Though Future’s End has been one of my favourite series of this year, some of the recent decisions story-wise have made me feel as if the writers are more intent on just prolonging the inevitable and also because the long run is kind of taking its toll on me. Except for an odd title here and there, especially Future’s End #22, the title has been great, but I think some cracks are beginning to show and I would love it if the writers got the series back on track with characters who’ve been missing for a while, and for the “proper” storylines to come back to the fore.
In Future’s End #23 and #24 we see the tale of the survivors of Stormwatch and the reluctant recruits of SHADE as they continue to battle against the power of Brainiac and his legions of robots. We also see, at the same time, the troubles that Tim Draka is having in his love life and how Madison is struggling to get over his past as a Teen Titan, a dead one no less. And in the midst of this we also get to touch base with some characters we haven’t seen in a while, like Fury, Scott Free, Constantine and Superman in some really amazing sequences, both in terms of the story and the art.
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.
Each of DC’s new range of weekly comics does something different from the norm. Batman: Eternal has a rotating crew of writers and artists. Future’s End does several parallel stories together. And the new Earth 2: World’s End mixes in several different artists together each week. Launched last week, Earth 2: World’s End is what I would hardly call a good comic, because it seems to retcon a lot of things and confuses the entire timeline of the series. But there is something here that’s interesting, since this is also a prequel to a series I do like, Future’s End.
After what was a massive recap issue last week, this week’s installment of the new weekly series continues the story of Apokolips resurgent on Earth 2, as the fire pits open again and new champions of Darkseid, working under the master orders of the supervillain Bedlam emerge and lay waste to the world’s heroes. I thought last week’s issue was disappointing, turns out that the entire team was just getting started, because this is another disappointing issue. It replicates much of what Future’s End does with the parallel stories, but with a lack of distinct progression in the story and confusing artwork all throughout.
CW’s Arrow got off to an emotional start with its latest season when, at the end of the episode, Sara Lance aka Canary was ambushed and killed by a mysterious archer. Forget everything else that happened in the premiere, whether it is Ray Palmer’s spectacular entry or Roy and Ollie taking down bad guys together or anything else. Sara’s death is going to have some major repercussions, and for the showrunners to start off a new season with something like this, well, it is a hint of things to come, I’m sure. While I mourn Sara’s passing since I really loved the character, I’m also interested in what is going to follow after it.
And that’s what this week’s episode, “Sara” was all about. Laurel brings Sara’s body to the Arrow-cave, not knowing what else to do, and we get to watch the team’s reaction as they realize that a core part of their shared identity is gone. It is a very moving scene, and the rest of the episode is all about how the team tries to move on and hunt down Sara’s killer, which also confirms the first-ever live-action debut of the villain Simon Lacroix aka Komodo, introduced last year in Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s ongoing run on Green Arrow as part of a major arc. This is a non-stop action episode in the true sense of what that means on Arrow, and we also get to touch base once again with Ray Palmer, which is just too exciting really.
CW’s The Flash is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season/year. Spinning out of the successful 2-season Arrow, The Flash brings to life one of DC’s greatest superheroes and it is pretty much tone-perfect. It has the right emotional beats, the right character beats, the right setting, the right stories, and some really hellish cliffhangers that blow your mind. Of course, the acting department isn’t slacking either, with the likes of Grant Gustin, Jesse Martin, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes and Tom Cavanagh. It is pretty much a great show, and that is going off only the pilot from the last week!
The second episode of The Flash brings to life another true-to-comics villain like Clyde Martin aka Weather Wizard from last week, Danton Black aka Multiplex (or, as Cisco first called him, Captain Clone, hah!). Alongside a memorable villain, we also have a slightly expanded roster of characters this week as we get to meet one of the most despicable industrialists/scientists in “Fastest Man Alive” and also get to see Barry suffer from some of the side-affects of his new powers. I thought the pilot last week was great, but it turns out that it was only the start, and that the trinity of Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns are just getting started!
