Last week’s Justice League Dark #35 presented a very interesting tale of Zatanna meeting up with her father Zatara in an alternate-reality kind of setting, following an adventure with the rest of the supernatural Justice League that split the entire team up. It was a really fun tale, and nice to see Zatanna take the lead in the title after the recent Nightmare Nurse and Deadman-oriented arcs that did a lot to flesh out those particular characters. But the big question of course was what kind of an event had split the team up, and just how it all went down.
J. M. DeMatteis’ latest issue on the title does a lot to flesh that out in its entirety and help answer some of the questions that I found myself raising after getting through Justice League Dark #35. The Justice League Dark Annual #2 is a pretty great story that explores the character relationships between Zatanna and Constantine, which segues into an exploration of how their relationship has ended up affecting the House of Mystery itself. The writing is fairly solid on this one, though I think that it moved a bit too fast and missed out on a few emotional beats, and the same kind of goes for the artwork as well.
I’ve said before that this is a really busy year for Jim Zub, and that couldn’t have been truer last week when he rolled out Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing. Given all the other tie-in work he does for Pathfinder and Samurai Jack, he’s also a busy man with some original work, the latest of which has really impressed me. Pairing up with Steve Cummings, Wayward has rocketed up to the list of my favourite monthlies, and it is easily one of the best new comics of the year as well. Japanese urban fantasy with spirits and ghosts and what not? Definitely aces.
Wayward #1 introduced us to the characters of Rori Lane and Ayane, and Wayward #2 introduced us to Shirai, while also moving the overall plot forward a little bit. Now, Wayward #3 introduces us to yet another character, Nikaido, even as the heroes all team-up to fight against a spirit-monster in a really cool action scene. And as I expected and wanted to see, the issue also introduced some of the villains of the series. Jim’s writing and Steve’s art top out once again and I have to say that this was an issue even better than the previous two, which just boggles the mind. The entire team of Wayward seems intent on pulling out all stops!
Slight lows on the reading this past week since I didn’t manage to finish either of the graphic novels I started this week, and generally didn’t read as many singles either, but I did manage to get through 35 of them, so that’s something, yeah?
For this week, I’d say that the surprise hits are Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing, Catwoman #35 and Secret Origins #6 from DC Comics and Predator: Fire and Stone #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The comics that win the “disappointment of the week award” are Grimm Fairy Tales: Dark Shaman #1 from Zenescope, Arkham Manor #1 and Sensation Comics #11 both from DC Comics. Ongoings like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #8, Aquaman #35, Tomb Raider #9 and Nancy A. Collins’ prelude Vampirella: Prelude To The Shadows #1 were all first-rate comics this week, and quite satisfactory as well.
The graphic novels I’m in the middle of at the moment are Supergirl Vol.4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, and The Flash Vol.2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
And… that’s it. All the new and recurring shows that DC Entertainment was going to be putting out this Fall are finally here. We started off with Gotham, continued on with The Flash and Arrow, and now we have Constantine. My previous experiences with John Constantine extend only to the 2005 movie with Keanu Reeves and the recent New 52 comics, specifically Constantine and Justice League Dark. As such I’m not a long-time Constantine fan since I’ve never read Hellblazer, but I do like the character, and seeing him get adapted for live-action television is a great feeling after the failure of the previous adaptation.
Debuting Friday night on NBC, Constantine‘s first episode did a lot of apparent heavy build-up of the character and his supporting cast, but it failed to make a lasting impression on me. The premiere feels like a bunch of random scenes strung together without any real payoff. Yes, the show has some really cool moments and nods to various other comics characters, but it simply not as strong as DC’s other recent shows, all of which have been much more memorable from the get go. It simply feels like a stock horror/demons show rather than something uniquely DC.
After the end of the 2-parter arc in late summer that focused on Deadman’s past, last month we got to see a future vision of the Justice League Dark, a future in which The Demon has joined the team and Zatanna is fighting some of the biggest battles of her life. It was a fairly good issue, but it didn’t really satiate my desire to read more of the JLD in the present DC timeline, since the current team dynamics are really excellent and writer J. M. DeMatteis has been dong some great work on the series, focusing on particular characters every few issues, and the art has never been better either.
In this week’s Justice League Dark #35, J. M. DeMatteis presents a story where Zatanna and Constantine have cast a really powerful spell that has torn the fabric of reality and sent the entire team hurtling through the multiverse. Separated from the others, Zatanna ends up on a world unlike any she has seen with monsters unlike any other either. And she meets someone completely unexpected, setting off a great story that explores Zatanna’s past and provides some great emotional moments. Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna are the guest artists on this issue along with Chris Sotomayor and they absolutely knock things out of the park.
The Secret Origins is one where each issue contains three short stories, each about a different superhero and supervillain in the DC universe and their respective origins. I’ve been fairly interested in the series for a while now, though I haven’t really gotten into it as yet. There’s already so many titles I want to read every month that just managing any more is a super-task. But still, the concept of the series is a good one and it really does seem to give you a brief taste of different characters and titles in a single package, so why not check it out yeah? Least, that’s what my thinking was when I picked up this week’s issue.
