For a good three years now, Black Library’s audio output has been quite impressive. Both in terms of quality and quantity. Thanks to the success of the Horus Heresy audios such as Gav Thorpe’s Raven’s Flight and James Swallow’s Garro duology, the publisher’s audio franchise has really taken off for the Warhammer 40,000 timeline as well. I’ve certainly been enjoying them thus far, though there have been a few along the way that I did not like, and would even consider to be among the lower-tier works put out by the authors. But I won’t deny that BL audios are generally so much damn fun to listen to.
A short while ago we got the latest Horus Heresy audio by Graham McNeill, in which he built on many of the different concepts he’d introduced in his amazing Thousand Sons-centric novel, A Thousand Sons. They are one of the least-covered legions, although they do get a leg-up since they’ve had a novel published about them. I loved A Thousand Sons when I read it three years back, and I enjoyed Thief of Revelations as well. As ever, the audio quality was superb, and the script was really good too, offering parallels to the relationships between the Emperor and the Primarchs that have been the cornerstone of the Heresy.
I have put up with DC’s Forever Evil event for going on six months now, since last September. It started off fairly well I think, all things considering, but has kind of been wallowing along for a while now. With the penultimate issue in stores this week, I believe things are finally looking up, even though the new issue is still plagued by many missteps, and the story really is all over the place sadly. But I must admit that I get a weird kick out of reading this title, even though I haven’t been enjoying it all that much. On a very basic level, this is quite an interesting series.
In the previous issues, we’ve seen some big reversals for the Crime Syndicate, even though they still hold innumerable advantages over the heroes of the world and are almost unassailable. But, with Luthor’s Injustice League on the prowl now, things are changing a little bit, bit by bit. Because in the absence of the heroes of the world, whether they are dead or unreachable, it is up to the villains to save the world, quite literally, and any heroes alive who are still willing to make a stand are in very, very short supply. And the art hasn’t improved at all, which is still very disappointing.
As with most other big-name comics properties, my first experience ever with the Fantastic Four was an old animated cartoon that used to air in the 90s. It might have been reruns or something, but that’s besides the point. For a young kid, the 90s were an awesome time to be in, what with all the great programming happening on Cartoon Network and other channels. That Fantastic Four cartoon was one of the best. Years later, the movies happened, but they were disappointing. At some point last year or the year before, I tried to get into the FF comics, but never went back after like the first few issues.
And now with the reboot, I think I have a Fantastic Four comic that I can definitely read and enjoy and thus stick with. With his recent runs for DC now over, James Robinson has quickly picked up two new ongoings with Marvel, first All-New Invaders and now Fantastic Four. And I have to say that I enjoyed his Fantastic Four more than I did the other series. Better written, much more emotional, much more punchy. And the work by all the artists is also pretty good, on the high side of what is happening with the Big 2 and especially all the new ongoings that Marvel has launched this year so far.
I’ve never done a post like this. The reason is that of all the creators that have passed in the 3 years since I started this blog, I’ve never had a personal connection with them. But this week, Aaron Allston passed away, and with this fine gentleman I have a very personal and important connection, something that I’ve unfortunately overlooked in recent times when talking about my first proper forays into the wide world of science fiction and fantasy.
EVE Online has been one of those games to come out in recent years that I’ve wanted to play for a long time. The entire world sounds exciting and intriguing and is full of the kind of awesomeness that I want in a game like that. Sadly, I have yet to get the opportunity, for fate always conspires to keep me away from it, sadly. But I suppose that a comic based on the game is the next best thing right? And what really could be better than a comic that is inspired by events that happened in the game as a result of player interaction? Sounds very ironically meta doesn’t it? Well, that was the hook for me to get and read this comic.
Turns out, its not quite what I was looking for. Nothing against the story itself, per se, its just that the art isn’t always clear, and the story is just slightly convoluted that I don’t understand what exactly is going on. But still, I got pulled into a mystery here, and since I love big, loud space opera, I did like this issue on a certain level. Time will tell whether or not this story will be good or not, since we have three more issue to go, but I’m hopeful nonetheless.
In fall of 2012, one of the most awaited films of recent years debuted to audiences all over the world. Following on seventeen years since the Sylvester Stallone-starrer Judge Dredd, which was a massive disappointment, audiences finally had a Judge Dredd movie which actually looked cool from all the promos and which seemed to correct the mistakes of the past. Sadly, nothing worked out as intended. Whereas the previous film had at least made back some of its money and more besides, the new one failed to recoup its investment in the first place, and the budget was even half of what it had been before.
