Author Archives: AJ
NBC’s The Blacklist has had an interesting second season so far. Lots of new characters have strung up in the wake of season one’s finale, and the Reddington Task Force has experienced some big changes of its own, whether that is losing some people or gaining some new allies. But things are still in flux, as they ever are on this show, and that is a good thing, since there are some mysteries still left unexplored, which define the show itself, and none more so than the relationship between Red and Liz, which got murkier and ever more mysterious in last week’s “Dr. Linus Creel“.
In “The Front” this week we see the heroes go up against a group of eco-terrorists, who have some grand plans for cleansing the world of the species that eradicates dozens of species a year. It all starts off with a murder, and by the end we are left with the team redefining some of its interrelationships and also Red finally getting one of the things he has wanted since the start of the season.It is not all that interesting an episode, personally speaking, since the eco-terrorists were rather boring, but the good thing is that the subplot involving Red and his investigation still remains a strong story, despite everything else.
Last week’s episode, “Go Where I Send Thee” was a pretty intense episode, pitting the heroes and their newest ally against the villain of an old folk story, he Pied Piper. Where Sleepy Hollow is concerned, such stories are often all too true, and the Pied Piper was one of the creepiest villains I’ve seen on the show as yet. I loved it quite a bit since I’m really liking the character of Nick Hawley, who is more an anti-hero than a villain or a hero, and also because Henry Parrish really seems to be upping his game in the larger plan to take down the Two Witnesses and bring about the Apocalypse.
The new episode this week, “The Weeping Lady” brings back someone from Ichabod’s past, a jilted lover who bears everyone he loves now a great amount of hate. It is a pretty grand episode though it also feels filler, the writing team using the expanded second season to squeeze in more one-off stories. At the same time though, it also shows that things aren’t going according to he plan for Moloch and Henry, and that they are being forced to make some adjustments. As usual, loved a lot of things about the episode, though I wish that Abraham aka the Headless Horseman aka Death was being given more to do.
New shows often need to start out strong in order to cement themselves in the viewers’ consciousnesses, and to prove that they indeed have some staying power. Of late, that task has fallen to one of television’s biggest gambles, Gotham, a show about the city of Gotham before Bruce Wayne became Batman, when guys like Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock were still simple detectives or when mob bosses like Sal Maroni and Carmine Falcone were at the top of their game. Fortunately, Gotham has started out fairly strong and seems intent to stay that way, if last week’s episode Arkham is any indication.
In the new week, “Viper” is quite the traditional “new drug on the streets” police procedural episode but it still stands a fairly good episode on its own. It doesn’t quite match the fantasticness of last week’s Arkham, but it still moves the larger story forward while also providing a reference to one of the most iconic Batman villains ever and gives Penguin and Jim both some really great moments together. I’m really getting into the groove of the show now and having a blast as well. This is a very different take on these characters than I’m used to, but that’s exactly why I’m enjoying the show so much, this week’s episode no exception.
James Robinson’s deconstruction’s of Marvel’s First Family has seen the Fantastic Four go through some really troubled times of late. Old villains coming back. Interdimensional invasions. Getting thrown out of the Baxter Building by the Avengers and SHIELD. The children of the Future Foundation all being taken away from Sue and Richard. Sue taking on the Avengers by herself. The falling out between Ben and Johnny. And so much more. It has been a trying time for the family team of late, and with the Original Sin event these bad times certainly didn’t go away, especially not once James Robinson began to revisit the plot-threads he had introduced in the very first issue a few months back.
To be honest, this review is kind of me catching up to this massive backlog I built up for this series. As such, there are a ton of things to unpack here. But suffice to say that after laying down a lot of groundwork in the first seven issues, James Robinson finally moves forward with the “real” story progression as he touches on concepts that plots that were hinted at back when the series started and that we continue to see how the Fantastic Four are fracturing up, divided as they are because of various reasons like Johnny losing his powers, Ben arrested for murder and so on. Robinson’s writing gets ever more heart-breaking with each issue, even as the art teams switch in and out over the course of these four issues.
