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.
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the novels I have read in the first half of this year. That list followed the same format that I have been using for 2 years now, but with this new list I decided to make a big departure, owing to how many comics I’ve been reading in recent months, often 80+ comics in a single month! That’s crazy.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the year. The next post will be at the end of the year for the second half of the year.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
I started reading Vampirella comics back in 2012, courtesy of some of the stuff that Dynamite Entertainment was putting out at the time, and I have to say that I found them quite enjoyable as far as both writing and artwork are concerned. Sure, the covers were often quite risque, but the internal artwork was almost always great, such as the case with Walter Geovani’s work on Ron Marz’s Prophecy or Johnny Desjardins’ work on Tom Sniegoski’s Vampirella Strikes. As with Red Sonja under Dynamite, Vampirella is definitely a favourite character to read, and with the new series launching last week, I figured it was time to properly get on that ride.
Vampirella #1, which I just finished reading, is a great entry-point to the character and her setting as far as I am concerned. Sure, some things are kept to the chest, but you get enough through Nancy A. Collins’ writing to see who Vampirella is, and just what she is as well. Plus, Nancy ties the story in with a seemingly old foe of the character, so that provides a lot of tension and direction to the narrative, with two really good twists that will surprise you for sure. And the artwork by Patrick Berkenkotter is also quite nice, which is another plus.
After all the heavy reading of the previous weeks, this past week proved to be a little less intensive, but not by much. The only real difference this time was that I didn’t get to read any graphic novels or trades. And I only just managed to read all these comics anyways because things are getting hectic here with all the marriage preparations, not to mention the court marriage I had the other day (yes, officially married now!). So yeah, things are just a little bit really hectic.
The surprise hits of this week were 7th Sword #1 from IDW Publishing, Harley Quinn #6 from DC Comics, and Dejah of Mars #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. The surprise flops would be Batman #31 and The Flash #31, both from DC Comics, both of them quite disappointing in that the arcs do not make sense anymore and I’m really turned off of them. Comics that I expected to be great, such as Ms. Marvel #4 from Marvel and Thanos Annual 2014, also from Marvel, and Future’s End #4 from DC Comics, were all good, amongst others. So a nice spread of everything, as usual.
There’s only so far you can go in an action-packed story before you have to stop and consider where all the character development is. A spy thriller like Velvet requires that the characters always be first and foremost but more than that, you also need some strong context of their histories and what all has happened to bring them to that point where you are becoming familiar with them. In the past four issues of Velvet, we’ve seen some tantalising glimpses of Velvet Templeton’s past as an agent of ARC-7, and all that has done has whet my appetite for more.
In Velvet #5, we see significant sections of Velvet’s past as we see how she was recruited by ARC-7 and what her training was like in those days. The entire story this time picks up straight from the cliffhanger from the previous issue and Brubaker just runs off with all of it, as he walks Velvet through a personal betrayer that still haunts her. Brubaker’s writing is just as fantastic and richly-layered as always even as the artwork by Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser still rocks. If you thought that the previous issues were good, then Velvet #5 will challenge that.