After two rather dreary weeks of reading comics, where I didn’t manage to hit my recent highs of 40 singles/graphic novels a week, this week was much different. I got back on track for one, and moved through three entire volumes of DC’s Earth 2, almost catching up to the current status of the series.
The surprise hits of this week were Blood Queen Annual 2014 from Dynamite Entertainment, Deadpool’s Art of War #1 from Marvel Comics and Trinity of Sin #1 from DC Comics. The comics that disappointed me this week were Wytches #1 from Image Comics and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #1 from Marvel Comics. Of the other titles, the ones that I really loved were recent ongoings like Flash Gordon #6, Unity #0 or even Ms. Marvel #9.
New shows often need to start out strong in order to cement themselves in the viewers’ consciousnesses, and to prove that they indeed have some staying power. Of late, that task has fallen to one of television’s biggest gambles, Gotham, a show about the city of Gotham before Bruce Wayne became Batman, when guys like Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock were still simple detectives or when mob bosses like Sal Maroni and Carmine Falcone were at the top of their game. Fortunately, Gotham has started out fairly strong and seems intent to stay that way, if last week’s episode Arkham is any indication.
In the new week, “Viper” is quite the traditional “new drug on the streets” police procedural episode but it still stands a fairly good episode on its own. It doesn’t quite match the fantasticness of last week’s Arkham, but it still moves the larger story forward while also providing a reference to one of the most iconic Batman villains ever and gives Penguin and Jim both some really great moments together. I’m really getting into the groove of the show now and having a blast as well. This is a very different take on these characters than I’m used to, but that’s exactly why I’m enjoying the show so much, this week’s episode no exception.
Though Future’s End has been one of my favourite series of this year, some of the recent decisions story-wise have made me feel as if the writers are more intent on just prolonging the inevitable and also because the long run is kind of taking its toll on me. Except for an odd title here and there, especially Future’s End #22, the title has been great, but I think some cracks are beginning to show and I would love it if the writers got the series back on track with characters who’ve been missing for a while, and for the “proper” storylines to come back to the fore.
In Future’s End #23 and #24 we see the tale of the survivors of Stormwatch and the reluctant recruits of SHADE as they continue to battle against the power of Brainiac and his legions of robots. We also see, at the same time, the troubles that Tim Draka is having in his love life and how Madison is struggling to get over his past as a Teen Titan, a dead one no less. And in the midst of this we also get to touch base with some characters we haven’t seen in a while, like Fury, Scott Free, Constantine and Superman in some really amazing sequences, both in terms of the story and the art.
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.
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.
Gail Simone ended her incredible run on the New 52 version of Batgirl last month with Batgirl: Future’s End #1. Her run on the title made it one of my favourite titles in DC’s current stable, and right from the start I loved almost everything that she did, paired up with a variety of different artists over the last three years. But then came news a few months back that she was moving off the title, as were the artists currently working with her, and that we were getting a brand-new creative team that would transition Batgirl and Barbara Gordon to a soft reboot of sorts.
Batgirl #35 is the first issue by writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, with art by Babs Tarr. The new issue sees Barbara move to a different locality within Gotham, Burnside, and encountering all the dangers of living near a university campus. The issue also introduces a campy-but-kind-of-modern villain in the form of Riot Black who invades people’s privacy and exposes their secrets to the world for nothing more than a laugh, and it was kind of interesting, but ultimately not to my liking. The story in general didn’t work so well for me and while Babs’ art was pretty decent, it was also very overcrowded and dense and far too cartoony for me.
Earlier this year, DC started putting out weekly comics once again, with Batman: Eternal being the first, and then in May followed the second one, Future’s End. While the former takes place in the current DC timeline, at least for the Gotham-centric characters, the latter takes place five years from the present timeline and is a full-on superhero/supervillain epic. A third weekly was also set to come out however, and tie-in a little bit to Future’s End. Called World’s End, this new weekly series had a really weird premise at first, and was one of the reasons why I passed on it initially.
