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Comics Picks For 16.04.2014

I was intending this week to be another big week, but since I was involved with the preps for a friend’s wedding (and the wedding itself of course), I found myself with less time than I wanted. In particular I was meaning to read some back-issues for the already-released new titles that Marvel has put out under the All-New Marvel NOW! banner that I’ve either skipped or stopped reading, but that didn’t happen unfortunately.

Still, I managed to move through quite a few comics, and even reconnected with some favourite titles like Warlord of Mars from Dynamite Entertainment and Transformers: Windblade from IDW Publishing. It has been quite a fun week in that regard, and as you can see from the reviews, lots of good times were had. Still, the pile of unread comics grows ever bigger and there’s no end in sight for that.

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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Transformers: Windblade #1 (Comics Review)

Despite some interest in Transformers comics last year, mainly in Chris Metzen’s Transformers: Autocracy, I never really took the full dip. I read a few scattered issues here and there but that’s about it. Nothing concrete. And then a few weeks IDW announced that following the intense Dark Cybertron story arc there would be a new mini-series coming up that would focus on some of the characters introduced in this arc, namely Chromia and Windblade, both of whom are female Cybertronians. That alone was enough to peak my interest since, throughout my viewing of numerous Transformers cartoons over the years, only two or three such characters have stood out. Which is a shame.

Transformers: Windblade began last week with its #1 issue and I have to say that it is one of the best #1s I’ve read to date. Writer Mairghread Scott delivers a character-driven story with lots of action that touches upon several aspects of the Transformers universe and does a great job of introducing characters like Chromia and Windblade to a new reader. Plus, the artwork by Sarah Stone is pretty damn amazing too, making it one of the most beautiful comics on shelves right now.

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Ultimate FF #1 (Comics Review)

Recently the Ultimate Universe was invaded by the 616-universe Galactus in a cataclysmic event that was first told in the pages of the mini-series Hunger and then in a big crossover event called Cataclysm that ran through several Ultimate Universe books. The end result is that the mainline alternate universe of Marvel’s comics underwent some serious changes and in the wake of that event we have had a relaunch of several books as the Ultimate Universe line-up gets simplified and renumbered in keeping with Marvel’s current All-New Marvel Now! phase.

Ultimate FF is among these new books and it presents a new vision for the Ultimate Universe version of the Future Foundation. I haven’t read any Fantastic Four/Future Foundations books in the Ultimate Universe, so I have zero idea what the teams have been like previously, but in this new book things seem very haphazard. It is nothing more than a “new” version of the Ultimates, which is the UU’s Avengers team. And the art is very disappointing as well. It lacks polish and appears half-finished. Ultimate FF is definitely not off to a good start with this issue.

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Sinestro #1 (Comics Review)

When the Justice League animated series brought in Lex Luthor’s Society of Supervillains, a ring wielder by the name of Sinestro was one of the many villains introduced on the show, although we never really got to see his background or anything. We just knew that he was one of Hal Jordan’s classic adversaries and, indeed a nemesis. That was my first ever introduction to the character. Since then I’ve seen Sinestro in other animated forms, and even a pre-evil live-action portrayal. And I’ve read a fair few Green Lantern comics to find out who and what Sinestro is and what his place in the Green Lantern mythology really is.

Last year DC launched Larfleeze, a humour series featuring the master of the Orange Lantern Corps and it marked a departure from the usual GL books that the publisher was doing. Now, DC has done the same with Sinestro, which launched last week. This title has been long in coming, but come it has, and it is quite awesome. It is packed with action and drama, done just the way I like it and it has some excellent artwork to boot. Cullen Bunn and Dale Eaglesham seem to have a good handle on the character and his supporting cast, that’s for sure.

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Continuum Season 1 Eps 1-2 (TV Show Review)

Television shows with a strong SFF element are among my favourites amongst all genres. When I started watching Western television, shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed were what I dipped into and what I came back to again and again. And when a show has actors that I like from their previous television (or movie!) appearances, then that is all the more reason for me to watch them. One such show is Continuum, a Canadian-American science fiction crime drama that also involves time travel and a sophisticated, high-level of technology.

I’ve only seen the first two episodes of the first season so far (the show is currently in its third season), but right off the bat I really like it. Rachel Nichols turns in a wonderful performance, as do her co-stars Victor Webster and Erik Knudsen. Plus, the show is heavy on the science fiction elements which I always love. And to top it all off, the story in these two episodes is tight and focused, showing off Nichols’ Kiera Cameron in a really good light. Continuum is a show that I’ve been meaning to watch for a good while and I’m quite happy with how the show has started off, validating my expectations of it.

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Justice League #29 (Comics Review)

Not only was Geoff Johns’ Forever Evil inexplicably delayed till next month, but also Justice League, which skipped the entire month of March and is now the only original series from the launch of New 52 that is behind on its monthly schedule, best as I can tell. The entire event has been bombarded with delays of late, and these delays don’t help at all. This event was supposed to be wrapped up last month, but now is going to finish 2 months late. At least the previous issue of this series, Justice League #28, was a fairly good issue that explored the origins of the Metal Men and featured some good story with some good art.

Released today, Justice League #29 continues the tale of the Metal Men as Cyborg leads them into battle against Grid himself, the sentient super-virus that had infested his body since his creation and manifested itself at the end of the Trinity War event to side with the Crime Syndicate. The first half of the issue is all about the Metal Men and the second half is all about Cyborg taking the fight to Grid. Nothing spectacular this time around, but I liked the story well enough and as always Doug Mahnke. did a great job on the artwork.

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Comics Picks For 09.04.2014

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.

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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Caliban #1 (Comics Review)

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.

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Secret Avengers #2 (Comics Review)

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.

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Unity #5-6 (Comics Review)

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.

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Flash Gordon #1 (Comics Review)

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.

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Valvrave the Liberator Season 1 Ep 2-4 (Anime Review)

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.

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