Category Archives: Review Central
If you are following my comics reviews since last year, then you know that I’ve read very few Spider-Man comics and that they’ve been all over the place. Bendis’ second run on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man with Peter Parker, his 5-issue mini-series involving Peter and Mike Morales, Dan Slott’s The Amazing Spider-Man #648-651 and then his Superior Spider-Man Volume 1. Extremely limited reading by all accounts. As such, as far as the comics are concerned, I don’t really have that much of an attachment to Peter Parker as the Spider-Man.
And yet, reading this new issue for the discontinued The Amazing Spider-Man series made me feel really nostalgic. Perhaps its because I watched The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield in the lead role just last week or that I saw the trailer for the sequel last night. Or maybe its because reading Slott’s Superior Spider-Man Volume 1 made me feel really emotional for Peter. Could be any of those I suppose, but this story was quite touching despite its very simplistic nature. And that, most of all, is the strength of it.
When I compiled my list of “51 Most Anticipated Novels of 2013“, I put Chris Wraight’s Blood of Asaheim on it because I had really liked his first full-length 40k novel, The Battle of the Fang for the Space Marines Battle series. He gave a really nice depth to the Space Wolves with that book, and he brought together the disparate portrayals of the 40k Space Wolves by William King’s classic novels and Dan Abnett’s Horus Heresy piece, Prospero Burns. I love the former, but I detest the latter. Chris Wraight gave me a nice middle ground between the two and that’s what I hoped that Blood of Asaheim would be. It wasn’t.
Blood of Asaheim isn’t tied to Battle of the Fang in any direct way. They are both novels about the Space Wolves Chapter, but where the previous novel is set 1,000 years after the Horus Heresy, Blood of Asaheim is set in the current 40k timeline, one where Ragnar Blackmane is the Wolf Lord of his own Great Company, as per the character’s history as set in the tabletop lore. Chris Wraight offers up several new characters and the premise itself is an interesting one, but unfortunately the execution turned out to be pretty flawed because it was essentially repetitive material.
This week, to acknowledge that his Facebook page hit 400,000 likes, Arrow lead actor Stephen Amell posted a 14min Q&A video in which he answered some fan questions that he had taken on his page. In response to one of them, he said that he believes a show should get better, should improve, as it went along in the season. And he firmly believes that every episode this season has been better than the one before. And I agree. It so happened that right after I saw that video, I saw this week’s episode of the show, with a ton of excitement locked in because it was going to debut one of my favourite superheroes, Barry Allen, in a pre-origin role.
And it was good. Good. GOOD more like it. Aside from a few small things that I found problematic, this episode is true to the spirit of the show, particularly this season where Starling City is transformed into the City of Heroes. More great scenes on the Island, more character drama, more top-notch action, a commitment to the idea of superheroes, and supervillains, and more on the epic cliffhanger that we had with the previous episode, something that is going to become a much more intrinsic part of this season.
Note: this review contains some minor spoilers.
In the New 52, DC has tried to take a lot of gambles and few of them have paid off, if at all. Launched earlier this year, Gail Simone’s The Movement is one of those gambles and for me, it is one that has definitely worked enough to keep bringing me back every month and caring about the characters. Gail and artist Freddie Williams have done some great work on the series for its first arc and their second arc continues apace with the release of the seventh issue this week, which does one thing that the first arc was, of necessity, missing: consequences.
In any superhero story, there are always consequences for the powers that a hero has. And given that these stories are written to get us to identify with, associate with, and get invested in these characters, there need to be consequences for their actions and their nature. This is at the core of this new issue and once again the execution is pretty brilliant. For me, The Movement has been DC’s break-out hit of the year and there’s no stopping this train ride.
Despite the fact that I liked Green Arrow in Justice League Unlimited and the portrayal of Oliver Queen in CW’s Arrow last year, I never really got on the character bandwagon to start reading the comics. Part of that was how he was handled in his guest appearances in Geoff Johns’ Justice League last year, and part general disinterest. But after fellow TFF reviewer Bane of Kings started talking very highly of the series from when Jeff Lemire took over, that interest started to grow and now Green Arrow is one of my favourite books in the New 52.
With this week’s issue, Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino begin a new arc, The Outsiders War, and are set to explore much more of the character’s mythology than we’ve seen before. I still haven’t caught up to Lemire’s issues (its in the cards!!) but I have to say that across the last four issues, he has done some impressive work, and the artwork by Sorrentino and colourist Maiolo has been quite amazing. The new arc gets off to a really strong start and I am quite liking where things are going with respect to the various characters involved. If the future issues are anything like the previous issues, then this is definitely going to be a great arc.
Another month, another Star Trek: Khan comic from IDW Publishing hits the shelves. Writer Mike Johnson has used the first two issues fairly well in most respects, adding to the entirely new continuity of films that Director J. J. Abrams established with his two blockbuster movies and showing off how Khan as he was in Star Trek: Into Darkness came to be. Its not something that I’ve particularly liked, since I’m a fan of the older established continuity, but I’ve been fairly interested in it all the same.
