The previous issue of Arrow Season 2.5 was a pretty rough one for Oliver. It turned out that during his escape from the Church of Blood, the new Count Vertigo (played in the season 3 premiere by the amazing Peter Stormare) had dosed him with a dangerous hallucinagen and that made him fight his friends, and the memories of his family. As an exploration of Oliver’s damaged and tortured psyche, it was a fairly good installment and though it was a surprise to see Count Vertigo debut in the comic, it also made for a rather thrilling read toward the end so no complaints there.
In this week’s Arrow Season 2.5 #8, we see the consequences and lead-off from Oliver’s big fight against his memories and friends while dosed up on the drug from the new Count. It turns out actually that Sara is indeed in town on some assignment and she helps the team get back on its feet and beat-off the after-effects of a rather terrible night, a mission gone totally wrong. And on the other side, we have Waller continue to position her pieces with the Suicide Squad, preparing them to go to Kahndaq on a mission to kill a local warlord.
Last year I started a seasonal “Best of…” list that focused on some of the best covers I saw that year, whether for novels or comics. And now, it being the same time of the year in the new year, it is an opportunity to bring the list back, more so since it was really popular when I started it.
The first of these “Best of…” book covers is actually a tie between William King’s Terrarch Chronicles #2: The Serpent Tower and Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns #1: The Thousand Names. None of these two are 2014 publications, which is usually how I do these lists, but I wasn’t particularly taken with the covers of the two 2014 books I did read, so here we are (Though, it should be mentioned that the mass paperback of The Thousand Names came out in July’14). I’ve long been a fan of William’s work for Black Library, and Terrarch Chronicles was his first self-published work, the first novel in the series being one of my favourites last year. And with Django’s debut from last year, I’ve become a big fan of his work too and will be reading the sequel in a few days, hopefully. Looking forward to that!
The first of these “Best of…” comics covers is another tie, owing more to how many more comics I began to read this year compared to previous years, each week. And the picks are the covers for Witchblade #172 by Stjepan Sejic and for Black Widow #2 by Phil Noto. The Witchblade is a character I’ve long been a fan, specifically its bearer Sara Pezzini and with Ron Marz coming back on the title last year, it proved to be a new fun era for the title in all respects. And on Black Widow, I’ve seen some of the best content from Marvel all-year, with the new title being matched in consistency only by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel.
So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
A couple weeks back the awesome writing/artist team of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman came together to do the current three-part arc on Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman. After somewhat of a glut of good stories on the title, the pair told a really fun story that had Diana travel to Apokolips to exfiltrate two Amazons who had gone missing on a mission to the death world. Corinna and Gabriel are among two of my favourite creators and to see them do a Wonder Woman story proved to be as exciting and satisfying as I expected, probably a bit more too.
In the first issue of the arc, we saw Diana travel to Apokolips, face off against some of Darkseid’s Furies, lose, and then get tossed into the inner fires of the death world. In issues #17 and #18, we see how she gets out of that particular mess, and how she ends up completing the mission, with a fair few complications and twists involved along the way. With these two issues, Corinna and Gabriel bring their three-parter to a close, and they do it in really great style, showing off how Darkseid and Diana interact in particular and what this can mean for the “relationship” between Apokolips and Themiscyra, moving forward.
A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.
No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.
Last week on The Flash we were witness to something amazing, something that hadn’t been done before in superhero television, for obvious reasons. Barry Allen and Oliver Queen came together as a team to take down some bad guys in their respective shows, with Barry learning that all his optimism and everything jut isn’t enough sometimes, that there need to be hard decisions made, and that he still has so much to learn about being a hero, a superhero really, and that it is going to be ongoing “class in session” for him. And I loved pretty much every moment of it.
However, this week’s The Flash features something equally incredible, Barry getting in two matches with the man who killed his mother and is responsible for sending his father to prison, the man in the yellow suit, Reverse-Flash. Start to finish, it is an incredible episode in that we get to see some of what the character is all about, and we see him tease and taunt the hero like any good nemesis should. Also, we get to see Caitlin try and save Ronnie, though the formerly-thought-dead character has kind of become a metahuman now, and seems to have lost his memories too, which isn’t a good combo really. But it all makes for some great superhero television nonetheless.
I ended up skipping last week’s Fast-Shot article since I was rather busy with real-life stuff and just did not have the time for doing it. But I stand by what I said in the previous two articles, that these reviews are a great way to work through the back-log and they let me do lots of different types of comics together in a single place. The last two reviews I’ve done for this new feature have both been pretty good ones in terms of that, and they’ve also been fairly popular, which is quite heartening to see. So, on to the reviews!
The picks for this week are: Dredd Uprise #1, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1, Batman: Eternal #35, Future’s End #31, Swamp Thing #35-37, and Rai #5. Another diverse line-up of titles, as always Of these, Dredd Uprise #1 is from more than a month ago I believe, one of the many comics I didn’t get around to in October, unfortunately, while Angela: Asgard’s Assassin is a new title, and Rai is returning after a significant layover, and proves to be even better with the new issue than the previous four, by a considerable margin. And with the DC titles, well, they all proved to be a very interesting lot.
