Comics Picks For 12.11.2014

Getting on a roll again, this week I managed to repeat the “Magic 40″ with 2 graphic novels and 38 singles, with many of the latter being absolutely new series, so that was a lot of fun for the most part.

My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1  from Valiant Comics, Deep State #1 from Boom Studios, Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Vertigo Comics, and The Kitchen #1 from Vertigo Comics also. The most disappointing comics of this week were  Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #4 both from Marvel Comics, New 52 – Batman #36 from DC Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Hexed, Fables, New Suicide Squad, Red Sonja and Unity all proved to be immensely fun.

The graphic novels for this week were King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon by Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, and Fables Volume 5 by Bill Willingham, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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The Flash Season 1 Ep 6 (TV Show Review)

On CW’s The Flash last week, we got to see how things could have been for some of the metahumans that Barry has gone after in his debut season when Bette Sans Souci aka Plastique made her own live-action debut. Things didn’t end so well for her, regrettably so, but we got to see some great things happen nonetheless. For one, Barry learned a couple of new tricks that he can do with his super-speed, and we also got to see yet another sneak-peek at the future supervillain Gorilla Grodd in a flashback to five years before the current time, when Harrison Wells was in league with General Eiling. Great stuff. Damn.

In this week’s episode, the sixth of the debut season, we see how the legend of The Flash is finally born. Till now, he has been known only as The Streak, much like Clark Kent was known as The Blur on Smallville in the later seasons, and how Oliver Queen was once known as The Vigilante and is now known as The Arrow. Going up against a new meta-human, Barry is forced to confront some truths and with writers Jaime Paglia and Chris Rafferty, we also get to see the show address two of its biggest elephants in the room: time travel and Reverse-Flash. This was way too awesome for words, even for a show like The Flash.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Ep 8 (TV Show Review)

In last week’s “The Writing on the Wall” we got to see something rather incredible. Phil Coulson finally managed to solve the mystery of the alien writing that he had been doodling of late, and which had driven John Garrett madder than the hatter last season. And it was pretty incredible, setting the scene for what I think is going to be a fantastic addition to Marvel’s line-up of upcoming movies. You can read my review of the episode to see all the spoilers and speculation since I don’t want to mention any of that here.

In the latest episode, “The Things We Bury“, we see the antagonism between Grant Ward and his brother, Senator Christian Ward finally come out in the open as far as the characters are concerned, and as far as the readers are concerned as well. The web of lies and half-truths that the two of them have been weaving around each other all their lives is exposed and it is a pretty powerful moment. The episode brings back Milan Cheylov, who directed the debut season’s third episode last year, one of the best of the entire season, and it is a pretty good foot forward by the show that has gotten only better in the second round.

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Fast-Shot Comics Reviews 12.11.2014

Given how many comics I usually get to in any given week, anywhere from about 25 or so and all the way up to 40 even, it is not possible for me to review everything. Especially when I watch a lot of television in the week as well, and review as much of that as I can, or anime or even book reviews. Hence this new effort, Fast-Shot Comics Reviews, which I’m hoping to make a regular weekly thing on the blog. But no pressure! Every week on Wednesday, I’m going to try and review about 6 comics from the week prior that I didn’t get to in that week, and see where things go from here!

The picks for this week are: Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1, Deep State #1, Django/Zorro #1, Hexed #4, The Kitchen #1 and Unity #12. As you can see, four of this comics are brand-new series, with the very first one being a spin-off of Valiant Comics’ hit title Archer & Armstrong. I picked these six comics because they are undoubtedly among the best comics I read this week, but also because they are all incredibly diverse, very different to each other and to other comics on the shelves this past week, especially Unity #12 which is a superhero comic, but deals with something rather different than the norm.

