Each of DC’s new range of weekly comics does something different from the norm. Batman: Eternal has a rotating crew of writers and artists. Future’s End does several parallel stories together. And the new Earth 2: World’s End mixes in several different artists together each week. Launched last week, Earth 2: World’s End is what I would hardly call a good comic, because it seems to retcon a lot of things and confuses the entire timeline of the series. But there is something here that’s interesting, since this is also a prequel to a series I do like, Future’s End.
After what was a massive recap issue last week, this week’s installment of the new weekly series continues the story of Apokolips resurgent on Earth 2, as the fire pits open again and new champions of Darkseid, working under the master orders of the supervillain Bedlam emerge and lay waste to the world’s heroes. I thought last week’s issue was disappointing, turns out that the entire team was just getting started, because this is another disappointing issue. It replicates much of what Future’s End does with the parallel stories, but with a lack of distinct progression in the story and confusing artwork all throughout.
CW’s Arrow got off to an emotional start with its latest season when, at the end of the episode, Sara Lance aka Canary was ambushed and killed by a mysterious archer. Forget everything else that happened in the premiere, whether it is Ray Palmer’s spectacular entry or Roy and Ollie taking down bad guys together or anything else. Sara’s death is going to have some major repercussions, and for the showrunners to start off a new season with something like this, well, it is a hint of things to come, I’m sure. While I mourn Sara’s passing since I really loved the character, I’m also interested in what is going to follow after it.
And that’s what this week’s episode, “Sara” was all about. Laurel brings Sara’s body to the Arrow-cave, not knowing what else to do, and we get to watch the team’s reaction as they realize that a core part of their shared identity is gone. It is a very moving scene, and the rest of the episode is all about how the team tries to move on and hunt down Sara’s killer, which also confirms the first-ever live-action debut of the villain Simon Lacroix aka Komodo, introduced last year in Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s ongoing run on Green Arrow as part of a major arc. This is a non-stop action episode in the true sense of what that means on Arrow, and we also get to touch base once again with Ray Palmer, which is just too exciting really.
CW’s The Flash is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season/year. Spinning out of the successful 2-season Arrow, The Flash brings to life one of DC’s greatest superheroes and it is pretty much tone-perfect. It has the right emotional beats, the right character beats, the right setting, the right stories, and some really hellish cliffhangers that blow your mind. Of course, the acting department isn’t slacking either, with the likes of Grant Gustin, Jesse Martin, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes and Tom Cavanagh. It is pretty much a great show, and that is going off only the pilot from the last week!
The second episode of The Flash brings to life another true-to-comics villain like Clyde Martin aka Weather Wizard from last week, Danton Black aka Multiplex (or, as Cisco first called him, Captain Clone, hah!). Alongside a memorable villain, we also have a slightly expanded roster of characters this week as we get to meet one of the most despicable industrialists/scientists in “Fastest Man Alive” and also get to see Barry suffer from some of the side-affects of his new powers. I thought the pilot last week was great, but it turns out that it was only the start, and that the trinity of Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns are just getting started!
Note: This review contains spoilers about the final minutes of the premiere and this week’s episode.
In the latter half of Agents of SHIELD‘s first season, we learned that the premier spy organization in the world had been deeply infiltrated by HYDRA, and that as a result, the US Government had declared all existing SHIELD operatives traitors to be brought in for… questioning. The bulk of official operations against the near-defunct SHIELD was led by General Talbot, and part of the new season has been to reconcile Talbot’s objectives with taking down the real enemy, HYDRA. I love the character of course, and in the new season he really seems to be becoming a major challenger to Team Coulson.
“Face My Enemy” is this week’s episode and it sees Coulson and May going undercover to appropriate a 500-year old religious painting that has found itself in the middle of what many are calling a miracle. It features some great moments, such as the two SHIELD senior agents enjoying a rare moment of levity mixed with nostalgia and May fighting May. Directed by showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen’s brother Kevin, the episode is certainly a good one, especially the dance sequence with Coulson and May, and everything else really, prving that the second season is indeed going to be much better than season 1.
One of the biggest things last season in this show was the whole mystery of the relationship between Red and Liz, something that showrunner Jon Bokenkamp teased often, but never really committed to. It was really fascinating to watch regardless, and going into the new season, it was also something that I was quite looking forward to, especially when it turned out that Red did have a wife, Naomi Hyland, who was still living, and that she was going to play sort of a major role this season. Not much has been done with her to date, but I think that’s changing now.
“Dr. Linus Creel” is this week’s episode and it deals with an old US government black budget program that investigated the possibilities of mind control. Where the Reddington Task Force is concerned, someone of late has been causing people to go total violent psycho and commit some horrible murders, and this is what Red has to offer to them, even providing some crucial leads. It was a good episode, partly because of how well-performed the role of Dr. Linus Creel was, but also because we got a serious peek at what Red and Naomi’s life was before it was all upended several years back, and that was the true strength of the episode, the villain himself being somewhat lackluster.
Fox’s horror hit, Sleepy Hollow, had a great first year and so far it has also had a great second year, though we are only four episodes into the new season, which is said to be half again as long as the previous season. That in itself is excellent news since while the short first season was excellent, the second season gets even bigger in scope this year. With Sleepy Hollow itself, we’ve seen the war between the good guys and the bad guys intensify as the “End of Days” continue to march on Sleepy Hollow, and lines between the two sides are even more sharply drawn.
