Author Archives: Abhinav Jain
First off, apologies to everyone who was waiting for this review to up yesterday, as expected. I ended up going to a cousin’s birthday party in the evening and that took up a huge chunk of my reading time. And when I sat down to read the issues again for the review, I was just way too tired and kept dozing off in the middle. So once again, apologies.
Now, for the review. Given the immense proliferation of Batman-related titles in the New 52, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run is the only one I stuck with when I begin reading comics again last year. It was a maze of titles and I was unsure what to pick up. Recently, my fellow The Founding Fields reviewer Bane of Kings was talking quite highly about John Layman’s run on the title so I decided to pick it up from its fourth volume arc, starting on the special #19 issue which commemorates what would have been the 900th issue of Detective Comics had DC not renumbered their titles for the New 52.
And I found that I quite enjoyed these issues. Layman’s writing is fantastic, easily a match for Snyder’s and the same can be said for Fabok’s art, which is just as good as Capullo’s but is stylistically different. Whether its the special, or the conclusion of the Emperor Penguin saga or the League of Assassins one-shot or the three-issue arc with the villain Wrath, I enjoyed both the writing and the artwork. Fabok is already a favourite and now I’m a Layman fan as well.
Note: Some minor spoilers for the backups are mentioned in this review.
After the success of Matt Forbeck’s 12-issue run on the title, IDW launched a new phase of Magic the Gathering comics in October with Planeswalker Dack Fayden under the pen of new writer Jason Ciaramella and series veteran Martin Coccolo. The first issue was quite a fun read, largely in part because it kept the same tone and momentum as Matt’s own issues, which I loved, and I was quite looking forward to the second installment last month. But, for whatever reason the issue was delayed and it comes out today (still a few hours to go for US readers).
The second issue unfortunately suffers from a sophomore slump. Where the first issue was planes-jumping high adventure and Dack’s typical madcap heist story, the second issue doesn’t really offer anything interesting. There is a distinct lack of story progression here and I found that I didn’t like it as much as I liked the first issue. The artwork is still brilliant but the writing definitely lets it down.
By now I’m sure that you have all heard the news. Actress Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel movie. To use the big cliche going around the interwebs, the movie still does not have an official title. It is being referred to as both Man of Steel 2 and Batman vs Superman. Complicating that somewhat is the fact that we know Wonder Woman is going to be in the movie in some capacity and there are rumours going about that we might see Batman’s protege Nightwing in the movie as well, and that there might even be Doomsday, the big bad alien bio-construct who killed Superman in one of the most popular comic events of all times. So there’s a lot to handle.
But the focus of this editorial is the casting of Gal Gadot as the iconic Amazon Princess, who is the most recognisable and most popular female comics hero in the world, despite her 71 year history in the medium. She’s the only female comics hero that I know of who has sustained her own solo title for high triple digits, something like around 650 issues or so, not to mention all the other titles she’s been a part of, or the fact that together with Batman and Superman, she forms DC’s Trinity, the three most important and central properties the publisher and its parent company Warner Bros. owns.
If you’ve been reading your Marvel comics this year then you know that this was Marvel’s biggest year in quite a while, what with all the different events and major crossovers going on. I touched on this last night in my review of Jonathan Hickman’s 6-issue Infinity event. The next big phase for the Marvel universe involves the Inhumanity event, which is jumping off the events that happened in Infinity with the Terrigen bomb exploding at the moment that the Inhumans’ city Attilan was destroyed. The fallout of the bomb has spread all over the world, awakening powers and mutations in people everywhere. And that’s what the next big event is going to be about, all these newly-minted super-powered people adjusting and adapting to their powers.
Last week Marvel released a one-shot called Inhumanity which is a big tease leading up to the main event itself. There are going to be a lot of such one-shots until the event kicks off and Matt Fraction and Olivier Coipel have been given charge of leading the brigade and getting the Marvel fanbase interested in what’s happening next. Since this event is a spin-off of Infinity, we see a fair bit of recap here, as well as some big truths are offered up about the Marvel universe, truths that have been kept a secret all this time. It was a fairly decent issue, definitely among Fraction and Coipel’s better issues, and I have to say that I’m very curious about it all.
