICE MONTHLY!

Art by: Mick Gray, Patrick Gleason

Cover by: Mick Gray, Patrick Gleason

Variant cover by: Kenneth Rocafort

Written by: Peter J. Tomasi

Series: SUPERMAN 2016

U.S. Price: 2.99

On Sale Date: Jun 15 2016

Volume/Issue #: 1

Color/B&W: Color

Trim Size: Comic

Page Count: 32

 

Rating 8 out of 10

What new adventures lie in store for the Man of Steel?  How about raising a super-kid of his own!  With the emergence of Jon’s superpowers, it’s Clark’s turn to be Pa Kent, teaching his son what it means to be Superman.  After a final farewell to the New 52 Superman, we get a glimpse into what it means for Jon Kent to be the son of Superman.

The Good:

While Action Comics focuses on what Superman does best, the new Superman title gives us a glimpse into the heart and home of everyone’s favorite Last Son of Krypton.  He and Lois are living their lives on a farm just an hour outside of Metropolis with their half-human/half-kryptonian son Jon, which are such fantastic concepts for a return of an older, more experienced Superman.  This is basically everything you wanted to happen for Big Blue, he’s married to Lois Lane, he’s on a farm, he’s got a son, he’s saving the world.  This series seems to have a lot of heart.  Most people love the relationship between Lois and Clark and in this issue, you see all these little moments they share, partners for life.  We see Jon use his powers trying to help but his lack of restrained has tragic consequences.  I’m excited to see where it will go.  Also really liked the art, very whimsical for a more family centered story.

 

The Bad:

It’s only the beginning of a story so there was a fair amount of set-up.  Makes sense and I’m sure the story will pick up on the adventure as the stories go on.

Other Thoughts:

Very excited to see where they will go with this series.  Superman has a father is a whole territory ripe with stories and I’m excited to see where they’ll go.

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Action Comics #957 Review

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Specs from DCComics.com:

“PATH TO DOOM” Chapter One

Superman returns to Metropolis just in time to meet the city of tomorrow’s newest protector: Lex Luthor. But it’s not long before these dueling titans meet someone unexpected — the new Clark Kent!

DON’T MISS: ACTION COMICS returns to its original numbering with this issue!

NOW SHIPPING TWICE MONTHLY! 

Art by: Patrick Zircher

Cover by: Mikel Janin

Variant cover by: Ryan Sook

Written by: Dan Jurgens

Series: ACTION COMICS 2016

U.S. Price: 2.99

On Sale Date: Jun 8 2016

Volume/Issue #: 957

Color/B&W: Color

Trim Size: Comic

Page Count: 32

 

Rating 7 out of 10

*Spoiler Warning* Turn back know if you have not read Superman #52 and DC Comics Rebirth #1 and do not want spoilers.  You have been sufficiently warned!

 

Spinning out of the pages of Superman #52, DC Universe: Rebirth #1, and Superman: Rebirth #1, this title lives up to its name by starting with a bank heist thwarted by none other than the protector of Metropolis… Lex Luthor!?  With the death of the Post-Flashpoint Superman Lex Luthor wastes no time in using the death of the world’s greatest hero to jump into the spotlight.  Unfortunately for him (fortunately for us), Pre-Flashpoint Superman is back and he has vowed to protect the world (and his family) out in the open to honor his fallen alternate world self/”brother”.

Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it is issue #957. Action Comics has gone back to its original numbering adding them together since 1938 and the first appearance of Superman and will be the first comic series to ever hit #1000! A big deal and I’m sure they’ll have a big story coming our way to celebrate!

**To explain what the Flashpoint is very quickly was a DC Universe event when the Flash changed history while time traveling and while fixing it a new timeline was created from the old. Pre-Flashpoint Superman (Pre-S) married Lois Lane, was killed by Doomsday, and subsequently was brought back to life (I grew up with this Superman). Post-Flashpoint Superman (Post-S) is younger and hasn’t been around as long but was the new universe but has some pretty fun stories over the past 5 years (unfortunately, he has now died saving the world). Now that you’re caught up, let’s continue.

