Is this the year of horror shows or something? Are horror shows suddenly the next big thing? And are vampires really that hot a property right now? First we had the awesome Sleepy Hollow last year which got off to a great start, ended on a similarly grand note, and the second season of which is going to be on in a few short weeks. And then there was also Dracula, which fared somewhat badly but was rather interesting regardless, with a fresh take on the whole Dracula mythology. There are others, some that are on my radar, some that are not. And a part of all of them is this year’s The Strain, which started off just five weeks and seems to be doing well enough.
The Strain is an adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel trilogy The Strain which was originally concepted as a television show but later developed into a procedural-style horror novel trilogy. I’ve read a couple issues of the comics adaptation by Dark Horse and I was always struck by how unrestrained the entire feel of the story was and in the first two episodes of the new show, the writers and directors and showrunners have managed to capture exactly that. The Strain presents a very different vampiric mythology than viewers are undoubtedly familiar with and it packs in a lot of subtle action and tons of character development in just the right mix for a gritty, realistic show like this.
This is it. We are in the final phase of Original Sin and the event is now wrapping itself up. Lots of secrets have been revealed in the pages of Hulk vs Iron Man, Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, The Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil among others. Marvel’s superheroes have all faced up to some incredible revelations till now and there is no stopping the flood, especially not when the man they trusted above all others has turned against them it seems. Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato have had a great run till now, but still, I think they are kind of tapping out on the steam.
The previous issue of the event series was packed with a hell of a lot of action and the heroes finally faced up to the big manipulator of Nick Fury himself, a Nick Fury who has been around for far longer than any of them thought or could have imagined. And things are moving into gear as Dr. Midas, Exterminatrix and The Orb lay down their own final plan and begin to face up to the heroes once more. Story-wise this issue was somewhat weak and uninteresting but the art still looks good thankfully, despite the fact that sometimes Deodato goes too small-scale in his panels.
Wonder Woman is one of DC’s premier characters in the company’s long history. She has emerged over the decades as one of the most powerful and important characters in the entire DC mythos, and indeed, she forms a part of a DC Trinity alongside Batman and Superman, the three of the most central characters in DC’s main-verse. It kind of stands to reason that if Batman and Superman can sustain multiple simultaneous titles, then so can Wonder Woman. After all, she is also the most prominent of DC’s female superheroes in kids merchandise. And it seems that DC has finally listened to fans.
This week saw the release of a new digital title, Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #1. In this title, writer Gail Simone explores the premise of what happens when Gotham’s villains take out Batman and Oracle calls in Wonder Woman to take care of matters in her friend’s sudden absence. Paired with artist Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone’s rendition of Wonder Woman feels very classic and unrestrained, with a lot of the character’s actionable charisma brought to the fore. This first issue is hopefully the start of something really great, something that can eventually translate into an ongoing print title!
In an effort to catch up, this is my second “Comics Picks For…” post today, and largely because I just want to keep track of my reading really. It is a real effort otherwise as my reading list is seriously outdated. Plus, I like to promote good properly and this is a great vehicle for that other than reviews. In this week, I didn’t really download any new comics so the list of comics read and the top picks are just what I read in that week, instead of including the new week’s releases as well.
The surprise hits of this week were Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1 from Valiant Comics, The Wicked + The Divine #2 from Image COmics and Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War: Johnny Bravo #1 from IDW Publishing. No surprise flops this week, just comics that didn’t work for me, like Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir #3. The other comics were all decent at the least and I even managed to read a trade collection this week, beginning the start of my big “Witchblade read” from Ron Marz’s epic run on the title.
As per my plans, I didn’t do one of these posts in the past 2 weeks since I was on a holiday. And a great holiday it was indeed. I didn’t get to do more than a very small handful of reviews, more like just two or three in all, but I managed to read a fair bit and kept myself on target for my comics reading.
The surprise hits of this week were Storm #1 from Marvel and Star Spangled War Stories #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman #33 from DC Comics. Not exactly a bad comic but just a disappointing one. All the other comics were pretty much good, excepting Flash #33, where I still can’t really connect with what the new creative team is doing there. I wanted to read a trade paperback comic as well during this week, but the first few days of the vacation were very busy and all these comics were pretty much read in the last 2-3 days of the week so that didn’t happen.
Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Cimmerian. These are the more popular names of the sword-and-sorcery hero Conan who has been a trend-setter for many decades now, his popularity itself going up and down a fair bit. Not all are familiar with King Conan however, from a time when Conan was no longer just a warrior and a mercenary but a ruler with far lands to call his own, with subjects, with a queen even. I started reading King Conan: The Conqueror from the mini-series’ first issue a few months back and it has been one of the most entertaining Conan stories I’ve read to date. Certainly among the best, by far.
King Conan: The Conqueror #6 marks the end of this mini-series and also of the story that began back in King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon. Now, everything that Conan has been through in the past five issues comes to a resounding (and somewhat obvious) conclusion and really, it could not have been better. Truman and Giorello take the reader for a ride through Aquilonia and beyond, and all along the way they are as impressive as they’ve ever been in this series. No doubt about that. This particular mini-series is certainly going down in my list as one of the best Conan stories I’ve read to date.
