After a very, very short arc set in space and featuring some truly madcap adventures, Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood returned to Earth so that Dawn could come back and Norrin could have a bit of a breather as well. But things turned out to be rather weird when strange things began happening at Dawn’s home, the Greenwood Inn, and when Dr. Strange and Hulk showed up as well. Dan Slott and Mike Allred have been afire with this new series kept getting better and better, and at such a young stage too. In many ways, I think this is exactly the kind of Silver Surfer comic I’ve been wanting forever, though I could do with something a bit more serious as well.
The best way to describe this series and even this issue is that it is all light-hearted fun at its core. Dan Slott weaves in a lot of fun jokes throughout the issue and he keeps things easy and chill despite the momentous events happening. We finally get to see just what it is that is going wrong at the Greenwood Inn and beyond, and see a fun team-up between Silver Surfer, Dawn, Dr. Strange and Hulk. The particular twist here was a good one, and with respect to the art, Mike and Laura Allred have delivered some of their best work with this issue.
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..
Due to going on a vacation towards the end of July, I fell behind on Future’s End, and that kind of sucked in part because this is a highly rated series for me. It is a complex story being weaved together by no less than four writers and covering dozens of characters, so it is kind of easy to get lost but the weekly schedule helps quite a bit with that. At this point in the series, I’m looking for a sense of interconnectedness and the feeling that things are moving forwards towards some kind of a resolution. That resolution might not arrive for another month, or even two months, but that’s what I want, and fortunately, Future’s End #13-16 provide exactly that.
These four issues deal with the many secrets being kept from the many characters in this series. Such as what is really happening in the subbasement levels of Cadmus Island, or who sent Lois Lane a bunch of artifacts that have led her to uncovering some big secrets and even come face-to-face with a stark reality of her alternate life on Earth 2, or what is going on with the masked Superman and why he acts like a jock these days, or the reality of who killed Stormwatch back in the opening issues. The writers turn out some fairly good material here, and with artists like Patrick Zircher, Art Thibert, Scot Eaton and Jesus Merino, the artwork is in good hands here.
When I began my “25 Series To Read In 2014” reading challenge this year, I was intending to cover Lost Tribe of The Sith. And then just last week, or the week before that, I discovered that it wasn’t a series as much as it was a collection of short stories and I was like, uhm… well…., so I rethought the whole thing and added the Fate of The Jedi series to the challenge instead. From what I’ve heard from a lot of friends who are dedicated Star Wars fans, this particular series has a, let’s say, not-so-good reputation. So I decided to take up that challenge because I wanted to get a bit more current with my Star Wars reading, and this seemed like a good place.
Fate of The Jedi #1: Outcast presents a very bold new vision of Star Wars that really might not be for everyone. When this novel begins, the galaxy far, far away has changed considerably since I was last in it. Jagged Fel is now the ruler of the Imperial Remnant. Former Imperial Natasi Daala is now the Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance. The Jedi are a force directly under the aegis of the GA, with much of its freedom curtailed, and so on. To be honest, I loved all of this. Yeah, sure, it was all really weird at first, and I still can’t accept that Daala of all people is now the leader of democracy in the galaxy, but yeah, this was actually quite a fun book!
In last year’s Christmas Special, Matt Smith’s 3-year reign as the Doctor came to a close in a bittersweet story about heroism, sacrifice and general all-round goofiness. The 50th Anniversary special episode and the Christmas Special were my first two episodes of the show ever, and I quite liked what I saw there. I saw a few episodes of the first series when the show was relaunched in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston in the role of the Doctor and I loved that too though I haven’t kept up with it. Still, the introduction of Peter Capaldi as a the new Doctor, the Twelfth that is, made me excited because having seen these previous two special episodes, I felt like I had jumped in at the right time and that it was a good time to be a new Whovian.
The new series debuted this Saturday, with Peter Capaldi in his first full-on episode as the Doctor, titled “Deep Breath” and it charts the course of the new Doctor and Clara’s relationship as they both try to adjust to the changes that have happened. For the former, he is still in regeneration shock and is picking back up the pieces of his memory while the latter is dealing with the loss of the man she knew and the arrival of this… older man who is unlike the Doctor she knew. It is kind of a really fun episode at times, packed with what I’d say is the show’s trademark humour, and with some excellent acting, though it often felt like there was something… missing.
There’s no beating around the bush on the fact that in the last year or thereabouts Jeff Parker has emerged as a really talented writer for me, especially with his work on Aquaman. After Geoff Johns left the title he took over and started his run with a bang that can be heard every time a new issue comes out. He has done much to connect Aquaman with other superheroes in the DC universe and has also expanded on the nature of Atlantis and its many secrets, which have been peeling back one by one of late. In one of his recent mini-arcs, he focused on the Giant-Born of Greek mythology and promised a pairing of Aquaman with Wonder Woman no less!
In the recent Aquaman Annual #2, we get to see Diana and Arthur take on a group of Giant-Born in Carcasonne, France and then later a team-up of Diana and Mera as they take on a second group. The first pairing is the main focus of the story here, and while it is quite an aside and thus a perfect fit for an annual-style issue, I still loved it because this is a team-up that is executed really well. Some of the pending story threads from the main arc are addressed here as well, which was a plus. The Diana-Mera team-up was rather cool too and allowed Jeff to focus on the particular nature of both heroes. And as for the art, it was fairly good, with only a few minor flaws.
