Staying current on more than three concurrent ongoing television shows is a humongous task, especially if you have other things to occupy your time as well, like me with my reading and writing. I didn’t have a problem staying current with Arrow and Agents of SHIELD but with Intelligence, The Blacklist, Black Sails and Dracula thrown in the mix, I found it progressively harder. Thankfully, The Blacklist has been an extremely good show packed with great acting and great story/characters, as the first six episodes of the show’s debut season have proven to be. Elizabeth Keen, Raymond Reddington and others are characters I love to tune in for, and I recently finished watching episodes 7 through 10 in an effort to catch up to the show before the season finale next month.
Much as I expected, the show really amped up the tension in these episodes. The previous episodes served to introduce us to the characters and establish where they all are in the grand scheme of things, but with these episodes things go further. Now it is not about introductions but sustaining and maintaining the viewer’s interest. Chemical attacks, potential economic disasters and assassinations, it is a heady mix indeed and Team Keen is right in the middle of it all, as always.
New creative teams on long-running titles can often have an uphill task. This has happened time and time again in the industry and will likely happen countless times again in the future. But for the moment, I must say that the creative team of Ron Marz, Laura Braga, Betsy Gonia and Troy Peteri have been doing wonders with Top Cow’s premier title, Witchblade. I’ve read some comics from the previous creative team and while they were decent enough, they weren’t as good as what the new creative team has turned out in the last six months. The Borne Again arc has been a ton of fun, and no mistake.
Witchblade #174 brings this new arc with the new creative team to a close. Having rid herself of the Witchblade, all Sara Pezzini wanted was to live a normal life as a Sheriff in some out-of-the-way county, but then her past caught up to her and she was right back where she left things off. In the new arc she’s gone up against a madman and a zealot both, and now she ends that threat pretty decisively. Ron Marz’s writing is as good as ever and while there a few more problems this week with the art, Braga and Gonia still deliver a beautiful looking issue nonetheless.
Television shows with a strong SFF element are among my favourites amongst all genres. When I started watching Western television, shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed were what I dipped into and what I came back to again and again. And when a show has actors that I like from their previous television (or movie!) appearances, then that is all the more reason for me to watch them. One such show is Continuum, a Canadian-American science fiction crime drama that also involves time travel and a sophisticated, high-level of technology.
I’ve only seen the first two episodes of the first season so far (the show is currently in its third season), but right off the bat I really like it. Rachel Nichols turns in a wonderful performance, as do her co-stars Victor Webster and Erik Knudsen. Plus, the show is heavy on the science fiction elements which I always love. And to top it all off, the story in these two episodes is tight and focused, showing off Nichols’ Kiera Cameron in a really good light. Continuum is a show that I’ve been meaning to watch for a good while and I’m quite happy with how the show has started off, validating my expectations of it.
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have been on kind of a roll with their Harley Quinn series. Starting with the #0 anthology issue and then the main series itself, Harley Quinn has quickly become one of DC’s quirkiest characters. Of course, she was quite a loon before, but under Conner-Palmiotti’s pen she has become something else entirely. I never thought that there could be a book from DC that was so off its rocker and packed with so much madcap humour. But Conner-Palmiotti have managed to do just that exactly, and it has been one hell of a read so far.
Harley Quinn #5 is all about Harley’s adventures with the old and retired agent Sy-borg, who has a vendetta against some old Russian gangbosses he thought he took down ages ago. Now he finally has all the intel he needed and he has drafted in Harley because of her history and her present problems. Unlike previous issues, this new one doesn’t advance the meta-story at all, but it tells a fairly decent one-shot story. And we have Chad Hardin back on the series now. The art is decent but that’s it.
Last week DC began its first weekly title of the New 52, Batman: Eternal. This is a story that affects the entire Bat-family and has some deep repercussions for all the heroes involved here. The first issue, penned by the Snyder-Tynion duo, was a fairly good look at a brand-new crossover in Gotham that sees the GCPD go up against Professor Pyg and come out with one of its best and brightest brought down in a shocking way. The two writers started the series on a bang and the art was also quite good, which helped a great deal. Now its time to look at what comes after.
In Batman: Eternal #2 we see a very focused story as Batman seeks to learn the mystery behind what happened in the last issue, and the other Bat-family members begin to get drawn in. What happened has some major consequences for them all, including Catwoman, because one of Gotham’s greatest criminal masterminds is returning to the city. Snyder-Tynion are still the ones to pen this issue as well, with the other contributing writers to the series serving as consultants. The same team from the previous issue is back basically, and they are all just as good as they were in the last issue, if not better. It is all about the big reveal at the end.
With their first arc of Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo delivered something wonderful. With their second arc, it felt as if they had kind of lost their way a little bit since it felt less focused and less… immediate. While their entire run on Batman thus far has been nothing short of spectacular, with Zero Year they went big and delivered some amazing stories and dealt with some classic Batman villains. I loved the first arc, second arc not so much. But I remain a fan because Scott is usually a damn good writer and because Greg Capullo and Co. are all similarly amazing, usually.
With Batman #30 the creative team begins its third and final arc of Zero Year: Savage City. The Riddler is now in control of Gotham and things have changed big time. No more heroes. Gotham is an island, cut off from the rest of country and struggling to survive. This is the Gotham that Batman aka Bruce Wayne wakes up to after the disastrous events of the previous arc, and things are gonna get a whole lot worse before there is even a slimmer of hope that they will get better. And as always, the art is good, but it felt a bit too colourful and overdone in some places.