Steampunk isn’t exactly something that I’ve had much of an experience with. I can remember a few random examples here and there, nothing substantive. In fact, I think I’ve only read five steampunk novels to date, one in 2012, two in 2013 and two this year. Very, very slim pickings indeed here. As a genre, Steampunk doesn’t fascinate me all that much, not as much as straight-up science fiction (usually space opera at that) or epic fantasy, so that is perhaps one of the reasons why I haven’t explored the genre further and kind of what I am attempting to do with my “25 Series To Read in 2014” challenge. Then again, if more books are like Jonathan Green’s Unnatural History, then I’m willing to go further.
Unnatural History presents a steampunk-ified Victorian London where Queen Victoria is indeed still alive and is approaching her 160th birthday. The action centers on hero-adventurerer Ulysses Quicksilver of the Quicksilver who is noted the world over for his many adventures. His return after a particularly long adventure, one in which he was presumed dead, sparks off a new adventure entirely for him and he has to stop his nemesis Jago Kane from perpetrating yet another atrocity against the empire that he loves and is sworn to protect, Magna Britannia.
Every month I wait for a Red Sonja comic to show up on Comixology, hoping that each issue is as awesome as the last, or even better. Gail Simone and Walter Geovani have certainly not disappointed. The quality of the series has flipped-flopped just the slightest bit but it has definitely one of the best series that I’ve read to date, and the fun thing is that the series hit its one-year mark last month. It has been a hell of a ride, I can tell you that. And the current ongoing arc has delivered some of the best story and some of the best art to date, so each month is a time of anticipation for the latest Red Sonja to land in my cart.
Instead of a (regular) 11th issue, the fifth issue of the current arc that is, we got treated to a #0 issue last month. The odd timing of the zero issue aside, especially since it doesn’t have anything to do with the current arc, I think that this was a fun little side adventure for Sonja and her current creators, to lighten up the mood a little and present something much different than the current events. All fine by me. The story here is pretty decent and so is the art, so I am certainly not complaining. Seeing a new artist present her take on Red Sonja was great, so that’s a grand reason too.
Following Dick Grayson’s “death” in Forever Evil a few months ago and his subsequent super-covert return to the DC-verse a while back with Grayson #1, I have high hopes for this character really getting a turn-around of the sort that I think he has needed for a while, an opportunity which didn’t exist previously. However, Tim Seeley and Tom King did a great job with their first issue on the new series, and it was a fairly well-told and well-drawn (by Mikel Janin) story as Dick Grayson moved to this new phase of his superheroic life, one that manages to present a fairly intriguing mystery as well.
Working now for SPYRAL on Batman’s suggestion, Dick Grayson is now Agent 37 and tasked with bringing in some super-powered ticking bombs so that they can be corralled and controlled, perhaps even dissected and understood. Working alongside the mysterious Helena Bertinelli, he really is having a time of his life and Grayson #2 underscores that point, to a degree. It is fast-paced and fun and while it has some dubious moments, I won’t deny that this is a series that I’m really enjoying after having just kind of given up on Nightwing at some point last year..
Once Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the rights to pretty much all future Star Wars movies and cartoons and comics and what not was finalized last year and news began filtering in of all the new things being planned, one of the ones to come out was that the House of Mouse was going to deliver on a new Star Wars animated series set in the period between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope. The first trailer released was somewhat decent, though problematic, but I was kind of excited that a different period was being considered for the format, given that most of the previous work was so focused on the Clone Wars themselves.
And this past week at San Diego Comic Con 2014, Disney released a new trailer that also contains some extensive footage of the animated series, and this is kind of where I am beginning to lose some interest because the story appears to be rather haphazard and the characters appear to be cliches in the way that only Disney can do, though sometimes to great net-positive effect, and the animation doesn’t really work so well for me either, especially not after having seen three excellent seasons of The Clone Wars (it rain for a total five seasons!) and other previous Star Wars animated work, from what I remember.
Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs launched the tenth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in great fashion some five months ago, and they’ve made this book into one of my top favourites of the year, something that I can depend on being super-good month after month. As I’ve said before, I got introduced to this due through their work on Angel & Faith Season 9 and they’ve brought the same awesomeness to this title. Reliving the adventures of this entire group through this new lens of comics is an incredible experience and the best things about it all remain the best still.
In last month’s Buffy #4, we saw that Dracula, out of his own hubris and inconsiderate manipulation of Xander, had begun to turn into the demon Maloker, the demonic father of all Vampires. In the midst of all the great character interactions, Christos Gage told a really involved story about friendships, love, betrayal, infatuation and manipulation, and he continues all of that in last week’s Buffy #5 as the first arc of the new season draws to a close. Not to be outdone, Rebekah also turns in some fantastic artwork coupled with brilliant colours from Dan Jackson.