Elektra #1 (Comics Review)

One of the latest new series to join Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! launch-phase is Elektra by W. Haden Blackman and Michael Del Mundo. The new series joins Black Widow and Ms. Marvel as the three big new relaunches that exclusively feature some of Marvel’s most well-known leading ladies, although Ms. Marvel is quite a twist in that respect. Both these previous launches have been excellent thus far and if the first issue of the new series is any indication then Elektra is right up there with them as one of the best comics that Marvel has to offer right now, by quite a good margin.

Elektra Natchios is a character I know of only through the Ben Afflect/Jennifer Garner movie Daredevil (a really good one!) and the follow-up Elektra which was a rather disappointing installment. So I don’t know much about her other than what I’ve picked up here and there over the years. But with this new series Blackman gives a great accounting for the character as he introduces her and sets up her first antagonist, even as Del Mundo and the other artists turn out one of Marvel’s best-looking #1s to date.

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Star Trek: Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack (Book Review)

Last year it was announced that the Typhon Pact series would continue with a new “event” called The Fall which would work across multiple books and involve some of the biggest names in both Star Trek fiction and the Star Trek setting. Earlier this year I read the first book in the series, Revelation and Dust by David R. George III and it proved to be a fairly good read, better than expected in many cases. Having fallen off reading any Star Trek fiction ages ago, I was quite unprepared for all the new changes that had been afoot at DS9 ever since the show stopped. But getting back in touch with the characters proved surprisingly easy.

And that’s what happened again with Una McCormack’s The Crimson Shadow, which is the second book in the series and focuses on a small number of crew from the Enterprise-E alongside several Cardassian characters, especially one of my favourites, Elim Garak from DS9. The Crimson Shadow was, unreservedly, an awesome read that dealt with Cardassian politics and the continuing rebuilding of their homeworld after the attacks of the Dominion several years ago. Una McCormack’s characters are extremely fun to read about and she tells a really exciting and interesting story that also ends up having some allegorical meanings.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #2 (Comics Review)

 Dark Horse brought back its mainline Buffyverse titles for their tenth “season” last month with the first issues of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith. Both issues were excellent, with some fantastic art and some great writing, so going into this month, I was looking for more of the same. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 in particular was a really fun ride and it did a great job of reconnecting me with all these characters that I’d lost contact with after going through all seven seasons of the television series back in college, which was quite a while ago! But they are all back now and I have a good feeling about all of this.

Released today, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #2 picks up from right where the first issue left off and it does a lot of things. Writer Christos Gage jampacks this issue with all sorts of things, most notable of which is all the character development in the second half, especially as far as the newly-resurrected Giles is concerned. And the artwork by Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson is just as good here as it was in the first issue, if not better. Great vibe to the whole issue.

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Original Sin #0 (Comics Review)

Last year Marvel went on a roll with their events, doing no less than four, and giving start to another. And this year it looks like things are following suit and that Marvel is once again doubling down with events. A while back Marvel announced that its next big event would be about the death of the Watcher also known as Uatu. He is a mysterious galactic presence that sees all, hears all, notices all, but never interferes. He is merely a… silent guardian of events as they happen. And its just any old death, it is a murder, the murder of a being of cosmic proportions and power and it all starts today in Original Sin #0.

The issue, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Jim Cheung and Paco Medina, tells the origin of Uatu and how he came to be the Watcher. Through the current human Nova Sam Alexander, we get a great introduction to this silent guardian and see what motivates him and there are some excellent scenes where the two characters bond, although such bonding is fleeting at best. While Mark Waid’s story is suitably cosmic and grandiose, Jim Cheung and Paco Medina’s art is not too far behind either and they turn out some gorgeous artwork along with the other artists involved on the issue (series?).

