Author Archives: AJ

Future’s End: Supergirl and Teen Titans (Comics Review)

After what proved to be a pretty damn good first week, the second and third weeks of Future’s End have proven to be less than spectacular. A lot of the issues have either been dead-ends or just plain boring. DC’s penchant for making September the big event month shows once again that such things are rarely a good idea, especially since a lot of the stories have zilch to do with the actual Future’s End event, and they are more of just one-shots. A lot of the recent issues have been plagued by this sadly, and few have come out on top despite that kind of handicap.

This week’s Future’s End one-shots for Supergirl and Teen Titans have been a mixed bag for sure. The former has seemingly very little to do with the event, which kind of kills me since I wanted very much to know what Kara has been doing in the years since the war with Earth 2 and the disappearance of Superman from Earth 1. With the latter, we see how a new Teen Titans team has stepped into the shows of the old one, and this one is from Earth 2 no less! Right mix of stories here, and I found that I, surprisingly enough, loved both of them, despite having dropped off both titles sometime last year. Now I’m excited again!

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Witchblade Volume 2 (Graphic Novel Review)

Witchblade is one of Top Cow’s biggest IPs, by far. Unless I am mistaken, it is one of the publisher’s only two titles to have made it past the landmark 100th issue, and the only one to have made it past the landmark 175th issue as well. And one writer who has shaped this incredible run, more than others I’d reckon, is Ron Marz, who enjoyed a seventy-plus issue tenure before he got back on the title with issue #170 last year. Of all the Witchblade stories I’ve read to date, Ron Marz’s scripts have been the most consistent and engaging and my current read-through of his run has been a very rewarding experience.

Witchblade Volume 2 continues everything that Ron Marz setup in Witchblade Volume 1, taking the Witchblade’s bearer Sara Pezzini into new environs and with new supporting cast members. Unlike the previous volume, this one contains many one-shots that slowly build-up a larger story continuing the plot threads that Ron introduced at the start of his run. If anything, I enjoyed this volume even more than the first, though it should be said that sometimes the stories can be a bit too much by-the-numbers. Like Phil Hester says in the introduction to this volume, Ron defies expectations and notions of genre limitations.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #7 (Comics Review)

Following the close of the first big arc on the new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, writer Christos Gage launched into another fun arc that saw the Scoobies deal with ghosts of the haunted house variety even as they discussed some real-life, immediate problems such as housing. Christos’ consistency on the title was matched by guest artists Karl Moline and Cliff Richards who did a great job of staying consistent themselves with how Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson had handled things before and together the three of them delivered another great Scoobies adventure..

This week’s new issue sees Xander moving in with Spike, which is followed by some excellent bonding and bromance between the two, and also sees the rest of the gang dealing with their own problems, such as coming to terms with some of the recent changes in their lives. A good part of the issue is devoted to how Xander feels about Dawn, and how Spike feels about Buffy and that was kind of fun, to see some of the lingering threads addressed here. As always, I only have good things to say about this creative team, and nothing negative since they are so damn good each month..

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The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett (Book Review)

Peter Brett’s Demon Cycle series is another series that I wanted to read when I got back into reading in late 2011, given that his name often came up alongside those of author (very) popular authors on a lit of “best of” lists. I eventually got to read the first novel last year, as part of my “25 Series To Read In 2013” reading challenge, and the experience was… illuminating. As with many of the other highly popular books I’ve read in the last three years, I didn’t come away as impressed as I’d hoped/expected to, but The Painted Man was still a good read, enough that I wanted to carry on with the sequel, though I never got the chance to.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond (Book Review)

Angry Robot launched its Young Adult imprint Strange Chemistry in Fall 2012 and in the year and a half since, the new imprint has published a lot of great fiction, such as the Emilie novels by Martha Wells or The Holders novels by Julianna Scott. Some of it hasn’t been to my tastes however, and thus I didn’t enjoy them. One of these is Gwenda Bond’s second novel for the publisher, The Woken Gods. This is kind of a post-apocalytpic urban fantasy (though not quite extreme on the first half of that description), and it was certainly interesting, but in the end I didn’t come out with as good an opinion of it as I’d hoped.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Obsidian and Blood by Aliette de Bodard (Book Review)

Before I started reading Angry Robot novels back in 2012, I hadn’t heard of Aliette de Bodard. And then in June of that year I read her Aztec mysteries trilogy Obsidian & Blood back-to-back in a single week. The trilogy was my first proper taste of non-Anglophone fantasy, and he experience was both surreal and amazing. I loved the books of course, and the short stories that were collected in the omnibus edition. Obsidian & Blood is one of a very, very small handful of trilogies that I’ve rated as high as I have, and the entire omnibus made my list of the best books I read in 2012.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Future’s End: Justice League and Justice League United (Comics Review)

When I started reading Justice League back in 2012, it was one of my favourite titles from DC. Even through all of Trinity War and then Forever Evil, it was a title that I could rely on to be a damn good read, though there were occasional hiccups. Post-Forever Evil however, my interest in it has largely waned because I don’t like what’s going on in it right now. And this year’s Justice League United hasn’t interested me all that much either and is a title I gave up on after just 2-3 issues. But I still wondered how the Future’s End one-shots for both might pan out, being set five years in the future.