Another great week this time. Lots of fun new tiles and old ones returning for new installments. The highlight of the week had to be the upcoming graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones Jr. for which I managed to get a review copy. Long live NetGalley! And the graphic novel definitely delivered on its promise too, although there were a few things that I didn’t like so much.
With all the new series coming out, its definitely a good time to be in comics, and most of all if you have been a fan of certain series like Daredevil and Unity. I’m still behind on certain series though and there are a lot of comics that I am behind on, as I was painfully made aware this past week. And the pile is mounting every week. Just too many things to stay current with.
Before we go any further, it is important to point out that this post will contain full spoilers about DC’s Forever Evil event, so if you have been tradewaiting on it, or waiting until all issues are out, or any such thing, then you might want to give this a pass. However, if you don’t mind spoilers and/or you already know what’s happened in the event so far with Dick Grayson aka Nightwing, then read on and find out! The announcement-context of this post is from this article that was put up on the USA Today site a couple days ago (spoiler warning!).
Before the New 52, I didn’t really have that much of an interest in Dick Grayson and his Nightwing persona. I knew of him through the Batman: The Animated Series cartoons but that’s really about it. But when I got back into comics in 2012, among the first books I started reading was Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows’ Nightwing. It proved to be a surprisingly awesome read and I’ve stuck with the title ever since. I’ve fallen off in recent times, mostly because my pull lists have gotten too big and I had to cut corners somewhere. But with this new announcement about Nightwing’s fate, I anticipate that I’ll be getting caught up with the main series in short order and then jump on board with Grayson #1 when it debuts later this year.
When you’ve been with a series for a while, getting on into the full swing of things, and then a fill-in issue happens out of the blue, you really ask yourself what on earth happened. For some inexplicable reason, last year’s Zero Year issue for Batgirl wasn’t done by the series regular Gail Simone who has been on the title from the start, but new writer Marguerite Bennett. Like most other Zero Year tie-in issues it was a total filler story, and now Marguerite is back with another one-shot that breaks the overall flow of the story that Gail has had going for some time now.
Whereas before we’ve seen some excellent stories like the Wanted arc and the recent 2-issue arc featuring a vampire hunter in Gotham, this week’s new release sees Batgirl tangling with a Gotham-homegrown boogey monster, something straight out of an urban legend (how many of those does Gotham have again?). It follows a very predictable and set path, without deviation and the story overall is boring. The art, also by fill-in artists, does its best to work with the story, but since the story isn’t all that good, the art suffers from the resultant feedback. Its decent, but nowhere near as good as what we’ve been getting from the regular team.
When it comes to Batman in the New 52, DC is all about jumping up and down like crazy puppet. The New 52 launched with multiple books featuring Batman or Batman-related heroes and over the two and a half years of the new continuity, the entire line has been among DC’s top books, with an occasional dip here and there for some of the lower tier books. And now, with the character’s 75th anniversary in sights and to fill-out its 52 books a month roster, DC is adding a new weekly series to the mix, which will be anthology-styled and feature no less than four different creative teams.
Batman: Eternal #1 came out today and it kickstarts the whole deal. Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with the other writers involved credited as consultants, and drawn by Jason Fabok, this first issue lays the groundwork for some pretty big changes in the status quo as the Bat-world moves on. Scott and James introduce a couple new characters into the mix, highlight some of the older ones, and bring about a pretty major twist into the story. Fabok, who has previous experience working on Detective Comics in the New 52, does a stellar job of showing the dark and seedy side of the city and the Bat-world.
In contrast to the previous week, I didn’t get to read as many comics as I wanted to because my iPad wasn’t working properly and I had to resort to reading comics on my computer, which didn’t work out so well. Especially when I have to travel, and I was rather counting on getting through at least 3-4 more comics.
Still, I did manage to read a fair few, and I am now done with my read-through of Forever Evil: Blight which proved to be a very interesting event indeed, far better than the main event or two of the tie-ins ARGUS and Arkham War and just on par with Rogues Rebellion. The ending was definitely unexpected and awesome too, I think, so that is something there. No other graphic novels, which is a shame, but since I’m landlocked for the next two weeks, I’m hoping to move through a few, so we shall see.
Last month, John Layman‘s run on Detective Comics came to an end with the final installment of his Gothtopia arc. It was a great issue to end his spectacular run on, and this month we see Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato take up the reins from him and Aaron Lopresti. The duo are coming fresh off of The Flash, which they co-wrote and co-drew since the start of the New 52 and made into one of DC’s top titles. They certainly did for me! Now, as they begin their run on Detective Comics, I can only hope that they bring the same excellence over the long term.
Detective Comics #30 is their first issue on the series and it is a pretty weird issue at that. The art style is different, very different to what we’ve seen before, and even Batman’s “voice” is quite different. But there’s still that dynamism to this issue that Brian and Francis brought to The Flash and they put up the Dark Knight against crime lords instead of souped-up supervillains and assassins. This could just be the fresh breath that Batman comics have needed for a while, following the death of Damian Wayne last year and the general grimness that has surrounded the franchise in New 52.