The third book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Christie Golden’s World of WarCraft tie-in novel The Shattering: Prelude To The Cataclysm. This novel marked a resurgence of my interest in reading tie-in fiction outside of Warhammer, Star Wars or Star Trek, and took me back to the days when I first read The Last Guardian and Rise of The Horde, two of the best WoW novels I’ve read to date. And since I never got to play the Cataclysm expansion properly at level, this prequel novel did much to soothe that longing.
The third set of comic covers I pick this year are for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs, with the cover done by Steve Morris, and the second one is for Superior Spider-Man Annual #2, also by Christos Gage, though he worked with pencillers Javier Rodriguez and Philippe Briones on this one, with the cover done by Michael Del Mundo. The former marked my first foray into reading Buffy comics, though I had read some of the Angel & Faith comics before that and the latter was another dip into the Superior Spider-Man territory, the premise of which I find rather intriguing, to say the least and love it as well.
So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.
No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.
When Agents of SHIELD pulled its winter finale last year in its debut season, it was on a grim but promising note nonetheless. The show had been marred by inconsistent writing up until that point, with little to recommend itself beyond its overarching premise, and it didn’t hit its stride until much later in the season. And the new season has been pretty incredible up until this point, when everything has been ramped up, all the good things that is, and the show has delivered a much better experience, especially in the last two weeks.
In the latest two episodes, “…Ye Who Enter Here” and “What They Become“, with the latter of the two being the new season’s awesome winter finale, we get to see the biggest moments of the show to date. Yes, something that can actually match the Captain America: The Winter Soldier twist from earlier this year. Up until episode 9, we had learned that the symbols Coulson had been fixated upon carving everywhere was actually a 3D map of an ancient alien city, tied to Project TAHITI which used an alien corpse as its source. So it was inevitable that we would see more of all that and that is exactly what these last two episodes have shown us, a measure of how this mysterious alien city ties in to SHIELD and Coulson’s team, and just who and what Skye is.
Note: The review contains major spoilers about episodes 9 and 10, with 10 being this week’s winter finale.
The recent issues of Inhuman have focused on exploring the fate of the Inhumans’ missing King, Black Bolt, and his brother Maximus. This has been one of the biggest mysteries of the Marvel universe in the wake of last year’s Infinity event and the last two issues have done much to enlighten readers about where these two have been and what indeed they have been up to in that time. But, we have also seen how Medusa continues to shepherd her people through the changes besetting them at present, and how they can all move forward from their experiences.
In this week’s Inhuman #9 however, we see some interesting, and not so good, things happening. For one, the series is now caught up in the Avengers & X-Men: AXIS event, an even that I’ve given up on after reading 2 issues since it seems far too continuity-ridden and also quite confusing. Nevertheless, the Inhumans’ queen Medusa was a part of this event and after a particular moment, she has come out with a very different mindset that seems alien to her previous attitude towards everything. The issue is interesting enough, but it lacked the punch of previous issues, though Ryan Stegman’s art is still good, for the most part.
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 week I started off a new feature on the blog, Fast-Shot Comics Reviews, in which I will be reviewing some of my comics read from that week that I wasn’t able to get to in terms of reviews. And these can be comics I liked or comics I hated or anywhere in between really. Last week I did six comics, all of them among my top picks for the week, and it was a pretty fun experience, trying to reduce my usual 700+ words reviews into something like half that number. Quite challenging too since I usually write so much more.
The picks for this week are: Grimm Fairy Tales #104, Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition, Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #2, Inhuman #8, Storm #5, and Wonder Woman #36. The picks are a bit heavy on the Big Two this week, owing to how much I read from them, and also since most of my reading was confined to them only this week. An interesting bunch certainly and there are quite a few really good books in here, though not all are what I’d call “Pick of the Week” material, even though they skirt the line.
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.
In last week’s “The Writing on the Wall” we got to see something rather incredible. Phil Coulson finally managed to solve the mystery of the alien writing that he had been doodling of late, and which had driven John Garrett madder than the hatter last season. And it was pretty incredible, setting the scene for what I think is going to be a fantastic addition to Marvel’s line-up of upcoming movies. You can read my review of the episode to see all the spoilers and speculation since I don’t want to mention any of that here.
In the latest episode, “The Things We Bury“, we see the antagonism between Grant Ward and his brother, Senator Christian Ward finally come out in the open as far as the characters are concerned, and as far as the readers are concerned as well. The web of lies and half-truths that the two of them have been weaving around each other all their lives is exposed and it is a pretty powerful moment. The episode brings back Milan Cheylov, who directed the debut season’s third episode last year, one of the best of the entire season, and it is a pretty good foot forward by the show that has gotten only better in the second round.
Iron Man has been one of the books from Marvel in their Marvel Now! launch that I’ve largely given a miss in the last couple years. I started off reading the first issue but it didn’t interest me at all. The next issue I read was sometime this year, which dealt with Mandarin’s death and his rings’ search for their next wielder, in Iron Man #23 I recall. However, that storyline didn’t interest me either, after two issues, and I gave up on that too. And then Marvel announced the Avengers NOW! launch for Iron Man, and I was interested in the changes being made to the character.
Superior Iron Man #1 follows in the wake of the recent issues of Avengers & X-Men: AXIS in which the villain Red Skull did some psychic hanky panky and unleashed a Hate Wave across the world that has turned some heroes towards a dark path while some villains have turned towards the path of redemption. It is an interesting mechanic, and Tony too has been changed by this, becoming a more narcissistic and greedy businessman seeking to profit from the misery of other people. But the writing didn’t really work for me in this issue, though the art was passable, from one standpoint.
Marvel’s Spider-Verse kicked off in full-swing last week with The Amazing Spider-Man #9 which brought Peter Parker from Earth -616 firmly into the middle of the event. Many of the most powerful of Spider-totems have already allied together against the all-consuming rampages of the Inheritors and we’ve also seen what the larger plan in effect is. This is certainly an event set to touch across all corners of the Marvel omniverse and the sheer volume of stories itself is pretty damn amazing, with Spider-totems from lots of different Earths being featured.
In this week’s Spider-Verse #1, we see some more Spider-Totems in the vein of Spider-Verse Team-Up and it is quite a fun look as well. Combining several different art styles and several different Spider-totems, this issue is mostly just an “extra”. Nothing important really happens in here unless we count this one story featuring the Master-Weaver himself, which is pretty striking in its implications. Though I must say that my favourite story is the steampunk one featuring May Reilly. Brilliant that one. With the mix of stories here, some of them work really well and some don’t and you run the gamut from serious intense stories to cartoony ones. Read the rest of this entry
Last week’s episode was pretty damn intense, especially with that killer ending when Grant Ward escaped the government troops who took over custody of him from Coulson’s SHIELD agents. Throughout the episode, we were treated to one twist after another as we saw how Grant and his brother Senator Christian Ward manipulated the people around them to get what they wanted. And we got some great dynamics between two of the team’s recent additions, Bobbi and Lance, which was pretty damn great. Going forward, the implications were pretty clear.
This week’s “The Writing on the Wall” is set in the aftermath of Ward’s escape and what the team is doing about it. Moreover, a big chunk of the episode is taken up with the strange alien carvings that Coulson has been doing for a while now, writings which drove John Garrett crazy last season and which seem to have affected at least one more person as of a certain cliffhanger a while back this season. More flashbacks to the days of the TAHITI project mean that this episode is all-out awesome and we finally get a true idea of what the entire project was really all about.
Note: This review contains spoiler speculation about the ending of this episode, a possible spoiler about at least one upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.