Almost a month after the last time, I finally had a Magic 40 week! And not just any plan Magic 40 week, but one where I managed to read three graphic novels as well!
For this week, the surprise hits were Fables: The Wolf Among Us #1 from Vertigo Comics, Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #6 and Spider-Man & The X-Men #1 from Marvel Comics, Justice League #32-36 from DC Comics and The Valiant #1 from Valiant Comics. The comic (yes, the only one!) that proved to be rather disappointing, even unexpectedly so, was New Suicide Squad #5 from DC. Apart from that, a good run continued on several other titles like Hexed, John Carter: Warlord of Mars, Batman: Eternal, Birthright, Prometheus: Fire and Stone and others.
The three graphic novels for this week were: Grimm Fairy Tales: Code Red Volume 1, which is set during the recent Age of Darkness crossover event from Zenescope Entertainment, Mighty Avengers Volume 2 from Marvel, which is an effort by me to catch up on this mostly-good title, and Supergirl Volume 1, which is an older Supergirl title, pre-New 52.
This segment is proving to be quite interestingly popular in certain corners, and I still am taken with how it allows me to cover so many more comics than I would otherwise be able to. It is suitably time-intensive as well, which can sometimes wear on me when I have so much more to do, but not such a big deal. Plus, choosing which comic to feature here, while a challenge, is also quite a fun process in and of itself, so that’s something as well.
The picks for this week are: Brides of Helheim #3, Chastity #4-6, Dredd Uprise #2, Hexed #5, Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #3-4. Lots of catch-up on the reviews this week, as you can see!
The third book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Christie Golden’s World of WarCraft tie-in novel The Shattering: Prelude To The Cataclysm. This novel marked a resurgence of my interest in reading tie-in fiction outside of Warhammer, Star Wars or Star Trek, and took me back to the days when I first read The Last Guardian and Rise of The Horde, two of the best WoW novels I’ve read to date. And since I never got to play the Cataclysm expansion properly at level, this prequel novel did much to soothe that longing.
The third set of comic covers I pick this year are for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs, with the cover done by Steve Morris, and the second one is for Superior Spider-Man Annual #2, also by Christos Gage, though he worked with pencillers Javier Rodriguez and Philippe Briones on this one, with the cover done by Michael Del Mundo. The former marked my first foray into reading Buffy comics, though I had read some of the Angel & Faith comics before that and the latter was another dip into the Superior Spider-Man territory, the premise of which I find rather intriguing, to say the least and love it as well.
So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
Valiant Comics currently possesses a great team superhero book in Matt Kindt’s ongoing Unity, which launched last year in the Fall and has since become one of my favourite comics across the board. In that title, we see various heroes come together to battle it out with an alien menace in the present timeline, and win through with some big handicaps along the way. The title has wavered a bit here and there at points, but the end result is that it is still a damn good book, one that I recommend fairly highly for all readers.
And this week the publisher launched The Valiant #1, which is the start of a new team superhero book, though along different lines and also focusing on slightly different characters, though there is indeed some overlap between the books in terms of the characters featured, such as Gilad Anni-Padda aka Eternal Warrior and Aric the Visigoth aka X-O Manowar. Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt tell a riveting tale of Gilad’s past failures in this debut issue and artists Paolo and Joe Rivera do their utmost to make it a visual feast. Read the rest of this entry
Top Cow has been running a Talent Hunt for two years running now, and this is the third year of them doing it yet again. They’ve found some really incredible creators in the last two years as a result of this search, as evidenced by the fact that the winners have had their stories and their art printed in Artifacts series, which kind of started off as a long-ish mini-series or such, but then went on to become a mammoth ongoing that has seen some big moments since Jackie Estacado and Sara Pezzini changed the whole world.
And now, this past week, we had The Magdalena: Seventh Sacrament #1, which is written and drawn by creators found during last year’s talent hunt, Tini Howard and Aileen Oracion. What this issue, which I think might be a one-off actually, does is explore the origins of the warriors known as The Magdalena, daughters of Christ who are chosen to become guardian angels over the Earth and fight the dark enemies of the Church everywhere. It is a fairly interesting story in most respects, with some good art, but it is also a bit too “freshman” at times, with some rather rough edges.
A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.
No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.
James Lovegrove’s Pantheon novels have been quite unlike other novels that I’ve read to date, irrespective of whether or not I like them. Starting with Age of Zeus and then Age of Aztec, these novels explore various religious mythologies from around the world and do an interesting contemporary science-fiction spin with them, trying to explain the existence of these gods in a way that you really can’t predict. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve only read the two books so far, though there are many more in the series, and reading James’ latest makes me really want to go back and read the ones I haven’t.
