DC Comics kicked off its Arrow Season 2.5 digital-first series week before last, which bridges the gap between the second and (upcoming) third seasons of its hit television show Arrow, based on its Green Arrow comics. The first issue was an absolute kicker, combining the best of the show with some really big action scenes that normally you wouldn’t get to see on the scene. It also starred Roy Harper as Speedy, all dressed in red and all, the whole nine yards. That rocked, for me at least. The wait for the second issue has been long, but it is finally here.
This second issue carries straight on from the one before, and it sets up the character relationships in a rather big way, going forward into the show’s third season. The action is very low-key this time, since the focus is much more on the characters, and I liked that personally. Start with a bang and then give the readers substance. That’s the case here and to be honest, I don’t think it could have been better really. After the great opening with the first issue, Marc Guggenheim and Joe Bennett are back for another exciting opening here, intent on giving readers an amazing experience.
With everything going on right now, I had doubts whether I’d be able to get through many comics this week but it seems that this was indeed the week where I surprised myself in a big way. Not only did I catch up on quite a few new titles, but I also managed to read two graphic novels this week, one of them at almost 300 pages no less!
The surprise hits of this week were Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor #2 from Titan Comics, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division #2 from IDW Publishing and Inhuman #5 from Marvel Comics. This week’s surprise flops were Caliban #6 from Avatar Press, Grim Tales of Terror #3 from Zenescope, and Superman Unchained #8 from DC Comics. Of the others, they were mostly great, and I loved that both G.I. Joe Volume 1 and Witchblade Volume 3 are among my absolute favourite graphic novel reads of the year!
Each month I am more and more impressed with Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. In the title’s first arc they’ve taken the protagonist on an almost globe-hopping mission of investigation into the death of one of Britain’s finest intelligence agents, and they’ve done so by creating a protagonist who is nuanced, balanced, and one of the finest portrayals of female characters in comics, especially espionage comics. Velvet Templeton ranks as one of my favourite characters in comics since last year, when the title debuted, and the high of that has continued ever since.
As Velvet moves into a new phase, especially with respect to Velvet’s solo investigation, we see the action and the pure intensity of the story get really ramped up. We now know that the main reason Velvet gave up being a field operative for ARC-7 was because she had been ordered to kill her husband on their honeymoon, on suspicions of him being a mole. Issues #6 and #7 deal with the fallout of this realization and show that Velvet really means business when it comes to finding out about the truth. Truly, the art and the story have never been as good as they’ve been in these two issues.
I got hooked on to the Judge Dredd experience back in late 2011 when I had (mis)fortune of watching the Sylvester Stallone-starrer. It was a rough experience to be sure, but soon after that I took a dip back in when I started listening to Big Finish’s Judge Dredd audios and when I saw the rebooted movie Dredd, starring Karl Urban, which was much, much better of an experience than the original movie. I also experimented with IDW’s Judge Dredd comics in 2012, and then with the original ones from 2000AD last year, and one thing has been clear to me: I really do love Judge Cassandra Anderson a hell of a lot.
And now IDW has launched a new series, starring none other than Anderson, the coolest and most kickass Psi-Judge in the Big Meg. Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division charts the early years of Judge Anderson’s service as part of the Mega City One Justice Department. For someone looking to get into the world of Judge Dredd, this would be a great start I think because of how approachable Matt Smith’s writing is, and also because of how good the art by Carl Critchlow is. The first two issues are the first half of an arc, and there is certainly a lot here to like.
I haven’t read a whole lot of comics from Boom Studios to date. I was onboard with their Hypernatural series for a while back in 2012, and read a few other titles here and there, but didn’t really stick with anything. Which is something that I really should correct since a lot of the publisher’s titles are really interesting, such as Polarity mini-series, or even the fact that they publish the Planet of the Apes comics, which I’ve wanted to read for a good long while now. With my increased reading capacity each week, perhaps this is the time for getting back on track with that and I already have a great title that I’m following at present.
Michael Alan Nelson’s Hexed debuted last month and the first issue was awesome. An urban fantasy involving a female thief who steals magical items so bad guys can’t get to them? Let’s chalk that up to being an awesome masterpiece. The first issue involved some crazy action involving a post-Impressionist masterpiece and led to some really interesting developments for the hero, Lucifer. And the second issue continued that, with even more action involving a trip to metaphysical realms and using magic items to stop the bad guys. This has to be Michael’s best work to date, that I’ve read, and the art by Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassata is mind-blowing as well.
Dynamite Entertainment has often been about dark adult fantasy, much as with Zenescope Entertainment, though the two publishers have an entirely different focus despite often focusing on the same genres. The recent year and a half has seen Dynamite experimenting quite a bit with female-led comics, with titles like Dejah of Mars making their debut, or others such as Red Sonja getting rebooted with massive promotional clout behind them. Back in July, the publisher launched another female-led title, an urban fantasy horror that saw the protagonist take on vampires, Chastity.
Marc Andreyko came to my notice recently with his run on Batwoman for DC, where he wrote quite a few good issues, the handful that I read at any rate. I kept meaning to go back and get up to date on his run, but that didn’t pan out. And then I heard about his new title Chastity for Dynamite and I got excited, especially after looking at the previous pages. Now with three issues out, I have to say that Chastity has hit most of the right buttons for me and that I am really enjoying the story here. Dave Acosta and Thiago Ribeiro’s artwork hasn’t slouched either, making the title one of the more consistent new titles in recent months.
