In the wake of last week’s episode of CW’s Arrow, I find myself a bit disheartened. With Sara’s death and the introduction of noted master-archer Simon Lacroix making his television debut, having been introduced last year in comics by creators Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, I was all ready for a big archer-off between Ollie and Simon, but I guess that’s not really going to happen. So the mystery remains of who killed Sara and why. Trust Arrow to play cards close to the chest. But then, that’s one of the reasons why I love the show so much anyway, and this week’s episode wasn’t too different.
The new episode this week is titled “Corto Maltese” and as per last week’s teaser at the end of “Sara“, we know that this episode deals with Ollie going to Corto Maltese to find Thea, who has been training there with her blood-father Malcolm Merlyn, to get over her emotional troubles from the second season. It is a fantastic episode in almost every way that matters, and I loved seeing the new Thea on the show, a Thea who is much more confident of herself now, and who really can take care of herself. And with everything happening with Laurel, things are really looking to be on the up and up for the show’s female cast.
Thanks to CW’s Arrow, the character of Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke has enjoyed a great surge in popularity in recent years. Manu Bennett’s portrayal of DC’s greatest mercenary/assassin has enchanted people everywhere and when he stepped up as the big bad of the show’s second season last year, things really kicked off for him in a major way. However, the character hasn’t enjoyed as much popularity in the comics, with his most recent run ending rather unceremoniously, though not as abruptly as some of the other of DC’s New 52 books. I never read that first series, mostly because I wasn’t interested in the character so much back then.
But now things are different. Now I want to read more about Slade Wilson and the reins of the new series are given in the hands of writer Tony S. Daniel who is also the artist on the series. I’ve never really enjoyed any of Tony’s previous work for DC, mostly because there’s always something lacking in his stories or his dialogues, though his art is usually good. Deathstroke #1 however, is a departure from the former. It is quite an interesting story of a man as skilled and talented as Slade Wilson is supposed to be and Tony does a fairly decent job with him, though some of his deficiencies do show up here.
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.