The Good:

Action to start us off with Luthor busting up the bank heist (or did he?) and the confrontation between the newly return (Pre-S) Superman felt like classic Superman-Luthor confrontation.  Luther knows this isn’t the Superman he knew (Post-S) and claims he must be some sort of imposter and I think all the bad blood Superman (Pre-S) had with his own Lex Luthor made him somewhat rash leading to a fight. Superman’s son, Jon, was cheering him on the entire time while watching it all on TV (I love that Superman has a family of his own now, opens up for all new stories and possibilities and gives a lot more heart that has somewhat lacking in recent years).  Also, the return of Clark Kent (how can he be back if Post-S is dead?) opens up a mystery which leaves you guessing.  Plus, what could raise the stakes of the return of Superman? How about the return of the monster who once killed him? That’s right, get ready for Doomsday!

I am really excited to see the return of this Superman, and now he has a family of his own! cannot wait to see how this develops him and his world.  It’s about time! I loved that I was born at a time that many superheroes were married/getting married in comics.  I just find that it opens up for even more stories of hardship and triumph.  Now it’s marriage plus kids!

The Bad:

Story was a little lacking and rushed the return of Superman.  A bigger moment would have been preferred.  Superman didn’t save anyone from anything.  If fact, he started a fight.  Not a great way to return.

 

Other Thoughts:

It’s exciting to see a whole new world of stories open up now that (Pre-S) Superman is back in the spotlight of the world (and living on a farm just outside of Metropolis!).  I always loved the marriage of Lois and Clark and am so glad they brought them back.  The Post-Flashpoint world made all the DC Universe characters younger and most were then reverted back to Single status, plus Lois and Clark in the Post-Flashpoint world never even had a romantic relationship at anytime!  It was enough to make a long-time fan a sad shade of blue.  But they haven’t simply brought back the fantastic and grounding love and marriage of the most recognizable couple in comics, they’ve added to the story with their son Jon! It’s Superman’s turn to be Pa Kent as his son starts developing poets of his own.

Definitely want to check out what’s next for the Man of Steel.

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X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) Review

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Score 8 out of 10

When an age-old mutant known as Apocalypse re-emerges in modern times, a new team of X-Men band together to save the world from him and his four horsemen.  The return of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, and even Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Storm and Nightcrawler!

The Run Down:

After reading some not-so-stellar reviews for this movie, my wife and I went to see this movie and we loved it!  Taking place ten years after the fantastic X-Men: Days of Future Past (the past part) movie, we pick up in the 80’s (making this movie even better!) where Charles Xavier aka Prof. X (James McAvoy) is building his school for gifted youngsters with the help of Hank McCoy aka Beast (Nicholas Hoult) welcome a new young mutant name Scott Summers aka Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) aka my favorite X-Man who meets Jean Grey aka Marvel Girl (Sophie Turner), Jubilee (Lana Condor) and even Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee).  While that is going on Magneto aka Eric Lehnsherr has been living a nice, quiet, normal life but his world gets turned upside down.  Mystique aka Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) after being branded a hero after saving so many lives in the last film is hiding herself, helping persecuted mutant when and where she can.  Unknown to all of them, a mutant from ancient Egypt named En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has been awaken and he is not happy with the shape of the world.  To begin again, he plans to destroy the old where only the strong survive.  The X-Men suit up to take on the near all-powerful being to save the world.

The Good:

There are tons of reasons to love this movie.  It’s in the 80’s (gotta love the 80’s, the music, the hair, the crazy jackets, but I digress), epic action, fantastic effects, great actors, etc.  The movie had a lot of heart and we got a further glimpse into the history of some of our favorite cinematic mutants which we lacked in prior movies (without Wolverine being the center of an X-Men movie allowed some other folks to shine which was a much-needed change).

Magneto’s tragic story was taken even further in this movie which was sad but great all at the same time.  You feel that almost all the good things in this man’s life have been taken from him, mostly by men who fear what they don’t understand.  You completely understand why he becomes a big villain in the X-Men’s future (or will he?).  Fantastic acting and his interactions with Prof. X are always heartfelt with a twinge of sadness.

