Anton Strout is a name that comes up often when I’m moving through urban fantasy blogs at random every few days, looking for new authors to read and new books to try out. And the same goes for social media as well since I’ve seen his name crop up in certain circles every now and then. His Spellmason trilogy sounded interesting, especially since it was still in progress with a third book to come out later this year. Imagine my surprise then, when I was contacted by a publicist friend who was working with Anton and told me that she had a cover reveal to share with me for the third book itself!
Having gone through the covers for all three of the novels, I can definitely say that the cover for the new novel is definitely the best one, and I like the simplicity of the cover. The protagonist Alexandra Belarus is shown off rather nicely, without any sexualisation which is all too rare in the urban fantasy cover industry since most publishers and cover artists conflate urban fantasy with paranormal romance and that bleeds over into this final product. So nice to see that this is not the case with Incarnate, the third book. Given that the book comes out in late September, I now have some motivation to finally start reading this series, which I’ll hopefully be able to do soon. In the meantime, enjoy the cover, and enjoy the giveaway that follows as well!
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.
When you bring together a bunch of people with different attitudes and beliefs, there is bound to be some conflict. You add in superpowered teenagers into that mix, and you have a bigger conflict. One of the reasons I liked Kieron Gillen’s run on Young Avengers for Marvel Now was because the team pretty much started out as formed, or at least they didn’t take forever to get together. And their adventures were totally madcap and not-serious-but-still-serious. It was a far better mix than the newly launched New Warriors has been, that’s for sure. The first issue was just about decent enough, but the second issue was a big drop in quality.
The third issue now, well, I think that it dips even lower. Thing is, my main issue is that the team is taking ages to get together. In issue #1 they didn’t know each other. In issue #2 they started to get together in small groups. Now, they are in two camps but there is so much damn nonsensical bickering between them and the characters just act totally stupid. It is a big turn-off. The art is decent in this issue but that’s really the best that I can say about it.
I started reading the Angel & Faith comics back in 2012, thanks to advance reading copies from NetGalley. I read the first two volumes, but then dropped off for almost a year and a half. Now with Buffy the Vampire Slayer also in its tenth season and thus beginning a new phase in the series, I thought it’d be time to get back on track with Angel & Faith as well. And a while back I went and bought a number of the comics, to catch up. Still, with a new season now starting, being current is going to be very fun and rewarding I hope.
The new season sees Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs moving off to Buffy while Victor Gischler comes on board as writer and Will Conrad is brought in as the penciller. Being used to the previous team’s work, the adjustment is a bit rough in all aspects, since they captured the mood and atmosphere of the original series really well, but the new team is no slouch either and it keeps you entertained throughout. And the new issue really makes me want to go back and get caught up with Season 9.
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!
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!
The first time I ever encountered Ghost Rider was with the Nicholas Cage-starrer movie of the same name. It was… interesting. Unlike other Marvel movies to date, it seemed stuck in an age of storytelling that had long passed. Which is a very round-about way of saying that the movie was barely good. It was cliche after cliche. But all the same, I loved the character. There’s something about a leather-wearing superhero with a burning skill, chains all over his body, riding a bike and cackling like a madman.
And that’s stuck with me. But, the Ghost Rider in All-New Ghost Rider #1 isn’t Nicholas Cage, it is a teenaged mechanic named Robbie Reyes. That was a surprise. Given how much I avoided reading up on all the new series coming out from Marvel this year, this has been the biggest surprise so far, I think. But still, it was an interesting story since Felipe Smith is tasked with setting up the character’s origins. And Tradd Moore’s art, though very stylised, is also appealing to a degree.
When you are a reviewer and an avid reader as I am, you always end up with a mountain of books that grows week by week. And you always have an urge to read even more books because you find something that interests you and that you think could be a fun read. This is one of the reasons why I started my “25 Series To Read In ….” reading challenges (2013, 2014), because I wanted to make a dent in that reading pile. Or try to. For this year’s challenge, one of the series I picked is J. A. Pitts’ urban fantasy trilogy Sarah Beauhall, which has some of the most awesome covers I’ve seen.
