Author Archives: AJ

Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 (Comics Review)

Batman ’66 stands as one of the best examples of superhero television done right. The show was quite phenomenal in its time and I remember watching reruns as a kid in the late 90s, and getting all excited whenever the action directions lit up on the screen with “BAM!” and “KAPOW!” and what not. Oh and Adam West was absolutely brilliant on the show as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Not to mention that the show introduced us to the whole firefighter-style changing room that the hero used to change into his “work-clothes”. It really was quite incredible and has enjoyed a renewed surge in popularity in recent months as well thanks to DC’s Batman ’66 comics.

The latest issue of the hit series is the adaptation by Len Wein of an unfilmed episode of the show that saw the debut of none other than Two-Face, the Duke of Duplicity himself. Borne out of something that Harlan Ellison wrote for the show but which was never picked up unfortunately, this issue explores how Two-Face would have been like on the show, from both a writing perspective and an art perspective. It really is a most fun issue and while sometimes the campiness got to be a bit too much, it was nevertheless quite entertaining all the way through and Two-Face rocked it all.

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Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #2 (Comics Review)

Last month we got to see Jim Zub’s unique take on the Forgotten Realms lore with his new mini-series Legends of Baldur’s Gate, which is intended as a tie-in effort by Wizards of the Coast for the upcoming expansion Tyranny of Dragons. The first issue, right out of the gate, was an excellent one and stands as one of my favourites all year. Both Jim and artist Max Dunbar did a pretty awesome job with the issue, and the adventures of Minsc, Delina and Boo proved to be very entertaining and fun, in all the right ways. Plus there was a nice larger mystery that involved the characters and that helped set the pace for the story.

This past week’s Legends of Baldur’s Gate #2 continues the story of Minsc, Delina and Boo as the three of them meet up with a couple of thieves who are willing to help them find refuge from Baldur’s Gate’s Watch. Last issue we got introduced to the primary characters, and while this week we get to meet many more characters, we also see the narrative move forward as the mystery of Delina’s twin brother’s disappearance deepens, and we see some of who and what the mysterious cabal operating in Baldur’s Gate is like. As with the first issue, Jim and Max do an awesome job once again.

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Sleepy Hollow Season 2 Ep 10 (TV Show Review)

A whole lot of different things are happening very quickly now on Sleepy Hollow as Henry aka the Horseman of War, prepares to unleash his master Moloch the Horrid King on the world, and bring about the Apocalypse. In the last few episodes we’ve seen how Henry has brought Moloch into the real world, using Katrina as the unwilling agent of this demonic birth, thereby demoralising the two Witnesses a great deal. But the heroes bounce back from this setback, as they are wont to do and that’s what I love about the series so much, that there’s always hope.

This week’s episode is titled “Magnum Opus” and that’s pretty much true of the story. This really is a magnum opus
kind of episode since this one has the Witnesses searching out a new weapon to fight off Moloch and his agents, the fabled Sword of Methuselah, and everything that happens in this episode is top-notch, without a doubt. With some really intense stories and plenty of flashbacks to happier days, this mid-season penultimate episode pretty much has everything I want in this show, and then some. Can’t argue against that!

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Gotham Season 1 Ep 10 (TV Show Review)

As it moved towards its mid-season finale, Gotham introduced viewers to a new version of ADA Harvey Dent, one of the most classic of all Batman villains, known also as Two-Face. It was a fairly good episode, though also quite filler in some ways, so not all that exciting. But still, the job done with Dent, both acting-wise and visually, was good, and it made me really like Harvey. A very different take on the character than what we’ve seen before, especially since the Batman: The Animated Series cast him as an of-age friend to Bruce Wayne, but either way, this guy is going to have a big influence on the future Batman and this week’s new episode proves why.

This week saw the mid-season finale of Gotham. Building on from plot-threads introduced in last week’s “Harvey Dent” this week’s “Lovecraft” finds assassins infiltrating Wayne Manor to kill Selina Kyle and all the adventures that result while on the other side of Gotham Don Falcone tries to find out who it was that raided his armoury and stole his money and all that. This was a much better episode in a lot of ways than some of the previous ones, more so because this one actually gave us an interesting angle on the Waynes’ murder other than just “Selina Kyle saw the murderer”. Definitely a recommended watch.

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The Doom of Dragonback by Gav Thorpe (Book Review)

Dwarfs and Gav Thorpe have a long relationship since some of the earliest days of Black Library’s Warhammer Fantasy fiction, much as is the case with him and the Dark Angels in Warhammer 40,000. I’ve read some of his Warhammer work to date, though not all, and his Time of Legends: The Sundering series stands as some of the best books I’ve read from him to date, though they don’t quite hold the same fascination for me as does his Warhammer 40,000 or Horus Heresy works. Still, whenever Gav writes something in WHF, I do sit up and take notice since he happens to be one of my favourite writers.

And his latest is The Doom of Dragonback, a novel set in a post-War of Vengeance Old World where the dwarfs are still recovering from their decades long war with the elves, who have themselves withdrawn from much of the land and are nursing their own wounds in their homeland, Ulthuan. Following the adventures of various dwarfs of Ekrund, The Doom of Dragonback is the story of how a mighty dwarf hold can fall to orcs and goblins, and how tenuous and fleeting life can be in such an environment. As has been the case of late for me with Gav’s work, the novel is among the best of his works, for he does lots of things here that are different from the norm.