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Sleepy Hollow Season 2 Eps 8-9 (TV Show Review)

Sleepy Hollow‘s season two has tried to go bigger and better with each episode, trying to establish a much stronger story that ties in all the different characters while introducing new ones and also moving the town of Sleepy Hollow one step closer to the Apocalypse with Moloch himself as its initiator. The previous episodes have done much to explore the various mysteries of the town and also show how Henry is an absolutely manipulative bastard and how much he really hates both his parents, not to mention that Hawley really is coming together well for the team and developing into a high-profile asset.

Heartless” and “Mama” are quite intense episodes, both of them. In the former, we see that Henry conjures a succubus to steal the life-energy of people in Sleepy Hollow and feed it to a child, who we later come to see is Moloch himself, finally given physical form. In the latter, we visit with Abby and Jenny’s mother, and it is a very, very emotional episode. We learn some truths about how and why their mother killed herself and while at the same time, we also learn that Henry and Moloch have grand plans for Katrina, and that these plans are quite nefarious indeed, in one way or another.

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Gotham Season 1 Ep 9 (TV Show Review)

Hard to believe that we are moving into the THIRD month of Gotham. How things change! When the show was announced, I didn’t care about it and thought it was all a big joke. But then the premiere happened and something fantastic and wonderful began that I haven’t been able to keep my eyes away from. In its first seven weeks, the show set up some really great things and delivered some pretty big moments. And now, it seems the show is moving into its second phase, introducing new plotlines while carrying forward a few of the old ones and continuing to show Gotham’s slow decline into insanity.

The villain in last week’s “The Mask” didn’t really work for me and I said as much in the review. I took far greater pleasure in seeing how previous plot-threads were carried on rather than what happened with the villain. And that’s kind of the thing here as well. There isn’t really one villain in this episode, more like a handful of them with none really getting any actual development. But once again, past plotlines really come to the fore here and in Nicholas D’Agosto, Gotham seems to have found a really, really great Harvey Dent, aka the future Two-Face. Kudos on that front!

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Superior Iron Man #1 (Comics Review)

Iron Man has been one of the books from Marvel in their Marvel Now! launch that I’ve largely given a miss in the last couple years. I started off reading the first issue but it didn’t interest me at all. The next issue I read was sometime this year, which dealt with Mandarin’s death and his rings’ search for their next wielder, in Iron Man #23 I recall. However, that storyline didn’t interest me either, after two issues, and I gave up on that too. And then Marvel announced the Avengers NOW! launch for Iron Man, and I was interested in the changes being made to the character.

Superior Iron Man #1 follows in the wake of the recent issues of Avengers & X-Men: AXIS in which the villain Red Skull did some psychic hanky panky and unleashed a Hate Wave across the world that has turned some heroes towards a dark path while some villains have turned towards the path of redemption. It is an interesting mechanic, and Tony too has been changed by this, becoming a more narcissistic and greedy businessman seeking to profit from the misery of other people. But the writing didn’t really work for me in this issue, though the art was passable, from one standpoint.

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Brides of Helheim #2 (Comics Review)

Last month Cullen Bunn kicked off the second stage of his Helheim saga with the release of Brides of Helheim #1 which takes a look at the main character of Rikard some time after the events of the previous series as a young Viking girl by the name of Sigrid searches him out to exact vengeance for her father’s death. It was a pretty great issue, in terms of both the art and the story and I loved it, which is why I wanted to read more and even went and got the first mini-series, though I haven’t had a chance to read it as yet.

This past week’s Brides of Helheim #2 continues the story of Rikard and Sigrid even as the writer gives us some background on the spae witches who have been Rikard’s enemies, along with their distant master who is emerging into the world once again. Cullen Bunn packs the issue with some astounding moments of character and action, even as Joelle Jones and Nick Filardi render them quite beautifully. The second issue is as good as the first one, and as the mysteries and story deepen, things look set to get better and better on all fronts.

