Another great week this time. Lots of fun new tiles and old ones returning for new installments. The highlight of the week had to be the upcoming graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones Jr. for which I managed to get a review copy. Long live NetGalley! And the graphic novel definitely delivered on its promise too, although there were a few things that I didn’t like so much.
With all the new series coming out, its definitely a good time to be in comics, and most of all if you have been a fan of certain series like Daredevil and Unity. I’m still behind on certain series though and there are a lot of comics that I am behind on, as I was painfully made aware this past week. And the pile is mounting every week. Just too many things to stay current with.
Space opera is one of my favourite genres of fiction to read. You give me something to read with spaceships and big battles and heroes and what not, I’ll gobble it up. Space opera horror though, that’s a different matter altogether. Very different. I haven’t tried much of it, very little in fact. At the moment, the only one that comes to mind right now is an audio drama by Steve Lyons for Warhammer 40,000: The Madness Within. Now that was a fun little thing although it wasn’t strictly space opera. Still. When faced with a book/comic in a genre I love you, I’m going to do my best to read it.
The week before last Avatar Press released the first issue of a new series by one of the most well-known writers in the business, Caliban #1 by Garth Ennis. And mainlining as the artist on this book is Facundo Percio, who is not someone that I am familiar with. Come to think of it, this just might be my first issue from Avatar Press too. And this first experience has definitely been a good one. The script takes a while to get going but when it does, it is superb. And the art in general is quite good too.
Marvel began its relaunch of Secret Avengers on quite a high last month. While I didn’t read the previous series due to a lack of interest, I picked up the new #1 as part of my read-through of all the new series being launched as part of All-New Marvel NOW! Bringing together Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Maria Hill, Modok, Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, this new series seems to be one of the most exciting of all those that Marvel has launched in the last three and a half months. The creative team and the cast are both solid, and that’s what I expected from the sequel issue.
Secret Avengers #2 picks right up from where the first issue left off and it includes some truly awesome moments that make you jump up and down with glee. You don’t really expect some kind of big flashy heroics from these guys, at least I don’t. I think of all of them as more subtle than that, much more… mature even. Writer Ales Kot wrapped up this short opening arc very well, giving a great taste of all the characters involved and the art team delivered on the goods as well.
Back in late February Valiant Comics wrapped up the first arc on its new series Unity. Bringing together some of its biggest characters, Valiant put out a very unconventional superhero team book that saw casualties from the get go and sought to redefine the characters involved, making them all part of a larger shared universe. Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, X-O Manowar, Livewire and Toyo Harada are characters who fluctuated a bit in how interesting and developed they were but liked them all I did, and I’ve stuck with the series since its first issue.
The new arc began last month and saw several important changes in how the “team” was structured. The characters involved, having gone through a crucible of sorts, are now in their restoration phase, slowly getting used to the change in status quo that has come about due to the first arc. But, things aren’t calm because there is another supervillain in the background, who is up to no small amount of mischief, and he is the one that the team has to take out this time. With a mostly good story and some decent art, the future of Unity looks very promising.
Last year Dynamite Entertainment launched a new team book, Kings Watch, a mini-series that focused on three of the most famous pulp characters ever: The Phantom, Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician. These are all characters that used to feature in various comic strips in newspapers all over the world (the Phantom is still printed in some Indian newspapers I believe), and growing up, I used to love reading about all of their adventures. The Defenders cartoons were also excellent from what I remember and having read the first two issues of Jeff Parker’s Kings Watch, I can definitely say that he captures that essence and fun aspect of the original material quite well.
With Kings Watch now done, Jeff Parker and Dynamite have now launched Flash Gordon, a sequel ongoing series that deals with Flash Gordon himself in the wake of whatever has happened in Kings Watch (I haven’t read the recent three issues unfortunately), and despite my hesitation about not being familiar with the story, I can say that the debut issue exceeded expectations and is a damn good read. And the art, by Evan Shaner, Jordie Bellaire and Simon Bowland, is also quite excellent, helping complete the overall experience.
A few days ago I watched the first episode of Valvrave the Liberator, one of the newest anime shows on the mecha anime scene. It started off fairly generic, mimicking the opening of shows like Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED: Destiny but there was always the promise that the show was more, largely because of the epilogue that went with the first episode. As a huge fan of the mecha anime genre, the show didn’t appear to be offering something new but I decided to stick with it because I did enjoy the opening episode. Interesting characters and interesting plot, they both did the trick for me.