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Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Ep 19 (TV Show Review)

So the last two episodes of the show have been something else. In the wake of the revelations made in the recent Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier movie, that HYDRA is still alive and kicking and has even infiltrated SHIELD at its highest levels, the nature and direction of the show has shifted significantly. The current team of heroes, already suffering from trust issues with the establishment, has more cause than ever to trust anyone but themselves, and even that isn’t saying much since there have been several betrayals on that front already. Despite some conflict over whether last week’s episode was good or not, I gave it the benefit of doubt and tuned in this week, only to be disappointed, again.

The new episode basically maintains the status quo. All the fun action and weirdness of the previous episode is pretty much gone and this one is, as a friend put it to me when we discussed the episode, just setting the pieces for the finale, which is going to be very soon. The thing that gets me is that the characters still act as if they can do whatever the hell they want (looking at you, Coulson) without any regard for anything else. And the story doesn’t really move forward any, nor do we have even a hint of any appearance from two of SHIELD’s biggest names: Nick Fury and Maria Hill.

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Comics Picks For 16.04.2014

I was intending this week to be another big week, but since I was involved with the preps for a friend’s wedding (and the wedding itself of course), I found myself with less time than I wanted. In particular I was meaning to read some back-issues for the already-released new titles that Marvel has put out under the All-New Marvel NOW! banner that I’ve either skipped or stopped reading, but that didn’t happen unfortunately.

Still, I managed to move through quite a few comics, and even reconnected with some favourite titles like Warlord of Mars from Dynamite Entertainment and Transformers: Windblade from IDW Publishing. It has been quite a fun week in that regard, and as you can see from the reviews, lots of good times were had. Still, the pile of unread comics grows ever bigger and there’s no end in sight for that.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Warlord of Mars #100 (Comics Review)

Dynamite Entertainment’s Warlord of Wars is one of the very first comics I started reading back in 2012 when I returning to the medium. I’d managed to get a review copy of the first volumes of both Warlord of Mars and Warlords of Mars: Dejah Thoris, both of which proved to be surprisingly great reads and got me started on my John Carter/Dejah Thoris kick. Fast-forward to today, and I’m a huge fan of John Carter (especially the movie). I haven’t really kept up with the comics, but these are characters that I love reading about, and when I heard that Warlord of Mars was going to be hitting its 100th issue this month, I was pretty damn excited.

The momentous 100th issue features three stories, each by a different creative team, and the first two of these tell a rather interesting story about how Barsoom’s past affects its future, whereas the third story is all about John Carter’s calot pet Woola and is rather emotional. Before, whenever I’ve read a Robert Place Napton story in the pages of Warlords of Mars, I’ve never really liked it. But this time things are different. Which was great. And Arvid Nelson, well, I love his work any time of the day so it was great to see him return to these comics as well. And the final story by Mark Rahner was equally excellent, if not more so. And the best part is that the artwork all throughout was fairly good as well.

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The Blacklist Season 1 Eps 7-10 (TV Show Review)

Staying current on more than three concurrent ongoing television shows is a humongous task, especially if you have other things to occupy your time as well, like me with my reading and writing. I didn’t have a problem staying current with Arrow and Agents of SHIELD but with Intelligence, The Blacklist, Black Sails and Dracula thrown in the mix, I found it progressively harder. Thankfully, The Blacklist has been an extremely good show packed with great acting and great story/characters, as the first six episodes of the show’s debut season have proven to be. Elizabeth Keen, Raymond Reddington and others are characters I love to tune in for, and I recently finished watching episodes 7 through 10 in an effort to catch up to the show before the season finale next month.

Much as I expected, the show really amped up the tension in these episodes. The previous episodes served to introduce us to the characters and establish where they all are in the grand scheme of things, but with these episodes things go further. Now it is not about introductions but sustaining and maintaining the viewer’s interest. Chemical attacks, potential economic disasters and assassinations, it is a heady mix indeed and Team Keen is right in the middle of it all, as always.