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Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe (Book Review)

Gav Thorpe is rightly considered Black Library’s resident Dark Angels expert, for he has written more about them than any other author and he even had a hand in shaping their lore back when he worked in the Games Workshop Design Studio on the Dark Angels codex, among other things. Last year, he started a new Dark Angels series called Legacy of Caliban that followed on from one of Black Library’s best novels to date, Angels of Darkness, and continued the tale of the Knights of Caliban as they sought out their traitorous brethren from the days of the Horus Heresy itself and brought them to justice in the innermost deeps of The Rock. Ravenwing was an excellent novel in many ways, and the wait for the sequel was a long one for me, especially since I dropped off on my Black Library reading this year.

But I read Master of Sanctity earlier this month and the wait has been quite fruitful indeed. Gav made the long wait worth every moment since the novel is a brilliant follow-up to what he did in Ravenwing, giving a more thorough insight into the many mysteries of the Dark Angels and exploring their many secrets. The duality of the Dark Angels, in their oaths to the Imperium and to themselves to hunt down the Fallen wherever they may be found, is at the heart of this novel, and our primary lead-in this time is none other than the chapter’s Master of Sanctity himself, Grand Master Sapphon, and we even get a look at the fiercely conservative Chaplain Asmodai, with whom Sapphon clashes again and again in the novel.

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Death Vigil #5 (Comics Review)

Stjepan Sejic has been building up to an epic showdown between Team Evil and Team Good for a while now, pretty much since the start actually. He has shown us the Death Vigil through the eyes of the new recruit Clara and at the same time we have also seen some stuff with many of the other members of the Vigil, focusing on their histories and their personalities as they are. It has all been enormous good fun thus far and I doubt that Stjepan is going to take a break from any of it for a good long while since he is so damn good with this book, whether we talk writing or art.

The latest issue of Death Vigil sees Team Evil finally let loose on an unsuspecting world and it has some enormously great cinematic scenes that show that all is not well for the Vigil or for the Reaper herself, Bernadette. There’s so much to like about this issue, especially since we finally get a history on Allistor and Mia, two necromancers who are also kinda-sorta friends with the Vigil. If you’ve liked the previous issues then this one is certainly going to be very appealing since it crystallizes a lot of things and Stjepan has aced the story and the art once again.

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Arrow Season 2.5 #6 (Comics Review)

While CW’s Arrow has been chugging along well enough with its third season, DC has been chugging along with its companion digital-first comic that explores the time between the last season and the new one. Not much has actually happened here, other than the fact that the Church of Blood has become resurgent under Clinton Hogue, Sebastian Blood’s henchman last season and has been causing all sorts of problem for the heroes. And in the last issue things got plenty screwy as Ollie and Diggle were both captured by the Church. Now, we see how this first arc ends.

Arrow Season 2.5 #6 is supposed to be the end of the first arc and while I enjoyed it, it doesn’t feel like quite the ending that it should be. It is basically a reprieve as the title moves off to other characters and other adventures. But the fact remains that Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu know all their characters really well and they tell compelling stories about them. Not to mention that the backup with the Suicide Squad feels really great and the art overall is as great as ever.

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Red Sonja #13 (Comics Review)

It has been an excellent year and a half for fans of Red Sonja, the She-Devil With A Sword. With Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s reboot of one of Dynamite’s most enduring and consistently successful titles, Red Sonja has seen a huge upsurge in popularity and interest and there have even been quite a few mini-series and one-shots that have been released in this time. Gail and Walter closed out their highly excellent second arc a few weeks back, and the wait ever since has been quite torturous. Red Sonja is a title that I want more of every month and temporarily, the wait is over!

A new arc started on Red Sonja this past week and it brings a fantastic new story from the pen of Gail Simone as she delves into another facet of the She-Devil With A Sword. While bringing to justice a villainous sorcerer who has been killing several innocents in a nearby village, Sonja is cursed that she will never be able to forgive anyone ever again, and this is where the fun really kicks off and where Gail brings out the best in her protagonist. Walter and Adriano’s artwork is top-notch as always and I really loved all the artistic twists here.

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