Last week’s episode, “Root of All Evil“, and this week’s episode, “Go Where I Send Thee“, are really intense episodes that mix in a lot of different things. We see how the new Sheriff Reyes has a history with Abby and Jenny. We see the many ways that Henry intends to bring destruction to Sleepy Hollow and the rest of the world. We see how Abby and Ichabod gain a new ally in treasure procurer Nick Hawley in some of the best scenes of this season. And more, so much more. I really loved what writers Melissa Blake/Donald Todd and Damian Kindler did here, building on some great mythology and providing some new villains as well.
After a slight introductory stumble, Gotham has really started to find its footing and has been developing into a show that I could really get to love and enjoy week after week. And much as the showrunners announced at first that the show was going to follow Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as they tried to clean up Gotham City, the show has been developing instead into the rise of Oswald Cobblepot as a major villain and ganglord. But that doesn’t mean that the other characters are getting the short shrift, because the cast assembled for the show really is incredible, especially as of last week’s episode.
This week’s episode, “Arkham” finally gets around to dealing with one of Gotham’s most infamous landmarks, the Arkham Asylum. Since it is still very early days and the costumed freaks have yet to make an appearance, AA at this time is just a mental health treatment facility rather than a supervillain prison. Cobblepot’s earlier pronouncements to Gordon about a war coming to Gotham take root in this episode, which I would consider a big step-up for the series, with some great character development across the board and also the rising stakes by the end of the episode.
The last five months have seen some big changes happening to one of Marvel’s longest-running titles. Following on from the end of Dan Slott’s game-changing Superior Spider-Man, the flagship Spidey title The Amazing Spider-Man was relaunched with the return of Peter Parker and we’ve seen the hero go through some major stuff of late, whether it is fighting an Elektro and Black Cat team-up or finding out that someone else got bit by the same spider as he did, and in stepped new female superhero Silk, who is a match for Peter in almost every way, and also a major problem too. It has been a fun five-and-a-half months, and things look to be getting even better with the ongoing Spider-Verse crossover.
The latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man brings in one of Marvel’s biggest successes of the year, Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, as a guest star and also deals with what has been happening in various realities around the omniverse with the villain Morlun and others killing various Spidey-heroes left and right. Both stories are great fun, as they should be since writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage have worked on them, and the Spider-Verse story in particular seems to have some interesting callbacks to more classic stories and the same vibe as well. And the artwork with Giuseppe Camuncoli is also great, just as I expected it to be.
Valiant’s X-O Manowar series wasn’t on my radar until the publisher launched its Unity team-book last year. I’d seen some stuff here and there and heard that it was a great title, but I never really got the chance to pick up an issue and read it, not until recently at any rate, when I read X-O Manowar #23, some months back. It was a fun issue I’d say, and the subsequent couple issues I read were similarly good at the least, though I kind of fell off the whole thing unfortunately. But Aric of Dacia still remains a favourite character to read about, that I can say for sure.
With the end of the Armor Hunters crossover event, the publisher’s line-up is going to go through some changes, and all the existing titles are presumably all going to forge ahead with new arcs. Interestingly enough, writer Robert Venditti is using this… grace period to tell Aric’s origins as a Visigoth warrior in the 4th century AD, and I have to say that he crafts a really intriguing tale of a reluctant and young warrior who wants to be something that his father wants him to and his tribe needs him to. This is one of Robert’s best issues I’ve read to date, and the art by Clay and Seth Mann and Romulo Fajardo is just excellent here.
Boom Studios’ Hexed, from Michael Alan Nelson and Dan Mora is one of the best new comics on shelves right now, and with good reason. It stars three incredible female character who are awesome in all sorts of ways, particularly the protagonist Lucifer, and it also has a really cool premise the likes of which is perfect for the medium itself. The first two issues were incredibly good, whether you talk about the writing or the art, and I foresee the series making its way onto several best of the year lists by the end of the year. It is just that good, and it is definitely going to make it on mind.
Hexed #3 continues the story of Lucifer caught up in the other-world where she got trapped a while back, even as her mentor Val Brisendine carries on in the real world, with the aid of her secretary Raina, who is new to all the kind of weird and freaky that Val and Lucifer are a part of. Recently, a major villain found his way into the real world and both Lucifer and Val are trying to stop him from doing too much harm. It is a great setup and Michael Alan Nelson’s story/script have definitely been great, same as the art by Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassata has been great, with Hexed #3 being the best of the series till now.
When DC relaunched Suicide Squad as New Suicide Squad in July this year, I was equal parts excited and apprehensive about it since my experience with the first volume of the title’s New 52 launch wasn’t all that positive. But then I read the first issue, and it proved to be really good in a way that I didn’t expect at all. The writing was better than I expected, and so was the art as well, and I’ve stuck with the title. Even the Future’s End one-shot, which I do admit I had some reservations about, proved to be better than I expected. Sure, it was bleak as hell, but that’s kind of the point of Future’s End.
The second and third issues of the new title have done much to cement my love of the title. Writer Sean Ryan continues to explore the differences between the different characters and also show off just who and what they are. They are all criminals first and foremost and putting a bunch of them together isn’t conducive to anyone’s health, but in Amanda Waller they have someone who really does understand them and seeing her manage this new team has been a great experience. And of course, the art by the army of creators working on the title has also turned out to be better than I expected.