After a slight introductory stumble, Gotham has really started to find its footing and has been developing into a show that I could really get to love and enjoy week after week. And much as the showrunners announced at first that the show was going to follow Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as they tried to clean up Gotham City, the show has been developing instead into the rise of Oswald Cobblepot as a major villain and ganglord. But that doesn’t mean that the other characters are getting the short shrift, because the cast assembled for the show really is incredible, especially as of last week’s episode.
This week’s episode, “Arkham” finally gets around to dealing with one of Gotham’s most infamous landmarks, the Arkham Asylum. Since it is still very early days and the costumed freaks have yet to make an appearance, AA at this time is just a mental health treatment facility rather than a supervillain prison. Cobblepot’s earlier pronouncements to Gordon about a war coming to Gotham take root in this episode, which I would consider a big step-up for the series, with some great character development across the board and also the rising stakes by the end of the episode.
Two weeks into Fox’s Gotham, the latest comics-based show on air, and I think that things are going great for comics fans everywhere. This is the big year for comics properties, what with old shows coming back for new seasons and new shows getting off one after anoher. Gotham is the lone charger at the moment since DC’s The Flash starts later tonight, and the publisher’s next big project Constantine not getting on until the end of the month. In the first couple episodes, we’ve seen some big things happening on Gotham and the show is almost tone-perfect, with some great casting and also some interesting mysteries at the heart of future-Batman’s city.
The new episode sees a vigilante make his appearance on the show for the first time. In the first episode we saw the murder of the Waynes, and then in the second we witnessed a child-kidnapping ring. Now, we see not a villain, but someone who wants to clean up the city in a rough way, outside of the law and order. “Balloon Man” really ups the tension between various characters, as Fish’s silent war against Don Falcone continues, as Renee Montoya keeps gunning for James Gordon, as Don Maroni starts making moves on Don Falcone, and as Alfred starts to teach a young Bruce about some basic swordplay. Fun and exciting, more than I’d thought possible.
When I started watching Leverage last year, one thing that stuck out at me was the motivation behind former insurance investigator Nathan Ford turns to a life of confidence games: he couldn’t find a proper cure for his dying son in time to make a difference and was effectively betrayed by his own company in that regard. It was a rather important emotional event in the character’s history and made me love the character. It has stuck with me all this time, and now it looks like I’ll be getting to see something similar in comics, thanks to writers Christina Blanch and Chris Carr.
The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood is the latest series from Dynamite, and it explores a similar setup to Nathan Ford in Leverage. Charlie is struggling to make ends meet as a prison English teacher while his son suffers in the hospital, and his marriage to his wife also suffers. Christina and Chris write a story of temptation and the road to hell that really drags down Charlie Wormwood. It is a beautifully written story about an everyday man’s struggles, and the art by Chee and Troy Peteri is similarly impressive, creating a very appropriate creepy and dark vibe.
It has been clear since the start of the new Vampirella that creators Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter have had a strong direction for the series, as evidenced by the number and type of challenges that the titular character has faced. She is racing against the clock to find a cure for a curse that will see her eventually turn into Lady Umbra, Bride of the Apocalypse, and her world tour has led her to face up against all kinds of rare and powerful Vampires. As we close in on the end of the first arc, one of the key things is that the ending of it be a fitting one, given the epicness of the arc so far.
And if Vampirella #5 is any indication, then the arc is going to end on a high note. Having taken down the Krasue and the Lamira already, Vampirella travels to Serbia to face off against another of Lilith’s half-breeds, and then on to Kauzstadt to face off against a powerful foe, someone that I’ve been expecting for the last couple issues now. Nancy’s writing here is as strong as ever, though I felt that matters with the Leptirica were resolved too quickly, and Patrick’s art stands out once again because of his creature designs, which were just amazing here.
Last week Fox debuted Gotham, a gritty noir-ish procedural set in the years before Bruce Wayne became the vigilante known as Batman, back when Carmine Falcone still ran the city’s mobs and when both Harvey Bullock and James Gordon were still young. The series premiere was a very entertaining and exciting experience, better than I’d expected it to be and it certainly made me want to come back for more, if only because I wanted to see more of certain characters and because the setup came off as fairly well-executed for a show like this.
