Harley Quinn #5 (Comics Review)

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have been on kind of a roll with their Harley Quinn series. Starting with the #0 anthology issue and then the main series itself, Harley Quinn has quickly become one of DC’s quirkiest characters. Of course, she was quite a loon before, but under Conner-Palmiotti’s pen she has become something else entirely. I never thought that there could be a book from DC that was so off its rocker and packed with so much madcap humour. But Conner-Palmiotti have managed to do just that exactly, and it has been one hell of a read so far.

Harley Quinn #5 is all about Harley’s adventures with the old and retired agent Sy-borg, who has a vendetta against some old Russian gangbosses he thought he took down ages ago. Now he finally has all the intel he needed and he has drafted in Harley because of her history and her present problems. Unlike previous issues, this new one doesn’t advance the meta-story at all, but it tells a fairly decent one-shot story. And we have Chad Hardin back on the series now. The art is decent but that’s it.

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Batman: Eternal #2 (Comics Review)

Last week DC began its first weekly title of the New 52, Batman: Eternal. This is a story that affects the entire Bat-family and has some deep repercussions for all the heroes involved here. The first issue, penned by the Snyder-Tynion duo, was a fairly good look at a brand-new crossover in Gotham that sees the GCPD go up against Professor Pyg and come out with one of its best and brightest brought down in a shocking way. The two writers started the series on a bang and the art was also quite good, which helped a great deal. Now its time to look at what comes after.

In Batman: Eternal #2 we see a very focused story as Batman seeks to learn the mystery behind what happened in the last issue, and the other Bat-family members begin to get drawn in. What happened has some major consequences for them all, including Catwoman, because one of Gotham’s greatest criminal masterminds is returning to the city. Snyder-Tynion are still the ones to pen this issue as well, with the other contributing writers to the series serving as consultants. The same team from the previous issue is back basically, and they are all just as good as they were in the last issue, if not better. It is all about the big reveal at the end.

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Arrow Season 2 Episode 19 (TV Show Review)

Arrow‘s season 2, which has been quite spectacular all through its run and also significantly better than the debut season, is now in its final stages. We started off with a familiar Starling City and a familiar core cast of characters, but along the way many things have changed. Many new characters have joined the cast and the map of Starling has been redrawn by several new villains, all looking to make their mark on the city. But, there has always been a master-plan in place and in the last few episodes we have seen how all of that has played out as we get one revelation after another, revelations that have shocked the lives of the core characters.

In the last couple of episodes we saw Deathstroke and his allies take the fight to Team Arrow and humiliate them again and again. We’ve seen the good guys brought low and have watched as the bad guys became ascendant. Oliver Queen clearly thinks that it is time for the good guys to go on the offensive and that’s what much of this episode is about. Team Arrow has had it with Deathstroke dictating their moves and they strike back this time. And all the usual character drama and action follows, except of course that every performance is at the top of the actors’ games.

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Hulk #1 (Comics Review)

The Hulk has been a mainstay of various comics from Marvel over the years. In fact, he has also starred in several three movies, two of which he headlined, and has also made an appearance and been a star of several animated series. Often just a lone agent, he’s also been a part of SHIELD in recent times and is a card-carrying Avenger. I’ve read a very small handful of comics featuring the Hulk over the years, and I’ve always been impressed with them. Such as last year’s Arms of the Octopus crossover or Marvel Knights: Hulk. And now we have a new series featuring the Big Green Guy, written by one of Marvel’s mainstay writers, Mark Waid.

Hulk #1 apparently picks up from the final issue of Waid’s The Indestructible Hulk, which was one of the series that debuted for Marvel Now back in 2012 and has had a good decent run up until now. As we start the issue, Bruce Banner has been shot in the back of his head and it is all touch and go so SHIELD brings in the best brain surgeon in the world to operate. But nothing is as it seems and soon the caged beast is out and causing his own special brand of mayhem. Combined with a really interesting storyline and characters, plus some very good art, Hulk just went on my monthly pull-list.

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Batman #30 (Comics Review)

With their first arc of Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo delivered something wonderful. With their second arc, it felt as if they had kind of lost their way a little bit since it felt less focused and less… immediate. While their entire run on Batman thus far has been nothing short of spectacular, with Zero Year they went big and delivered some amazing stories and dealt with some classic Batman villains. I loved the first arc, second arc not so much. But I remain a fan because Scott is usually a damn good writer and because Greg Capullo and Co. are all similarly amazing, usually.

With Batman #30 the creative team begins its third and final arc of Zero Year: Savage City. The Riddler is now in control of Gotham and things have changed big time. No more heroes. Gotham is an island, cut off from the rest of country and struggling to survive. This is the Gotham that Batman aka Bruce Wayne wakes up to after the disastrous events of the previous arc, and things are gonna get a whole lot worse before there is even a slimmer of hope that they will get better. And as always, the art is good, but it felt a bit too colourful and overdone in some places.

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Ms. Marvel #3 (Comics Review)

 If you’ve been wanting to read the adventures of a new superhero in a world filled with said hero’s idols and what not, then Ms. Marvel absolutely has to be the book you should be reading. If you want to read a book about a teenage superhero struggling with the first steps in a world of heroics and the resultant headaches, Ms. Marvel is the book for you. If you want to read a book about a female teen superhero, Ms. Marvel has to be your first stop. And if you want to read a book about a female teen superhero of colour AND a faith not Christian or atheist or whatever, then Ms. Marvel has to be at the top of you reading pile.

