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.
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.
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.
If last week was an incredible week, then I don’t know what this week was! Probably the most comics I’ve read in a single week, to date. And pretty much across all genres too, so that’s something. I love a good reading week like this, especially when I manage to review as much as I did as well. Which is pretty freaking great.
At the moment, I’m working on catching up to Star Wars: Legacy II by Corinna Bechko and Garbriel Hardman while also finishing up my read-through of the entire Forever Evil: Blight event, which should be sometime tonight. And then after that, still lots of comics to catch up on, a hell of a lot. The lists keep getting longer and longer each week!
Unless you are completely divorced from the internet and any and all news sources, you know that at the end of the year Dark Horse will lose the license for any and all new Star Wars fiction/non-fiction. That’s because the new owners of the license, Disney, are moving the production of all such material to their own publisher, Marvel Comics. And I find that to be a very saddening move because Dark Horse has given so many incredible tales over the years and I just can’t see the same being done at Marvel. Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s Star Wars: Legacy II is one of the finest examples of that.
Set in galaxy almost a century and a half after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, this new timeline tells the story of Ania Solo, the distant descendant of Leia and Han as she and her friends make their way in a galaxy very different from the one we know so well. Like any great classic Star Wars story, their first arc Prisoners of the Floating World, involves reluctant heroes, Sith, political drama, high-speed chases, great twists and more. And it helps that the art is so damn cinematic and fun.
As with last year, it seems that at the moment I’m doing well enough with my “25 Series To Read In 2014” reading challenge, where I pick out the aforementioned number of series in a variety of genres and attempt to read at least the first books in each. One of the books that I read for this challenge earlier this month was the first novel in William C. Dietz’ Legion series, Legion of the Damned. Bill is an author I’ve known for quite a while, and even invited on the blog for a guest post. His first Sauron duology novel DeathDay is among my favourite books, and is one that contributed towards my decision to become a writer, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I hold him in high regard for being an inspiration.
Legion of the Damned imagines a future where humanity has spread out of the cradle of Earth and has built for itself a sprawling galactic empire, ruled by a creepy and perverted and highly schizophrenic Emperor who cares more about his own enjoyment rather than the Empire itself. And one of the fighting forces he has at his command is the Legion, a futuristic incarnation of the French Foreign Legion. A lot of the novel deals with the political drama between the Empire’s various armed forces and the invasion by the technologically superior Hudatha, who have been burning world after world. As a whole, Legion of the Damned has some fine concepts, but it doesn’t always go all the way, and some of the concepts even prove to be troublesome. But it is still a novel I’d recommend reading.
As I mentioned in a post a few days back, Shadowhawk’s Shade is now three years old, although it wasn’t called that when the blog started up, and it has gone through a fair few iterations since then. But Shadowhawk’s Shade is what this blog is now and that is what matters. Celebrating the third blogversary is obviously an important step.
And as I mentioned about an hour or so ago on Twitter and Facebook, I’ve joined with my friend Sally who runs The Qwillery, one of the best genre blogs out there and one that you should most definitely be following, to do a giveaway as part of an involved celebration. So head on over to her blog and check out what’s what. The link is here.
There are four books up for grabs. You get to pick one. Once the giveaway ends, a winner will be picked (open internationally!), and the winner can choose the book. The books being offered are:
- Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells
- A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson
- Gotrek & Felix: Road of Skulls by Josh Reynolds
- Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell
Do check out the Qwillery post!
It is no secret that Gav Thorpe is one of my favourite authors. Whether we talk about his work for Games Workshop and Black Library or his original novels for Angry Robot, he has always impressed. And one of his specialty areas is audio dramas. He has penned two of my favourites, the Warhammer Fantasy audio Aenarion and the Horus Heresy audio Raven’s Flight. Both audios are superbly written, and also superbly voice-acted, which is another great thing about them. He has penned others over the years, and his latest is one that focuses on the Eldar for a change, particularly one of their more interesting Aspects, the Howling Banshees.
Generally, Black Library doesn’t put out a whole lot of fiction featuring the multitude of alien species. Gav’s Eldar trilogy and Andy Chambers’ Dark Eldar trilogy are exceptions, although I cannot speak to the quality of either as I have not read any of them. Yet. But, if Gav’s novels are anything like this audio, then I will definitely give them a chance. Howl of the Banshee is also notable because it has an all-female cast of voice-actors, which is pretty dam rocking in itself, since it just doesn’t happen with BL’s audios! So that’s another win for this audio.
Silver Surfer. Another Marvel superhero I first met through an animated series. In this particular case, we are talking about a very short-lived series, which also happened to feature the Mad Titan Thanos and Lady Death. Quite an awesome mix there, although of course I didn’t know it at the time. Still, for an inexplicable reason, I totally fell in love with the character. Norin Radd’s adventures, his rebellion against Galactus, it all really spoke to me I suppose, and the character has stayed with me ever since, more than a decade now, perhaps more. I’ve read some Silver Surfer comics over the years, but none have really captured me.
Until Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer #1 came across that is. And now, I’m pretty damn excited. This tale that Dan and Mike weave together is very silly on a number of levels. And if I had to make a guess, I’d say that this issue is very Silver Age-y. I’m not all that knowledgeable about comics eras, but the writing and art speak to that particular time, I think. And if I’m fully honest, that is to the advantage of the series, since this is a unique feature not in other Marvel titles, as far as I can tell. Maybe one or two, like FF.