This week’s episode, titled “Selina Kyle” was meant to focus on the future Catwoman. In the premiere, we saw that she was a witness to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, thus creating an ephemeral bond between her and Bruce and at the end we saw that she came to Wayne Manor for… something. I was kind of excited for this week’s episode because I wanted to see how executive producer and series writer Bruno Heller would deal with the future master thief. And I’m disappointed on that front. The episode is more caught up with the ensemble cast than focusing on Selina, but at least it presents some really fun and quirky villains while also developing the overall story of the show.
The sequel to Adam Christopher’s 2012 debut Empire State didn’t arrive until much later in 2013, and it was a rather frustrating wait since I really liked the first novel and wanted more of the same from someone I considered to be among the best debut writers of 2012. But unfortunately, The Atomic Age seemed to exemplify the faults and negatives of Empire State far more it did the good things. The difference between the two is a phenomenal one for me and I was extremely disappointed by it.
This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.
One of the very first books I read back in 2012, and my very first Angry Robot book too I think (might have been Matt Forbeck’s Carpathia actually!), was Adam Christopher’s debut novel Empire State, which mixed in several different genres together to create a really fun narrative. It could even be described as superhero noir-steampunk I suppose, which sounds awesome when you think about it and Adam definitely delivered on the promise as well.
This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.
Following the success of Arrow, and then the news about the spinoff The Flash, DC announced several new projects for 2014, Gotham, Hourman and Constantine among them. Of the three, the only show that really attracted any interest from me was Constantine, largely because I love the character in the pages of Justice League Dark, and he’s quickly become one of my favourite anti-heroes and jerks in the DC universe. I was mildly interested in Gotham, but the way that the initial press releases were worded put me off. But then the positive buzz started building and here we are. The first episode premiered last night and it seems to be gaining steam, if nothing else!
Gotham is set in a time before Bruce Wayne became Batman. It is a time when the Gotham City Police Department is stretched thin and corruption is rife, as is a certain cynicism which comes from being a Gothamite. In the first episode, we see the setup of all the major characters, even villains like Penguin, Carmine Falcone, Catwoman, Riddler, Joker and others. We see the murder of Bruce’s parents and the investigation by James Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Tonally for me, the show seems to have hit its stride, and the sweeping story was certainly quite an interesting one as well.
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!
Each month I am more and more impressed with Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. In the title’s first arc they’ve taken the protagonist on an almost globe-hopping mission of investigation into the death of one of Britain’s finest intelligence agents, and they’ve done so by creating a protagonist who is nuanced, balanced, and one of the finest portrayals of female characters in comics, especially espionage comics. Velvet Templeton ranks as one of my favourite characters in comics since last year, when the title debuted, and the high of that has continued ever since.
As Velvet moves into a new phase, especially with respect to Velvet’s solo investigation, we see the action and the pure intensity of the story get really ramped up. We now know that the main reason Velvet gave up being a field operative for ARC-7 was because she had been ordered to kill her husband on their honeymoon, on suspicions of him being a mole. Issues #6 and #7 deal with the fallout of this realization and show that Velvet really means business when it comes to finding out about the truth. Truly, the art and the story have never been as good as they’ve been in these two issues.
The new Vampirella series is everything that I could ask of it and more. Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter have gotten off to a great start with the first three issues as they put Vampirella through her paces against a sort of enemy that she has never fought before. There’s a fair bit of originality in the story and the real fun part is seeing all the different kinds of vampires cooked up by the creative team, from the traditional to the monsters and freaks. To be honest, this is a damn good title, whether we talk story or art, and that in itself is something to celebrate..
In the new issue from this past week, Vampirella’s quest to find the rarest vampires in the world and drink their blood continues as she travels to the Greek island of Lamos this time, on the hunt for a vampire called the Lamia. The Lamiae are a very different breed of vampire than the usual ones, being a part of Greek mythological lore even, and this time Vampirella has to seek some… outside help. The story was as engrossing as always and Collins really brought out the dark humour of the book, even as Berkenkotter and Co. continued to deliver on some great visuals of Vampirella and the monsters.