In their first two issues, the creative team of G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring have done something incredible. They’ve managed to write a female teen superhero, who is Muslim and the daughter of first-generation Pakistani immigrants, without any grandiosity or pomposity. This is a book that connects with the average reader and gives them something unique and yet familiar. The new issue, out yesterday, is the best issue yet and it solidifies what kind of a character Kamala Khan is going to be and how she is going to tackle her superhero identity of Ms. Marvel.

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Justice League #29 (Comics Review)

Not only was Geoff Johns’ Forever Evil inexplicably delayed till next month, but also Justice League, which skipped the entire month of March and is now the only original series from the launch of New 52 that is behind on its monthly schedule, best as I can tell. The entire event has been bombarded with delays of late, and these delays don’t help at all. This event was supposed to be wrapped up last month, but now is going to finish 2 months late. At least the previous issue of this series, Justice League #28, was a fairly good issue that explored the origins of the Metal Men and featured some good story with some good art.

Released today, Justice League #29 continues the tale of the Metal Men as Cyborg leads them into battle against Grid himself, the sentient super-virus that had infested his body since his creation and manifested itself at the end of the Trinity War event to side with the Crime Syndicate. The first half of the issue is all about the Metal Men and the second half is all about Cyborg taking the fight to Grid. Nothing spectacular this time around, but I liked the story well enough and as always Doug Mahnke. did a great job on the artwork.

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Comics Picks For 09.04.2014

Another great week this time. Lots of fun new tiles and old ones returning for new installments. The highlight of the week had to be the upcoming graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones Jr. for which I managed to get a review copy. Long live NetGalley! And the graphic novel definitely delivered on its promise too, although there were a few things that I didn’t like so much.

With all the new series coming out, its definitely a good time to be in comics, and most of all if you have been a fan of certain series like Daredevil and Unity. I’m still behind on certain series though and there are a lot of comics that I am behind on, as I was painfully made aware this past week. And the pile is mounting every week. Just too many things to stay current with.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Ep 18 (TV Show Review)

Last week we saw how Marvel’s latest cinematic release, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, affected the status of the characters on Agents of SHIELD. The movie initiated some very, very big changes and that in turn meant that the show has done a complete about turn. The tensions have ratcheted up significantly and loyalties have really been redefined. It goes without saying that some characters have turned out to be not who we believed they were, and that was kind of like a gut-punch in the last episode. Very surprising.

Since last week’s episode, I’ve read a fair few reactions to the episode and to the movie of course, and supposedly the showrunners have known from the start that this change would happen and that they constructed the show around that. Well, it certainly never felt like that, but as this episode shows, things have indeed been in development around it. This is an episode that has me really conflicted because I’m not sure whether or not I like it. It had some really good parts, but it also had parts that I’m not a hundred percent about.

Note: Because of the nature of this episode and its tie-in to the new movie, this review contains spoilers about what happens in this episode, the new Captain America movie and last week’s episode as well.

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Dick Grayson: Nightwing No More

Before we go any further, it is important to point out that this post will contain full spoilers about DC’s Forever Evil event, so if you have been tradewaiting on it, or waiting until all issues are out, or any such thing, then you might want to give this a pass. However, if you don’t mind spoilers and/or you already know what’s happened in the event so far with Dick Grayson aka Nightwing, then read on and find out! The announcement-context of this post is from this article that was put up on the USA Today site a couple days ago (spoiler warning!).

Before the New 52, I didn’t really have that much of an interest in Dick Grayson and his Nightwing persona. I knew of him through the Batman: The Animated Series cartoons but that’s really about it. But when I got back into comics in 2012, among the first books I started reading was Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows’ Nightwing. It proved to be a surprisingly awesome read and I’ve stuck with the title ever since. I’ve fallen off in recent times, mostly because my pull lists have gotten too big and I had to cut corners somewhere. But with this new announcement about Nightwing’s fate, I anticipate that I’ll be getting caught up with the main series in short order and then jump on board with Grayson #1 when it debuts later this year.

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Caliban #1 (Comics Review)

Space opera is one of my favourite genres of fiction to read. You give me something to read with spaceships and big battles and heroes and what not, I’ll gobble it up. Space opera horror though, that’s a different matter altogether. Very different. I haven’t tried much of it, very little in fact. At the moment, the only one that comes to mind right now is an audio drama by Steve Lyons for Warhammer 40,000: The Madness Within. Now that was a fun little thing although it wasn’t strictly space opera. Still. When faced with a book/comic in a genre I love you, I’m going to do my best to read it.

The week before last Avatar Press released the first issue of a new series by one of the most well-known writers in the business, Caliban #1 by Garth Ennis. And mainlining as the artist on this book is Facundo Percio, who is not someone that I am familiar with. Come to think of it, this just might be my first issue from Avatar Press too. And this first experience has definitely been a good one. The script takes a while to get going but when it does, it is superb. And the art in general is quite good too.

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Secret Avengers #2 (Comics Review)

Marvel began its relaunch of Secret Avengers on quite a high last month. While I didn’t read the previous series due to a lack of interest, I picked up the new #1 as part of my read-through of all the new series being launched as part of All-New Marvel NOW! Bringing together Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Maria Hill, Modok, Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, this new series seems to be one of the most exciting of all those that Marvel has launched in the last three and a half months. The creative team and the cast are both solid, and that’s what I expected from the sequel issue.

Secret Avengers #2 picks right up from where the first issue left off and it includes some truly awesome moments that make you jump up and down with glee. You don’t really expect some kind of big flashy heroics from these guys, at least I don’t. I think of all of them as more subtle than that, much more… mature even. Writer Ales Kot wrapped up this short opening arc very well, giving a great taste of all the characters involved and the art team delivered on the goods as well.

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