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Best of 2014 Part 1b: Monthly Comics

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!

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Best of 2014 Part 1a: Novels

This post is coming in at a slightly later time than I’d prefer, about two weeks late at least, but I guess I can’t really “complain” when the lateness is due to my own wedding which took place exactly two weeks ago on the 5th. It has certainly been a very busy and intense time, what with being engrossed in all the marriage stuff and then even after that there’s been one thing after another. Reading time has definitely suffered greatly, which makes me a little sad considering how much I love reading, but eh, all for a good cause really.

With half the year now over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st January to 30th June. There’s been a ton of books that I’ve read in this period as usual, and I made a very strong effort to read more tie-in fiction than I usually do, so the list is most assuredly going to reflect that. Tie-in fiction is a very important part of the publishing industry I feel and it always deserves some recognition. Now if we could only get an award started that celebrated tie-in fiction and all would be alright with the world. Or so my thinking goes.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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Comics Picks For 04.06.2014

Another week of heavy comics reading, and to think that just three days ago I was concerned whether or not I’d even be able to read 15 comics! How quickly things change, and for the better, in this case. It has been quite a good week this time with several new experimentations among other things.

The surprise hits of this week were Chew/Revival #1 from Image Comics, Doc Savage #1 and Vampirella #1, both from Dynamite Entertainment. The surprise flops would be Amazing X-Men Annual #1 and Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #2, both from Marvel Comics, and Godstorm: Age of Darkness from Zenescope Entertainment. Comics that I expected to be great, such as Angel & Faith Season 10 #3 from Dark Horse Comics and Original Sin #3 from Marvel Comics, and Green Arrow #32 from DC Comics, were absolutely solid and continued a very strong run ever since I started reading the title last year.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Shadow Captain by David Annandale (Novella Review)

More than any other author at Black Library presently, it seems that David Annandale is by far one of the busiest of the lot, if his output in the last couple years or so is any indication. Multiple short stories, a novel, multiple novellas. And his work has been seen digital-to-print republication. For me, he has certainly emerged as one of the best of the bunch, owing in part to his technical writing and his characters and plots of course. It also helps that in much of his work he has chosen to write about factions and characters that usually don’t see the light of day otherwise, much.

About ten days back or so I mentioned in my review of Forge Master that it was part of a trilogy of novellas about the Overfiend of Octavius, an Ork Warlord who controls one of the biggest Ork empires in the galaxy. Where Forge Master was the capstone to that trilogy, Shadow Captain is the middle narrative and is told from the perspective of the Raven Guard rather than the Salamanders. And the events in this novella take place just before the events of Forge Master. Just as with it successor, Shadow Captain proved to be a most entertaining read, and it shined the light on another of my most favourite Space Marine chapters.

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Dejah of Mars #1 (Comics Review)

Earlier this year, Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars series of comics based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ many John Carter novels celebrated the landmark #100 issue, which brought three really different and interesting stories that added significantly to the continuing tale of John Carter, Dejah Thoris and the world of Barsoom, which we also know as Mars, the Red Planet. One of the stories in this issue was Mark Rahner and Jose Luis’ “Stay” in which Woola tries again and again to keep safe John Carter from whatever he is up to but is forced to sit by the side every time by the Warlord of Mars. It was a fierce and intense story that really touched a chord with me, in part due to Luis’ amazing work.

And then this week I saw that Dynamite had released a new Barsoomian series that continued from where that story by Mark Rahner left off. John Carter is now missing and so is an artifact from the treasure vaults of the city of Helium. It is up to Dejah and her son Carthoris to clear John Carter’s name and to find him before others who are convinced of his supposed treason get to him. When I’d finished Stay I had no idea that there would be a continuation, but Mark Rahner and Jethro Morales do exactly that and they do it in style as well.

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Magician by Raymond E. Feist (Book Review)

Raymond E. Feist’s Magician remains, to this day, one of the finest examples of traditional epic fantasy that I’ve read. When I started out reading epic fantasy/space opera back in freshman year of high school, it was one of the very first books I read, soon after J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and soon after Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance Chronicles. That was a really great time for me, because I was discovering so many great books one after the other, and there was something about the adventures of Pug and Tomas and their friends that really drew me in to this world that Feist had created.

Magician is primarily the tale of two boyhood friends’ rise to power from extremely humble beginnings, one the son of kitchen servants to a frontier (but politically powerful) Duke, and the other an orphan with none to claim him. Tomas and Pug experience some really extraordinary adventures in their rise to power and together they become embroiled in some really amazing and epic events that date back to thousands of years in their world’s past. Full of exciting action, interesting characters, a really epic plot and a truly wonderful setting, Magician is a must-read massive novel as far as I’m concerned.

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The Enceladus Crisis by Michael J. Martinez (Book Review)

Michael J. Martinez debuted last year with his novel The Daedalus Incident. The book had a bit of a rough time around its release since the publisher Night Shade Books went under and was eventually bought up by Skyhorse Publishing and Start Publishing. The release was delayed and when it finally arrived, it quickly became a hit, as far as I’m concerned. I’d read the book much earlier and I had enjoyed it quite a bit, so I followed all the news with an interest. A shame that the book was delayed so, but the end result was positive, so that’s the silver lining. Michael wrote a really fantastical novel that merged the fantasies of alchemy and the Age of Sail with space opera and the sequel was something that I looked forward to a great deal.