Professor X is still the embodiment of hope in a world of fear and hatred, a teacher who shows his gifted youngsters that they are not freaks or monsters but specially gifted individuals who have a chance to change the world for the better.  His dream (contrary to the main big bad, Apocalypse) can be summed up by his best quote in the film, “Those who are the strongest… protect those that aren’t.”

Apocalypse was a fantastic villain who basically believes that only the strong should survive and his main goal is to create such a world where the weak and anyone who would try to protect them will perish.  He can also amp up other mutants (usually messing with their minds in the process so they do his bidding).  Think of him has a dark would-be god, whose code is survival of the fittest.

Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Storm (and Jubilee) get a little more back story in this film which was fantastic to see. They are all just starting out and are not yet the confident men and women we know they will become (if they survive the experience).  Great to see these guys in the film.

 

Loved the idea of hope and redemption in this movie.  Just because someone has gone down the wrong path, has messed up, doesn’t mean they cannot come back and be better. The people in your life who care about you will always stand for you.  Always like to see heroes standing up for what is right, no matter the odds (isn’t that why we love superhero movies?).  The X-Men have always been the family you make, who stand with you and stand for others when they cannot stand for themselves.  Protecting a world which fears and hates them, showing them there is a better way.

Finally more Cyclops!

 

The Bad:

There weren’t many great explanations on why a lot of Apocalypse’s “Four Horsemen” followed him.  Did they do it because they believed in his dream or because he put a mind whammy on him? Not very clear.  I wish there was a little more time to explore some of the new (old?) characters introduced (Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler, Storm) but I get that the movie can only fir so much.  They balanced it well for the most part.

 

Other Thoughts:

This movie really reminded me what I love about the X-Men.  While Marvel movies have been killing it, Marvel comics have gotten worse and worse over time (especially for the X-Men).  They continue to take great characters and make them worse and worse.  It’s apparently terribly boring in a story if someone tries to do the right thing.  They either become terribly messed up (or evil) but Lord forbid they actually continue to care about helping everyone they can.  I’m all for heroes struggling and making mistakes, that is what it means to be a fallen human, but seriously, do they need to degrade so many characters to become killers, schemers, and terrorists? Come on, give a few heroes who get knocked down but always get back up (I’m all about taking the character on a journey even a dark journey with redemption).  Like a paraphrase of  G.K. Chesterton, “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”  Give people some hope in all that is good and right again.

Had a lot of religious themes and references in this movie but none of which seemed highly offensive.  Basically, Apocalypse claims to be a god, but he doesn’t care for anyone other than creating and amassing strength and power.  Mutant’s powers are refered to as a “sign of God,” multiple times they mention the grace of God, and Nightcrawler says a prayer as they head into danger.  I like that sort of thing, making people think a little about the meaning of life and where we get the moral law from, other than Apocalypse’s brand of “might makes right.”  If you dislike that sort of thing, this movie may not be your cup of tea.

Themes

Hope, Faith, Redemption, Family, Home

Survival of the Fittest vs. Strong Protecting the Weak

 

Specs from FoxMovies.com:

Following the critically acclaimed global smash hit X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer returns with X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshipped as a god. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

GENRES Action / Adventure

DIRECTOR Bryan Singer
PRODUCERS Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner
SCREENPLAY Simon Kinberg
STORY BY Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris
ACTORS James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Josh Helman, Lana Condor, Ben Hardy

Specs from IMDB.com:

 

Plot Keywords: mutant | x men | superhero team | superhero | year 1983See All (427) »

Taglines: Prepare for the Apocalypse. See more »

Genres: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images | See all certifications »

Technical Specs

Runtime: 144 min

Sound Mix: Dolby Atmos

Color: Color

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1

See full technical specs »

 

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Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #1 Review

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Specs from DCComics.com:

Art by: Neal Adams

Cover by: Neal Adams

Variant cover by: Neal Adams

Written by: Neal Adams

U.S. Price: 3.99

On Sale Date: Feb 24 2016

Volume/Issue #: 1

Color/B&W: Color

Trim Size: Comic

Page Count: 32

From legendary writer/artist Neal Adams comes a threat so epic it will take more than one Man of Steel to handle it in this new 6-issue miniseries!

