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.
Marvel’s Inhuman has a title that comes with a lot of baggage. Initially it was to be a part of a new mini-event resulting from the end of last year’s Infinity. But the creative differences between writer Matt Fraction and Marvel Editorial meant that Inhumanity didn’t really go anywhere and when Inhuman finally was released as an ongoing with writer Charles Soule at the helm, there were several delays that soured my experience. It didn’t help that the first arc involving Lash was really awkward at times, both art and story, though there was indeed some promise and only recently has the title really improved.
With the end of the arc involving the Inhuman villain Lash, we launched into a new arc involving an old foe of Black Bolt and Medusa, the Unspoken. Things have been pretty damn intense for a while, but everything has centered around Medusa rebuilding what her people have lost. New Attilan is now home to the surviving Inhumans as well as the NuHumans who have come about thanks to Black Bolt releasing the Terrigen Mists on the world. Charles Soule’s writing has gotten steadily better, and even the art has been an upshot of late since Ryan Stegman stepped in for Joe Madureira. But the burning question remains: what happened to Black Bolt?
A lot of shows have a troubled first season and don’t get their bearings until their second rodeo. That’s kind of what Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has been all about, given that the second season season is trumping the first season left and right without a break. Last week Team Coulson got a big boost in the form of Agent Bobbi Morse, who had been working undercover at HYDRA HQ for a while now and returned to the team, alongwith none other than Agent Simmons, who was on a similar operation. One seriously kickass action hero and one seriously brainy scientist, both women, on the show now, things couldn’t be better!
In “A Fractured House“, we see some pretty major things happen, and if I’m right, then this episode is going to be a major turning point for the rest of the series. The second season is one where the character relationships have really come to the fore, and this episode typifies all of that. HYDRA goes after SHIELD in this episode by attacking a UN summit dressed as SHIELD agents and the resulting furor means that Director Coulson has some pretty big decisions to make about the future of some of his operatives, and some of his prisoners. Prisoners like former Agent Ward. Not a pretty episode.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has had a fairly good second season so far, quite unlike the start of its debut season. New characters have come on the playing field, with new objectives, new mysteries, new dynamics and while I kind of don’t like how some characters have been treated, such as Lucy Lawless’ undercover SHIELD agent in the very first episode, others have turned out be handled much better, such as Agent Simmons and Skye, along with Glenn Talbot and a bunch of others. We are also getting to see more of Skye’s hidden past and that’s a great thing after the season-long mystery last year.
In this week’s “A Hen In The Wolf House” we meet up with one of the other new characters that I’ve really been looking forward to seeing this season: Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird. While the episode doesn’t yet reveal her codename, she is presented as HYDRA’s chief of security in a rather draconian portrayal and having Adrianne as a regular on the show is a huge boost as far as I’m concerned. And her interplay with Agent Simmons is just fantastic as well. But the real kicker comes in the form of Kyle MacLachlan’s The Doctor, who is Skye’s mysterious father, whom we get to see a lot of this week, with a rather creepy portrayal .
Kamala Khan, the new and current Ms. Marvel has been through a lot in the last few months. First she got caught in a Terrigenesis cloud that brought out her Inhuman genes and gave her her shapeshifting morphing powers. Then she went up against a bunch of villains, normal and eccentric alike, and even got to team up with none other than Wolverine, one of the greatest X-Men ever. And now she finds herself the proud (temporary) owner of Lockjaw, a loyal follower of the Inhumans’ Queen Medusa who has taken an interest in Kamala on Wolverine’s suggestion.
Recently we saw that Kamala’s powers were on the fritz and that it happened at the worst time possible, when her enemy The Inventor sent a giant murderous robot after her, which tracked her to her school and started laying waste to everything in sight. In Ms. Marvel #9 we see what happens after that, how Kamala’s powers come back and even how she meets Medusa for the first time, a meeting that has been building up for a good while now, especially once loyal and faithful Lockjaw entered the story. G. Willow Wilson knocks this out of the park once again with artist Adrian Alphona and it was a really fun issue to read.
In the latter half of Agents of SHIELD‘s first season, we learned that the premier spy organization in the world had been deeply infiltrated by HYDRA, and that as a result, the US Government had declared all existing SHIELD operatives traitors to be brought in for… questioning. The bulk of official operations against the near-defunct SHIELD was led by General Talbot, and part of the new season has been to reconcile Talbot’s objectives with taking down the real enemy, HYDRA. I love the character of course, and in the new season he really seems to be becoming a major challenger to Team Coulson.
“Face My Enemy” is this week’s episode and it sees Coulson and May going undercover to appropriate a 500-year old religious painting that has found itself in the middle of what many are calling a miracle. It features some great moments, such as the two SHIELD senior agents enjoying a rare moment of levity mixed with nostalgia and May fighting May. Directed by showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen’s brother Kevin, the episode is certainly a good one, especially the dance sequence with Coulson and May, and everything else really, prving that the second season is indeed going to be much better than season 1.
The last five months have seen some big changes happening to one of Marvel’s longest-running titles. Following on from the end of Dan Slott’s game-changing Superior Spider-Man, the flagship Spidey title The Amazing Spider-Man was relaunched with the return of Peter Parker and we’ve seen the hero go through some major stuff of late, whether it is fighting an Elektro and Black Cat team-up or finding out that someone else got bit by the same spider as he did, and in stepped new female superhero Silk, who is a match for Peter in almost every way, and also a major problem too. It has been a fun five-and-a-half months, and things look to be getting even better with the ongoing Spider-Verse crossover.
The latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man brings in one of Marvel’s biggest successes of the year, Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, as a guest star and also deals with what has been happening in various realities around the omniverse with the villain Morlun and others killing various Spidey-heroes left and right. Both stories are great fun, as they should be since writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage have worked on them, and the Spider-Verse story in particular seems to have some interesting callbacks to more classic stories and the same vibe as well. And the artwork with Giuseppe Camuncoli is also great, just as I expected it to be.