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!
Well, it has been a couple weeks again since I did this feature. The week before, well, it was marriage week for me and I barely read 4 books, so it didn’t really make sense to do a post on just those four, so I skipped it. And it was a really slow week all in all, especially for blogging, so I just decided to let things rest for an entire week. But I’m back again this time!
The surprise hits of this week were Death Vigil #1 from Top Cow andGrayson #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Spider-Man 2099 #1 from Marvel Comics. Expectedly great comics such as Fantastic Four #7 from Marvel Comics, Batgirl #3# from DC all delivered on their promises as well. Not a lot of comics this past week, certainly not as much as the week prior or my usual number of ~25/week, but definitely a good number at 21 issues. Might take a dive in the next week though!
Just this past week, it was announced that Batgirl would be shifting creative teams in October and that the title would undergo a major creative revamp. Goes without saying that I’m going to be really saddened to see Gail Simone, Fernando Pasarin, Blond, Jonathan Glapion and the others leave the title because I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve done in the last year, especially Gail who has shepherded much of the title since the New 52 relaunch. Thankfully, it looks like she is intending to go out with a bang if the cliffhanger ending from last month’s issue is anything to go by.
Given that Batman: Eternal is currently ongoing and that some of the events of that weekly series are beginning to trickle down elsewhere, it kind of makes sense that Batgirl too would get sweeped up in the wake of it. Batgirl #33 is quite possibly one of Gail Simone’s best issues on the title, mostly for the fact that it includes three of my favourite DC leading ladies and the ending of the issue looks set to take things to the next level. The art is slightly fuzzy at times, but the action is crisp and awesome, so I won’t complain.
It really shouldn’t have been a surprise to me last year when Dark Horse announced last year that it was going to be publishing a sequel comic series to the year’s top game, Tomb Raider, considering how strong their tie-in comics are and how varied as well. And true to expectations both Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma delivered wonderfully and made the new comics series a must-read for any given month since debut. While Gail’s writing has been as great as ever, Nicolás’ art has been a bit rocky but still very enjoyable.
Last month’s Tomb Raider #4 saw Lara return to Yamatai Island, setting in motion the events that happened in this past week’s Tomb Raider #5, where we really got to peek into Lara’s past and saw how her friendship with Sam Nishimura began. This might be the best issue of the series for precisely this reason, that we get to see Lara before she was Lara Croft the Tomb Raider and that we have on hand the basis for a solid friendship between two women in comics. Gail definitely excelled herself with this issue and Nicolás’ art too was impressive.
Red Sonja is on a mission. A mission to save thousands of lives and to become the best female warrior there’s ever been in comics. Both missions are under progress right now, thanks to the pen of Gail Simone and the pencils of Walter Geovani. Ever since their reboot of this popular swords and sorcery series last year, they’ve really turned Red Sonja around in terms of who and what she is and with each issue they’ve managed to impress and wow. No small feat, but then again, they are two of the top creators in comics right now, so I’m sure that’s a big contributing factor. It is all about the mad skills.
Red Sonja #10 has the titular character meet with Osric the Untouched this time, a man who is supposed to be the best swordsman in the entire world. How Red Sonja wins over this character to her cause is the best part of this comic and Gail Simone certainly does not disappoint on that front. And she has some great moments with the former courtesan Aneva, moments which really help define Sonja as a character and which made me a huge, huge fan of Aneva as well. As for Walter’s pencils and Adriano Lucas’ colours, no complaints there at all this time. Almost a perfect issue!
After finishing up her big Wanted arc, writer Gail Simone then delved into a few short arcs and one-shots as part of her run on Batgirl and that proved to be a great move since it helped break the monotony of the longer arcs and provided lots of great jumping-on points for new readers, especially with the short and sweet Gothtopia event that she participated in. And ever since Wanted, there have been some really strong themes that have been carried forward and now with the advent of the Batman: Eternal weekly series, things look set to change even more.
Batgirl #32 is about more than just Batgirl’s problems. There is, in fact, a hell of a lot going on. Charise Carnes aka Knightfall is still planning her takeover of Gotham. Barbara’s boyfriend Ricky is planning to sue her father for shooting him during a botched GCPD raid a few weeks ago. Commissioner Gordon is still in jail following the opening issue of Batman: Eternal and just overall, Gotham is not the place that it was for us readers just a few months ago. And in the midst of it all, lots of new storylines are branching off, and its going to be interesting to see how Gail Simone manages to work it all together.
Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma’s Tomb Raider series for Dark Horse is one that started off slightly iffy, but has gotten better over time. Continuing the story of last year’s award-winning Tomb Raider video game reboot, Gail and Nicolás’ story is one that deals with post-traumatic stress and the feelings of guilt that Lara has since she survived where many of her friends did not. And in addition to all that, the Solarii are back again to screw with her life and this time she isn’t going to blunder along to a victory. This time she has a plan and she’s pretty driven.
In the new issue, Tomb Raider #4, we see Lara being incredibly proactive for once and part of the mystery of what is happening with the Solarii and what their agents are doing, going after Lara and her remaining friends, is solved. This was something that I was rather looking forward to, because I thought it was high time we got some sort of a reveal on that front and Gail and Nicolás definitely delivered on that front. This issue has Gail’s best writing to date on this series and Nicolás’ art is also fairly top-notch.
Just as much as DC Comics loves Batman, Marvel loves Wolverine. And that’s apparent given how many titles both publishers put out with respect to these two characters. Last year Marvel launched yet another Wolverine title as part of its Marvel Now initiative, Savage Wolverine and this was meant to show the rougher side of the character, something very… savage and bestial. I read the first two or three issues but they didn’t really click with me and I gave up in short order since I was generally disinterested in Marvel’s comics at the time, aside from a title like Thor: God of Thunder. And then came news that Gail Simone was going to write an issue this month.
Savage Wolverine #19 features the dynamic duo of Wolverine and Jubilee. Gail Simone, one of my favourite comics writers period, is the writing force behind this issue and she delivers a wonderful simple tale of of role reversals that delves into the relationship between these two, a relationship that has been rock-solid for several years. One of Brian Wood’s issues for X-Men last year featured the two as well and that was awesome in part because of this relationship. Gail gives her own spin, even as Neil Edwards’ art impresses.