Marvel recently relaunched its Marvel Knights brand of comics, with Matt Kindt’s Spider-Man and Brahm Revel’s X-Men. The latter is the only of the two that I have taken any interest in, and the first issue launched last month proved to be quite a decent opening issue that tells a low-key, low-stakes story where the focus is on the characters first and the action second. Like I remarked in my review for it, the current crop of X-Men books all seem to be focused on telling the grand stories that affect absolutely everything and Marvel Knights: X-Men fills a niche in the opposite side of the spectrum.
The first issue set the stage for all the characters and it gave us an intro to the primary characters: Wolverine, Kitty and Rogue, as they set out for a small town somewhere in West Virginia where Rachel has seen visions of a mutant kid being murdered in cold blood. The story wasn’t all that dark per se but it did have a pretty serious message to it, and the message was that the X-Men protect their own, even when that person is not actually a part of the team. Revel worked in some really interesting commentary from all the characters and that was part of the reason I liked it so much. The second issue proves to be more of the same.
Ever since I started reading SFF for good back in high school, what I like to call my formative years of reading genre fiction, I’ve read some quite thick books. That was around the time when the Harry Potter novels were extremely popular as well and were following the trend of each new book being thicker and bulkier than the one before, so it was truly an interesting time. In more recent years, I’ve stopped reading big fat SFF novels all that much because I don’t really want to spend all that much time reading a book now. When I was reading like 3-4 novels a year, it was fine to spend a couple weeks on these books, but these days my daily life is far too fast-paced for me to be that slow.
While Scott Lynch’s debut novel The Lies of Locke Lamora isn’t quite the thicket fantasy novel I’ve read to date, its certainly one that’s taken me the longest, almost an entire week during which I barely kept up with my comics reading and blogging. The novel was that much of a slog throughout. I started reading it since I’d gotten caught in all the excitement of the release of the third book in the series, and I kind of wanted to see what all the buzz was about. So I had some high expectations going in, but few of them ended up being met and the novel generally proved to be a poor one with a lackadaisical plot, some uninteresting and bland characters, and limited world-building.
After all the build-up in the previous issues of Justice League Dark and The Phantom Stranger, writer J. M. DeMatteis gets things into gear finally with this week’s issue of the latter series. We’ve seen how the manifestation of pure evil that crossed over from Earth 3 to Earth 1 with the Crime Syndicate has begun to effect the supernatural-oriented heroes of the DC Universe and we’ve seen how Constantine and his allies have tried to take the fight to this manifestation, Blight, and failed. Now, Constantine has rebounded from that defeat by doing the impossible: bringing the Trinity of Sin to his doorstep in chains in order to solicit their help, essentially at the point of a gun.
Ever since DeMatteis took over on the series he has been turning out one great issue after another and this new issue follows that trend. It is moody, it has character drama, it has tension, it has action. Its got everything, in short, and DeMatteis has been incredibly consistent with his writing along with Fernando Blanco and Brad Anderson on the artwork. Issue #14 is where the status quo for all these characters really shifts and where a new (temporary) Justice League Dark is born.
Last time I mentioned that Sleepy Hollow had become a surprise hit for me after watching the first few episodes. I’m not a big fan of the horror/supernatural genre, but I’ve seen a few shows and movies over the years that I’ve liked, and a few that I haven’t. If done right, they can be quite good. If handled badly, they can be really terrible. Sleepy Hollow is a straight up horror show that works because first and foremost the characters are excellent and second, the stories are all engaging and brilliantly told with a clear overall narrative. The last of those two is quite important for any show, more so for one that really depends so much on the audience’s suspension of disbelief.
The first three episodes of the show really hooked me in right from the start. I’d started watching the show on a whim because of a passing interest at best but after that pilot and then the next few episodes, I couldn’t get enough of the show. As of writing this review, I’ve caught up with all nine episodes of the show so far (the tenth airs tomorrow) and its great to see that the writers have kept the overall story on track despite taking an occasional detour to tell some side stories that build on the overall narrative. These three episodes, they did a great job of building on the overall mythology of Sleepy Hollow and giving some new perspectives on all the events that have been going on in the town.