Shock and awe has been one of the core methods used by the writers of Game of Thrones since the show began. Of course, the books that the show is based on have plenty of that, but the show has never made an effort to step around them, best as I can tell talking with various people about it since I’ve hardly read any of the books. After all, in the show premiere we had an incest scene and later on in the season we had a character explaining his motives while training two female whores and hardly anything was left to the viewer imagination. Rape, violent murders and more have been a staple of the show and it looks like the new season is proudly continuing that tradition.
In the previous episode that aired last week, King Joffrey Baratheon was poisoned at the moment of his Wedding Feast, thus ending the brief reign of one of the worst Kings that Westeros has seen to date. The dust is still settling after all that and much of the new episode from yesterday hinges upon the fallout of that massive event. “Breaker of Chains” is all about how old traditions are being subverted at every turn and it reminds us as well that the armies of Daenerys Targaryen are continuing their march on Westeros, breaking the literal chains of slavery across the Narrow Sea.
Note: Some spoilers from this episode are mentioned in the review.
Recently the Ultimate Universe was invaded by the 616-universe Galactus in a cataclysmic event that was first told in the pages of the mini-series Hunger and then in a big crossover event called Cataclysm that ran through several Ultimate Universe books. The end result is that the mainline alternate universe of Marvel’s comics underwent some serious changes and in the wake of that event we have had a relaunch of several books as the Ultimate Universe line-up gets simplified and renumbered in keeping with Marvel’s current All-New Marvel Now! phase.
Ultimate FF is among these new books and it presents a new vision for the Ultimate Universe version of the Future Foundation. I haven’t read any Fantastic Four/Future Foundations books in the Ultimate Universe, so I have zero idea what the teams have been like previously, but in this new book things seem very haphazard. It is nothing more than a “new” version of the Ultimates, which is the UU’s Avengers team. And the art is very disappointing as well. It lacks polish and appears half-finished. Ultimate FF is definitely not off to a good start with this issue.
When the Justice League animated series brought in Lex Luthor’s Society of Supervillains, a ring wielder by the name of Sinestro was one of the many villains introduced on the show, although we never really got to see his background or anything. We just knew that he was one of Hal Jordan’s classic adversaries and, indeed a nemesis. That was my first ever introduction to the character. Since then I’ve seen Sinestro in other animated forms, and even a pre-evil live-action portrayal. And I’ve read a fair few Green Lantern comics to find out who and what Sinestro is and what his place in the Green Lantern mythology really is.
Last year DC launched Larfleeze, a humour series featuring the master of the Orange Lantern Corps and it marked a departure from the usual GL books that the publisher was doing. Now, DC has done the same with Sinestro, which launched last week. This title has been long in coming, but come it has, and it is quite awesome. It is packed with action and drama, done just the way I like it and it has some excellent artwork to boot. Cullen Bunn and Dale Eaglesham seem to have a good handle on the character and his supporting cast, that’s for sure.
Television shows with a strong SFF element are among my favourites amongst all genres. When I started watching Western television, shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed were what I dipped into and what I came back to again and again. And when a show has actors that I like from their previous television (or movie!) appearances, then that is all the more reason for me to watch them. One such show is Continuum, a Canadian-American science fiction crime drama that also involves time travel and a sophisticated, high-level of technology.
I’ve only seen the first two episodes of the first season so far (the show is currently in its third season), but right off the bat I really like it. Rachel Nichols turns in a wonderful performance, as do her co-stars Victor Webster and Erik Knudsen. Plus, the show is heavy on the science fiction elements which I always love. And to top it all off, the story in these two episodes is tight and focused, showing off Nichols’ Kiera Cameron in a really good light. Continuum is a show that I’ve been meaning to watch for a good while and I’m quite happy with how the show has started off, validating my expectations of it.
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have been on kind of a roll with their Harley Quinn series. Starting with the #0 anthology issue and then the main series itself, Harley Quinn has quickly become one of DC’s quirkiest characters. Of course, she was quite a loon before, but under Conner-Palmiotti’s pen she has become something else entirely. I never thought that there could be a book from DC that was so off its rocker and packed with so much madcap humour. But Conner-Palmiotti have managed to do just that exactly, and it has been one hell of a read so far.
Harley Quinn #5 is all about Harley’s adventures with the old and retired agent Sy-borg, who has a vendetta against some old Russian gangbosses he thought he took down ages ago. Now he finally has all the intel he needed and he has drafted in Harley because of her history and her present problems. Unlike previous issues, this new one doesn’t advance the meta-story at all, but it tells a fairly decent one-shot story. And we have Chad Hardin back on the series now. The art is decent but that’s it.