Having now seen episodes 2-4 of the first season, I can definitely say that while Valvrave The Liberator is cut from the same cloth as the above-mentioned mecha anime and bears the same tropes as those shows, it also stands on its own. The foundations are a bit rickety since the differences aren’t highlighted as much as they should, but it is developing into a fairly fun show that keeps you interested and coming back for more as soon as you are done with an episode. That’s the best kind of anime out there that is.
Last month Marvel relaunched its Captain Marvel series following the cancellation of the previous series and it marked an important change in direction for Carol Danvers, who had left her identity as Ms. Marvel behind to step into the shoes of the alien hero she had taken her name from, Captain Marvel. While the series enjoyed great success among fans, sales weren’t up to the mark and Marvel had to axe the series. But relaunch it soon after they did, and now the series is here, and it is here to stay I think.
The first issue last month proved to be quite a good read, and I was certainly impressed, given that I had not enjoyed Kelly Sue DeConnick’s first arc on the series when it was launched as part of Marvel Now back in 2012. It offered up some nice characterisation of Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and it told a really interesting story as well, which was all fine with me. And the art was up to the mark as well, which was a relief, although it was problematic. The new issue takes things even further and now since Captain Marvel is an Avenger-in-space, things are really heating up, and in a good way.
In contrast to the previous week, I didn’t get to read as many comics as I wanted to because my iPad wasn’t working properly and I had to resort to reading comics on my computer, which didn’t work out so well. Especially when I have to travel, and I was rather counting on getting through at least 3-4 more comics.
Still, I did manage to read a fair few, and I am now done with my read-through of Forever Evil: Blight which proved to be a very interesting event indeed, far better than the main event or two of the tie-ins ARGUS and Arkham War and just on par with Rogues Rebellion. The ending was definitely unexpected and awesome too, I think, so that is something there. No other graphic novels, which is a shame, but since I’m landlocked for the next two weeks, I’m hoping to move through a few, so we shall see.
When you bring together a bunch of people with different attitudes and beliefs, there is bound to be some conflict. You add in superpowered teenagers into that mix, and you have a bigger conflict. One of the reasons I liked Kieron Gillen’s run on Young Avengers for Marvel Now was because the team pretty much started out as formed, or at least they didn’t take forever to get together. And their adventures were totally madcap and not-serious-but-still-serious. It was a far better mix than the newly launched New Warriors has been, that’s for sure. The first issue was just about decent enough, but the second issue was a big drop in quality.
The third issue now, well, I think that it dips even lower. Thing is, my main issue is that the team is taking ages to get together. In issue #1 they didn’t know each other. In issue #2 they started to get together in small groups. Now, they are in two camps but there is so much damn nonsensical bickering between them and the characters just act totally stupid. It is a big turn-off. The art is decent in this issue but that’s really the best that I can say about it.
When any comic book tries to do something different, there’s always a chance that it is not going to work out, and the result might be extreme. In the case of one of Image Comics’ recent Fall’13 launches, Black Science, that chance has swung fully towards the positive. It combined pulp science fiction with modern aesthetics and some really gorgeous art, becoming one of my favourite new series of 2013. Time travel. Dimensional travel. Intense character drama. Betrayal. Treachery. Aliens. This series has it all in spades and it is the better for it. All of it combines to form a really solid title.
Last month’s Black Science #4 and this past week’s Black Science #5 are the perfect examples of that. In the first three issues, Remender took things very fast, and he blitzed the reader through the characters and events, as Grant McKay and his group dimension-hopped through several different worlds. But now, even as #4 continues things in the same vein, #5 takes a step back and really focuses on the characters as the story slows down a little bit to allow Remender to develop the characters. And as ever, the art continues to be magnificent. The alien locales, the characterwork, it is all top-notch, with the entire team chipping in to deliver one of the best looking comic on the shelves right now.
Mecha anime is one of my favourite genres of anime. Gundam, Gundam SEED, Mobile Suit Gundam, Gurren Lagaan, Code Geass, Neon Genesis Evangelion, I’ve seen them all. And yet there are countless others that I have not seen, such as some of the Gundam franchises, or Attack on Titan, or Voltron or a bunch of others. There’s something really fascinating about the science fiction aspects of mecha anime, plus the usual young adult angle with them that I really like. Gundam SEED and its sequel Gundam SEED: Destiny were my first run-ins with the genre, and I’ve loved it ever since.
One of the newest mecha anime on the block is Valvrave the Liberator, or Kakumeiki Varuvureivu to give it the more accurate Japanese name. When I went in, I had no idea what to expect from it. All I knew was that it shared some similarities with Gundam and that it was mecha anime. I saw the first episode last night, and I have to say that I’m a bit underwhelmed with it. The opening is trademark Gundam style, with little to mark it as different, and that was disappointing. But the characters themselves were fun, which matters significantly, I think.