No doubt, several mistakes were made with the new movie, and they all contributed to what was eventually a box office flop. But since then, Dredd has gained a significant cult following. Whereas the theatrical release was a flop affair, the DVD/Blu-ray sales were highly encouraging. Stores, whether physical or digital, were constantly out of product. This was unexpected and on some level, this helped change perspectives. Now, there are talks of a sequel happening at some point, which is quite significant in and of itself. I can only hope that there is a sequel, because I enjoyed the movie. I pretty much loved it. Watch it with my highest recommendation.
I keep saying this and it never gets old for me: despite everything “new” that the Big 2 have done of late, Valiant Comics is still not done pulling out all the stops to establish themselves in the big leagues of superhero comics. Their Unity ongoing, which is a team-up comic featuring some of their biggest heroes, is proof of it. I wasn’t sure what all to expect from it when I heard about it and the book has been a very pleasant surprise. It has kept me coming back month after month, and I suppose that is evidence enough of how much I am enjoying reading this series.
In the first three issues, we saw a superhero team go up against one of the most powerful men on the planet. It was quite a brutal three issues and featured some of Matt Kindt’s best writing. He’s been very hit and miss for me, but with this series he has definitely a hit, and that is pleasing on a personal level since the Valiant universe is so very different from what exists at the Big 2. It is fresh, it is unique, and it also a whole lot of fun. It also helps that the art on this series is so damn good.
Years ago, there used to be this little animated series called Defenders of the Earth. To a young kid growing up in the 90s, the show was one of the most memorable ones at the time, in part because it featured The Phantom, a comics character from my childhood that I had a ton of fun reading about in the Hindi-version comics that were released in India. I don’t remember the show all that much, but I do remember that Phantom, Flash Gordon and Mandrake pretty much kicked ass every time and that Ming the Merciless was utterly despicable, a true villain.
Fast forward to now, when Dynamite has begun releasing Kings Watch, a mini-series that focuses on the adventures of this trio and goes to some new places. The original animated series was set in 2015. It is now 2014 (the series started in September last year). Funny how that works out, huh? Reconnecting with these characters after all this time has been quite a thrill, and this first issue has been very entertaining. The story isn’t quite as put together as I would like it to be, but the art is pretty top notch and this is definitely a really good issue. One that makes me want to pick up the others immediately.
If anything, February has been a bigger month for Marvel and its All-New Marvel NOW! launch than January was. More titles, a bit more oomph in general, and just as interesting in the final tally. And given that January was a pretty damn good month for the publisher in terms of unit sales and market share, I’m thinking that February is going to be equally good. I mean, when you launch these many new #1s and with many of them getting their sequel issues in the same month, that’s going to add a lot of padding to your wallet. Like a lot.
But that’s fine, as long as the titles being released are decent. And New Warriors #1 is kind of entertaining I suppose. There’s an overload of characters and everything is basically frontloaded at the reader as far as the team’s makeup is concerned, but that’s fine. This is not a group that I’ve really read about before (I hardly remember what I read in Civil War), so there’s that charm about them that I drew me to the title. Beyond that though, I can easily see this as being a good replacement for Young Avengers, following the cancellation of that title recently. Art is good, story is decent. All good.
Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a novel that I will never forget. It has the distinction, for me, of being the first ever full-on space opera/science fiction novel that I ever read (I am not counting the young adult Animorphs novels). It was also the first novel I read at my new school in Dubai when we moved there in July 2001 (I read the book sometime late September 2001). To this day, I remember the book very fondly. It started off in an amazing place, and it ended with the most wondrous climax that I’d read to date, and that applies to all the hundreds of novels I’ve read since then.
There is something about nostalgia, and that first book. Frank Herbert’s Dune will always be an amazing masterpiece for me and a true space opera classic, but 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great companion at the top of that table. Clarke’s novel is the one that really set me on the path to reading the wider science fiction and fantasy genres, and that is why it will always have a special place in my heart. Just a few days ago, I re-read the novel for the first time ever since that first reading almost twelve and a half years ago. The sense of wonder and grandeur in the novel is just as compelling today as it was to an inexperienced reader all those years ago. A timeless classic.
Note: This novel is part of my 25 Series To Read In 2014 challenge.