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.
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.
I’ve remarked before that DC is going pretty much all-out in its bid to develop more and more properties for television. First there was the (mostly) celebrated 10 season run of Smallville a few years back. Then came Arrow in 2012, quickly becoming a fan-favourite. And this year we are getting Gotham and The Flash (both already premiered!) and Constantine (coming soon). But in all of this, the modern DC stable of television definitely owes much to the incredible success of Arrow, both from a story and casting viewpoint, among others. And now CW’s hit superhero show is hitting its third season.
Arrow Season 3 has been a hotly debated topic in recent months, especially when news of all the new castings and everything began to filter out, such as the fact that the probable big-bad of the season is going to be none other than Ra’s al Ghul, one of the greatest villains in DC’s history. Last night, the new season got underway with the premiere, “The Calm“, and it was an incredible revisit with all the characters and Starling City. The new episode does a lot to set the new status quo and also delivers some big moments, especially the shocking cliffhanger ending which seems improbable given the character involved.
In 2012, Angry Robot Books launched its Young Adult fiction imprint Strange Chemistry. One of the very first titles to be released under the new imprint was Cassandra R. Clarke’s debut novel The Assassin’s Curse. This was one of the very first YA titles I’d read at the time, and it was kind of an eye-opener since that was also a time when I was experimenting with some different genres and YA just happened to be something that I found attractive. The Assassin’s Curse didn’t exactly wow me unfortunately, but it proved to be a good experience nonetheless.
This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.
With DC’s launch of its entire line-up in 2011, and my subsequent return to comics in the following year, Suicide Squad was one of the books that I was quite interested in because of its team make-up and the premise. But my expectations didn’t match the reality, by a good margin, and I gave up on the book after just the first arc. And then the Suicide Squad showed up on screens with Arrow‘s Season 2 and I got really, really excited. And at the same time, DC announced that Suicide Squad was being relaunched with a new creative team and with a shake-up of the Suicide Squad team itself, and I thought, why not?
New Suicide Squad #1 has proven to be better than I expected, by far. Joker’s Daughter vs Harley Quinn, Deathstroke vs Deadshot, and Black Manta? Well, that’s a recipe for goodness. And I loved that writer Sean Ryan played up on the differences in the team make-up, and he really made each character feel valuable in their own way, with a decent “first” mission that also has a spectacular cliffhanger that is sure to appease some long-term readers of DC comics, especially alternate international superhero teams. Plus the art was fairly decent, so that was a notch of positive difference as well.
It has all come down to this. When this season was starting, the producers hailed it as the season where Starling would become the City of Heroes. And that was true all the way. Oliver let go of being a killer and moved on to becoming a hero, the kind we all know so well from comics. We had Barry Allen make his debut on the show, although we didn’t get to see him as Flash. We saw Sara Lance enter the show as a vigilante who soon becomes a hero in her own right. We had Roy Harper finally join Team Arrow and try and become a hero too. Starling did become the City of Heroes, but it also continued to be the City of Lies and Deceit and Murder.
This week’s finale episode, “Unthinkable” brings closure to pretty much most of the important lingering plotlines that were woven in through the season. We see Oliver really become the hero he’s wanted to be since Tommy’s death last year. We see Sara come to accept who she is, and what she has become under the League of Assassins. We see Laurel finally become one with her family and not be miserable. We see Deathstroke and Isabel Rochev get their due. We see closure to lots of things and in the midst of all of that, we get some great superhero drama as the webs of lies and deceit unravel and knit themselves back up. And what I can say with all my conviction is that I can’t think of how this finale could have been topped, because it rocked from start to finish.
This week I was a man on a mission. I’d resolved to make a big dent in my weekly reading pile, given all the great comics that were coming out, and I did just that. Not counting my graphic novel binges, since those count as a single item only, this has been my biggest week so far to date. 23 single issues in a week, with 15 reviews of these titles. Pretty damn good odds I say. I’m definitely hitting my stride here.
The best part of the week, other than all the fantastic new comics, was catching up with comics that I’d left off with or had put aside for other comics, such as American Vampire: Second Cyle and Pandora. The former proved to be really good while the latter not so much. But such is the way of things. I may be behind on novel reading, but I don’t care so much about that. Comics are where the excitement is going down!
One of the latest new series to join Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! launch-phase is Elektra by W. Haden Blackman and Michael Del Mundo. The new series joins Black Widow and Ms. Marvel as the three big new relaunches that exclusively feature some of Marvel’s most well-known leading ladies, although Ms. Marvel is quite a twist in that respect. Both these previous launches have been excellent thus far and if the first issue of the new series is any indication then Elektra is right up there with them as one of the best comics that Marvel has to offer right now, by quite a good margin.
Elektra Natchios is a character I know of only through the Ben Afflect/Jennifer Garner movie Daredevil (a really good one!) and the follow-up Elektra which was a rather disappointing installment. So I don’t know much about her other than what I’ve picked up here and there over the years. But with this new series Blackman gives a great accounting for the character as he introduces her and sets up her first antagonist, even as Del Mundo and the other artists turn out one of Marvel’s best-looking #1s to date.
In contrast to the previous week, I didn’t get to read as many comics as I wanted to because my iPad wasn’t working properly and I had to resort to reading comics on my computer, which didn’t work out so well. Especially when I have to travel, and I was rather counting on getting through at least 3-4 more comics.
Still, I did manage to read a fair few, and I am now done with my read-through of Forever Evil: Blight which proved to be a very interesting event indeed, far better than the main event or two of the tie-ins ARGUS and Arkham War and just on par with Rogues Rebellion. The ending was definitely unexpected and awesome too, I think, so that is something there. No other graphic novels, which is a shame, but since I’m landlocked for the next two weeks, I’m hoping to move through a few, so we shall see.
So welcome to the first Comics Picks of The Week for 2014 where I list the comics that were actually to be the first ones released in the new year. Everything that has been revealed so far about 2014 promises an amazing year, I have to say. Well, for the most part at least. There are some things that I don’t quite understand, or like, but eh, it is still going to be a great year I feel.
This past week, Marvel finally launched its All-New Marvel NOW! line with Black Widow, All-New X-Factor and Revolutionary War: Alpha and they aren’t going to stop. New releases will continue throughout March at the least and we will even be getting some of these new titles double-shipped, such as Black Widow #2 which comes out next week. In other news, I had some fun reading DC titles this week, although Detective Comics #27 proved to be quite disappointing for most of the first half. And my disappointment is on several levels, not just with one particular aspect of it. But, more on that in the reviews.
My first graphic novel of the year happened to be the (unfinished) mini-series that Steve Gerber and Matthew Sturges wrote a few years ago, with the former writing the tale of a new Doctor Fate while the latter wrote about the supervillain Eclipse. Only eight issues of this double-sized series were released, but I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it and based on that, my graphic novel reading is off to a good start.