After two straight weeks of reading 38 singles and 2 graphic novels, this week saw me lagging behind, with only 36 singles read and no graphic novels at all. Makes me kind of sad since there were comics that I was really looking forward to reading in GN format, but I just couldn’t get the time, and I’m seriously behind on my novel reading as well.
The surprise hits of this week were Brides of Helheim #1 from Oni Press, The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Gotham Academy #1 from DC Comics. The disappointing comics of this week were Fantastic Four Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Green Arrow #35 and Green Lantern & New Gods: Godhead #1 both from DC Comics. Titles like Death from Wolverine #3 from Marvel, Angel & Faith Season 10 #7 from Dark Horse Comics, and Grayson #3 from DC comics continued to rock it.
Thanks largely in part to Ron Marz and Laura Braga’s recent work on Witchblade, I’ve gotten into the groove of catching up on the back-issue trades of the series, from when Ron Marz started his run, and it has been a pretty damn good experience as well. But then, I expected that already since I’ve loved Ron’s recent work on Witchblade. Sara Pezzini is easily one of the best and most awesome female characters in comics, and while Laura’s art has been somewhat problematic, it has also been quite good, enough so that I keep coming back to the series for that.
After the end of the first arc, Ron Marz launched a brief interlude intended to catch up Rooney with Sara’s background, and also to tell some short stories such as the ones in Witchblade #175 which bring back characters like Patrick Gleason and also introduce new bearers of the Witchblade from years past. In Witchblade #176 Ron tells a straight-up horror story involving kidnapped children, and in Witchblade #177 he launches a new arc that sees Sara try to get some answers as to how Jackie Estacado’s wife came to be the current bearer of the Angelus. In both Witchblade #177 and #178, we see some of Ron’s best writing with his second run on the title, and also some great art by Laura Braga.
Witchblade is one of Top Cow’s biggest IPs, by far. Unless I am mistaken, it is one of the publisher’s only two titles to have made it past the landmark 100th issue, and the only one to have made it past the landmark 175th issue as well. And one writer who has shaped this incredible run, more than others I’d reckon, is Ron Marz, who enjoyed a seventy-plus issue tenure before he got back on the title with issue #170 last year. Of all the Witchblade stories I’ve read to date, Ron Marz’s scripts have been the most consistent and engaging and my current read-through of his run has been a very rewarding experience.
Witchblade Volume 2 continues everything that Ron Marz setup in Witchblade Volume 1, taking the Witchblade’s bearer Sara Pezzini into new environs and with new supporting cast members. Unlike the previous volume, this one contains many one-shots that slowly build-up a larger story continuing the plot threads that Ron introduced at the start of his run. If anything, I enjoyed this volume even more than the first, though it should be said that sometimes the stories can be a bit too much by-the-numbers. Like Phil Hester says in the introduction to this volume, Ron defies expectations and notions of genre limitations.
In the last couple years Top Cow’s Witchblade IP has become one of my favourite reads in comics. Whether it is Witchblade/Sara Pezzini in the pages of Artifacts or Witchblade or in any crossovers here and there, I’ve always loved her as a character. Sara Pezzini to me is one of the best female characters in comics, by far, easily a match for the greats such as Wonder Woman or Storm or Batgirl or Black Widow. And if there is one man out there who has shaped my experience of Sara Pezzini, it is Ron Marz, who has written more Witchblade than any other writer and has had a long run on the core title as well.
Witchblade Volume 1, from my understanding of things, marks a new phase in the life of the protagonist Sara Pezzini as she continues to bear the heavy burden of being the bearer of the Witchblade, a mysterious artifact that has bonded itself to her and has allowed her to face criminals of all stripes and even the more supernatural of individuals. This was Ron’s first arc on the title, and for me it proved to be some of his best work to date, not to mention that the artwork by Mike Choi and others was great as well, capturing the feel of the city and the dark tones of the story.
As per my plans, I didn’t do one of these posts in the past 2 weeks since I was on a holiday. And a great holiday it was indeed. I didn’t get to do more than a very small handful of reviews, more like just two or three in all, but I managed to read a fair bit and kept myself on target for my comics reading.
The surprise hits of this week were Storm #1 from Marvel and Star Spangled War Stories #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman #33 from DC Comics. Not exactly a bad comic but just a disappointing one. All the other comics were pretty much good, excepting Flash #33, where I still can’t really connect with what the new creative team is doing there. I wanted to read a trade paperback comic as well during this week, but the first few days of the vacation were very busy and all these comics were pretty much read in the last 2-3 days of the week so that didn’t happen.
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the novels I have read in the first half of this year. That list followed the same format that I have been using for 2 years now, but with this new list I decided to make a big departure, owing to how many comics I’ve been reading in recent months, often 80+ comics in a single month! That’s crazy.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the year. The next post will be at the end of the year for the second half of the year.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
It certainly is no secret that making it past double digits is an immense challenge for comics these days, what with all the relaunches and reboots that seem to happen every now and then. But when a title has been going on for almost two decades, almost without interruption, that’s when you know that things are going good. Last year Ron Marz and Laura Braga created a new jump-on point for new readers of Witchblade with #170 and they did it with little fanfare but lots of awesome. And they’ve been going at it ever since, turning out one good story after another.
Witchblade celebrated its 175th issue last week and again, this was all without fanfare. I actually didn’t know that issue #175 was going to be a special anniversary issue with more than twice the content until I picked up the issue and started reading. Ron and Laura wrapped up their first arc on the series last month and now they delve into new territory as they explore some of the more ephemeral and psychological aspects of the Witchblade, and the bonus content rocked from start to finish as well, including a short story from a completely different creative team.
New creative teams on long-running titles can often have an uphill task. This has happened time and time again in the industry and will likely happen countless times again in the future. But for the moment, I must say that the creative team of Ron Marz, Laura Braga, Betsy Gonia and Troy Peteri have been doing wonders with Top Cow’s premier title, Witchblade. I’ve read some comics from the previous creative team and while they were decent enough, they weren’t as good as what the new creative team has turned out in the last six months. The Borne Again arc has been a ton of fun, and no mistake.
Witchblade #174 brings this new arc with the new creative team to a close. Having rid herself of the Witchblade, all Sara Pezzini wanted was to live a normal life as a Sheriff in some out-of-the-way county, but then her past caught up to her and she was right back where she left things off. In the new arc she’s gone up against a madman and a zealot both, and now she ends that threat pretty decisively. Ron Marz’s writing is as good as ever and while there a few more problems this week with the art, Braga and Gonia still deliver a beautiful looking issue nonetheless.