Last week we got to see something spectacular in Arrow. Ted Grant embraced his history as a vigilante, known as the Wildcat, and we learned that he was taking care of the Glades before Oliver Queen ever came back and started taking on the villains of Starling City. It was a pretty emotionally-charged episode with lots of action as well that also segued into the growing relationship between Ollie and Roy as mentor and apprentice, mirroring that of other character pairs on the shows such as Ted-Laurel and Malcolm-Thea. It was a great episode, and it only left me wanting more.
In the new episode, “Draw Back Your Bow“, we see the debut of Cupid, a woman super-obsessed with the Arrow who wants to become his lover, someone who can take care of him since he takes care of all of Starling. She made her debut by killing of Isaac Stanzler, who used to be the Arsenal to Ted Grant’s Wildcat a few years ago and who was the villain last week. As is usual on the show, we got to see some real-time commentary on how things are with Team Arrow, and we also see that Ray Palmer has some really big designs for what he is going to do with Queen Consolidated and its tech resources. Not a mind-blowing episode per se, but this one can easily fly under the radar, and I’d caution you against dismissing this one off-hand.
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.
DC’s reboot of its Suicide Squad title has become one of my favourites from the publisher. New Suicide Squad brings on board a better writer with some better artists than before, and it tells a focused story that has thankfully avoided getting into crossovers from the start. The line-up itself is pretty amazing, with the cream of the crop as it were, and Sean Ryan has done wonders with the team so far, delivering highly-charged action stories with ample assist from the artists as well. The art is definitely one of the reasons to buy this title and the story just keeps getting better too.
The new issue this week carries on the thread of Deathstroke having betrayed his team to work for the Russians. In the face of Vic Sage’s disastrous attempts of a mission, Deathstroke abandoned the team at the first opportunity and right now he is busy torturing Deadshot for info. All pretty great stuff and Sean injects the story with some welcome grim humour, even as Vic Sage and Amanda Waller battle it out for control of the team, which was absolutely superb in every single way possible. The art rocked, the story rocked. Don’t know what else to say.
In “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” last week we got to see some really great things with all the characters as Felicity’s mom strolled into Starling City for some quality time with her daughter and we got to see how Felicity became the person that she was when she first met Oliver back in season 1. Pretty interesting stuff all around, and the larger mysteries of the season were also addressed, including a possible reveal of who might have killed Sara, though the why was/is still a mystery.
This week’s “Guilty” goes in a slightly different direction as it explores Ted Grant aka Wildcat’s past and what kind of an effect that his past has had on him, and what it might bode for the future of the show, specifically in relation to how Laurel sees him as a mentor and a friend. The episode does a fair bit to set up the debut of another villain, Cupid, while also dealing with the villain of the week, and the most important thing here is how Oliver has to make some really tough choices and how he is the only one, ultimately, who has to make them.
Goes without saying that last week’s Episode 4, “The Magician“, was a pretty big deal for the show since it finally debuted one of the true big bads of the DC universe, Ra’s al Ghul, the Demon himself. It was a bit of an anticlimactic reveal in terms of Matt Nable stepping on to the screen as the character, but the buildup has been pretty good I’d say and last week’s episode is definitely among my faovurites as well for quite a few reasons. With the big bad shown so soon, I have high hopes for how he is going to be portrayed on the show and I can only hope that we get lots and lots of moments with him this season.
But of course, this week’s “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” is still easily one of the most talked-about episodes of the show this season since it is finally going to delve into Felicity’s history before she ever came to work for Queen Consolidated, and I have to say that almost every moment of this episode is glorious. Ray Palmer is back again as well, at a time when Felicity’s mother also makes her debut, and we get lots of stuff about family this week, which was pretty nice in that there was a great synergy about it all. Plus, that cliffhanger. Man, that cliffhanger!
Last week I mentioned that Arrow is really good at keeping secrets close to its chest, until the right amount of critical mass is reached to unveil said secrets. The big mystery of who was bankrolling Sebastian Blood last year was a terrific reveal, as was the whole subplot about breaking to Thea the news that Malcolm Merlyn is her blood-father, not Robert Queen. And this season, it looks like the big mystery is “Who killed Sara?”. We’ve seen some development so far, not entirely satisfactory, but it has been a good source of background tension to the show and things look set to intensify even more.
Nyssa al Ghul made her season 3 debut on the show in this week’s “The Magician“, which also happens to be the show’s 50th episode. I’d expected some really great things from the show in this episode, but it kind of failed to deliver on that expectation. Sure, it was a fairly good episode, but it just didn’t feel like such a momentous episode, though I suppose that the detail is kind of irrelevant. Either way, I had a lot of fun with this one since Katrina Law’s Nyssa is one of my favourite elements of the second season, and she turns in a grand performance here, really charging the show with some much-needed drive and direction in the hunt for Sara’s killer.
Note: Some spoilers from the episode are mentioned here.
Slight lows on the reading this past week since I didn’t manage to finish either of the graphic novels I started this week, and generally didn’t read as many singles either, but I did manage to get through 35 of them, so that’s something, yeah?
For this week, I’d say that the surprise hits are Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing, Catwoman #35 and Secret Origins #6 from DC Comics and Predator: Fire and Stone #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The comics that win the “disappointment of the week award” are Grimm Fairy Tales: Dark Shaman #1 from Zenescope, Arkham Manor #1 and Sensation Comics #11 both from DC Comics. Ongoings like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #8, Aquaman #35, Tomb Raider #9 and Nancy A. Collins’ prelude Vampirella: Prelude To The Shadows #1 were all first-rate comics this week, and quite satisfactory as well.
The graphic novels I’m in the middle of at the moment are Supergirl Vol.4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, and The Flash Vol.2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
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.