As it moved towards its mid-season finale, Gotham introduced viewers to a new version of ADA Harvey Dent, one of the most classic of all Batman villains, known also as Two-Face. It was a fairly good episode, though also quite filler in some ways, so not all that exciting. But still, the job done with Dent, both acting-wise and visually, was good, and it made me really like Harvey. A very different take on the character than what we’ve seen before, especially since the Batman: The Animated Series cast him as an of-age friend to Bruce Wayne, but either way, this guy is going to have a big influence on the future Batman and this week’s new episode proves why.
This week saw the mid-season finale of Gotham. Building on from plot-threads introduced in last week’s “Harvey Dent” this week’s “Lovecraft” finds assassins infiltrating Wayne Manor to kill Selina Kyle and all the adventures that result while on the other side of Gotham Don Falcone tries to find out who it was that raided his armoury and stole his money and all that. This was a much better episode in a lot of ways than some of the previous ones, more so because this one actually gave us an interesting angle on the Waynes’ murder other than just “Selina Kyle saw the murderer”. Definitely a recommended watch.
Ron Marz and Laura Braga’s soft reboot of Witchblade last year made it one of my absolute must-read titles each month and the two creators continued along that path with their following issues, each of which did something different and ended up being really good for the most part. In recent weeks however, we have seen the beginning of something different as matters seem to ramp up for the protagonist Sara Pezzini, who is working hard at being the kind of Sheriff that the people of Saratoga County need her to be with all the strange goings-on.
At the end of the last issue, we saw that there was some new unforeseen complication for Sara in the form of a couple new characters. In this past week’s Witchblade #179, we see a glimpse of what these plans entail, given that Sara and Kate’s new case has them investigating some horrific cattle mutilations in the backwaters of Saratoga. This is mostly an action issue with little in the way of character development, but that’s fine since this is just the opening spell of a brand-new arc and Ron does take a while to get going. The art is good too, as I expected it to be since I’m not pretty used to Laura Braga’s unique style and the monster introduced is pretty cool as well.
Getting on a roll again, this week I managed to repeat the “Magic 40″ with 2 graphic novels and 38 singles, with many of the latter being absolutely new series, so that was a lot of fun for the most part.
My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1 from Valiant Comics, Deep State #1 from Boom Studios, Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Vertigo Comics, and The Kitchen #1 from Vertigo Comics also. The most disappointing comics of this week were Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #4 both from Marvel Comics, New 52 – Batman #36 from DC Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Hexed, Fables, New Suicide Squad, Red Sonja and Unity all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon by Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, and Fables Volume 5 by Bill Willingham, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha.
On CW’s The Flash last week, we got to see how things could have been for some of the metahumans that Barry has gone after in his debut season when Bette Sans Souci aka Plastique made her own live-action debut. Things didn’t end so well for her, regrettably so, but we got to see some great things happen nonetheless. For one, Barry learned a couple of new tricks that he can do with his super-speed, and we also got to see yet another sneak-peek at the future supervillain Gorilla Grodd in a flashback to five years before the current time, when Harrison Wells was in league with General Eiling. Great stuff. Damn.
In this week’s episode, the sixth of the debut season, we see how the legend of The Flash is finally born. Till now, he has been known only as The Streak, much like Clark Kent was known as The Blur on Smallville in the later seasons, and how Oliver Queen was once known as The Vigilante and is now known as The Arrow. Going up against a new meta-human, Barry is forced to confront some truths and with writers Jaime Paglia and Chris Rafferty, we also get to see the show address two of its biggest elephants in the room: time travel and Reverse-Flash. This was way too awesome for words, even for a show like The Flash.
Hard to believe that we are moving into the THIRD month of Gotham. How things change! When the show was announced, I didn’t care about it and thought it was all a big joke. But then the premiere happened and something fantastic and wonderful began that I haven’t been able to keep my eyes away from. In its first seven weeks, the show set up some really great things and delivered some pretty big moments. And now, it seems the show is moving into its second phase, introducing new plotlines while carrying forward a few of the old ones and continuing to show Gotham’s slow decline into insanity.
The villain in last week’s “The Mask” didn’t really work for me and I said as much in the review. I took far greater pleasure in seeing how previous plot-threads were carried on rather than what happened with the villain. And that’s kind of the thing here as well. There isn’t really one villain in this episode, more like a handful of them with none really getting any actual development. But once again, past plotlines really come to the fore here and in Nicholas D’Agosto, Gotham seems to have found a really, really great Harvey Dent, aka the future Two-Face. Kudos on that front!
While CW’s Arrow has been chugging along well enough with its third season, DC has been chugging along with its companion digital-first comic that explores the time between the last season and the new one. Not much has actually happened here, other than the fact that the Church of Blood has become resurgent under Clinton Hogue, Sebastian Blood’s henchman last season and has been causing all sorts of problem for the heroes. And in the last issue things got plenty screwy as Ollie and Diggle were both captured by the Church. Now, we see how this first arc ends.
Arrow Season 2.5 #6 is supposed to be the end of the first arc and while I enjoyed it, it doesn’t feel like quite the ending that it should be. It is basically a reprieve as the title moves off to other characters and other adventures. But the fact remains that Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu know all their characters really well and they tell compelling stories about them. Not to mention that the backup with the Suicide Squad feels really great and the art overall is as great as ever.
CW’s latest, The Flash, has been going all-out of late, as the previous episode proved when Leonard Snart and Mick Rory aka Captain Cold and Heat Wave made their live-action debuts. Given that the season premiere kicked off with The Rogues staple Weather Wizard, it was pretty much a given that the supervillain team would find its way to the show eventually. The fact that this is happening so soon, is great news for fans everywhere. But that’s not all of course, because there are also the mysteries surrounding Harrison Wells and his nefarious plans, which became clearer in this week’s episode.