The Enceladus Crisis is the second novel in Michael The Daedalus series and if anything, it is a better novel than The Daedalus Incident. Michael continues the story of Lt. Cmdr. Shaila Jain as she is finally given her dream job of commanding a ship of exploration to the Saturn system and at the same time we also touch base with Captain Thomas Weatherby who is now a much respected captain of His Majesty’s Royal Navy. But in a twist, while only two years have passed for Shaila Jain and her friends in the near-future, in the alternate reality of Thomas Weatherby almost two decades have passed, and the worlds of these two explorers and heroes are set to collide once again for a very dramatic showdown in the end.

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Forge Master by David Annandale (Novella Review)

In the last two years, Black Library has gone all-out with its range of novellas, whether we talk about the Horus Heresy series or the more “contemporary” Warhammer 40,000 setting. In fact, I’d say that there are too many novellas being released, at the expense of new novels, and I stand by that statement, looking at their released schedule for the last few months. But then, there are novellas like Promethean Sun, Iron Warrior and Knights of the Imperium Master which make it all really worth it. And when the publisher goes for a combo of novellas/novels, that’s when I really sit up and pay attention.

Forge Master is part of a trilogy of novellas about the Imperium’s campaign against the Overfiend of Octavius, the Warlord of one of the greatest and most powerful Ork empires in the galaxy. Told from the perspective of different Space Marine chapters, each novella covers a different part of the campaign, in this case, the Salamanders. The novella covers a small strike team of the Salamanders as they board an Ork flagship looking for a prisoner and David Annandale’s writing here is some of the best I’ve seen from him. In fact, it may be his best work that I’ve read to date.

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Thief of Revelations by Graham McNeill (Audio Review)

For a good three years now, Black Library’s audio output has been quite impressive. Both in terms of quality and quantity. Thanks to the success of the Horus Heresy audios such as Gav Thorpe’s Raven’s Flight and James Swallow’s Garro duology, the publisher’s audio franchise has really taken off for the Warhammer 40,000 timeline as well. I’ve certainly been enjoying them thus far, though there have been a few along the way that I did not like, and would even consider to be among the lower-tier works put out by the authors. But I won’t deny that BL audios are generally so much damn fun to listen to.

A short while ago we got the latest Horus Heresy audio by Graham McNeill, in which he built on many of the different concepts he’d introduced in his amazing Thousand Sons-centric novel, A Thousand Sons. They are one of the least-covered legions, although they do get a leg-up since they’ve had a novel published about them. I loved A Thousand Sons when I read it three years back, and I enjoyed Thief of Revelations as well. As ever, the audio quality was superb, and the script was really good too, offering parallels to the relationships between the Emperor and the Primarchs that have been the cornerstone of the Heresy.

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Comics Picks For 12.02.2014

A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.

And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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John Carter: Hero of Mars

Far as I am concerned, there was only one major negative of John Carter: Disney screwed up the marketing big time and instead of a potential franchise, they ended up with a near-flop. And that is painful for me, since I enjoyed the movie. I’d seen the trailers before I went to watch it on the big screens, so I kind of had an idea of what it would be like, but since I’d never read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels before, I didn’t know who the character was or what Barsoom really was. After watching the movie, everything changed for me.

In that same year, I listened to the audiobook of the first book, A Princess of Mars. I began reading the tie-in comics from Dynamite Entertianment, comics which built up the world that Burroughs had introduced to readers almost a century ago. I became a big fan of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, all thanks to watching that movie. Reading Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar novels, which are heavily influenced by Burroughs’ own work and present a kick-ass female protagonist in a similar science fantasy sword-and-planet setting, took things even further for me.

I still lament that John Carter failed at the box office. Disney’s ineptitude and the backlash from critics and fans before the movie even went to release ruined any potential success. But, thankfully, the movie has already become a sort of cult classic. I’ve seen it at least three times on DVD and each time has been a joy. It is a movie I can have fun watching every single time. Here’s the repost of my original review of it.

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Underworld 4: Kickass Selene Returns

I’m a pretty big fan of the Underworld franchise. The first movie was pretty good, and while the subsequent two didn’t quite hit the same mark, I still love how much they all expanded on the lore first hinted at in Underworld. Just a couple years ago, the fourth movie in the franchise came out, and for my money’s worth, it was pretty damn good. I saw it in 3D, and loved almost everything about it. I’ve seen it at least twice since then, and it has definitely held up to repeated viewings, and in a good way too.

Reposting all this reviews from 24FPS/Just Beyond Infinity to my own blog and has kind of made me want to watch all these movies again, the good ones mind you, and at the forefront, right at the top of the list, is Underworld: Awakening, which continues the tale of Selene, in a world changed utterly. Anyways, here’s my review.

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