Note: This review contains spoilers about the final minutes of the premiere and this week’s episode.
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.
When DC relaunched Suicide Squad as New Suicide Squad in July this year, I was equal parts excited and apprehensive about it since my experience with the first volume of the title’s New 52 launch wasn’t all that positive. But then I read the first issue, and it proved to be really good in a way that I didn’t expect at all. The writing was better than I expected, and so was the art as well, and I’ve stuck with the title. Even the Future’s End one-shot, which I do admit I had some reservations about, proved to be better than I expected. Sure, it was bleak as hell, but that’s kind of the point of Future’s End.
The second and third issues of the new title have done much to cement my love of the title. Writer Sean Ryan continues to explore the differences between the different characters and also show off just who and what they are. They are all criminals first and foremost and putting a bunch of them together isn’t conducive to anyone’s health, but in Amanda Waller they have someone who really does understand them and seeing her manage this new team has been a great experience. And of course, the art by the army of creators working on the title has also turned out to be better than I expected.
CW’s third superhero property to-date, The Flash, kicked off this week to great fanfare as Barry Allen aka The Flash returned to television after a very, very long hiatus. It was certainly an excellent episode, made better by the fact that we are continuing to see some great side-stories in the companion comic, The Flash: Season Zero which details some early adventures of DC’s Scarlet Speedster. In the first couple issues we’ve seen a bank robbery and the debut of the villain named Strong Man, and it has been a great experience so far, but now it seems as if things are kicking into superdrive..
The Flash: Season Zero #3 came out a few days ago and I have to say that after how good the first couple issues were, I was really excited about this one and I loved it as much as I did the previous one. We saw more of a second villain in this issue, with a third one teased, and we also got to see some great stuff with Barry’s foster father Joe West and his (Joe’s) partner Eddie Thawne, who is secretly seeing Joe’s daughter Iris. Some really great stuff about how Barry feels about his dear foster-father and his partner, and some great details on the secondary villain who was teased last issue.
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.
I’ve remarked before that DC is going pretty much all-out in its bid to develop more and more properties for television. First there was the (mostly) celebrated 10 season run of Smallville a few years back. Then came Arrow in 2012, quickly becoming a fan-favourite. And this year we are getting Gotham and The Flash (both already premiered!) and Constantine (coming soon). But in all of this, the modern DC stable of television definitely owes much to the incredible success of Arrow, both from a story and casting viewpoint, among others. And now CW’s hit superhero show is hitting its third season.
Arrow Season 3 has been a hotly debated topic in recent months, especially when news of all the new castings and everything began to filter out, such as the fact that the probable big-bad of the season is going to be none other than Ra’s al Ghul, one of the greatest villains in DC’s history. Last night, the new season got underway with the premiere, “The Calm“, and it was an incredible revisit with all the characters and Starling City. The new episode does a lot to set the new status quo and also delivers some big moments, especially the shocking cliffhanger ending which seems improbable given the character involved.
Earlier this year, DC started putting out weekly comics once again, with Batman: Eternal being the first, and then in May followed the second one, Future’s End. While the former takes place in the current DC timeline, at least for the Gotham-centric characters, the latter takes place five years from the present timeline and is a full-on superhero/supervillain epic. A third weekly was also set to come out however, and tie-in a little bit to Future’s End. Called World’s End, this new weekly series had a really weird premise at first, and was one of the reasons why I passed on it initially.
But now it is here. Earth 2: World’s End #1 is basically a giant recap of 2 years of Earth 2 and World’s Finest, an effort to catch up readers on what has happened on those titles and how all of that is just a setup for this new series. I had low expectations of this series to start with, but given that I felt the same for Future’s End at first but came to really love it, I was willing to give World’s End a chance. And by the first issue at least, it is a big disappointment. There are retcons aplenty and the tie-in with Future’s End is basically non-existent and is essentially retconned. The art is decent though, and that’s kind of enough to bring me back for a second issue, although I’m not sure if I really should.