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Transformers: Windblade #1 (Comics Review)

Despite some interest in Transformers comics last year, mainly in Chris Metzen’s Transformers: Autocracy, I never really took the full dip. I read a few scattered issues here and there but that’s about it. Nothing concrete. And then a few weeks IDW announced that following the intense Dark Cybertron story arc there would be a new mini-series coming up that would focus on some of the characters introduced in this arc, namely Chromia and Windblade, both of whom are female Cybertronians. That alone was enough to peak my interest since, throughout my viewing of numerous Transformers cartoons over the years, only two or three such characters have stood out. Which is a shame.

Transformers: Windblade began last week with its #1 issue and I have to say that it is one of the best #1s I’ve read to date. Writer Mairghread Scott delivers a character-driven story with lots of action that touches upon several aspects of the Transformers universe and does a great job of introducing characters like Chromia and Windblade to a new reader. Plus, the artwork by Sarah Stone is pretty damn amazing too, making it one of the most beautiful comics on shelves right now.

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Witchblade #174 (Comics Review)

New creative teams on long-running titles can often have an uphill task. This has happened time and time again in the industry and will likely happen countless times again in the future. But for the moment, I must say that the creative team of Ron Marz, Laura Braga, Betsy Gonia and Troy Peteri have been doing wonders with Top Cow’s premier title, Witchblade. I’ve read some comics from the previous creative team and while they were decent enough, they weren’t as good as what the new creative team has turned out in the last six months. The Borne Again arc has been a ton of fun, and no mistake.

Witchblade #174 brings this new arc with the new creative team to a close. Having rid herself of the Witchblade, all Sara Pezzini wanted was to live a normal life as a Sheriff in some out-of-the-way county, but then her past caught up to her and she was right back where she left things off. In the new arc she’s gone up against a madman and a zealot both, and now she ends that threat pretty decisively. Ron Marz’s writing is as good as ever and while there a few more problems this week with the art, Braga and Gonia still deliver a beautiful looking issue nonetheless.

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Game of Thrones Season 4 Ep 3 (TV Show Review)

Shock and awe has been one of the core methods used by the writers of Game of Thrones since the show began. Of course, the books that the show is based on have plenty of that, but the show has never made an effort to step around them, best as I can tell talking with various people about it since I’ve hardly read any of the books. After all, in the show premiere we had an incest scene and later on in the season we had a character explaining his motives while training two female whores and hardly anything was left to the viewer imagination. Rape, violent murders and more have been a staple of the show and it looks like the new season is proudly continuing that tradition.

In the previous episode that aired last week, King Joffrey Baratheon was poisoned at the moment of his Wedding Feast, thus ending the brief reign of one of the worst Kings that Westeros has seen to date. The dust is still settling after all that and much of the new episode from yesterday hinges upon the fallout of that massive event. “Breaker of Chains” is all about how old traditions are being subverted at every turn and it reminds us as well that the armies of Daenerys Targaryen are continuing their march on Westeros, breaking the literal chains of slavery across the Narrow Sea.

Note: Some spoilers from this episode are mentioned in the review.

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Ultimate FF #1 (Comics Review)

Recently the Ultimate Universe was invaded by the 616-universe Galactus in a cataclysmic event that was first told in the pages of the mini-series Hunger and then in a big crossover event called Cataclysm that ran through several Ultimate Universe books. The end result is that the mainline alternate universe of Marvel’s comics underwent some serious changes and in the wake of that event we have had a relaunch of several books as the Ultimate Universe line-up gets simplified and renumbered in keeping with Marvel’s current All-New Marvel Now! phase.

Ultimate FF is among these new books and it presents a new vision for the Ultimate Universe version of the Future Foundation. I haven’t read any Fantastic Four/Future Foundations books in the Ultimate Universe, so I have zero idea what the teams have been like previously, but in this new book things seem very haphazard. It is nothing more than a “new” version of the Ultimates, which is the UU’s Avengers team. And the art is very disappointing as well. It lacks polish and appears half-finished. Ultimate FF is definitely not off to a good start with this issue.

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