But now it is here. Earth 2: World’s End #1 is basically a giant recap of 2 years of Earth 2 and World’s Finest, an effort to catch up readers on what has happened on those titles and how all of that is just a setup for this new series. I had low expectations of this series to start with, but given that I felt the same for Future’s End at first but came to really love it, I was willing to give World’s End a chance. And by the first issue at least, it is a big disappointment. There are retcons aplenty and the tie-in with Future’s End is basically non-existent and is essentially retconned. The art is decent though, and that’s kind of enough to bring me back for a second issue, although I’m not sure if I really should.
After two straight weeks of reading 38 singles and 2 graphic novels, this week saw me lagging behind, with only 36 singles read and no graphic novels at all. Makes me kind of sad since there were comics that I was really looking forward to reading in GN format, but I just couldn’t get the time, and I’m seriously behind on my novel reading as well.
The surprise hits of this week were Brides of Helheim #1 from Oni Press, The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Gotham Academy #1 from DC Comics. The disappointing comics of this week were Fantastic Four Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Green Arrow #35 and Green Lantern & New Gods: Godhead #1 both from DC Comics. Titles like Death from Wolverine #3 from Marvel, Angel & Faith Season 10 #7 from Dark Horse Comics, and Grayson #3 from DC comics continued to rock it.
Two weeks into Fox’s Gotham, the latest comics-based show on air, and I think that things are going great for comics fans everywhere. This is the big year for comics properties, what with old shows coming back for new seasons and new shows getting off one after anoher. Gotham is the lone charger at the moment since DC’s The Flash starts later tonight, and the publisher’s next big project Constantine not getting on until the end of the month. In the first couple episodes, we’ve seen some big things happening on Gotham and the show is almost tone-perfect, with some great casting and also some interesting mysteries at the heart of future-Batman’s city.
The new episode sees a vigilante make his appearance on the show for the first time. In the first episode we saw the murder of the Waynes, and then in the second we witnessed a child-kidnapping ring. Now, we see not a villain, but someone who wants to clean up the city in a rough way, outside of the law and order. “Balloon Man” really ups the tension between various characters, as Fish’s silent war against Don Falcone continues, as Renee Montoya keeps gunning for James Gordon, as Don Maroni starts making moves on Don Falcone, and as Alfred starts to teach a young Bruce about some basic swordplay. Fun and exciting, more than I’d thought possible.
DC’s second weekly of New 52, Future’s End has been one of my favourite series all year. Week after week it has thrilled and wowed and amazed and boggled with everything that has been happening on Earth Prime five years from the present main DC timeline. After twenty issues of post-fact storytelling, we finally got the lowdown about the war with Earth 2 in last week’s issue in which Earth Prime’s Green Arrow and Earth 2’s Red Arrow explained it all to Big Barda, or rather, recounted events for the benefit of the reader. And it was glorious.
Coming off of all of that, I was ready for something momentous this issue. But it seems that the writers had something different planned, and I’ll admit that this is the first issue of this series where I feel cheated out and disappointed even. The writers muddle their way through various plotlines here, bringing back several lingering threads, and unfortunately only one of them left an impact on me, when it was fully revealed to Amethyst, Hawkman and Frankenstein who their tormentor was. However, while the writing was less than satisfactory, the art itself was pretty spectacular, as I’ve come to expect from Patrick Zircher and Hi-Fi.
Last month we got a dose of what the future holds for Dick Grayson aka Nightwing aka Agent 37 and his friend and colleague Helena Bertinelli aka Matron. Working for SPYRAL is a pretty dangerous job, and in the first three issues of the new series, we’ve seen that again and again as Dick is continually challenged by his circumstances while also maintaining his cover as a dedicated agent for SPYRAL. Tom King and Tim Seeley are keeping the series chugging along really nice while Mikel Janin keeps up his awesomeness month after month and this week’s issue is no exception..
This week’s Grayson #3 sees Dick, Helena and two other SPYRAL agents go after a villain who is quite unique in most aspects. Having lost the use of his eyes, he’s had some advanced surgery done to link his ocular nerves to two over-sized guns and now works as an assassin. Going after a villain like this means using guns, and that’s the big challenge for Dick in this issue: using guns. I have to say that Tom and Tim have done something spectacular once again. They really seem to have a good handle on this new Dick Grayson and Mikel’s artwork is as great as ever.