In last week’s episode of The Flash we saw what would and could happen if Barry somehow lost his powers and there was a situation where two different villains were loose in the city, one of them a metahuman, the other not quite so much. It was a good episode because of all the different things that it tried to cover, in particular, Harrison Wells’ rather surprising reaction to Barry losing his super-speed. Things get murkier about that character and in the midst of it all we have Team Flash being the awesome team that it is, from almost all the different angles.
In “Flash vs Arrow” this week, the first episode of a mighty crossover between two of The CW’s hottest properties, we see what happens when Team Arrow comes to Central City on a case and ends up lending a hand to Team Flash with one of its new cases. This episode has pretty much everything that I could ask of it, including a fairly awesome battle between Barry and Oliver, though it also has a few abrupt about-turns in characterisation. Still, this long-anticipated episode delivered on everything I wanted of it and it even ended on a great note with a great stinger!
I remarked back in the review for Arrow Season 2.5 #6 that despite rumours, the digital-first issue didn’t quite feel like an end to the “Blood” arc. It rounded off with the heroes escaping the clutches of the Church of Blood and them discovering some disturbing things about the enemy, which came as a shock to them. It was a good story for sure though, and I especially liked the thrust of the Suicide Squad 2-page backup, which has been one hell of a tease so far in this series, some three months into Season 2.5, almost maddeningly so.
In Arrow Season 2.5 #7, we see how the arc hasn’t really ended and how there is much more of a story here than Marc Guggenheim previously hinted at. And we see the introduction of one of the villains introduced in an early episode of the third season of the show, which was a real surprise and not something I was expecting. Really though, this issue is all about Oliver exploring his own damaged and tortured psyche, even as we see how things are really heating up in Kahndaq and the setup for the Suicide Squad to go in guns blazing. Oh and did I mention that there are a ton of guest artists on this issue?
After some really good opening arcs, some of the recent issues of DC’s digital-first Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman haven’t exactly been good tales, hence why I’ve avoided reviewing them as well. I just can’t focus on stories so damn boring and pedestrian. All the same, I think this title is still good because of the variety of the stories, which is what is missing with the main Wonder Woman title itself, the recent soft reboot of which was rather disappointing in all ways. Thankfully, things are different this week.
Sensation Comics #16 is written and drawn by one of my favourite duos in the industry, and they turn out a pretty damn good tale that is the first in a three-part arc, which is pretty awesome in itself. The new arc sees Diana sent to Apokolips on a vital mission for her mother and I love this opening third of the story. It features Diana in some of her best appearances yet, and also has some strong art from artist Gabriel Hardman, who doubles as the writer with Corinna Bechko. Absolutely magnificent issue I say.
Last month Genevieve Valentine and Garry Brown began their tenure on DC’s Catwoman, in a strong effort to shepherd the title and the titular character through a new phase in her life as she takes over Gotham’s underworld as Selina Kyle Calabrese, following some some relatively recent events in Batman: Eternal where she is revealed to be the daughter of Rex Calabrese, the man who ruled Gotham before Carmine “The Falcon” Falcone. This bold new phase also sees some strong storytelling and art both on the series, unlike before, and I’m loving the new direction.
Catwoman #35 was, for me, an incredibly good issue. It is also one of the extremely few issues on the title that have seen a strong positive interest and reaction (one of only four altogether, as far as I’m concerned). Following the events in the last issue, Selina continues to solidify her presence as the top gang boss in Gotham and she has to make some tough decisions this time around, including fighting off a copycat Catwoman, which was an interesting touch. And the art by Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge is even better than it was last time.
No “Magic 40″ this week since I wasn’t able to get around to a lot of the comics I wanted to get through this week, largely because I am traveling and in India for a cousin’s marriage. These things always take up a lot of time. I haven’t even had a chance to work on my NaNo novel these past two days!
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Amazing Spider-Man #10 and Spider-Woman #1 from Marvel Comics. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Black Widow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 , Future’s End, Predator: Fire and Stone and Witchblade all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were Aphrodite IX v2 Volume 2 by Matt Hawkins, Stjepan Sejic and Troy Peteri, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 by Dan Abnett, Rafael Kayanan, Kathryn Layno, Deron Bennett, Yildiray Cinar, Randy Mayor, Michael S. O’Hare, Frazer Irving, Pop Mhan, Tom Derenick, Tony Avina, Ken Lashley and Ryan Sook.
Next week we are going to see what the last six episodes of The Flash and the current season of Arrow have all been building towards, an epic crossover between CW’s two greatest shows to date, bringing together two of the most prominent superheroes of recent years, Barry Allen aka The Flash and Oliver Queen aka Arrow. But before that, we have seen a lot of things happen on The Flash as the mysteries surrounding Harrison Wells deepen and Barry starts to learn all of the cool little things he can do with his speed powers.
Before we get to the crossover next week, we have this week’s episode which brings together two different supervillains for Barry to take down. But it is not going to be easy since he loses his powers against one of them early on, and the rest of the episode is all about him coming to know who he is and what he wants to be and what he believes. It was quite an excellent episode and a good primer for the crossover too. The best that can be said about this episode is that all bets are off regarding Harrison Wells, and I find that a great approach.