No “Magic 40″ this week since I wasn’t able to get around to a lot of the comics I wanted to get through this week, largely because I am traveling and in India for a cousin’s marriage. These things always take up a lot of time. I haven’t even had a chance to work on my NaNo novel these past two days!
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Amazing Spider-Man #10 and Spider-Woman #1 from Marvel Comics. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Black Widow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 , Future’s End, Predator: Fire and Stone and Witchblade all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were Aphrodite IX v2 Volume 2 by Matt Hawkins, Stjepan Sejic and Troy Peteri, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 by Dan Abnett, Rafael Kayanan, Kathryn Layno, Deron Bennett, Yildiray Cinar, Randy Mayor, Michael S. O’Hare, Frazer Irving, Pop Mhan, Tom Derenick, Tony Avina, Ken Lashley and Ryan Sook.
Last month we got to see Jim Zub’s unique take on the Forgotten Realms lore with his new mini-series Legends of Baldur’s Gate, which is intended as a tie-in effort by Wizards of the Coast for the upcoming expansion Tyranny of Dragons. The first issue, right out of the gate, was an excellent one and stands as one of my favourites all year. Both Jim and artist Max Dunbar did a pretty awesome job with the issue, and the adventures of Minsc, Delina and Boo proved to be very entertaining and fun, in all the right ways. Plus there was a nice larger mystery that involved the characters and that helped set the pace for the story.
This past week’s Legends of Baldur’s Gate #2 continues the story of Minsc, Delina and Boo as the three of them meet up with a couple of thieves who are willing to help them find refuge from Baldur’s Gate’s Watch. Last issue we got introduced to the primary characters, and while this week we get to meet many more characters, we also see the narrative move forward as the mystery of Delina’s twin brother’s disappearance deepens, and we see some of who and what the mysterious cabal operating in Baldur’s Gate is like. As with the first issue, Jim and Max do an awesome job once again.
Dwarfs and Gav Thorpe have a long relationship since some of the earliest days of Black Library’s Warhammer Fantasy fiction, much as is the case with him and the Dark Angels in Warhammer 40,000. I’ve read some of his Warhammer work to date, though not all, and his Time of Legends: The Sundering series stands as some of the best books I’ve read from him to date, though they don’t quite hold the same fascination for me as does his Warhammer 40,000 or Horus Heresy works. Still, whenever Gav writes something in WHF, I do sit up and take notice since he happens to be one of my favourite writers.
And his latest is The Doom of Dragonback, a novel set in a post-War of Vengeance Old World where the dwarfs are still recovering from their decades long war with the elves, who have themselves withdrawn from much of the land and are nursing their own wounds in their homeland, Ulthuan. Following the adventures of various dwarfs of Ekrund, The Doom of Dragonback is the story of how a mighty dwarf hold can fall to orcs and goblins, and how tenuous and fleeting life can be in such an environment. As has been the case of late for me with Gav’s work, the novel is among the best of his works, for he does lots of things here that are different from the norm.
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.
Last month Cullen Bunn kicked off the second stage of his Helheim saga with the release of Brides of Helheim #1 which takes a look at the main character of Rikard some time after the events of the previous series as a young Viking girl by the name of Sigrid searches him out to exact vengeance for her father’s death. It was a pretty great issue, in terms of both the art and the story and I loved it, which is why I wanted to read more and even went and got the first mini-series, though I haven’t had a chance to read it as yet.
This past week’s Brides of Helheim #2 continues the story of Rikard and Sigrid even as the writer gives us some background on the spae witches who have been Rikard’s enemies, along with their distant master who is emerging into the world once again. Cullen Bunn packs the issue with some astounding moments of character and action, even as Joelle Jones and Nick Filardi render them quite beautifully. The second issue is as good as the first one, and as the mysteries and story deepen, things look set to get better and better on all fronts.
Stjepan Sejic has been building up to an epic showdown between Team Evil and Team Good for a while now, pretty much since the start actually. He has shown us the Death Vigil through the eyes of the new recruit Clara and at the same time we have also seen some stuff with many of the other members of the Vigil, focusing on their histories and their personalities as they are. It has all been enormous good fun thus far and I doubt that Stjepan is going to take a break from any of it for a good long while since he is so damn good with this book, whether we talk writing or art.