Secret Origins #6 is the origin stories of Wonder Woman, Deadman and Sinestro, from the respective creative teams of Wonder Woman, Justice League Dark and Sinestro, with some changes. Each story deals with the earliest days of the respective characters, and each story is executed well with enough callbacks to later events in the characters’ histories or even their respective ongoing titles. There is a right crazy mix of creators here, and I can definitely recommend this one, for it is a great standalone issue given you a great brief look at three of DC’s greatest characters.
After two rather dreary weeks of reading comics, where I didn’t manage to hit my recent highs of 40 singles/graphic novels a week, this week was much different. I got back on track for one, and moved through three entire volumes of DC’s Earth 2, almost catching up to the current status of the series.
The surprise hits of this week were Blood Queen Annual 2014 from Dynamite Entertainment, Deadpool’s Art of War #1 from Marvel Comics and Trinity of Sin #1 from DC Comics. The comics that disappointed me this week were Wytches #1 from Image Comics and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #1 from Marvel Comics. Of the other titles, the ones that I really loved were recent ongoings like Flash Gordon #6, Unity #0 or even Ms. Marvel #9.
In 2012, as part of its second wave of New 52 titles, DC launched The Phantom Stranger, which retold the origins and journey of one of the publisher’s mystic mainstays. Then last year as part of its Trinity War crossover, it launched Pandora, telling the story of the second member of the Trinity of Sin. Now, both titles are unfortunately cancelled IIRC and that creates a void. The former was a great story once J. M. DeMatteis got on the title though Pandora didn’t hold much fascination for me, I must admit. And now, it looks like I just might get something I’ve been wanting for more than a year.
Trinity of Sin brings together Phantom Stranger, Pandora and The Question in a mystical team-up to rival DC’s current leading mystical title, Justice League Dark. These three are said to be the greatest sinners in human history, with Stranger being Judas Iscariot and Pandora having released the seven evils on the world thousands of years ago. But we never found out what Question’s sin was and why he feels such hate for the others. But that is all about to be answered I feel, in what is another great title from J. M. DeMatteis and artist Yvel Guichet.
Boom Studios’ Hexed, from Michael Alan Nelson and Dan Mora is one of the best new comics on shelves right now, and with good reason. It stars three incredible female character who are awesome in all sorts of ways, particularly the protagonist Lucifer, and it also has a really cool premise the likes of which is perfect for the medium itself. The first two issues were incredibly good, whether you talk about the writing or the art, and I foresee the series making its way onto several best of the year lists by the end of the year. It is just that good, and it is definitely going to make it on mind.
Hexed #3 continues the story of Lucifer caught up in the other-world where she got trapped a while back, even as her mentor Val Brisendine carries on in the real world, with the aid of her secretary Raina, who is new to all the kind of weird and freaky that Val and Lucifer are a part of. Recently, a major villain found his way into the real world and both Lucifer and Val are trying to stop him from doing too much harm. It is a great setup and Michael Alan Nelson’s story/script have definitely been great, same as the art by Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassata has been great, with Hexed #3 being the best of the series till now.
I started reading Django Wexler earlier this year and he has quickly become one of my favourite authors to read, thanks to his first fantasy novel, The Thousand Names and his cyberpunk-urban fantasy novella John Golden: Freelance Debugger. The latter is about a tech-guy named John Golden who pulls out pixies and other urban fantasy junk out of computer systems. Freelance Debugger was one hell of a story with a winning premise, and I loved it from the get go. Which is why I wanted to read the follow-up as soon as it was available, which happened a few weeks back.
Heroes of Mazaroth sees John tackle the MMORPG of the same name, the most popular such game in the industry. And the premise is simple: due to some pixie magic-wrangling and some idiocy at some point, Heroes has a pixie problem in that one of its greatest villains, the current top-end raid boss, has become self-aware and has left the game for a place where he isn’t repeatedly killed and looted by bands of adventurers. But things aren’t always as they seem and John has a really tough fight ahead of him now, one that only his masterful duo with his friend and partner Sarah can help him get through.
Stjepan Sejic’s Death Vigil has been one of the most fun new comics to come out this year, by far and it is also a comic that I absolutely love. Characters or story or art, Death Vigil is like a masterclass in storytelling in comics, and it is something that everyone should be reading. In the first three issues we’ve seen Stjepan bring together his main cast and introduce their enemies. The extra-length first issue helped immensely in that regard, the size of two issues really, and the following two regular issues have done much to expand on all of that.
Death Vigil #4 continues Stjepan’s excellent worldbuilding as we begin to learn ever more about the necromancers who have been causing all sorts of problems for the Death Vigil, a group of immortal guardians of the Veil between worlds who are led by none other than the Grim Reaper herself, Bernadette, alternatively referred to as Bernie or Dette in the comic. Aside from all the stuff we see about the villains, we also get to meet some old friends of the Vigil, whom we’ve seen before in small cameos, and that subplot here lends itself to some great drama, in typical Stjepan Sejic style.