Last month Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma wrapped up their first arc on Tomb Raider by going all-out with a story they’d spend six months developing and refining. The arc was a great introduction to the world of Tomb Raider and it followed on directly from last year’s video game of the same name, a game that lauded as one of the best games of 2013. Gail and Nico did a fantastic job following in those steps, and now that the first arc was done, I wondered where the duo would go, and whether they would return Lara to her roots as a tomb raider or not, because that’s what the character is about, at her core.
This week’s Tomb Raider #7 sees the beginning of a new arc on the series and also a change in the creative team as Rhianna Pratchett joins Gail on writing duties and Derlis Santacruz replaces Nico on the pencils Andy Owens replaces Juan Gedeon on the inks. The overall feel of the comic is very different as a result, but by no means does that reflect poorly, because this new arc looks set to kick ass as much as the previous one did, both in terms of the story and the art. I am certainly interested in finding out more how the new (and changed!) creative team is going to progress on with the title.
Thankfully, I’m finally settling back into the groove with comics reading and, most importantly, comics reviewing, as I managed to review a fair bit of titles this week and even caught up with reviewing some previous titles that I’ve unfortunately had to neglect for one reason or another.
The surprise hits of this week were Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War: Billy and Mandy #1 from IDW Publishing, Wolverine Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Vampirella #3 from Marvel Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman: Eternal #20 from DC where the title seems headed downwards just when it was getting once again, and The Wicked + The Divine #3 from Image where the title took a nosedive this week after a second issue that was really good. No graphic novels again sadly, though I hope to correct that that this week. I hope..
Wonder Woman, as one of DC’s top three characters in terms of everything that really matters, got a second wind last week when DC launched Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman. Comics history buffs will recognize that the Amazon Princess made her debut so many damn years ago in the pages of Sensation Comics and now she’s back as DC puts out both an in-print ongoing and a digital-first comic featuring their most popular and recognizable female hero. The first issue by Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver was really good and I really couldn’t have asked for a better team-up for “Gothamazon“.
Sensation Comics #2 brings to a close the two-part “Gothamazon” arc, which also marks Gail and Ethan’s exit from the title for the present. The format for this series in print is going to be anthology-style, and I’m going to be a bit sad that these two fantastic creators are leaving, but all the same, at least their exit is great! The new issue is much more action-packed and it really gives you a look into Diana’s though processes and the comparisons with Batman are handled well. Plus the art is really good once again, though there were a few negatives scattered here and there, quite atypically Ethan Van Sciver.
Three years, that’s how long Gail Simone has been on DC’s New 52: Batgirl, making her the only female creator at the publisher to have stuck with a title for that long. Sure, there was the period back in December 2012 when things were uncertain and she was off the title, but she has helmed the series since its reboot regardless. And now it is coming to a close, and I find that I am not nearly ready for her to leave. Gail’s run on the title with the various artists that have come and gone has been fairly spectacular and as she leaves, she gives readers the best she had to offer with Batgirl #34.
Batgirl #34 is pretty much the end of the current creative team’s run on the title. I haven’t looked at the solicits for next month’s Future’s End special issue so I have no idea who is writing/drawing that issue, so I’m just gonna roll with that here. In the last few issues we’ve seen that Batgirl’s new nemesis Knightfall has finally begun to execute her long-held plans for Gotham into motion and that she is setting the stage for an epic war against crime and corruption in the city. Under Gail’s pen and Fernando’s pencil however, Knightfall is up against the greatest challenge of her life against Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl.
Red Sonja’s recent resurgence as one of the most kickass and badass female characters in comics reached a milestone recently when the new comic celebrated its first year of publication. It is kind of awesome that it has already been a year that Gail Simone and Walter Geovani have been helming the new series and to such success too. Their current arc on the title has proven to be exceptionally good and though the recent Red Sonja #0 was a bit of a speed-bump (Noah Salonga was the artist rather than Walter), with this week’s new release the series is back on track and quite handsomely at that.