As Darkseid and the hordes of Apokolips lay waste to the world, even Superman is overwhelmed—but not for long, as three heroes from the miniaturized city of Kandor emerge at full size, armed with all the vast powers of Kal-El, ready to become the new Supermen!

This battle of titans also features the machinations of Lex Luthor, plus fan favorites Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane aiding in the fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Score: 6 out of 10

Superman has his hands full with additional Sons of Krypton arriving in Metropolis along with a BoomTube full of parademons led by none other than Kalibak, son of Darkseid, Ruler of Apokolips.  Plus he’s taking care of a displaced orphan and his dog.  A lot going on in this issue.

The Good:

I love the classic Superman feel of this book.  We got Superman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luther, a menace from another world (the New Gods are always fun so I hope we get the full spectrum in future issues, not just the evil ones).  The Neal Adams’ art has a classic feel to it that makes you feel like a kid in a comic store (really, aren’t we all?).

The Bad:

I have the same problem with most #1 issues as this one, too much set-up, not enough action! There are comics that are action packed almost from the get go.  While this one has action, it is interrupted by explanation and observation. Still, I’m excited to see where this book goes.

Other Thoughts:

If you love classic Superman stories, this comic is for you.  I got a feeling it’ll be a fun ride that you or your kid would love! (But seriously, why is it rated T for teen? It seems as though any age could enjoy it)

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Huck #1 Review

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Specs from ImageComics.com:

Story By: Mark Millar

Art By: Rafael Albuquerque

Cover By: Rafael Albuquerque

Variant Cover By: Rafael Albuquerque

Published: November 18, 2015

Diamond ID: SEP150568

Digital : $2.99

Print: $3.50

In a quiet seaside town, Huck uses his special gifts to do a good deed each day. His neighbors return the favors by keeping his abilities a secret. But when a newcomer alerts the media, a firestorm erupts, sending Huck on an adventure that will change everything. This brand-new series from writer MARK MILLAR and artist RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE presents a comicbook unlike anything you’ve read before. Featuring a Feel-Good Movie variant cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE.

Score: 8 out of 10

Left with a note asking, “Please love him,” as a baby, Huck has been raised to try and do at least one good deed a day and he has the superpowers do do some pretty big good deeds!  Some see him as the slow man who works at the gas station but most of the town knows he has power beyond those of mortal men and the biggest heart you’ll ever find.

The Good:

This book has so much potential.  The art (by Rafael Albuquerque and colored by Dave McCaig) has a quality about it that makes you think old-fashion mixed with adventure and thats exactly what I’m hoping to get from this series.  In recent interviews, Millar has expressed that this is a story like that of a classic Superman story, a man with amazing powers who chooses to use these gifts for the good of others.  I honestly loved the introduction of this story, giving you an average look at Huck’s week, doing random acts of good for folks in his town, most of the time, without them ever knowing it was him.  With so many stories of dark, tormented anti-heroes, I can take a breath of fresh air with this new story.  Excited to see where this goes.

The Bad:

It’s the first issue, nothing really “bad” about it, the story has only just begun.

Other Thoughts:

It’s also seems to be good for all ages (you sadly don’t find that as much in comics these days even though these are superheroes and I’m sure kids would love to have more stories that they could read) however, he does deal with kidnappers in North Africa who have kidnapped a group of young girls and tells them they will make great wives, there is nothing particularly vulgar in what is said but we obviously know it is meant as an evil future acts on these innocent girls (don’t worry, Huck steps in to save the day). So if that freaks you out then, yes, steer clear.

All in all, a fantastic start to an interesting new series.  Hope it does well and that the goodness at the heart of the story rubs off on some of the other big superhero comics out there.