Last week DC began its first weekly title of the New 52, Batman: Eternal. This is a story that affects the entire Bat-family and has some deep repercussions for all the heroes involved here. The first issue, penned by the Snyder-Tynion duo, was a fairly good look at a brand-new crossover in Gotham that sees the GCPD go up against Professor Pyg and come out with one of its best and brightest brought down in a shocking way. The two writers started the series on a bang and the art was also quite good, which helped a great deal. Now its time to look at what comes after.
In Batman: Eternal #2 we see a very focused story as Batman seeks to learn the mystery behind what happened in the last issue, and the other Bat-family members begin to get drawn in. What happened has some major consequences for them all, including Catwoman, because one of Gotham’s greatest criminal masterminds is returning to the city. Snyder-Tynion are still the ones to pen this issue as well, with the other contributing writers to the series serving as consultants. The same team from the previous issue is back basically, and they are all just as good as they were in the last issue, if not better. It is all about the big reveal at the end.
Arrow‘s season 2, which has been quite spectacular all through its run and also significantly better than the debut season, is now in its final stages. We started off with a familiar Starling City and a familiar core cast of characters, but along the way many things have changed. Many new characters have joined the cast and the map of Starling has been redrawn by several new villains, all looking to make their mark on the city. But, there has always been a master-plan in place and in the last few episodes we have seen how all of that has played out as we get one revelation after another, revelations that have shocked the lives of the core characters.
In the last couple of episodes we saw Deathstroke and his allies take the fight to Team Arrow and humiliate them again and again. We’ve seen the good guys brought low and have watched as the bad guys became ascendant. Oliver Queen clearly thinks that it is time for the good guys to go on the offensive and that’s what much of this episode is about. Team Arrow has had it with Deathstroke dictating their moves and they strike back this time. And all the usual character drama and action follows, except of course that every performance is at the top of the actors’ games.
With their first arc of Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo delivered something wonderful. With their second arc, it felt as if they had kind of lost their way a little bit since it felt less focused and less… immediate. While their entire run on Batman thus far has been nothing short of spectacular, with Zero Year they went big and delivered some amazing stories and dealt with some classic Batman villains. I loved the first arc, second arc not so much. But I remain a fan because Scott is usually a damn good writer and because Greg Capullo and Co. are all similarly amazing, usually.
With Batman #30 the creative team begins its third and final arc of Zero Year: Savage City. The Riddler is now in control of Gotham and things have changed big time. No more heroes. Gotham is an island, cut off from the rest of country and struggling to survive. This is the Gotham that Batman aka Bruce Wayne wakes up to after the disastrous events of the previous arc, and things are gonna get a whole lot worse before there is even a slimmer of hope that they will get better. And as always, the art is good, but it felt a bit too colourful and overdone in some places.
If you’ve been wanting to read the adventures of a new superhero in a world filled with said hero’s idols and what not, then Ms. Marvel absolutely has to be the book you should be reading. If you want to read a book about a teenage superhero struggling with the first steps in a world of heroics and the resultant headaches, Ms. Marvel is the book for you. If you want to read a book about a female teen superhero, Ms. Marvel has to be your first stop. And if you want to read a book about a female teen superhero of colour AND a faith not Christian or atheist or whatever, then Ms. Marvel has to be at the top of you reading pile.
In their first two issues, the creative team of G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring have done something incredible. They’ve managed to write a female teen superhero, who is Muslim and the daughter of first-generation Pakistani immigrants, without any grandiosity or pomposity. This is a book that connects with the average reader and gives them something unique and yet familiar. The new issue, out yesterday, is the best issue yet and it solidifies what kind of a character Kamala Khan is going to be and how she is going to tackle her superhero identity of Ms. Marvel.
Another great week this time. Lots of fun new tiles and old ones returning for new installments. The highlight of the week had to be the upcoming graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones Jr. for which I managed to get a review copy. Long live NetGalley! And the graphic novel definitely delivered on its promise too, although there were a few things that I didn’t like so much.
With all the new series coming out, its definitely a good time to be in comics, and most of all if you have been a fan of certain series like Daredevil and Unity. I’m still behind on certain series though and there are a lot of comics that I am behind on, as I was painfully made aware this past week. And the pile is mounting every week. Just too many things to stay current with.