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.
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..
Dynamite’s relaunch of Vampirella got off to a great start back in June with Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter’s Vampirella #1. Much like Red Sonja from Gail Simone and Walter Geovani, the new series presents a new jumping-on point that is not tied down to years of continuity and lore. I loved the first issue, I really did, and I did want more because reading about Vampirella is always a fun experience, no matter what kind of a story it is, or the artists behind her. And what I wanted more of after reading the new Vampirella #1 was more of the same..
Vampirella #2 and #3 continue the story of Vampirella as she comes under attack by the Church itself. Long an agent and warrior of the Church, Vampirella’s most recent mission has seen her damned doubly and now she is out on her own, with the hounds of the Church itself after her to prevent her from becoming a much bigger threat. And in the midst of it all, Vampirella teams up with a most unlikely ally and the mysteries just keep building. While Nancy A. Collins’ writing is great, it is the artwork by Patrick Berkenkotter and Co. that is the real star of these two issues.
In an effort to catch up, this is my second “Comics Picks For…” post today, and largely because I just want to keep track of my reading really. It is a real effort otherwise as my reading list is seriously outdated. Plus, I like to promote good properly and this is a great vehicle for that other than reviews. In this week, I didn’t really download any new comics so the list of comics read and the top picks are just what I read in that week, instead of including the new week’s releases as well.
The surprise hits of this week were Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1 from Valiant Comics, The Wicked + The Divine #2 from Image COmics and Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War: Johnny Bravo #1 from IDW Publishing. No surprise flops this week, just comics that didn’t work for me, like Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir #3. The other comics were all decent at the least and I even managed to read a trade collection this week, beginning the start of my big “Witchblade read” from Ron Marz’s epic run on the title.
As per my plans, I didn’t do one of these posts in the past 2 weeks since I was on a holiday. And a great holiday it was indeed. I didn’t get to do more than a very small handful of reviews, more like just two or three in all, but I managed to read a fair bit and kept myself on target for my comics reading.
The surprise hits of this week were Storm #1 from Marvel and Star Spangled War Stories #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman #33 from DC Comics. Not exactly a bad comic but just a disappointing one. All the other comics were pretty much good, excepting Flash #33, where I still can’t really connect with what the new creative team is doing there. I wanted to read a trade paperback comic as well during this week, but the first few days of the vacation were very busy and all these comics were pretty much read in the last 2-3 days of the week so that didn’t happen.