Author Archives: AJ
Last week’s Justice League Dark #35 presented a very interesting tale of Zatanna meeting up with her father Zatara in an alternate-reality kind of setting, following an adventure with the rest of the supernatural Justice League that split the entire team up. It was a really fun tale, and nice to see Zatanna take the lead in the title after the recent Nightmare Nurse and Deadman-oriented arcs that did a lot to flesh out those particular characters. But the big question of course was what kind of an event had split the team up, and just how it all went down.
J. M. DeMatteis’ latest issue on the title does a lot to flesh that out in its entirety and help answer some of the questions that I found myself raising after getting through Justice League Dark #35. The Justice League Dark Annual #2 is a pretty great story that explores the character relationships between Zatanna and Constantine, which segues into an exploration of how their relationship has ended up affecting the House of Mystery itself. The writing is fairly solid on this one, though I think that it moved a bit too fast and missed out on a few emotional beats, and the same kind of goes for the artwork as well.
I’ve said before that this is a really busy year for Jim Zub, and that couldn’t have been truer last week when he rolled out Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing. Given all the other tie-in work he does for Pathfinder and Samurai Jack, he’s also a busy man with some original work, the latest of which has really impressed me. Pairing up with Steve Cummings, Wayward has rocketed up to the list of my favourite monthlies, and it is easily one of the best new comics of the year as well. Japanese urban fantasy with spirits and ghosts and what not? Definitely aces.
Wayward #1 introduced us to the characters of Rori Lane and Ayane, and Wayward #2 introduced us to Shirai, while also moving the overall plot forward a little bit. Now, Wayward #3 introduces us to yet another character, Nikaido, even as the heroes all team-up to fight against a spirit-monster in a really cool action scene. And as I expected and wanted to see, the issue also introduced some of the villains of the series. Jim’s writing and Steve’s art top out once again and I have to say that this was an issue even better than the previous two, which just boggles the mind. The entire team of Wayward seems intent on pulling out all stops!
Last week I mentioned that Arrow is really good at keeping secrets close to its chest, until the right amount of critical mass is reached to unveil said secrets. The big mystery of who was bankrolling Sebastian Blood last year was a terrific reveal, as was the whole subplot about breaking to Thea the news that Malcolm Merlyn is her blood-father, not Robert Queen. And this season, it looks like the big mystery is “Who killed Sara?”. We’ve seen some development so far, not entirely satisfactory, but it has been a good source of background tension to the show and things look set to intensify even more.
Nyssa al Ghul made her season 3 debut on the show in this week’s “The Magician“, which also happens to be the show’s 50th episode. I’d expected some really great things from the show in this episode, but it kind of failed to deliver on that expectation. Sure, it was a fairly good episode, but it just didn’t feel like such a momentous episode, though I suppose that the detail is kind of irrelevant. Either way, I had a lot of fun with this one since Katrina Law’s Nyssa is one of my favourite elements of the second season, and she turns in a grand performance here, really charging the show with some much-needed drive and direction in the hunt for Sara’s killer.
Note: Some spoilers from the episode are mentioned here.
Slight lows on the reading this past week since I didn’t manage to finish either of the graphic novels I started this week, and generally didn’t read as many singles either, but I did manage to get through 35 of them, so that’s something, yeah?
For this week, I’d say that the surprise hits are Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing, Catwoman #35 and Secret Origins #6 from DC Comics and Predator: Fire and Stone #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The comics that win the “disappointment of the week award” are Grimm Fairy Tales: Dark Shaman #1 from Zenescope, Arkham Manor #1 and Sensation Comics #11 both from DC Comics. Ongoings like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #8, Aquaman #35, Tomb Raider #9 and Nancy A. Collins’ prelude Vampirella: Prelude To The Shadows #1 were all first-rate comics this week, and quite satisfactory as well.
