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.
Drawing parallels between Smallville and The Flash is quite inevitable. Both shows have focused on some of DC’s most iconic characters, and they’ve done it in a way that often stays true to the spirit of the comics, though Smallville tended to play a lot with how the characters and events could be turned to fit in the mentality of a show that was about Clark Kent as a teenager in high school and later on, before he ever became Superman. Though only four episodes in as of this week, The Flash has not disappointed me at all with its promise of bringing Barry Allen and his incredibly rogues gallery and that’s what the new episode is really all about.
One of the coolest things to happen in the lead-up to The Flash was the casting of Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold aka Leonard Snart. He is one of Barry’s most iconic villains and has enjoyed a certain resurgent notoriety in recent years thanks to DC’s New 52 reboot, which brought him and his gang, the Rogues, together again. This week’s “Going Rogue” is the origin story of Leonard Snart’s transformation into Captain Cold and it is, by far, the best episode of the show in the entire month it has been on air. With a guest spot by Arrow‘s Felicity Smoak, Going Rogue was an amazing episode that sets up a lot of future stories and also provides for some great character moments.
One of the subplots running through Gotham so far has been that Gotham City is a city corrupt to the bone and that even the high and mighty Wayne Enterprises might not be so overboard as we’d like to believe. Last week’s episode Viper was ample proof of that, that there may have been certain goings on at the multinational that Thomas and Martha Wayne may not have known about. It was a really great twist to the story, something that I can see leading eventually to Bruce’s transformation into Batman. But of course, the show revolves around Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as well, and they were pretty good in the previous episode, though the villain was rather unmemorable.
The new episode, “Spirit of the Goat“, is definitely one where the writers have upped the weird and supernatural quotient of the show. Ten years ago Harvey and his then-partner Dix nabbed a serial killer who claimed to be possessed by the spirit of a supernatural entity and who ritually murdered his victims. Now, somehow, the killer is back and Harvey is on the case once again, this time with Jim. One of the best things about this week’s episode was the look at Harvey’s past and the kind of man he was then, setting up a great contrast with who he is now. Nothing really on the Falcone-Maroni silent war this week, but we do get to see Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot be utterly badass, which was extremely satisfactory.
Truth be told, I don’t have much of an experience with the Catwoman title, apart from a couple issues I read as part of a couple of mini-events at DC. Ann Nocenti’s much-maligned run has put me off quite a bit from checking out her run from the get go, but with some recent changes in Selina’s status quo, particularly the fact that she currently stars in Gotham as her younger self, means that I’m much more interested in Catwoman than I ever was before. I’m generally familiar with her from various animated appearances, but that’s really it. And I think it is great that as of this week Catwoman has a new creative team.
With writer Ann Nocenti moving off to the new series Klarion, Genevieve Valentine is brought in to take the reins of Catwoman and shepherd the titular character to a new phase in her life, where she is no longer Catwoman but is instead Selina Kyle Calabrese, the heir of the Calabrese mob-family, given that her father is its patriarch, Rex Calabrese. Much of this was told in some recent issues of Batman: Eternal, and Valentine takes all of that and just runs with it, delivering a really great story. And the art by Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge is just as exciting as you can expect.
Just before The Flash’s third episode debuted this week, CW went ahead and gave a season order for the show, meaning that The Flash will go on for a full season of 23 episodes. This is great news since The Flash is a really great show and I would dare say that it is even better than Arrow was in its first season. The show is living up to its claim of the most comic book show on air, and I’d say that it is starting off even better than CW’s previous big hit, Smallville did. Some really cool villains have debuted so far, with more to come, and the cliffhangers certainly have been quite jaw-droppingly amazing.
“Things You Can’t Outrun” introduces the villain known as Mist to the audiences, and it proves to be another great episode, though the mist isn’t as cool or as awesome as either Weather Wizard or Multiplex. Barry faces a huge challenge once again, still getting used to his powers, and one of the other reasons that this episode was so good was that we get to see flashbacks to the explosion at the STAR Labs particle accelerator, finally debuting Robbie Amell’s Ronnie Raymond as well, the future Firestorm. Lots of things happened this week and it was all fantastic.
