Last month Dark Horse kicked off yet another Fire and Stone crossover book wih Joshua Williamson and Christian Mooneyham’s Predator, that is the tail-end of the stories being told in this crossover. With Galgo sacrificing his crew yet again to get out of a tight scrap, it was a very fun issue that also showcased the utter deadliness of the Predator and it seems that both the writer and the artist have the monster alien hunter down pat, since they imbue him with all the hallmarks of that which made the original films so good all those years ago.
This week’s Predator: Fire and Stone #2 continues Galgo’s story as he tries to fight against the Predator who took over the Perses in the last issue. Well, more like ineffectual resistance since the Predator pretty much caught by the end of the issue and now Galgo is basically Ahab the Predator’s servant. Of sorts. It is pretty awesome. Joshua really ups the stakes with this issue, giving us some background on the Predator early on, and then launches off on a really fun story. And the art? It is pretty damn perfect too!
Getting on a roll again, this week I managed to repeat the “Magic 40″ with 2 graphic novels and 38 singles, with many of the latter being absolutely new series, so that was a lot of fun for the most part.
My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1 from Valiant Comics, Deep State #1 from Boom Studios, Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Vertigo Comics, and The Kitchen #1 from Vertigo Comics also. The most disappointing comics of this week were Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #4 both from Marvel Comics, New 52 – Batman #36 from DC Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Hexed, Fables, New Suicide Squad, Red Sonja and Unity all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon by Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, and Fables Volume 5 by Bill Willingham, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha.
In last week’s “The Writing on the Wall” we got to see something rather incredible. Phil Coulson finally managed to solve the mystery of the alien writing that he had been doodling of late, and which had driven John Garrett madder than the hatter last season. And it was pretty incredible, setting the scene for what I think is going to be a fantastic addition to Marvel’s line-up of upcoming movies. You can read my review of the episode to see all the spoilers and speculation since I don’t want to mention any of that here.
In the latest episode, “The Things We Bury“, we see the antagonism between Grant Ward and his brother, Senator Christian Ward finally come out in the open as far as the characters are concerned, and as far as the readers are concerned as well. The web of lies and half-truths that the two of them have been weaving around each other all their lives is exposed and it is a pretty powerful moment. The episode brings back Milan Cheylov, who directed the debut season’s third episode last year, one of the best of the entire season, and it is a pretty good foot forward by the show that has gotten only better in the second round.
Given how many comics I usually get to in any given week, anywhere from about 25 or so and all the way up to 40 even, it is not possible for me to review everything. Especially when I watch a lot of television in the week as well, and review as much of that as I can, or anime or even book reviews. Hence this new effort, Fast-Shot Comics Reviews, which I’m hoping to make a regular weekly thing on the blog. But no pressure! Every week on Wednesday, I’m going to try and review about 6 comics from the week prior that I didn’t get to in that week, and see where things go from here!
The picks for this week are: Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1, Deep State #1, Django/Zorro #1, Hexed #4, The Kitchen #1 and Unity #12. As you can see, four of this comics are brand-new series, with the very first one being a spin-off of Valiant Comics’ hit title Archer & Armstrong. I picked these six comics because they are undoubtedly among the best comics I read this week, but also because they are all incredibly diverse, very different to each other and to other comics on the shelves this past week, especially Unity #12 which is a superhero comic, but deals with something rather different than the norm.
Gav Thorpe is rightly considered Black Library’s resident Dark Angels expert, for he has written more about them than any other author and he even had a hand in shaping their lore back when he worked in the Games Workshop Design Studio on the Dark Angels codex, among other things. Last year, he started a new Dark Angels series called Legacy of Caliban that followed on from one of Black Library’s best novels to date, Angels of Darkness, and continued the tale of the Knights of Caliban as they sought out their traitorous brethren from the days of the Horus Heresy itself and brought them to justice in the innermost deeps of The Rock. Ravenwing was an excellent novel in many ways, and the wait for the sequel was a long one for me, especially since I dropped off on my Black Library reading this year.
But I read Master of Sanctity earlier this month and the wait has been quite fruitful indeed. Gav made the long wait worth every moment since the novel is a brilliant follow-up to what he did in Ravenwing, giving a more thorough insight into the many mysteries of the Dark Angels and exploring their many secrets. The duality of the Dark Angels, in their oaths to the Imperium and to themselves to hunt down the Fallen wherever they may be found, is at the heart of this novel, and our primary lead-in this time is none other than the chapter’s Master of Sanctity himself, Grand Master Sapphon, and we even get a look at the fiercely conservative Chaplain Asmodai, with whom Sapphon clashes again and again in the novel.
Last week’s episode was pretty damn intense, especially with that killer ending when Grant Ward escaped the government troops who took over custody of him from Coulson’s SHIELD agents. Throughout the episode, we were treated to one twist after another as we saw how Grant and his brother Senator Christian Ward manipulated the people around them to get what they wanted. And we got some great dynamics between two of the team’s recent additions, Bobbi and Lance, which was pretty damn great. Going forward, the implications were pretty clear.
This week’s “The Writing on the Wall” is set in the aftermath of Ward’s escape and what the team is doing about it. Moreover, a big chunk of the episode is taken up with the strange alien carvings that Coulson has been doing for a while now, writings which drove John Garrett crazy last season and which seem to have affected at least one more person as of a certain cliffhanger a while back this season. More flashbacks to the days of the TAHITI project mean that this episode is all-out awesome and we finally get a true idea of what the entire project was really all about.