Age of Shiva, as the name implies, takes its cues from Hindu mythology. Specifically, the many Avatars of the God Vishnu, who is one of the Hindu Trinity of Supreme Gods. For me, Age of Shiva is like a culmination of everything that James has done with the series so far, being a perfect commentary on some key topics that have cropped up in the series again and again. It has a much better gist, much better characters, much better story, and much better pacing of the books I’ve read, and I think it is a great example of “Godpunk” as James has come to define the term through his works.
Zenescope’s Age of Darkness event has still been moving steadily ahead after Grimm Fairy Tales #100 in the current mini-series Realm War that looks at the world as it in the aftermath of the Horde’s victory over all the different realms. Even as the heroes try to gather their forces for a strike at their enemy, the villains are having some problems of their own, though they are still quite powerful and the writing and the art both have been pretty spectacular since the start, which is a huge bonus indeed as a reader.
This week’s Realm War #5 proved to be just as exciting an issue as any of the previous ones, as far as I’m concerned. While it gives the story a lot of forward momentum and marks finally moving against Lucinda, given everything that has been happening elsewhere, it also did a lot to show what Lucinda the Dark Queen is planning and how she plans to deal with all insurrection, whether internal or external. Goes without saying really that I loved the art a lot here and the writing was pretty good too, given all that writer Joe Brusha tries to do here. Read the rest of this entry
Valiant Comics kicked off a new Eternal Warrior mini-series last month, Days of Steel, that explores some of the time that the titular hero spent in Europe during the years of the Magyar invasion of Frankish lands. Gilad was tasked with bringing a prophecy to fruition, a prophecy about a saviour of the Franks who must be guarded during his infancy and then taught to fight and lead his people. It was a pretty good debut issue that instantly made me a fan of the character and even of Peter’s writing and Cary Nord’s artwork, and the second issue is one that I’ve really looked forward to.
However, the second issue is nowhere near as good an issue as the debut issue last month and I find that quite weird. It is as if there’s this big switch in direction, both narrative and art, and that just doesn’t jive so well with me. Going into the third issue next month, I expected a lot of forward momentum in this issue, but we get very little of it actually. There’s a pretty big twist to the story early on and then towards the end, so that redeems the issue overall, but I don’t think the writing here was on-point as it was in the last issue, and the art also seemed to suffer in a lot of places.
The two recent issues of Justice League Dark have fleshed out a story where the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets conspire to use the supernatural League for their own ends and the whole process ends up throwing the team out of space and out of time, scattered in different directions and quite aimless as such things are measured. I quite like this new arc since with it writer DeMatteis is able to develop the team even more and bring them all together with some returning former members. Quite exciting really.
Unlike Justice League Dark #35, the new issue focuses on a different set of characters as we follow their own adventures at the end of time and space, a time where the Earth has been left as a useless, lifeless rock for uncountable years, and a space where the entire planet is nothing more than a very loose collection of floating rocks. Quite an interesting setting for the specific members of the team featured here to go up against one of their direst enemies. Fairly good story combined with fairly good art means that this issue is another winner.
No “Magic 40″ this week since I wasn’t able to get around to a lot of the comics I wanted to get through this week, largely because I am traveling and in India for a cousin’s marriage. These things always take up a lot of time. I haven’t even had a chance to work on my NaNo novel these past two days!
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Amazing Spider-Man #10 and Spider-Woman #1 from Marvel Comics. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Black Widow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 , Future’s End, Predator: Fire and Stone and Witchblade all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were Aphrodite IX v2 Volume 2 by Matt Hawkins, Stjepan Sejic and Troy Peteri, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 by Dan Abnett, Rafael Kayanan, Kathryn Layno, Deron Bennett, Yildiray Cinar, Randy Mayor, Michael S. O’Hare, Frazer Irving, Pop Mhan, Tom Derenick, Tony Avina, Ken Lashley and Ryan Sook.
Ron Marz and Laura Braga’s soft reboot of Witchblade last year made it one of my absolute must-read titles each month and the two creators continued along that path with their following issues, each of which did something different and ended up being really good for the most part. In recent weeks however, we have seen the beginning of something different as matters seem to ramp up for the protagonist Sara Pezzini, who is working hard at being the kind of Sheriff that the people of Saratoga County need her to be with all the strange goings-on.
At the end of the last issue, we saw that there was some new unforeseen complication for Sara in the form of a couple new characters. In this past week’s Witchblade #179, we see a glimpse of what these plans entail, given that Sara and Kate’s new case has them investigating some horrific cattle mutilations in the backwaters of Saratoga. This is mostly an action issue with little in the way of character development, but that’s fine since this is just the opening spell of a brand-new arc and Ron does take a while to get going. The art is good too, as I expected it to be since I’m not pretty used to Laura Braga’s unique style and the monster introduced is pretty cool as well.