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Secret Avengers #5 (Comics Review)

In the last four months Ales Kot and Michael Walsh have dazzled me with their take on this secret group of Avengers working for SHIELD. Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Nick Fury Jr., Phil Coulson and Maria Hill have been stunning almost every step of the way and this has certainly been one of the most impressive of the new titles launched by Marvel this year for its All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, marking the second major launch of its titles since late 2012. The four issues thus far have been impressive sure, but I think we are entering an all-new phase that is even better..

This past week’s Secret Avengers #5 deepens the character mysteries and really tones down all the action so that the plot moves along in a very different manner. It is given however that when Maria Hill and Nick Fury Jr, are involved, especially a straight-and-narrow guy like Coulson, there is going to be a lot of friction between them over all the secrets being kept, and the biggest secret on this team is that Modok is working for SHIELD! Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson and Tradd Moore are at their best in this issue and they deliver on the goods in a handsome manner.

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Edge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, Repeat

Tom Cruise is no stranger to action movies, and certainly not to science-fiction action movies, having done quite a few of them in his time, the latest up until a few weeks back being Oblivion, which was… tedious. I certainly didn’t like it, but Tom Cruise is a fairly decent actor, so he kind of gets a pass on that. When Edge of Tomorrow was announced last year, I was actually quite excited about it, especially since the trailer portrayed actress Emily Blunt in such a positive light, but I was wary of Cruise’s SF action after Oblivion and so when the movie came out, I was wary of all the hype it was getting.

I suppose that, in retrospect, I really should have had more faith in both Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise, and certainly in a military SF movie like Edge of Tomorrow. Thing is, I went in with somewhat low expectations that were tempered by all the positive buzz I heard about the movie post-released, so I suppose that I was somewhat hyped for it, going in. And it proved to be really good. I enjoyed both Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in it, with great cameos by Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson. The premise itself is a bit thin on the ground, but the execution is pretty damn good and visually the movie is excellent as well.

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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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Star Trek: Flesh and Stone (Comics Review)

Something I’ve remarked on before is that IDW Publishing seems to be doing a pretty good job with its Star Trek line of comics. They publish the books on a bi-monthly schedule, which is pretty impressive, and to go with that they also publish occasional specials and one-shots that expand on one area or the other of the entire franchise. I’ve had some good fun reading some of the recent comics, especially the Abramsverse line of Star Trek: Ongoing set in the new timeline from the rebooted film franchise, and am looking to delve further into the whole thing.

IDW’s latest Star Trek special, Flesh and Stone, is basically fan-service to every fan out there who loves some of the franchise’ most important leading heroes, the doctors of Starfleet Medical. About to gather for an important medical conference on Federation Starbase near the Tholian border, the doctors find themselves in a medical emergency and have to play medical detectives to find out the root cause and cure for the sickness that has claimed all the personnel at the Starbase. The Tiptons tell a wonderful and simplistic tale here as the Sharp Brothers do a damn good job with the artwork. More specials like this are most welcome.

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Silver Surfer #4 (Comics Review)

Last month Dan Slott and Mike Allred wrapped up their first arc on Silver Surfer, coming in at only 3 issues, and it proved to be a most satisfying read. For me, Dan Slott captured a very classic feel of the Silver Surfer, with some modernistic elements thrown in and that was a really great experience. Silver Surfer is one of my favourite Marvel superheroes, and to see him done so well, both in terms of the story and the art really pleases me. Dan Slott has really emerged as one of my favourite writers in the last two years and the same goes for Mike Allred as well, as an artist.

Silver Surfer #4 sees the titular hero return to Earth with Dawn Greenwood and experience some really bizarre events, not the least of which is something that infuses him with a strong sense of personal horror, something really upsetting that he experienced some years back and which is now back in full force. This is quite a light-hearted issue and it features some excellent character beats such as the interactions between Silver Surfer and Dawn about the prehistorical eras of Earth and pop culture. Dan Slott’s writing is good as ever and Mike Allred’s art is just plain superb too.

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Future’s End #11 (Comics Review)

Time travel. Dimensional War. Death. Betrayal. Aliens. Superheropocalypse. DC’s Future’s End weekly comic has done it all in its two and a half months so far. What started off as a really dark title with superheroes dying left and right has matured into something a little light-hearted, something that has become a superhero mystery and an action-packed tale of “two minutes to midnight” rather than superhero horror. It started off really good, and thought it has wobbled a bit in the middle, it is still one of the best books that DC is putting out right now.

This week’s Future’s End #11 sees the continuation of several plots and the introduction of yet new players as the world moves towards an inevitability. No Grifter and Fifty Sue this time, but we get to see a fair bit of the Justice League of the future, as well as get some bonding time between Amethyst and Frankenstein, along with a really startling development from Mr. Terrific. In spite of all the changes that have happened in this series of late, it looks like there are many more yet to come and I loved that this issue acted as a launch-point for yet more stories, though I’m slightly concerned by how convoluted it is all getting.

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Comics Picks For 09.07.2014

Well, it has been a couple weeks again since I did this feature. The week before, well, it was marriage week for me and I barely read 4 books, so it didn’t really make sense to do a post on just those four, so I skipped it. And it was a really slow week all in all, especially for blogging, so I just decided to let things rest for an entire week. But I’m back again this time!