The first novel in the series, Black Blade Blues, does a great job of introducing the character and setting up the slice of the world that Pitts has created. It is full of some great characters, Norse mythology, runes, dragons, magic, and more. Quite a potent combination. The Norse mythology connection was one of the other reasons why I wanted to read this series, and the reality has borne out the expectations, because Black Blade Blues was as fantastic a read as I was hoping for. Great story, great characters, great twists.
In my reviews of the firs two volumes of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs’ Angel & Faith series, I mentioned how much I used to love Buffy back in the mid-00s. It took me a while to get warmed up to the show when I started watching it in college (after having caught an episode here and there in high school), but when I did, I was totally into it. I could watch 3-4 episodes of the show back-to-back without taking a break. Those weekend nights were long in those days. I haven’t kept up with the comics series that have followed the show since it went off-air, partly because I find the sheer number of them to be intimidating.
But, with the first issue of the new season out, I think that it is time for a change, and what a change it is. There have been some pretty big events in the Buffy-verse since I was last in touch with it, especially after I read those two Angel & Faith volumes in 2012, but I have to say that the way Christos Gage wrote this issue, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. He put me right at home with the characters, and Rebekah Isaacs’ art was just superb all the way.
It isn’t for no reason that Ron Marz is one of my favourite writers working in the comics industry right now. His work is always rather… fluid in terms of the story and the concepts are always interesting to say the least. I’ve read a fair amount of his work till now, though I still have a mountain of it to go through, but none of his work has stayed with me as much as his current run on Witchblade, which is his second run on the title. The Borne Again arc has really been putting Sara through the paces and it explores a world where the balance between the Light and the Dark is no more.
Investigating a series of grisly ritualistic murders, Sara has come under fire herself and become part of a greater conspiracy that seeks to use the imbalance between the Light and the Dark to make everything even worse. Too much of anything is a bad thing, that’s one of the central concepts of this arc that Ron is telling, and in this issue we begin to see the genesis of how that imbalance is getting skewed even further. And in the middle of it, Laura Braga and Betsy Gonia’s art continues to be good, which is what I wanted!
Thankfully, this past week was one of recovery. There were a lot of comics to get through and while I only got through about sixty percent or so f the ones that I wanted to, which is pretty much on par with me, I’m quite happy since I also managed to review most of them. The next two weeks are all going to be about getting back on track, before I leave for another 2 week trip to India and then things are going to head downwards unfortunately.
But still, some good comics this week. Pretty much all of the ones I read, I enjoyed, minus one or two here and there. Which is nice. I’m still pretty behind on the whole All-New Marvel Now thing because Marvel is putting out too many new #1s and I just can’t keep up. So that’s a struggle too. Although, surprisingly enough, I read more Marvel this past week than I did DC, largely because I’m behind on a few DC series at this point, and need to significantly catch-up.
Another month, and another issue of Batgirl! All is right with the world. Well, our world yes. Barbara’s world, not so much, since there is a crazy delusional guy out on the streets, trying to bring down the Bat family because he believes that the city’s protectors are its oppressors, vampires in disguise. Fun right? It is indeed fun for the new villain on the block, Silver, but Barbara is having a tough time of it. But like I said in the review for the previous issue, she does have an ally to help things through, so it is not as dire as it may seem.
In the previous issue we got introduced to the new villain, saw Barbara partner up with an old friend, make a tense alliance with an old enemy, and then go out in Gotham to do the right thing and bring back a kidnapped girl who happens to be mute as well. It is a bit of an emotional story and in the new issue Gail Simone takes things further and delivers two pretty big twists to the story towards the end that really shock and excite. And then there’s the wonderful art by the Fernando Pasarin/Jonathan Glapion duo, who continue to turn out one of the most beautiful books from DC.