Surprisingly, Justice League: Future’s End #1 and Justice League United: Future’s End #1 are a 2-part story told together that brings in the future Justice League and the remnant of the Justice League United together for an adventure on Mars where they have to fight against an old ally, an ally who has become a mass murderer and a villain over the years. Jeff Lemire pens both issues, with Justice League United being the first half of the story and Justice League being the other. The story is all right I suppose and the art too, but I just wasn’t too taken with either.

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Edge of Spider-Verse #2 (Comics Review)

Last week saw the beginning of the big Spider-Man oriented crossover event Spider-Verse as we began to get the prequel stories in the form of the Edge of Spider-Verse mini-series. The first issue focused on Spider-Man Noir and it was a pretty good issue all things told. It introduced me to Spider-Man in a way I hadn’t thought possible and I came out of the experience wanting to read more about Spider-Man Noir and all his adventures. In that way alone the issue worked in a big way for me. But then came the great cliffhanger and I was sold big time.

This week’s edition sees a Gwen Stacy from another world take up the mantle of a Spider-hero as Spider-Woman, in a world where it was her who was bitten by a radioactive spider and not Peter Parker! This one-shot issue is a part of the beginning of her tale and I have to say that there were parts of it that I really liked. Jason Latour’s writing feels very engaging here, but there were some parts that I didn’t like, particularly not the twist with a certain superhero that I really love. And as for the art, the art was really good, all things told, though I’m not quite so sold on Gwen’s costume.

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Gotrek & Felix: City of The Damned by David Guymer (Book Review)

The Gotrek & Felix novels by both William King and Nathan Long are among the very first Warhammer Fantasy novels I bought back in 2005/2006 when I was getting back into Black Library reading with the Warhammer 40,000 setting. I was already a huge fan of Bill’s Space Wolf series, and making the transition to the fantasy side of things with both Gotrek and Felix was rather easy as it turned out. Even Nathan’s own work was great once I started reading it. But then, eventually, Nathan moved on to other things as Bill had before him, and the tale of the Trollslayer and his rememberer passed into the hands of another new generation of writers.

Of these new writers, David Guymer is one of only two writers who have been asked to continue on the adventures of Gotrek Gurnisson and Felix Jaeger. I’ve read both of Josh Reynolds’ novels, Road of Skulls and The Serpent Queen and loved them both. With David however, the transition has not been easy, though I liked the audio drama he did with them last year. City of The Damned is a continuity-free novel like both of Josh’s novels, but it also is set up as a prequel to the more recent release, Kinslayer which is the first part of the Doom of Gotrek storyline and is the penultimate novel in the final ending of Gotrek’s saga. I read it earlier this month and I have somewhat mixed feelings about it.

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Gotham Central Special Edition #1 (Comics Review)

In a few short weeks, comics fans will be treated to Gotham, a gritty noir-styled live-action show that deals in the early days and the origins of some of the greatest heroes and villains in Gotham City, the home of one of the world’s most well-known superhero vigilantes, Batman. After the success of Arrow, Warner Bros. is launching several new shows this Fall season and Gotham is one of them, with a main cast that includes Gotham stalwarts Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, as well as villains such as Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot and others.

To mark the upcoming debut of the show, DC this week released a reprint of Gotham Central Special Edition #1, which is the prequel to Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, three of the biggest names in comics these days. This one-shot issue deals with a regular investigation gone wrong as Mr. Freeze steps in on the scene, and shows how Gotham’s finest deal with the danger of the supervillain running loose once more in the city. Rucka and Brubaker have crafted a really engaging tale here, which is brought to life by Lark and the other artists.

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Witchblade Volume 1 (Graphic Novel Review)

In the last couple years Top Cow’s Witchblade IP has become one of my favourite reads in comics. Whether it is Witchblade/Sara Pezzini in the pages of Artifacts or Witchblade or in any crossovers here and there, I’ve always loved her as a character. Sara Pezzini to me is one of the best female characters in comics, by far, easily a match for the greats such as Wonder Woman or Storm or Batgirl or Black Widow. And if there is one man out there who has shaped my experience of Sara Pezzini, it is Ron Marz, who has written more Witchblade than any other writer and has had a long run on the core title as well.

Witchblade Volume 1, from my understanding of things, marks a new phase in the life of the protagonist Sara Pezzini as she continues to bear the heavy burden of being the bearer of the Witchblade, a mysterious artifact that has bonded itself to her and has allowed her to face criminals of all stripes and even the more supernatural of individuals. This was Ron’s first arc on the title, and for me it proved to be some of his best work to date, not to mention that the artwork by Mike Choi and others was great as well, capturing the feel of the city and the dark tones of the story.

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Arrow Season 2.5 #2 (Comics Review)

DC Comics kicked off its Arrow Season 2.5 digital-first series week before last, which bridges the gap between the second and (upcoming) third seasons of its hit television show Arrow, based on its Green Arrow comics. The first issue was an absolute kicker, combining the best of the show with some really big action scenes that normally you wouldn’t get to see on the scene. It also starred Roy Harper as Speedy, all dressed in red and all, the whole nine yards. That rocked, for me at least. The wait for the second issue has been long, but it is finally here.

This second issue carries straight on from the one before, and it sets up the character relationships in a rather big way, going forward into the show’s third season. The action is very low-key this time, since the focus is much more on the characters, and I liked that personally. Start with a bang and then give the readers substance. That’s the case here and to be honest, I don’t think it could have been better really. After the great opening with the first issue, Marc Guggenheim and Joe Bennett are back for another exciting opening here, intent on giving readers an amazing experience.

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