Red Sonja #11 is the penultimate issue of Gail and Walter’s second arc on the title. Sonja has traveled far and wide to accomplish her latest mission, and as it draws to a close, we see some of the writer and artist’s best work to date. Sonja in this issue is very introspective and thoughtful, with lots to offer through her internal monologue and her actions. In this issue she has to face up to one of her fears and she does so handsomely, in typical Gail Simone-written style that has become the norm for this series and I couldn’t be happier. It also helps that Walter and colourist Adriano Lucas are stunning in this issue!
Wonder Woman is one of DC’s premier characters in the company’s long history. She has emerged over the decades as one of the most powerful and important characters in the entire DC mythos, and indeed, she forms a part of a DC Trinity alongside Batman and Superman, the three of the most central characters in DC’s main-verse. It kind of stands to reason that if Batman and Superman can sustain multiple simultaneous titles, then so can Wonder Woman. After all, she is also the most prominent of DC’s female superheroes in kids merchandise. And it seems that DC has finally listened to fans.
This week saw the release of a new digital title, Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #1. In this title, writer Gail Simone explores the premise of what happens when Gotham’s villains take out Batman and Oracle calls in Wonder Woman to take care of matters in her friend’s sudden absence. Paired with artist Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone’s rendition of Wonder Woman feels very classic and unrestrained, with a lot of the character’s actionable charisma brought to the fore. This first issue is hopefully the start of something really great, something that can eventually translate into an ongoing print title!
As per my plans, I didn’t do one of these posts in the past 2 weeks since I was on a holiday. And a great holiday it was indeed. I didn’t get to do more than a very small handful of reviews, more like just two or three in all, but I managed to read a fair bit and kept myself on target for my comics reading.
The surprise hits of this week were Storm #1 from Marvel and Star Spangled War Stories #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman #33 from DC Comics. Not exactly a bad comic but just a disappointing one. All the other comics were pretty much good, excepting Flash #33, where I still can’t really connect with what the new creative team is doing there. I wanted to read a trade paperback comic as well during this week, but the first few days of the vacation were very busy and all these comics were pretty much read in the last 2-3 days of the week so that didn’t happen.
Every month I wait for a Red Sonja comic to show up on Comixology, hoping that each issue is as awesome as the last, or even better. Gail Simone and Walter Geovani have certainly not disappointed. The quality of the series has flipped-flopped just the slightest bit but it has definitely one of the best series that I’ve read to date, and the fun thing is that the series hit its one-year mark last month. It has been a hell of a ride, I can tell you that. And the current ongoing arc has delivered some of the best story and some of the best art to date, so each month is a time of anticipation for the latest Red Sonja to land in my cart.
Instead of a (regular) 11th issue, the fifth issue of the current arc that is, we got treated to a #0 issue last month. The odd timing of the zero issue aside, especially since it doesn’t have anything to do with the current arc, I think that this was a fun little side adventure for Sonja and her current creators, to lighten up the mood a little and present something much different than the current events. All fine by me. The story here is pretty decent and so is the art, so I am certainly not complaining. Seeing a new artist present her take on Red Sonja was great, so that’s a grand reason too.
After a slight bump here and there, Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma’s Tomb Raider has really gotten off to a great run in the last couple months. So much so that it is finally the kind of Tomb Raider comic I’ve been wanting to read from the two of them, ever since the announcement last year. Gail has done a great job thus far of shepherding the character through her post-game events, and she has turned Lara into a most interesting character, someone who is both strong and fragile in equal measure. Someone who feels complete because of that contradiction.
With her recent return to Yamatai, Lara ran into the bad guys real soon and started to discover just how twisted and demented the new villain is. But what all we saw in Tomb Raider #5 was just the tip of the iceberg, for Gail commits herself fully to the madness of her villain and to showcase the best of Lara and her friends as well. That’s where this issue really won me over, that it wasn’t just Lara being awesome, but her supporting cast as well. And Nicolás is finally comfortable with the characters, and has a much more consistent style, so that was most welcoming too.
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the novels I have read in the first half of this year. That list followed the same format that I have been using for 2 years now, but with this new list I decided to make a big departure, owing to how many comics I’ve been reading in recent months, often 80+ comics in a single month! That’s crazy.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the year. The next post will be at the end of the year for the second half of the year.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!