Being a fan of mecha space opera anime, when I watched Knights of Sidonia back in May, I got really excited, more so because the first two episodes set a good tone for the series and while a bit flawed, showed a lot of promise as well. I discovered the show thanks to SFF author and friend Django Wexler, and I can’t thank him enough for introducing this anime to me, for it captures a part of the same sense of wonder and excitement that I’ve seen in Gundam SEED and Gundam 00 among other mecha anime. The future of Knights of Sidonia, or Shidonia no Kishi as it is called in Japanese, is a bleak one but there is some indeed.
I fairly enjoyed the first two episodes, and expected the next few episodes to continue along the same route while also addressing some of the flaws I found in the show. And you know what? Episodes 3-5 have totally blown me away. The story has only gotten better and along with it the characters. The world of Knights of Sidonia is greatly expanded on in these episodes and I loved every moment. I was hooked with these episodes in a way that I hadn’t been with the first two. What’s better than that, really? I can’t think of anything, to be fully honest here.
Being on holiday the last week of July and the first week of August meant that I missed out on quite a few comics and that even the next week after that was mostly trying to stay ahead of all the great comics coming out, which didn’t work out as well as I wanted it to since I missed some pretty big comics, such as last week’s Captain Marvel #6. With Captain Marvel being one of my favourite new books from Marvel, that had to be corrected soon as I realized my oversight and since Ms. Marvel #7 came out this week, I thought it would be fun to do a joint review for these two titles, which are linked together in far too many ways to count.
Captain Marvel #6 brings to a successful close the first arc of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s rebooted Captain Marvel. Last we were with Carol Danvers, she had decided to take on Json’s invasion fleet single-handed. She proved her heroism in that moment, and Kelly Sue set the stage for a really emotional and heroic ending. This time, we see how all of that plays out and how Carol does end up beating J’son at his own game. And the artwork is pretty good too, in keeping with the rest of the series.
Ms. Marvel #7 on the other hand is all about continuing the team-up of Kamala Khan and Wolverine as the two of them taken on The Inventor and his crazy meta-alligators. Wolverine was the first special guest-star on the series in the previous issue, in the flesh that is, and the pairing was a great idea because as Wilson said in an interview, Wolverine struggles without his healing factor while Kamala has it. In this issue, we see their pairing come to an end for the moment, though there are more avenues open now, with a great ending and the artwork by Jacob Wyatt and Ian Herring is even more gorgeous than before, though the final three pages are not so good.
Black Library’s Horus Heresy range has been notable since its inception to turn out some really high quality audio dramas. James Swallow began the great trend with his various Garro audio dramas, spinning out of his novel The Flight of the Eisenstein and other authors since have taken great steps forward with the format as well. Some along the way haven’t been as good as I wanted them to be, but by and large, the Horus Heresy audio drama range is quite a good one and I would definitely recommend readers of the novel to experiment with these and give them a chance.
One of the latest audios in the series is Templar by John French, which focuses on the Imperial Fists First Captain Sigismund as he leads a strike force of Imperial Fists against traitorous Word Bearers within the Sol System itself. Sigismund has largely been a background character in the series thus far, but under John French, I think the character is set to become a major player, as he should be, given how large a character he is in the lore. Produced by Heavy Entertainment, this is one of their finer audio dramas for Black Library, and voice-actor Gareth Armstrong remains as great as ever.
Earlier this year, the comics writing duo of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman became two of my favourite writers because of their work on Star Wars: Legacy II, which chronicles the life of a distant descendant of the Solo-Skywalker clan, Ania Solo and the times she lives in. The two of them told a really involved story featuring Ania, and the first two volumes of the series are among my top favourite reads of the year, by far. That’s why when I heard that the two of them were going to be working on some original stuff for Dark Horse, I got really excited.
Deep Gravity #1 pretty much meets my expectations and then some. It tells the story of human colonisation and exploitation of a distant planet and it retains many great elements of classic space opera matched with some more modern stuff. As the first issue, this one is just setting the scene for now, but Corinna and Gabriel have done some pretty damn good work here, and I’m going to be sticking around for a couple more issues at the least, no question. And as for the art by Fernando Baldo, Nick Filardi and Nate Pieko, that too is pretty impressive and has a pretty fitting feel and atmosphere.
When Marvel Studios announced Guardians of the Galaxy for 2014, I really wasn’t sure what to think. The Guardians are not characters I was familiar with in any way at the time, hadn’t even heard the name before them, so I was wondering what the hell Marvel was doing by bringing out such an obscure roster of characters for a major blockbuster. And then last year I began reading Brian Michael Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy and you could say that I was hooked. Helped that the promos and teasers for the movie were really good and that the casting was interesting as well. Plus, space opera!
Having seen the movie finally this past weekend, my feelings are in bit of a flux. I loved a lot of the action and visually the movie is really stunning, plus Rocket and Groot and Ronan pretty much rocked the movie all the way through. But there were things like Peter Quill and Gamora and Nebula and some bits of the story that I really didn’t like. While Guardians does a fairly good job of bringing this team of mavericks to the big screen, it also represents a lot of squandered opportunities. The story and execution could definitely have been much better, but it is still a fairly decent movie and worth watching.
Note: Unlike the usual Marvel movies, this movie features characters unfamiliar to the larger audience, so I’ll be doing a few necessary info-dumps here.