In about two and a half weeks, something special is about to happen. As far as I can tell, that’s when two separate superhero shows based on DC properties will air side-by-side, with one being a spinoff of the other. Arrow has raked in lots of cash and popularity for Warner Bros, DC Entertainment and The CW in its two-year run so far and on October 7th The Flash will debut, featuring Arrow’s hot cameo last year, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, the Scarlet Speedster. And as DC is wont to do, there will be companion comics, same as there were with Arrow, and a week back DC got it all started.
Based on what I’ve heard about the debut, based on the leaked episode one from a few weeks back, The Flash Season Zero takes place concurrent to the comics, even though it is being called Season Zero. Kind of like the Year Zero comics about other heroes that DC has done over the years, but paired with the first season of a live-action show about the titular character. The first two issues here give the reader a brief intro into who Barry is and his role as The Flash, and then launch straight into a big arc that also sees the introduction of the C-lister villain Strong Man. Script is good, art is good, what more could I want?
The first four months of Future’s End proved to be one hell of a ride. Though the title occasional faltered here and there, it was still a great, epic story that unfolded in a time five years in the future from the present timeline. Some of the things that I liked about this series was that it gave a lot of underdeveloped and underutilized heroes like Grifter, Deathstroke, Firestorm and many others a chance to shine. With all the different writers working on this, sometimes the stories could be a mess of different plotlines, but they were nevertheless quite entertaining and the artwork was almost always similarly impressive.
The fifth month (going by four issues equaling a month) sees a lot of revelations happening. For one, we finally learn what the deal with Superman in Future’s End is. Second, we revisit the ending of a previous issue in which Bruce Wayne of the future was captured by Brother Eye and Joker was brought in to experiment on him. These four issues contain some of my favourite moments in the series, though some of the things happening on Cadmus Island are beginning to give me a headache, and I’m still waiting for a lot more of the plot threads to be given their time to shine again.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman has given me something I’ve wanted to in the New 52 since I gave up on Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman: a Wonder Woman title that I can actually have fun reading and not want to head-desk after. All the stories in this digital-first title have been short affairs, alternating between one-shots and two-parters, with each set of three then being collected in the print format. The stories have also been continuity-free and quite classic at times, which is just another big thing in the title’s favour.
The new issue this week sees the end of Ivan Cohen, Marcus To and Andrew Dalhouse’s two-parter Taketh Away. In the last issue we saw that after Diana spoke on national television about her gods, the Greek gods, not requiring the worship of the American people, she began to lose her powers, whether her strength or her beauty or something else. In this issue, Ivan Cohen solves the mystery for the reader and shows Wonder Woman at her best, as the title has done consistently in the past five issues. There’s a bit of hand-waiving involved here which didn’t work so well for me, but I loved the story and the art nonetheless.
In a few short weeks, comics fans will be treated to Gotham, a gritty noir-styled live-action show that deals in the early days and the origins of some of the greatest heroes and villains in Gotham City, the home of one of the world’s most well-known superhero vigilantes, Batman. After the success of Arrow, Warner Bros. is launching several new shows this Fall season and Gotham is one of them, with a main cast that includes Gotham stalwarts Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, as well as villains such as Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot and others.
To mark the upcoming debut of the show, DC this week released a reprint of Gotham Central Special Edition #1, which is the prequel to Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, three of the biggest names in comics these days. This one-shot issue deals with a regular investigation gone wrong as Mr. Freeze steps in on the scene, and shows how Gotham’s finest deal with the danger of the supervillain running loose once more in the city. Rucka and Brubaker have crafted a really engaging tale here, which is brought to life by Lark and the other artists.
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!
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.
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.
There are a lot of titles in the New 52 that I haven’t gotten around to reading as yet, either because I’m already swamped with others that I’m more invested in, or because I don’t find them interesting enough. Batwing is one such title. It had a rough start, far as I can tell, and then it got soft-rebooted when a new creative came on board in the second year. And my interest has definitely peaked in recent months. With Detective Comics however, I only started reading it last year, and I haven’t really caught up with the first year-and-a-half’s worth of issues, though I’ve wanted to.
This month’s Future’s End event helps me with the former and solidifies my belief in the latter. With Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti as writers and Eduardo Pansica as artist, Future’s End: Batwing #1 is another great offering from DC this month, setting a great tone for the publisher this month, right off the start. And with Detective Comics, writer Brian Buccellato does something rather unique in concept, even as the trio of artists on the issue deliver something truly wonderful. The former is a very self-contained story while the latter ends abruptly, but I liked both issues well enough.