Whoever said that dying by your lover’s hand, and then being resurrected by an ancient order of guardians to fight on for the fate of the entire world is meant to be serious has clearly not read Stjepan’s Sejic’s magnificent Death Vigil. Just two issues in, this series has been utterly awesome, in part because of Stjepan’s ever-awesome artwork, but also because how light-hearted the story itself is. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but it does recognize the importance of things. With Death Vigil, Stjepan has hit the sweet spot and to be honest, there are few comics out there right now that are better than this, very few.
Death Vigil #3 continues the tale of Clara as she adjusts to her new life with the Order of the Veil, with the Grim Reaper herself, Bernadette. The new issue is very much about Clara getting into the thick of things, doing what the Order is meant to do and her fellow protagonist Sam is just as awesome in this issue as he has been in the previous ones. And the same goes for Bernie as well, though she takes a backseat to Sam and Clara’s adventures. As I mentioned with the sweet spot, Stjepan’s script is compelling and fun and engaging once again, as is his artwork, which has never been better.
From my reading thus far, the second week of Future’s End one-shots hasn’t been as overwhelmingly positive as the first week. Many titles seem to have suffered from the oddest stories being told, partly because few of them have actually tied in to the larger Future’s End story. They are mostly just dealing with their featured characters five years into the future and that’s it. Kind of a shame, but hey, I’m still picking up a lot of titles that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and that’s great, I tell ya, since it allows me to easily sample a wide variety of DC’s ongoing titles, with a rather low risk attached.
Green Lantern Corps: Future’s End #1 and New Suicide Squad: Future’s End #1 are two of the odder titles I’ve read this week, though not by much. They feel very natural extensions of their respective titles, though I haven’t read a single issue of the New 52 version of Green Lantern Corps, though I’ve been keeping up with the newly rebooted Suicide Squad title. The former is an interesting issue in many ways, but flawed to a great degree while the latter is a fully self-contained story that actually does impress, more than I’d thought would be possible.
The new Wonder Woman ongoing, Sensation Comics, has been chugging along as one of DC’s best offerings in the New 52 since the title’s re-introduction to the comics world almost a month ago. The previous issues have dealt with different aspects of what makes Wonder Woman who she is, but there have also been some common strands that tie them together much more cohesively than would have been otherwise possible. As an anthology series released in digital first and then in print, Sensation Comics has quickly become one of my favourite reads any given week..
This week’s offering, Sensation Comics #5 begins a 2-part arc written by Ivan Cohen in which he explores the concept of Wonder Woman’s spirituality and what kind of an effect that can have on the public at large, and whether she is here to proselytize her beliefs or not. Much of this issue deals with the setup for the next week’s offering, much as Gail Simone’s first issue did, but there is also a lot to like here, and the artwork by Marcus To and Andrew Dalhouse is as great as it has been on the previous issues with the other artists who have worked on the series so far.
Last month Zenescope began a new phase in its flagship Grimm Fairy Tales series with the launch of issue #101 which started a new arc, set a year after the events of Grimm Fairy Tales #100. The new arc brought together Sela Mathers and Shang as they tried to rebuild the Realm Knights, the team of heroes given charge to defend the Realms. Characters like Violet Liddle, Ali, Wulf, Sela’s daughter Skylar and Hailey are the ones chosen to form the new team, and the issue last month got off to a fantastic start indeed. I loved both the story and the issue, and wanted more since.
This week’s Grimm Fairy Tales #102 continues the story of Ali and the Genie that was freed from the magical lamp that Ali brought with him to Arcane Acre, the residence of the Realm Knights-in-training. While last month’s issue was scene-setting and character introduction, this week’s issue is all about telling a story about the relationships between the characters and unveiling the history of one of the new characters and also creating a bond between the young warriors. Pat Shand and Andrea Meloni do some great work once again, setting a strong positive tone for this new arc.
I’ve had a long fascination with Superman, since my earliest years in fact, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve become very curious about what happened to Krypton, that Kal-El’s parents had to take the drastic step of sending him away from the world all the way to Earth. Over the years, many different variants of the basic story have come out, whether in movies or live-action television or animated television or comics, but I have to say that none have had as much of an impact on me as Kevin J. Anderson’s The Last Days of Krypton, and that’s precisely because Kevin focused an entire novel on the event, not just a few minutes of a movie/television show or the pages of a comic.
I listened to the audiobook of the novel last year and it was a great experience, so much so that the audiobook eventually found its way to my “Best of 2013 Part 1” list as one of the best audios I listened to in the first half of 2013. Definitely an experience.
In light of The Founding Fields currently suffering some major site issues, I’m going to be reposting my reviews from the site to the blog, so enjoy away!
The original review can be found here.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Gail Simone is leaving Batgirl for other projects, one of which involves her recently-announced reboot of Secret Six for DC, a Suicide Squad-style supervillain team book but with a different focus and outlook on the characters. Gail’s run on Batgirl made me fall in love with the character and with her leaving, I feel as if it is the passing of an era. On the other hand, Scott Snyderhas been running the showboat for Batman since the New 52 relaunch and he has been killing it, except on the recent Zero Year arc which ended up being nowhere near as good as it started.
Both Batgirl: Future’s End #1 and Batman: Future’s End #1 are really dire stories. In the former, we see how Barbara’s brother James Jr. crashes her wedding party and kills her husband, setting her off on the path of darkness once again. But in all of it, we also see how Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain and a young girl named Tiffany take up the fight to maintain the legacy of Batgirl and it is not as bleak as it may sound! In the latter, we see how an aging and troubled Bruce is fighting to maintain his own legacy in his own image, not in the image of young men and women he has inspired over the years, for Gotham must always have a Batman. Ray Fawkes has written this issue instead of Scott, and while I generally don’t like Ray’s writing, this issue was actually quite good in places.