Last week we got to see something spectacular in Arrow. Ted Grant embraced his history as a vigilante, known as the Wildcat, and we learned that he was taking care of the Glades before Oliver Queen ever came back and started taking on the villains of Starling City. It was a pretty emotionally-charged episode with lots of action as well that also segued into the growing relationship between Ollie and Roy as mentor and apprentice, mirroring that of other character pairs on the shows such as Ted-Laurel and Malcolm-Thea. It was a great episode, and it only left me wanting more.
In the new episode, “Draw Back Your Bow“, we see the debut of Cupid, a woman super-obsessed with the Arrow who wants to become his lover, someone who can take care of him since he takes care of all of Starling. She made her debut by killing of Isaac Stanzler, who used to be the Arsenal to Ted Grant’s Wildcat a few years ago and who was the villain last week. As is usual on the show, we got to see some real-time commentary on how things are with Team Arrow, and we also see that Ray Palmer has some really big designs for what he is going to do with Queen Consolidated and its tech resources. Not a mind-blowing episode per se, but this one can easily fly under the radar, and I’d caution you against dismissing this one off-hand.
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.
DC’s reboot of its Suicide Squad title has become one of my favourites from the publisher. New Suicide Squad brings on board a better writer with some better artists than before, and it tells a focused story that has thankfully avoided getting into crossovers from the start. The line-up itself is pretty amazing, with the cream of the crop as it were, and Sean Ryan has done wonders with the team so far, delivering highly-charged action stories with ample assist from the artists as well. The art is definitely one of the reasons to buy this title and the story just keeps getting better too.
The new issue this week carries on the thread of Deathstroke having betrayed his team to work for the Russians. In the face of Vic Sage’s disastrous attempts of a mission, Deathstroke abandoned the team at the first opportunity and right now he is busy torturing Deadshot for info. All pretty great stuff and Sean injects the story with some welcome grim humour, even as Vic Sage and Amanda Waller battle it out for control of the team, which was absolutely superb in every single way possible. The art rocked, the story rocked. Don’t know what else to say.
In “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” last week we got to see some really great things with all the characters as Felicity’s mom strolled into Starling City for some quality time with her daughter and we got to see how Felicity became the person that she was when she first met Oliver back in season 1. Pretty interesting stuff all around, and the larger mysteries of the season were also addressed, including a possible reveal of who might have killed Sara, though the why was/is still a mystery.
This week’s “Guilty” goes in a slightly different direction as it explores Ted Grant aka Wildcat’s past and what kind of an effect that his past has had on him, and what it might bode for the future of the show, specifically in relation to how Laurel sees him as a mentor and a friend. The episode does a fair bit to set up the debut of another villain, Cupid, while also dealing with the villain of the week, and the most important thing here is how Oliver has to make some really tough choices and how he is the only one, ultimately, who has to make them.
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.
It has indeed been too long since I’ve read a Harley Quinn comic. There was September’s Future’s End tie-in one-shot of course, which was utterly awesome by the way, but apart from that, nothing really concrete. Reading that one-shot, and the Harley Quinn Invades Comic Con one-shot from July reminded me of what I’ve been missing. Harley is DC’s big breakout success from last year and she has certainly cemented her place in the comics, as she is set to do in movies as well since the character is confirmed for the upcoming Suicide Squad movie in about a couple years.
A couple weeks back we got the first Harley Quinn Annual, and a fantastic romp it was too. Following on almost a year after the incredibly successful debut of Harley Quinn #0, the recent issue is a one-shot that tells the story of Harley finding out that her best friend Poison Ivy is being held at Arkham Asylym and going there to break her out. Of course, as it always happens with Harley, nothing goes according to plan and we meet a new dangerous villain. Jimmy and Amanda turn out another awesome issue with the aid of a rotating cast of artists, all of whom do some incredible work here.
In last month’s Grayson #3 we saw some pretty big things go down for our titular hero, ending in a rather emotional moment that played up the whole aspect of why Batman never carried a gun and why he never trained his sidekicks like Dick Grayson into their use. It was also one of the best issues of this brand-new series from DC, taking place after the events of this year’s Forever Evil event that saw Dick “die” as far as his friends are concerned, all except for Batman. Even as Dick’s own journey continues, we also get to see more of what the shadowy and secretive SPYRAL is up to, and it is not good, not at all.
Since the start, this new series has dabbled in the occasional humour and light-hearted moment while staying primarily serious and intense and focused on whatever the end goal is, which I’d surmise is the taking down of SPYRAL since Dick is working for the organization on behalf of Batman. But in this week’s issue, we see things head in a different direction as Tom King and Tim Seeley tackle something at the heart of who Dick used to be, a poster-boy for fangirls everywhere. It is a great change in pace in the first arc of the series, and Mikel’s art excels as always, to especially great effect.