When I compiled my list of “51 Most Anticipated Novels of 2013“, I put Chris Wraight’s Blood of Asaheim on it because I had really liked his first full-length 40k novel, The Battle of the Fang for the Space Marines Battle series. He gave a really nice depth to the Space Wolves with that book, and he brought together the disparate portrayals of the 40k Space Wolves by William King’s classic novels and Dan Abnett’s Horus Heresy piece, Prospero Burns. I love the former, but I detest the latter. Chris Wraight gave me a nice middle ground between the two and that’s what I hoped that Blood of Asaheim would be. It wasn’t.
Blood of Asaheim isn’t tied to Battle of the Fang in any direct way. They are both novels about the Space Wolves Chapter, but where the previous novel is set 1,000 years after the Horus Heresy, Blood of Asaheim is set in the current 40k timeline, one where Ragnar Blackmane is the Wolf Lord of his own Great Company, as per the character’s history as set in the tabletop lore. Chris Wraight offers up several new characters and the premise itself is an interesting one, but unfortunately the execution turned out to be pretty flawed because it was essentially repetitive material.
Another month, another Star Trek: Khan comic from IDW Publishing hits the shelves. Writer Mike Johnson has used the first two issues fairly well in most respects, adding to the entirely new continuity of films that Director J. J. Abrams established with his two blockbuster movies and showing off how Khan as he was in Star Trek: Into Darkness came to be. Its not something that I’ve particularly liked, since I’m a fan of the older established continuity, but I’ve been fairly interested in it all the same.
The third issue here goes into much more depth about Khan’s reign during the Eugenics Wars and gives a lot of information on the state of the world at the time. So far, we had only seen the private moments for the most part and with the new issue Johnson expands the scope of the story and the events so that he is properly contextualising Khan as a product of his times, more than anything. Nature AND nurture so to speak. So, as a character study, this issue definitely holds some weight. But its not all song and roses.
This was a really busy comics reading week, primarily because I read two graphic novels this time around, both of them for Marvel no less. I have finally dipped my toes in full in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and the first taste has been quite interesting and fun. On the flip side, the somewhat older Immortal Iron Fist proved to be a bit of a mediocre book, but no less intriguing for that fact and I’m quite interested in the character now. Other than, a lot of the DC comics this week were really good and this is quite pleasing in fact. And Zero Year tie-ins are finally over so I look forward to a month of no such tie-ins.
I still have a big backlog of graphic novels to burn through, so I have that to keep me busy further I suppose. More on that as it happens.
Coming right on the heels of Marvel’s biggest and grandest event of the year, Infinity, is a tie-in issue for one of its longest-running series at present, Wolverine and the X-Men, which I started reading thanks to another event and am kind of liking thus far. I haven’t read Infinity till now, aside from the first couple issues which I found really confusing and laborious reading, but I do plan to go through it soon since all the issues are now out and I can read them back-to-back without any gaps. Seeing the Infinity logo on this issue made me think that this would be a direct tie-in, but its a side-story at best and focused on a single character.
With Battle of the Atom over now, I’m seeing that Wolverine and the X-Men is quite an ensemble book of various X-Men characters, young and old, inexperienced and experienced. That seems to be at the heart of this book, so its a bit strange to get an issue like this, which is focused exclusively on Kid Gladiator. But all the same, as an “extra” issue, it kind of does make sense in the end, particularly when by all accounts writer Jason Aaron is bringing the character back after a long absence. In the end, this issue has my thumbs-up.
Slightly slow comic-reading week again, but not by all that much since I got to read a graphic novel as well, so that balances things out a little bit. Really interesting week this one, particularly with the launch of a Harley Quinn ongoing from DC Comics and some really good second issues or the start of new arcs for some of the other regular books.
The month is closing out now though, not all that much time left, just a handful of days, and I’d like to end the month on a good high. TO that end, I might well be reading two graphic novels at least this weekend to catch up on things a little since that particular reading pile creeps higher every week or two weeks. Getting almost scary now!
I have, admittedly, never seen an episode of BBC’s Doctor Who. A few years ago, back in college, I once made a list of some really popular SFF shows and at the top of the list was Doctor Who, but I was somewhat turned off by the fact that the show had been going on since the 1960s or thereabouts. I was rather clueless at the time and not much aware of the whole “seasons” nature of television shows in the western media. In India, television shows are broadcast 5 times a week for the most part and so the old-me couldn’t get around the concept of a show that had been alive for more than 40 years. And I didn’t really know any Whovians at the time either, so that was a factor as well.