The latest issue of Death Vigil sees Team Evil finally let loose on an unsuspecting world and it has some enormously great cinematic scenes that show that all is not well for the Vigil or for the Reaper herself, Bernadette. There’s so much to like about this issue, especially since we finally get a history on Allistor and Mia, two necromancers who are also kinda-sorta friends with the Vigil. If you’ve liked the previous issues then this one is certainly going to be very appealing since it crystallizes a lot of things and Stjepan has aced the story and the art once again.
It has been an excellent year and a half for fans of Red Sonja, the She-Devil With A Sword. With Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s reboot of one of Dynamite’s most enduring and consistently successful titles, Red Sonja has seen a huge upsurge in popularity and interest and there have even been quite a few mini-series and one-shots that have been released in this time. Gail and Walter closed out their highly excellent second arc a few weeks back, and the wait ever since has been quite torturous. Red Sonja is a title that I want more of every month and temporarily, the wait is over!
A new arc started on Red Sonja this past week and it brings a fantastic new story from the pen of Gail Simone as she delves into another facet of the She-Devil With A Sword. While bringing to justice a villainous sorcerer who has been killing several innocents in a nearby village, Sonja is cursed that she will never be able to forgive anyone ever again, and this is where the fun really kicks off and where Gail brings out the best in her protagonist. Walter and Adriano’s artwork is top-notch as always and I really loved all the artistic twists here.
Valiant Comics’ Eternal Warrior series is one that I’ve been meaning to read for a few months now, ever since I started really getting into the publisher’s team book Unity and then recently with the whole Armor Hunters crossover. Gilad is a character that I really like reading about and even felt that he was somewhat underused in the recent crossover. He’s kind of been the rock of Unity since the team’s inception last year and both Robert Venditti and Matt Kindt have done some nice stuff with him. All of which makes me feel somewhat guilty that I’m not following Eternal Warrior, but then I guess now I have the perfect alternative.
Peter Milligan and Cary Nord have kicked off a new Eternal Warrior series this past week with Brian Reber and Dave Sharpe. Titled Days of Steel, this series looks at the character from his days in medieval Europe, specifically the ages of Magyar domination across much of the land. This is quite an introspective book that really focuses on who Gilad Anni-Padda is as a character and I loved that deeper look into his character and his psyche. And it goes without saying that Cary and Brian turn out some really great visuals, with a painted look to them, and that the art alone is worth the price of admission.
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.
When Zenescope decided to move forward the clock on all of its main titles to a year after the events of Grimm Fairy Tales #100, with the intervening time being covered in the Realm War: Age of Darkness mini-series, it was a pretty great decision for the publisher. It allowed for new stories to be told with new characters without the express baggage of an event that had been going on almost a year, and now here we are. I’m not sure what exactly is the continuity of this new Robyn Hood title, but I don’t really care since Pat Shand and Claudia Balboni have been hitting up almost all the right notes with this.
Robyn Hood #3 is the end of the first arc of this new ongoing series, and it brings things to a rather satisfying conclusion as far as I’m concerned. Pat Shand moves things along at a very brisk pace but that also allows him to setup some future arcs, and introduce the big bad villains as well, so that’s not a big point of contention. Marion and Robyn kicked a lot of ass in this issue, and it was really fun to see the two of them bond together in the end. The art is a bit too clean and lacking hard texture, but it was still good, especially the fight scenes in, about, the middle third of the isse.
Among the many things that have happened in the wake of the epochal events of Grimm Fairy Tales #100 and the victory of the Dark Horde over the Realms, we have seen that tensions between the Dark Queen and the Dark One are at their worst. While the former glories in her new-found power and victory, the latter is increasingly relegated to the background and even insulted at every turn as the events of the recently-concluded Inferno: Rings of Hell show. This is the cornerstone of how the events of Realm War are going to play out and it is a most interesting time indeed for GFT fans.
After what happened in Realm War #3, I was very excited to see how the new issue this past week would play out. Robyn up against Britney and Sela? That is Grimmverse gold right there. The mystery of what the Dark Queen did to turn Robyn against the good guys deepens even further in this issue, and we see how it further affects the already-tenuous relationship between Malec and the Dark Queen. And amongst all of this, there is precious little good news for the good news. Joe Brusha’s story and Sami Kivela’s pencils are at their best in this issue, though at times the artwork seemed a little forced. Read the rest of this entry