NBC’s The Blacklist has had an interesting second season so far. Lots of new characters have strung up in the wake of season one’s finale, and the Reddington Task Force has experienced some big changes of its own, whether that is losing some people or gaining some new allies. But things are still in flux, as they ever are on this show, and that is a good thing, since there are some mysteries still left unexplored, which define the show itself, and none more so than the relationship between Red and Liz, which got murkier and ever more mysterious in last week’s “Dr. Linus Creel“.
In “The Front” this week we see the heroes go up against a group of eco-terrorists, who have some grand plans for cleansing the world of the species that eradicates dozens of species a year. It all starts off with a murder, and by the end we are left with the team redefining some of its interrelationships and also Red finally getting one of the things he has wanted since the start of the season.It is not all that interesting an episode, personally speaking, since the eco-terrorists were rather boring, but the good thing is that the subplot involving Red and his investigation still remains a strong story, despite everything else.
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.
Since last we were with this digital-first series, Arrow has already debuted two episodes in its new season, and has gotten off to a rocking and shocking start, in equal measure. The Season 2.5 comics still seem to be stuck in the “in-between seasons 2 and 3″ timeline, and that is kind of getting just a bit confusing at this point since the show is back, but the writers are still doing a great job of things, what with the reveal of a new Brother Blood in Starling’s shadowy corners, getting ready to exact revenge on those who don’t believe and those who have caused the new (legacy) villain some grief in the past.
Arrow Season 2.5 #4 is part recap of the epic finale of Season 2 and part background material for the new Brother Blood, Clinton Hogue. Before, we didn’t really know who he was (more like I totally forgot) or what his deal as Brother Blood was. But after this comic, we sure as hell know quite a bit more, and almost all of it is excellent. We also get to touch base with Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad in the 2-page backup, in a story that is developing more and more into a commentary on some real-life issues, and overall, this is a good, decent issue, though I wish that the recap parts, pretty much verbatim, were more minimal.
One of the biggest things last season in this show was the whole mystery of the relationship between Red and Liz, something that showrunner Jon Bokenkamp teased often, but never really committed to. It was really fascinating to watch regardless, and going into the new season, it was also something that I was quite looking forward to, especially when it turned out that Red did have a wife, Naomi Hyland, who was still living, and that she was going to play sort of a major role this season. Not much has been done with her to date, but I think that’s changing now.
“Dr. Linus Creel” is this week’s episode and it deals with an old US government black budget program that investigated the possibilities of mind control. Where the Reddington Task Force is concerned, someone of late has been causing people to go total violent psycho and commit some horrible murders, and this is what Red has to offer to them, even providing some crucial leads. It was a good episode, partly because of how well-performed the role of Dr. Linus Creel was, but also because we got a serious peek at what Red and Naomi’s life was before it was all upended several years back, and that was the true strength of the episode, the villain himself being somewhat lackluster.
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.
The most recent “arc” of Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman has dealt with some rather cartoony things, whether that be the story itself, or the art, with the latter being much more prominent. Sensation Comics #7 wasn’t exactly a good issue, as far as I’m concerned, but the following Sensation Comics #8 was indeed quite a bit of fun. But then, that’s the value I suppose because more often than not the first eight weeks of this new digital-first title have provided some very classically-oriented Wonder Woman tales and that in itself has been a huge load of fun and awesome.
The newest digital issue, Sensation Comics #9, is another one-parter and this time we deal with Catwoman. It is kind of nice to go back to a Batman-oriented character at the end of the third “arc” since the first two issues dealt with a good majority of Batman villains, and just as Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver did with their cast of villains, so do writer Ollie Masters and artist Amy Mebberson in this issue, when Catwoman gets caught suspiciously easy by the London police and Wonder Woman is called in. Just as with last week, this week’s story is kind of cute and fun, with a great outing of Wonder Woman and Catwoman.