Note: This review contains spoiler speculation about the ending of this episode, a possible spoiler about at least one upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.
Dark Horse Comics’ big re-energising of its various Alien, Predator and Alien vs Predator franchises began last month when the publisher launched new 4-issue mini-series for each franchise, and also another one for Ridley Scott’s last, Prometheus, which is the prequel to the first Alien movie. All four books have been quite amazing so far and the great thing about them is that they all flow from one to the other, to show how Prometheus‘ LV-223 came to be infested with Xenomorphs and how they spread out and how the Predators got involved. Really fun stuff!
Christopher Sebela and Ariel Olivetti’s Alien vs Predator: Fire and Stone is the story of how the survivors of the Geryon and the other ships get off LV-223 and how they bring xenomorphs aboard thanks to the android Elden who is somehow corrupted during Prometheus: Fire and Stone and becomes the big bad monster of this series. Following the scientist Francis and the gun-arm Galgo and even Galgo, this is pretty much how I expected a fight between the Xenomorphs and Predators to go down. Ariel Olivetti’s leaves some things to be desired, but the sheer ferocity of the Predators and the horror of the Xenomorphs is captured very well!
The last audiobook that I remember listening to from Black Library is Dan Abnett’s Prospero Burns, one of the two books alongside Graham McNeill’s A Thousand Sons that told the story of the fall of Prospero, of Magnus, and the Thousand Sons Legion. I’d tried to read the book before many times but always gave up, the only such Horus Heresy novel I’ve struggled with so much to date. The audiobook was a better experience but the story was still too problematic for me. Fortunately, Dan’s next big Heresy novel, Know No Fear easily proved to be a much better experience in all respects and is one of my favourite Heresy novels to date. So there’s some balance.
Dan’s latest Heresy novel The Unremembered Empire is my first Heresy audiobook since spring 2012 that I have experienced primarily in the audio format. I listened to the novel back in September, supplementing it with reading the ebook on and off, and I liked the dual experience. The Unremembered Empire is one of the better novels of the series, but it is also one of the more weaker ones since it is a branching novel and it attempts to do too much with too many characters. Taken in the context of the series at large, it is a pretty decent novel, but taken on its own merits, if fails to satisfy as much as it should. There’s just way too much going on in the novel and that works against it. Had it been trimmed of a few plotlines, it would have been one of the best novels of the series.
Note: This review contains spoilers of varying degrees.
Dynamite Entertainment’s adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter novels and the spinoff Dejah Thoris comics were among my first introductions to the world of comics when I got back into them in 2012. Since then, I’ve had a lot of fun in reading many of the different stories that have been put out in the last few years, and while some have been really good, some have been not quite as good. Fact remains that these comics have done much to expand the world of Burroughs’ characters and setting, and as we move to a new phase in the wake of the 100 year anniversary of the books, it looks like the awesome is going to continue.
Ron Marz and Abhishek Malsuni are at the helm of the Warlord of Mars series reboot, retitled as John Carter: Warlord of Mars and the action-packed first issue gets off to a great start as we are (re)introduced to the core cast and what the world of Barsoom aka Mars is really like. Ron presents a very interesting villain for the first arc of the new series, someone with ties to John Carter and he also gives a brief recap of things here, getting new and old readers alike on the same page before moving into the meat of the story. And Abhishek Malsuni’s artwork is pretty gorgeous when combined with Nanjan Jamberi’s colours, making this is a pretty awesome book.
Hit the almost-magic number of 35 once again and though I have yet to repeat my personal best of 40, I think this was my best week regardless since I managed to read 31 singles and 4 graphic novels. That definitely counts as an achievement, yes?
My surprise hits for this week would be Tales of Honor #1 from Top Cow, Swamp Thing Annual #3 from DC, Inhuman #7, Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 and Deathlok #1 all from Marvel. Those that count among this week’s top disappointments would be Conan the Avenger #7 from Dark Horse. Justice League United Annual #1 from DC. Others like Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #4 and Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood #3 from Zenescope, Wayward #3 from Image, The Flash Volume 2 from DC, and a bunch of others were as good as I expected them to be, probably better even.
The graphic novels for this week were Supergirl Volume 4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, The Flash Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul, Krypton Returns by Various and Thanos: The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin.
I’ve mentioned before, repeatedly so, that Sarah Cawkwell is one of my favourite authors right now, and has been since about late 2010 or so, ever since I started reading her short stories in Black Library’s monthly magazine, Hammer & Bolter, which is sadly discontinued now. She’s one of the best examples of fans of Black Library to have come up through the ranks to become a bona fide author for the publisher and pretty much everything that she has written to date has been spectacular or close it, even her original stuff such as The Ballad of Gilrain or Uprising.
Sarah is most noted for her Silver Skulls fiction for Warhammer 40,000 where she has taken the so-named Space Marine Chapter under her umbrella and told some really fascinating stories about characters from across the Chapter’s many and varied ranks. The most recent Silver Skulls fiction is the (currently) digital-only novel Portents, released just a few weeks ago. In it, she carries forwards threads she introduced in her previous work, whether short stories or her debut novel The Gildar Rift, and it is a most satisfying read indeed. It was great to have Sergeant Gileas Ur’ten back again for another outing, a sizable one this time, and the exploration of the Chapter culture in itself was most fascinating.