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Witchblade #179 (Comics Review)

Ron Marz and Laura Braga’s soft reboot of Witchblade last year made it one of my absolute must-read titles each month and the two creators continued along that path with their following issues, each of which did something different and ended up being really good for the most part. In recent weeks however, we have seen the beginning of something different as matters seem to ramp up for the protagonist Sara Pezzini, who is working hard at being the kind of Sheriff that the people of Saratoga County need her to be with all the strange goings-on.

At the end of the last issue, we saw that there was some new unforeseen complication for Sara in the form of a couple new characters. In this past week’s Witchblade #179, we see a glimpse of what these plans entail, given that Sara and Kate’s new case has them investigating some horrific cattle mutilations in the backwaters of Saratoga. This is mostly an action issue with little in the way of character development, but that’s fine since this is just the opening spell of a brand-new arc and Ron does take a while to get going. The art is good too, as I expected it to be since I’m not pretty used to Laura Braga’s unique style and the monster introduced is pretty cool as well.

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Black Widow #12 (Comics Review)

Marvel’s Black Widow has undoubtedly been one of the publisher’s bigger success stories from among all the new titles launched this year. While not reaching the heights of titles like Ms. Marvel, it hasn’t been down in the doldrums with titles like She-Hulk either, being more of a balancer towards the high side of the numbers. And that’s well and good since it makes a solid addition to the overall line-up and the work done by writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto has been quite phenomenal, especially of late, with more to come I’m sure.

This week’s Black Widow #12 sees the comics debut of noted television news anchor/journalist Anderson Cooper as Nathan Edmondson writes a really charged issue that explores Natasha’s dual nature. Being on SHIELD’s payroll and also a prominent Avenger, her work often brings her into conflict with things she can’t control, such as international political red-tape and the label of “necessary evil”. Nathan delivers a rather astounding issue this time, even as Phil Noto goes all out with the star-cast of this issue that also includes quite a few prominent Avengers and other high-profile Marvel characters.

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Fantastic Four #13 (Comics Review)

Just about three weeks ago, we got to see something amazing happen in James Robinson and Leonard Kirk’s Fantastic Four, when we finally got to learn who was orchestrating the team’s grandiose downfall, chipping away them one by one. We still don’t have all the answers, but damn, it was a huge issue, a major turning point. With everything that was happening, things seemed to be moving towards a conclusion finally, and I reveled in that since it was something I’ve been wanting to see from the series for a couple months now. The wait is now over.

Fantastic Four #13 is yet another turning point for the series, and the cover is pretty much a dead-giveaway for what is going to happen here. Last time, we saw that Ben was planning a break-out with the Sandman, and we see that happen in glorious detail in this issue. After all the misery of the previous issues, there’s finally some hope for the team, even though they are all still caught in a dark circle that is going to take some time for them to break out of. The issue is a bit too fast-paced for my tastes, but the story and art are both as excellent as they could have been.

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Hardship by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

My first experience with Jean Johnson was back in 2012 when I heard her on the SF Signal podcast with host Patrick Hester. During the podcast she talked about her military SF series Theirs Not To Reason Why that features a female protagonist who happens to have some powerful natural abilities such as pre/post-cognition, telekinesis and the like and who is on a quest to save the galaxy from an extinction-level threat that will not occur for hundreds of years yet. I read the first three novels in the series last year and they all happened to be quite excellent stories that made me a Jean Johnson fan for life. And now, with the fifth and final book in the series just days away from publication, here’s my review of the fourth novel, which I read last month.

Hardship was originally intended to be the fourth and final book in the series, titled Damnation at the time. But as I learned from Jean herself lately, the final volume ended up being too big and the decision was made to split it into two parts. So Hardship is technically the first of a 2-part finale for Jean’s highly ambitious and grandiose story of Theirs Not To Reason Why. And it is just as excellent as the previous books. With things moving towards a conclusion, there’s a sense of finality in the novel and that there is a big confluence of events happening, so the novel checks off on all the things I wanted to see from it, and more.

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Hellfire by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

The third novel in Jean Johnson’s Theirs Not To Reason Why series of military space opera was published last year in the summer and it proved to be almost as good as the two novels before it, which is saying something since both A Soldier’s Duty and An Officer’s Duty stand as some of the best MSF books I’ve read to date. The fact that the protagonist Ia is also an uber badass is just icing on the cake and should there be a day when a movie series on these books is released, I’ll be the first to line-up in the theaters to watch it. The series has that kind of potential in it. Hellfire also made it to my “Best of 2013 Part 2” list last year as one of the best novels I read last year.

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

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An Officer’s Duty by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

Jean Johnson’s A Soldier’s Duty got me heavily invested in the SFvision she had created and when I came back for the sequel, I was astounded by the consistency of pretty much everything, whether character or plot, pacing or action, or what have you. Being how good it is, An Officer’s Duty made it to my “Best of 2013 Part 1” list last year as one of the best novels I read last year. Together, these two novels offer something very different to the norm, and I do recommend them most highly.

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

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A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

Jean Johnson is a writer who wears many different hats, and writes in different genres, one of them being military space opera. Her series Theirs Not To Reason Why is, for me, one of the best such series out there, with a protagonist that I absolutely love and a setting that I absolutely enjoy, no matter what I read of any of it. For me, A Soldier’s Duty was one of the best novels I read last year and it would have made it to be “best of the year” lists if I hadn’t read the sequel soon after. All the same, I highly recommend this novel (and indeed the series).

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

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