The graphic novels I’m in the middle of at the moment are Supergirl Vol.4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, and The Flash Vol.2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
A lot of shows have a troubled first season and don’t get their bearings until their second rodeo. That’s kind of what Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has been all about, given that the second season season is trumping the first season left and right without a break. Last week Team Coulson got a big boost in the form of Agent Bobbi Morse, who had been working undercover at HYDRA HQ for a while now and returned to the team, alongwith none other than Agent Simmons, who was on a similar operation. One seriously kickass action hero and one seriously brainy scientist, both women, on the show now, things couldn’t be better!
In “A Fractured House“, we see some pretty major things happen, and if I’m right, then this episode is going to be a major turning point for the rest of the series. The second season is one where the character relationships have really come to the fore, and this episode typifies all of that. HYDRA goes after SHIELD in this episode by attacking a UN summit dressed as SHIELD agents and the resulting furor means that Director Coulson has some pretty big decisions to make about the future of some of his operatives, and some of his prisoners. Prisoners like former Agent Ward. Not a pretty episode.
Drawing parallels between Smallville and The Flash is quite inevitable. Both shows have focused on some of DC’s most iconic characters, and they’ve done it in a way that often stays true to the spirit of the comics, though Smallville tended to play a lot with how the characters and events could be turned to fit in the mentality of a show that was about Clark Kent as a teenager in high school and later on, before he ever became Superman. Though only four episodes in as of this week, The Flash has not disappointed me at all with its promise of bringing Barry Allen and his incredibly rogues gallery and that’s what the new episode is really all about.
One of the coolest things to happen in the lead-up to The Flash was the casting of Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold aka Leonard Snart. He is one of Barry’s most iconic villains and has enjoyed a certain resurgent notoriety in recent years thanks to DC’s New 52 reboot, which brought him and his gang, the Rogues, together again. This week’s “Going Rogue” is the origin story of Leonard Snart’s transformation into Captain Cold and it is, by far, the best episode of the show in the entire month it has been on air. With a guest spot by Arrow‘s Felicity Smoak, Going Rogue was an amazing episode that sets up a lot of future stories and also provides for some great character moments.
Sleepy Hollow is a show where the characters’ past often comes back to haunt them. This was a recurring theme of the first season last year and so far it is holding true for the second season as well. Last week’s episode forced Ichabod to confront another unfortunate incident from his past, something deeply personal that ended up affecting his life in the present, his relationship with Katrina. Fascinating really since they are time-crossed lovers who have endured horrors beyond imagining in their time apart, and for whom there is still no reprieve.
In “And The Abyss Gazes Back“, new this week, we see how Abby’s past comes back to haunt her. Joe Corbin, the estranged son of her late mentor Sheriff Corbin, comes back to Sleepy Hollow following an honourable discharge from the army and we get to see his relationship with both her and with Jenny. Very interesting, and fortunately this is also the perfect time for the amazing Clancy Brown to return as the former Sheriff of Sleepy Hollow. This was a really great episode on many levels, and the cliffhanger ending was simply mind-blowing. Last season this was just the halfway mark, but now we are a third of our way into the show, and it looks like things are really kicking up now.
One of the subplots running through Gotham so far has been that Gotham City is a city corrupt to the bone and that even the high and mighty Wayne Enterprises might not be so overboard as we’d like to believe. Last week’s episode Viper was ample proof of that, that there may have been certain goings on at the multinational that Thomas and Martha Wayne may not have known about. It was a really great twist to the story, something that I can see leading eventually to Bruce’s transformation into Batman. But of course, the show revolves around Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as well, and they were pretty good in the previous episode, though the villain was rather unmemorable.
The new episode, “Spirit of the Goat“, is definitely one where the writers have upped the weird and supernatural quotient of the show. Ten years ago Harvey and his then-partner Dix nabbed a serial killer who claimed to be possessed by the spirit of a supernatural entity and who ritually murdered his victims. Now, somehow, the killer is back and Harvey is on the case once again, this time with Jim. One of the best things about this week’s episode was the look at Harvey’s past and the kind of man he was then, setting up a great contrast with who he is now. Nothing really on the Falcone-Maroni silent war this week, but we do get to see Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot be utterly badass, which was extremely satisfactory.