Though Future’s End has been one of my favourite series of this year, some of the recent decisions story-wise have made me feel as if the writers are more intent on just prolonging the inevitable and also because the long run is kind of taking its toll on me. Except for an odd title here and there, especially Future’s End #22, the title has been great, but I think some cracks are beginning to show and I would love it if the writers got the series back on track with characters who’ve been missing for a while, and for the “proper” storylines to come back to the fore.
In Future’s End #23 and #24 we see the tale of the survivors of Stormwatch and the reluctant recruits of SHADE as they continue to battle against the power of Brainiac and his legions of robots. We also see, at the same time, the troubles that Tim Draka is having in his love life and how Madison is struggling to get over his past as a Teen Titan, a dead one no less. And in the midst of this we also get to touch base with some characters we haven’t seen in a while, like Fury, Scott Free, Constantine and Superman in some really amazing sequences, both in terms of the story and the art.
Despite having a star-cast, Ridley Scott’s 2012 venture Prometheus was a complete dud for me, as I’ve mentioned in my review of the movie from more than two years back. It stands as one of the worst movies I saw that year, and does an incredible disservice to the the Alien franchise, more so than the later sequels of the same name. However, it cannot be denied that there are indeed some interesting narrative points in the movie worth a second look, and that’s what Dark Horse Comics is intending to focus on its new series, Prometheus: Fire and Stone, part of a new age of books in the Alien, Predator and Aliens vs Predator franchises.
Prometheus: Fire and Stone takes place many years after the end of the movie, some hundred and twenty-six years in the future, when one of the neighbouring worlds to the moon designated LV-223. It follows a new crew, following in the distant footsteps of the Prometheus, intending to recover some valuable salvage from LV-223. But what they find on the planetoid/moon surprises them, and they inevitable run into a horde of aliens, setting off a great story that is quite typical of the franchise. These two issues are really great and I liked the art as well, worth making a movie about, actually!
Disney XD’s Star Wars: Rebels is the first big production in the Star Wars franchise released after Disney acquired Lucasfilm a couple years ago. Set 14 years after the terrible events of Revenge of the Sith and just 5 years before A New Hope, it follows a group of do-good mercenaries as they rock it out with the Empire again and again. With (relatively) recent news that Disney has basically kicked out all previous Star Wars Expanded Universe canon in favour of a new canon centered around the six movies and The Clone Wars, it is an uncertain future at best for the franchise, and how Rebels performs in the coming weeks is going to be a big indicator of that uncertain future.
Disney kicked off the show with four shorts focused on the various characters, and then an hour-long special a little over two weeks ago. Titled “Spark of Rebellion“, it introduces the characters to the audiences and gets them all together after the (somewhat) scattered adventures of the shorts. It is a decent series opener, as such things go, with the characters being interesting all of them, though some of the hallmarks of Disney are prominently visible character-wise. And as for the animation, well, it is certainly problematic in many ways and nowhere near the smoothness of The Clone Wars.
Kamala Khan, the new and current Ms. Marvel has been through a lot in the last few months. First she got caught in a Terrigenesis cloud that brought out her Inhuman genes and gave her her shapeshifting morphing powers. Then she went up against a bunch of villains, normal and eccentric alike, and even got to team up with none other than Wolverine, one of the greatest X-Men ever. And now she finds herself the proud (temporary) owner of Lockjaw, a loyal follower of the Inhumans’ Queen Medusa who has taken an interest in Kamala on Wolverine’s suggestion.
Recently we saw that Kamala’s powers were on the fritz and that it happened at the worst time possible, when her enemy The Inventor sent a giant murderous robot after her, which tracked her to her school and started laying waste to everything in sight. In Ms. Marvel #9 we see what happens after that, how Kamala’s powers come back and even how she meets Medusa for the first time, a meeting that has been building up for a good while now, especially once loyal and faithful Lockjaw entered the story. G. Willow Wilson knocks this out of the park once again with artist Adrian Alphona and it was a really fun issue to read.
