Lightning strikes in the same place for a third time. I mentioned last week that I read 38 singles and 2 graphic novels for that release week, and that holds true for this week as well. I had a chance to read a bit more, but I chose to use that time to get done with some of my novel reading and also catch up with some of my reviews. 15 titles out of 40 read were reviewed by me this week. I feel good!
The surprise hits of this week were Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1, both from Dark Horse Comics, Pathfinder: City of Secrets #5 from Dynamite Entertainment, Catwoman: Future’s End #1 from DC Comics, Hack-Slash: Son of Samhain #2 and Chew Volume 1 both from Image Comics. Comics which disappointed me this week were Edge of Spider-Verse #3 from Marvel Comics, Sensation Comics #7 from DC Comics, and… that’s it thankfully! The graphic novels of this week were Chew Volume 1 and Thor: God of Thunder Volume 3.
Red Sonja is one of the greatest and, dare I say, none of the most well-known, heroines in fantasy fiction. She is brave, courageous, compassionate, fearless, daring, aggressive, dominant and much more. Under the pen of Gail Simone, we’ve seen some really great things with the character in the rebooted Red Sonja. And her current arc has only heightened all these aspects of the She-Devil With A Sword, as she is often known. Tasked to find six of the greatest artisans in the world for a dying king’s death-feast, we’ve seen some great adventures with Red Sonja and now it all comes to a close.
Red Sonja #12 sees Sonja and her friends Rat, Aneva, Osric, Gribaldi, Plaitius and newcomer Rakaua return to Emperor Samala for his death-feast. Sonja’s reward for spending an entire month gathering these artisans is that once they are presented to Samala, he will free a thousand slaves as her reward. Bu Emperors rarely keep their promises and Samala planned to betray Sonja from the get-go, so the direction of this issue is no surprise. Not really sure what I can say, other than that Gail Simone and Walter Geovani delivered one of their best issues to date.
After handily wrapping up the first arc on Tomb Raider, Gail Simone teamed up with Rhianna Pratchett for the second arc that, last issue, took her to Chernobyl to help Alex’s sister Kaz with whatever trouble she is having. It was a slightly confusing issue to be true, but it was also quite fun since the creative team was intent on keeping things fresh and presenting Lara with new challenges and new direction. The art also seemed to improve, so that isn’t something that I’m going to complain about. Yeah, I liked the previous art as well, but the new style is definitely cooler.
In Tomb Raider #8, we see more of Kaz’s backstory and learn a lot of things about her that we didn’t know before. In the previous issue, it was all about getting Lara to witness Alex’s ghost rise up and warn her about Kaz and then Lara getting all the way up to Chernobyl before things really went south for her. Now, we see the beginnings of some real meat of the story, and that was most welcome. The action overall is rather static, in that everything takes place in a very narrow location and that was a slight shock but still, I liked the story here well enough and the art was great as before.
With everything going on right now, I had doubts whether I’d be able to get through many comics this week but it seems that this was indeed the week where I surprised myself in a big way. Not only did I catch up on quite a few new titles, but I also managed to read two graphic novels this week, one of them at almost 300 pages no less!
The surprise hits of this week were Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor #2 from Titan Comics, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division #2 from IDW Publishing and Inhuman #5 from Marvel Comics. This week’s surprise flops were Caliban #6 from Avatar Press, Grim Tales of Terror #3 from Zenescope, and Superman Unchained #8 from DC Comics. Of the others, they were mostly great, and I loved that both G.I. Joe Volume 1 and Witchblade Volume 3 are among my absolute favourite graphic novel reads of the year!
As I’ve mentioned previously, Gail Simone is leaving Batgirl for other projects, one of which involves her recently-announced reboot of Secret Six for DC, a Suicide Squad-style supervillain team book but with a different focus and outlook on the characters. Gail’s run on Batgirl made me fall in love with the character and with her leaving, I feel as if it is the passing of an era. On the other hand, Scott Snyderhas been running the showboat for Batman since the New 52 relaunch and he has been killing it, except on the recent Zero Year arc which ended up being nowhere near as good as it started.
Both Batgirl: Future’s End #1 and Batman: Future’s End #1 are really dire stories. In the former, we see how Barbara’s brother James Jr. crashes her wedding party and kills her husband, setting her off on the path of darkness once again. But in all of it, we also see how Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain and a young girl named Tiffany take up the fight to maintain the legacy of Batgirl and it is not as bleak as it may sound! In the latter, we see how an aging and troubled Bruce is fighting to maintain his own legacy in his own image, not in the image of young men and women he has inspired over the years, for Gotham must always have a Batman. Ray Fawkes has written this issue instead of Scott, and while I generally don’t like Ray’s writing, this issue was actually quite good in places.
Getting back into the groove of comics reading I might be, but I’m still struggling with getting around to graphic novels/trade paperback collections, and that’s something I really regret. Every month that pile gets higher and higher with no end in sight and it kind of depresses me. But there’s so much new material to read too!
Anyway, the surprise hits of this week were Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War! #3 from IDW Publishing, Sundowners #1 from Dark Horse Comics, Wayward #1 from Image Comics and Star Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I.Zombie from DC Comics. The surprise flops of the week would be Smallville: Continuity #1 from DC and Star Trek: City On The Edge Of Forever #3 from IDW. After having read some of the previous issues in both, I was really surprised by how boring these were, and of course, Savage Hulk #3 was abysmal, but that was to be expected anyway. The others, well they were all a mix of good and bad, as usual.
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!