Recently I’ve had an urge to start watching the show, mostly because a large number of my friends on social media are from Britain and most of them are Doctor Who fans, aside from friends of other countries with similar interests. With the 50th anniversary of the show this year, I thought I’d finally get onboard the whole thing and so I decided to watch the 50th anniversary special yesterday. And it turned out to be a darn good episode, for a first timer to the entire franchise.
Managed to read a handful of more comics this week, since there were a lot of titles released that I was really interested in, and a couple from previous weeks that I hadn’t been able to get around to at the time. As usual, it was all a mixed reading experience, with some really good comics mixed in with some bad ones and a few that straddle the fence between the two extremes. More positive ones than negative ones.
No graphic novels this week sadly, since this week was a real slog in reading, again, and I was struggling for time in general with everything else too. Perhaps this coming week can be different!
From everything I’ve seen around me, Valiant Comics is emerging as a publisher with some solid clout in the industry. Much as Top Cow did when it was created, Valiant is redefining the superhero genre in its own way by giving us a fresh generation of superhero(ish) characters to get invested in. And they publish some non-superhero titles as well, such as Fred Van Lente’s excellent Archer & Armstrong, of which I’ve read the first volume so far. Unity #1 marks my first Valiant comic in several months as I finally take the full plunge into the universe/setting that Valiant is creating.
Unity #1, the attraction is that it is being presented as a team-up book, Valiant’s own version of a Justice League team-up or an Avengers team-up. Despite how complex they can be, I find team books to be a good starting point, especially when they bring several different type of heroes such as, again, Justice League or Avengers. And that’s what I’m seeing in this comic as well. Written by Matt Kindt, I had some doubts about it since his writing of late hasn’t really been working for me, but I gotta say that this was much better than I expected!
I’ve been a fan of anime since my college days, when a friend got me hooked on stuff like Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Rurouni Kenshin. In all my time watching anime, the mecha anime genre has really drawn my interest, the one genre that has really drawn me in. In recent years, I’ve attempted to branch out of that and watch some other styles of anime, like Death Note and Samurai Champloo. New anime on the block, Arpeggio of Blue Steel, bridges both interests. It is military SF with a strong naval combat twist to it.
I heard about Arpeggio of Blue Steel last week through an article on Kotaku that talked about the top 5 anime series to watch out for this fall. The description really intrigued me and so I decided to get it. I saw the first episode this weekend and I have to say that it is off to an interesting start. The first episode reminds me of the opening episodes for both Gundam 00 and Gundam SEED. They started off slow and picked up in later episodes. I just had to stick with it all.
About three weeks ago, I wrote a post about my plans for my NaNoWriMo project for this year, an Indian space opera story tentatively called The Veergati Codex. I talk about it in some detail here. That post also talked about some of the negative reactions I’ve seen against the entire event, established authors basically deriding the efforts of the “dilettantes” and the “dabblers” since “real authors” write all year, not just for one month a year. Its a fair criticism I guess, but its undeniable that many of the published authors of today are these same dilettantes and dabblers who’ve made it big. I know of at least three currently published authors, from major publishers no less, who took their first steps with a NaNoWriMo event and have reached all the way to where they are now. So the derision this year really rubbed me the wrong way.
But anyway, that’s not what this post is about. In the previous post, I’d said that my goal for this year was to do 30k words instead of the usual 64k+ I’d pulled the last years. With some personal things going on, not to mention some other commitments and my reading, I couldn’t afford to spend that much time on the writing for the event this year. I was all resigned to it too.
But then the first day came, and I was a mean writing machine, if I do say so myself.
Being a fan of the character of Khan Noonien Singh from his original appearances in Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, reading the first issue of Mike Johnson’s new series from IDW last month proved to be an interesting experience. It changed a few things, but kept others the same. The core of the character did not, thankfully, need any redefinition, but his backstory was indeed rebooted to fit what the recent Star Trek: Into Darkness did with him, and where the character is meant to go.
I read the second issue last night and I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed in that it is just not as strong a comic. We continue to get more on the character and the supporting cast, but there is something that is distinctly missing from this issue. Which is a shame since the series is quite promising otherwise.