Since last we were with this digital-first series, Arrow has already debuted two episodes in its new season, and has gotten off to a rocking and shocking start, in equal measure. The Season 2.5 comics still seem to be stuck in the “in-between seasons 2 and 3″ timeline, and that is kind of getting just a bit confusing at this point since the show is back, but the writers are still doing a great job of things, what with the reveal of a new Brother Blood in Starling’s shadowy corners, getting ready to exact revenge on those who don’t believe and those who have caused the new (legacy) villain some grief in the past.
Arrow Season 2.5 #4 is part recap of the epic finale of Season 2 and part background material for the new Brother Blood, Clinton Hogue. Before, we didn’t really know who he was (more like I totally forgot) or what his deal as Brother Blood was. But after this comic, we sure as hell know quite a bit more, and almost all of it is excellent. We also get to touch base with Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad in the 2-page backup, in a story that is developing more and more into a commentary on some real-life issues, and overall, this is a good, decent issue, though I wish that the recap parts, pretty much verbatim, were more minimal.
With the Fall 2014 Anime season upon us, it is time to get cracking on a whole bunch of new shows. I used to watch a lot of anime in my college days, but then I fell off and only got back to them last year, and it has been a fun ride, with some really good stuff coming out in the last year and a half, and some bad stuff too. But it is definitely a great time to be watching anime I think, given that each season sees upwards of 50 new and/or returning anime series on television. And one of the newest is Lord Marksman and Vanadis aka Madan no Ō to Vanadīsu, based on a Japanese light novel series of the same name.
Despite being a rather odd title, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is a decent enough story about a young noble archer who is taken prisoner before a big battle, and then must confront some of his prejudices and rethink on his loyalties and his ties to his nation. Tigrevurmud Vorn is a decent enough protagonist, if a bit generic, and the female lead Ellenora Viltaria is the same, though she is thankfully quite a bit more of a badass. The first two episodes look very promising, but the animation sure can be quite basic at times and some of the camera angle choices make this an odd uncomfortable experience as well.
Over the last several weeks, and even months, Marvel Comics has been setting the stage for Death of Wolverine. One of the most popular X-Men to have existed to date, Logan aka Wolverine died this same week in Death of Wolverine #4, in what was a heroic finale to the character. And where Ororo Munroe aka Storm is concerned, I as a reader know that she’s been worried about him for quite some time, as we saw in Storm #2 back in August, which was a really heartfelt moment between the two characters, who have often been lovers over the years.
And now Logan is dead, and that leaves a void in Storm’s heart. This is what writer Greg Pak deals with in Storm #4, also released this week. As far as I can tell what from what little Marvel I’ve read this week, Storm is the only character to mourn Logan’s death, and she does this in quite a spectacular way that is also typical Ororo. You really feel the emotional bond that existed between them, and you want to cry your heart out as well. It was a great issue for the most part, though there were indeed some things that bothered me about some of the ancillary characters.
After wrapping up the Armor Hunters event, Valiant is now dipping into origin tales for its many major books, starting with X-O Manowar #0 last week. While the ongoing X-O Manowar is firmly rooted in the present, last week’s zero issue showed us the man behind the armour as he was in his youth, an inexperienced and untested warrior. It was great, and I definitely enjoyed it. Matt Kindt’s Unity has been a relative mainstay of my comics reading since it debuted last year, and it has certainly been a very fun title, though there’ve been a few missteps here and there. But, it still remains as one of the best new series from 2013, by far.
This week’s Unity #0 takes us back to the closing stages of World War I as we meet up with Unit Y, a special forces team setup jointly by American and Britain to counter the Imperial Germany threat. The leader of this team is Gilad Anni-Padda aka Eternal Warrior, who is an immortal warrior and a mainstay of the current Unity team, and in this issue we get to see the final mission of Unit Y, in a tale full of deserved bluster and lots of action. This is a fairly decent issue, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite work as perhaps the creators expected it to, since it did have quite a few flaws.