“Plastique” introduces us to Bette Sans Souci, a relatively young soldier in the American Army with specialty in bomb-disposals. She is one of the many people caught in the Dark Matter Wave when the STAR Labs Particle Accelerator exploded bomb shrapnel that had injured her on a mission bonded to her on a genetic level. This is one of the best episodes yet because it presents another alternative to killing or imprisoning metahumans. Plastique herself makes for a fairly interesting character though her time on the show is cut rather short, but not before she sets the stage for one of actor Clancy Brown’s greatest appearances to date and also an amazing cliffhanger.
In last week’s episode of Gotham, we got to see some really big things happen. There were lots of plot-threads running through the episode that found their genesis in the show’s premier, and it brought things to a nice conclusion, for now. The game board was changed in a major way and the cliffhanger promised more chaos in the future episodes. I loved it. It was the best episode on the show, by far, and I loved that the writers were dedicated to providing game-changing twists. The show has had a somewhat troubled beginning, but it is now settling, and I expect greater things from it.
Which is where this week’s episode, “The Mask” comes in. After the status quo changed last week, this week’s episode is more of a “setting the scene” episode. It goes back to the villain-of-the-week format, but it also moves the story forward and addresses some of the elephants in the room, such as the fact that Fish knows Penguin is now working for Maroni and that the entire precinct abandoned Gordon when Zsasz came for him. The villain this week didn’t do much for me, so my satisfaction this week came from the threads carried over from last week, and seeing how many of the relationships on the show have now changed.
Hit the almost-magic number of 35 once again and though I have yet to repeat my personal best of 40, I think this was my best week regardless since I managed to read 31 singles and 4 graphic novels. That definitely counts as an achievement, yes?
My surprise hits for this week would be Tales of Honor #1 from Top Cow, Swamp Thing Annual #3 from DC, Inhuman #7, Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 and Deathlok #1 all from Marvel. Those that count among this week’s top disappointments would be Conan the Avenger #7 from Dark Horse. Justice League United Annual #1 from DC. Others like Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #4 and Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood #3 from Zenescope, Wayward #3 from Image, The Flash Volume 2 from DC, and a bunch of others were as good as I expected them to be, probably better even.
The graphic novels for this week were Supergirl Volume 4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, The Flash Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul, Krypton Returns by Various and Thanos: The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin.
Right in the very first episode of Gotham, we saw some pretty big things happen. The Waynes were murdered. Gordon and Bullock caught the supposed murderer and killed him (though it later turned out that it was a setup). The two came close to losing their lives at the hands of Fish Mooney, one of Gotham’s resident mob bosses, working under Falcone. And Gordon was forced to kill Oswald Cobblepot, or so everyone believed. It was a right ruckus and in the cliffhanger last week, Oswald revealed publicly that he was very much alive, though that does create a lot of problems for Gordon.
Through and through, this week’s “Penguin’s Umbrella” is entirely focused on Gordon as it shows the aftermath of Oswald’s revelation and what it means for the young, unjaded cop as he strives to make a difference in the city. He is a marked man since he went against the orders of Carmine Falcone and everyone is pretty much just waiting for him to drop dead. This episode is pretty much the best episode of the show so far, showing what Gotham can really be like in a lot of ways, and we also see the cameo of a long-standing Batman villain here, who is every bit as creepy as you’d expect him to be. The cliffhanger is pretty damn jaw-dropping as well, and I dare say that Gotham can definitely hold its own against Arrow and The Flash if it continues like this.
CW’s Arrow has begun to find its groove in its new third season, and it has also started casting the net really wide when it comes to characters and events, with the most recent episode last week going back in time to a rather key moment in season 1. But of course, some of the more burning questions are related to what has happened in between the second season finale and the third season premiere, which is where Arrow Season 2.5 from writers Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu comes in. Up until now we’ve seen some pretty nifty stuff with the Church of Blood and it looks like things are finally drawing to a close on that front.
The latest issue of Arrow Season 2.5 pits Oliver and Diggle directly against the Church of Blood as they finally learn more about it and have a location to match. Being as short a comic as it is, things move a little too quickly for my tastes, but it addresses some really key things such as Clinton Hogue recognizing Diggle and Felicity from when they kidnapped him last season to find out Sebastian Blood’s whereabouts and also what is going on with Officer Lance. Plus the Kahndaq backup, while altogether brief once again, is pretty cool and really sets the stage for the return of the Suicide Squad.
A couple weeks back I read my first issue of Secret Origins, an anthology series where each issue is full of the 3 origin tales of various DC superheroes and supervillains. Focusing on Wonder Woman, Deadman and Sinestro, Secret Origins #6 was a really good issue and it made me want to read more of the series. Since there’s no continuity between these various issues, I can pretty much cherry-pick which one I want to read and when, which really helps in that I don’t have to catch up to the backlog of five issues already out in order of chronology or publication.
For this week I went back to August’s issue, Secret Origins #5, which tells the origins of Victor Stone aka Cyborg, Jason Todd aka Red Hood and Mera, the Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman’s wife. While the first story is pretty much a rehash of what happened in Geoff Johns’ first arc of Justice League, it tells of some new details and is decent enough. The second story is rather bland and boring, being little more than a long recap of Jason Todd’s time as Robin and now Red Hood. The third story however, with Mera in her time as the Princess of Xebel, is pretty solid, in both art and writing, and I really enjoyed that one.