One of the latest shows of the new Fall 2014 anime season, Lord Marksman and Vanadis starts off humbly enough, but it also sets up a grandiose story of kingdoms at war and magically-powered heroes duking it out on massive battlefields. Of course, being a fantasy harem anime, adapted from a seinen manga, it does some things that I’m not quite comfortable with and the focus on the female characters, or rather their T&A, means that I often struggle with the story since a lot of it seems so much fanservice, or what have you. Despite all this, the story is somewhat interesting, which is why I’ve lasted four episodes till now.
Episodes three and four continue the story of Lord Tigrevurmud Vorn, a young nobleman with holdings in the town (doesn’t really look like a city all that much) of Alsace, as he fights against a raiding army of fellow Brune noblemen with the help of the enemy of the Brune, the Warrior-Maiden Ellenora Viltaria of Zhcted. Lots to take in, I know, but the first couple episodes ease you into the world, and thankfully the next two episodes do a lot to expand on the world at large. Some cool battle scenes in episode three and more Warrior-Maidens with cool CGI in episode four are keeping me interested right now, but I suspect that I’m going to tire of this quite soon.
Coming in at the tail-end of the 1980s, Predator stands as one of the best contemporary action-horror SF movies I’ve seen to date. Sure, the movie has a rather thin plot and the characters are archetypes for the most part, but come on, it had Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers trying to out-bicep each other and the whole concept of an alien tribal hunter stalking a special forces unit in the jungles of Central America. I think it is pretty great, personally, specifically the second half, which I think is fairly strong on its own. Though, must be said that most Arnie action movies are awesome. Its Arnie!
Going along with Dark Horse’s recent revival of the Alien and Predator franchises, this week saw the release of Predator: Fire and Stone #1, which is set after the events of Prometheus: Fire and Stone #4 (not yet released) and Alien vs Predator: Fire and Stone #1 (released). The timeline juggling is interesting, but the great thing is that Joshua Williamson focuses on the immediate story and gives the reader just enough about the previous stuff that it is not a crutch. This is a great survival horror story, or the start of one, and artist Christopher Mooneyham does an incredible job illustrating all of it.
A lot of the things that today we take for granted in epic fantasy wouldn’t really exist if it wasn’t for Dungeons & Dragons four decades ago. Sure, the genre has existed for much longer and J. R. R. Tolkien gave rise to many of the staples and tropes of the genre, but D&D basically revolutionized the genre, and here we are in 2014, where that one tabletop RPG has spawned countless comics, video games, novels, and ever more expansions, even a couple of movies. And this is the year for the 40th celebration of Dungeons & Dragons, so it makes sense that Wizards of the Coast would do something special for that anniversary.
And one of the many ways in which the celebration begins is by a new Dungeons & Dragons comic, Legends of Baldur’s Gate, written by popular fantasy writer Jim Zub. Jim, who also writes Dynamite’s Pathfinder and IDW’s Samurai Jack tie-in comics, among many other titles, delivers a really easy-going, cheeky and fun story in Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1, creating an interesting mystery of missing siblings and magic gone haywire. Max Dunbar’s visuals are also very impressive though a bit simplistic at times, but all things considered, this was definitely an aces issue.
In the wake of the Age of Darkness event, when the Realms were finally brought down in Grimm Fairy Tales #100, the Grimmverse has been chugging along on various legs as Zenescope introduced lots of new titles and mini-series, and even jumped forward in time to a year after the fall of the Realms to continue on its flagship Grimm Fairy Tales title. The series has progressed well in the last couple months with a new cast of characters and some returning old ones, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, for sure.
In the previous two issues we’ve seen some bonding between the different characters, as Sela and Shang bring in the next generation of Realm Knights, with one of them being Sela’s own daughter Skylar, and the other being Violet, Calie’s daughter from Neverland. It has been a fun outing, and now it is time for a different direction as some of the rivalries and biases start to make themselves felt. Belinda used to be an assassin for the Dark Horde, for example, but now she is a teacher at Arcane Acre, reformed and willing to lead a new life. It is a mostly good issue, with some good art, and that’s downright good for me.