The surprise hits of this week were Death Vigil #1 from Top Cow andGrayson #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Spider-Man 2099 #1 from Marvel Comics. Expectedly great comics such as Fantastic Four #7 from Marvel Comics, Batgirl #3# from DC all delivered on their promises as well. Not a lot of comics this past week, certainly not as much as the week prior or my usual number of ~25/week, but definitely a good number at 21 issues. Might take a dive in the next week though!

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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Captain Marvel #5 (Comics Review)

Since revamping the Captain Marvel series with Carol Danvers as once again in the titular role, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has been crafting quite an interesting story that somewhat ties into last year’s Infinity event, but also stands on its own, apart from what happened in that event. Her Carol Danvers is better than ever and it does feel like a serious revamp since the story this time around is so much better than what she did back in 2012 when she first got a chance on the title. And it helps that the artwork has been pretty stunning as well, whether we talk pencils or colours or what have you.

Captain Marvel #5 is where some of the mysteries surrounding the planet of Torfa begin to come together for a reveal. The reasoning behind J’son and the Spartax’s bid to remove the refugees on the planet and take control is finally unveiled and it is something major indeed, something worth even killing over. And more than that, we get some great political interplay between the ruling council on Torfa, with Carol herself becoming quite the figurehead. Kelly Sue knocks this one out of the part as far as the writing is concerned and the art isn’t far behind either.

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Fantastic Four #6-7 (Comics Review)

The wrap-up of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk’s first arc on the newly relaunched Fantastic Four back in the end of May was quite heart-breaking indeed. The two creators, along with artists Jay Leisten and Jesus Aburtov had done an absolutely magnificent job up until that point and the fifth issue was really something else, especially since it starred a whole bunch of other creators as the US government took the team to task for their past mistakes and really made them pay. And given that the Original Sin event is ongoing too, well, the future is distinctly dark for the team.

There’s a lot that has happened in the previous five issues, and in issues 6 and 7 things really take a turn for the worse because the events of Original Sin finally hit the team, in addition to everything else that has been going on with them. And their troubles are far from over because the US government is still not done with them, or their kids and allies like the Dragon Man. And in the midst of it all, what The Orb did in Original Sin #3 is coming back to bite Johnny as Ben learns a terrible secret and acts on it. Robinson’s writing in this series has been heart-breaking from the get go, but these two issues really step up the tension even as the art team continues to be utterly fantastic.

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Star Trek: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow (Book Review)

Star Trek: The Fall has proven to be a most enjoyable event series from all that I’ve read. My interest was piqued because of the cover to Una McCormack’s Crimson Shadow, and diving into the four-part series with David R. George III’s Revelation and Dust proved to be a good place to get back into the status quo of Star Trek tie-in novel fiction. The nature of these books, taking a look at several major characters and crew and locations of this wonderful universe has been the major attraction for sure, and I really applaud the creators and the publisher for going this route.

The Poisoned Chalice is meant to be the cap-stone to this wonderful series, and it does fulfill that promise. James Swallow has been one of my favourite writers for a number of years, ever since 2006 when I started reading his Warhammer 40,000 novels. He has never really disappointed after an initial hurdle and his output in recent years has been top-notch. The Poisoned Chalice clearly is among his best works to date and it brings this series to a close in a spectacular fashion, with all that’s best about the Star Trek universe and none of the drawbacks.

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Future’s End #10 (Comics Review)

The comics format doesn’t always work so well for developing mysteries and thrillers. A large portion of this is dependent of course on the quality of the writing but the format still makes a difference, because you can’t let the mysteries stew for too long or develop too quickly. This is where the weekly format appears to have a bit of a leg-up. And DC’s Future’s End has done a fairly good job of it so far I think, even though the four writers on this weekly have been intermingling several different plot threads together. The issue we come back to is that of quality and Future’s End has been fairly satisfactory in that regard..

Once again we have two of my favourite artists, Aaron Lopresti and Art Thibert on this weekly series, with this week’s Future’s End #10 and they both do a superb job as penciller and inker respectively, as they’ve done previously. With all the different plotlines going on presently, the variety is all up for grabs and I think that Future’s End #10 is one of my favourite issues of the series, partly because it features a really awesome scene where Amethyst smacks down Hawkman. And a lot of the other plotlines are also moving towards a resolution, so I can’t wait to see what happens next week.

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Future’s End #9 (Comics Review)

Undeniably, DC’s Future’s End weekly comic series has dealt with some huge events in its first two months. We’ve seen several heroes murdered in cold blood by vicious alien intelligences. We’ve seen friendships and relationships sundered by petty egos and a refusal to accept compromise. In the midst of all that the series has dealt with so far, it hasn’t lost sight of its primary objective, the story of Terry McGinnis stepping back in time to prevent a most horrible future, a future which hinges on a very basic element. All very Terminator-esque.

Today’s Future’s End #9 finally gets around to making some important revelations that are capstones for a lot of the different arcs that have been going on in this series of late, especially in the last four weeks. We see just what is going on at Cadmus Island with Deathstroke and Grifter, while Terry McGinnis makes some solid inroads into breaking back into Michael Holt’s base of operations, even as his target studies the alien lifeform that Terry brought back with him, and the story of Lois Lane being ever on the hunt of a story continues as ever.

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