The third issue here goes into much more depth about Khan’s reign during the Eugenics Wars and gives a lot of information on the state of the world at the time. So far, we had only seen the private moments for the most part and with the new issue Johnson expands the scope of the story and the events so that he is properly contextualising Khan as a product of his times, more than anything. Nature AND nurture so to speak. So, as a character study, this issue definitely holds some weight. But its not all song and roses.
This was a really busy comics reading week, primarily because I read two graphic novels this time around, both of them for Marvel no less. I have finally dipped my toes in full in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and the first taste has been quite interesting and fun. On the flip side, the somewhat older Immortal Iron Fist proved to be a bit of a mediocre book, but no less intriguing for that fact and I’m quite interested in the character now. Other than, a lot of the DC comics this week were really good and this is quite pleasing in fact. And Zero Year tie-ins are finally over so I look forward to a month of no such tie-ins.
I still have a big backlog of graphic novels to burn through, so I have that to keep me busy further I suppose. More on that as it happens.
Coming right on the heels of Marvel’s biggest and grandest event of the year, Infinity, is a tie-in issue for one of its longest-running series at present, Wolverine and the X-Men, which I started reading thanks to another event and am kind of liking thus far. I haven’t read Infinity till now, aside from the first couple issues which I found really confusing and laborious reading, but I do plan to go through it soon since all the issues are now out and I can read them back-to-back without any gaps. Seeing the Infinity logo on this issue made me think that this would be a direct tie-in, but its a side-story at best and focused on a single character.
With Battle of the Atom over now, I’m seeing that Wolverine and the X-Men is quite an ensemble book of various X-Men characters, young and old, inexperienced and experienced. That seems to be at the heart of this book, so its a bit strange to get an issue like this, which is focused exclusively on Kid Gladiator. But all the same, as an “extra” issue, it kind of does make sense in the end, particularly when by all accounts writer Jason Aaron is bringing the character back after a long absence. In the end, this issue has my thumbs-up.
Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. One of the most annoying young characters I’ve read in comics to date. I came across him for the first time in Scott Snyder’s Batman #1 and since then I’ve seen him around in various books, especially Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman and Robin Volume 1, where he was extremely irritating and angsty like hell. Grant Morrison killed off the character earlier this year, ending a long arc that began when he first introduced him a few years back and in the wake of that… tragedy, DC first announced and then began publishing this “what if?” mini-series that takes a look at what and who Damian could have been if he had survived.
I read the first issue last month and I was extremely disappointed with it. The story was quite weak and the art followed suit. I’ve read some of Andy Kubert’s writing before, and he’s quite an unimpressive writer, fairly mediocre from my experience. This issue, and the previous one, both show that Kubert’s strengths are definitely not in telling a story with words, or even basic plotting, because both issues are seriously out of whack with what’s happening in the New 52, and even in terms of internal consistency.
Note: This contains some major spoilers about the issue.
Thanks to the recent Battle of the Atom crossover event for the X-books, I’ve started reading more than Brian Wood’s X-(Wo)Men ongoing and this has been an interesting month after all that wrap-up since the books are now dealing with the fall-out of the event. Things were a bit removed in Bendis’ Uncanny Avengers #14 but Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men #38 takes a much more immediate approach to things.
We saw at the end of the event that SHIELD maintained its own stocks of Sentinel robots and Maria Hill arrives at the Jean Grey school in this issue to make some things clear to Wolverine and the other teachers at the school. Namely that the X-Men are all much more trouble than they are worth and she isn’t afraid to play some really hard ball. But that’s not all that happens as there are some new students as well and so there is a lot going on in this issue, to varying degrees of success.
By now this month, its absolutely not a secret what’s going on in Gotham. In last month’s Batman #24, the Riddler turned off the city’s main power supply and with a mother-of-all-storms coming to the city, people are in desperate need of the most basic things. Like batteries, batteries are worth more than expensive mountain climbing gear right now in fact! And that’s where this (one of) latest tie-ins to Scott Snyder’s Zero Year comes in. This is almost an origin story for Selina Kyle, Gotham’s master thief, and it is pretty damn good.
I’ve never read a Catwoman issue before, whether in the New 52 or before that, so this was very much my first solo introduction to the character. She’s popped in a few times in other books, like Geoff Johns’ Justice League of America in which she was a part of the team that ARGUS Director Amanda Waller put together, but other than that I know her only through the movies (Anne Hathaway’s portrayal rocked) and whatever animated stuff I’ve come across. As a first issue, this was a great issue and if the rest of the series is this good, both in terms of the art and the story, then I’d love to read more.
With Fred Van Lente set to take on writing duties on Dark Horse’s Conan the Barbarian from current scribe Brian Wood quite soon and Wood himself to pen a Conan crossover series with Gail Simone’s Red Sonja from Dynamite, Conan as a character is definitely at the forefront of the comics medium and the readers equally. Dark Horse’s run on the character has been quite successful to date and it keeps performing strongly and is one of the publisher’s top titles. They added to their roster this mini-series by Van Lente last month and after a strong debut, we are back for a second outing.
The first issue was quite a good one, as I mentioned in my review of it. As a fan of the character, I enjoyed it, and was quite looking forward to the second issue. And it proved quite equal to my expectations. The art felt a little less defined, mostly in the context of the backgrounds, but the story was definitely good, and I’d say that Van Lente really is off to a good start here.