With everything going on right now, I had doubts whether I’d be able to get through many comics this week but it seems that this was indeed the week where I surprised myself in a big way. Not only did I catch up on quite a few new titles, but I also managed to read two graphic novels this week, one of them at almost 300 pages no less!
The surprise hits of this week were Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor #2 from Titan Comics, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division #2 from IDW Publishing and Inhuman #5 from Marvel Comics. This week’s surprise flops were Caliban #6 from Avatar Press, Grim Tales of Terror #3 from Zenescope, and Superman Unchained #8 from DC Comics. Of the others, they were mostly great, and I loved that both G.I. Joe Volume 1 and Witchblade Volume 3 are among my absolute favourite graphic novel reads of the year!
Dynamite Entertainment has often been about dark adult fantasy, much as with Zenescope Entertainment, though the two publishers have an entirely different focus despite often focusing on the same genres. The recent year and a half has seen Dynamite experimenting quite a bit with female-led comics, with titles like Dejah of Mars making their debut, or others such as Red Sonja getting rebooted with massive promotional clout behind them. Back in July, the publisher launched another female-led title, an urban fantasy horror that saw the protagonist take on vampires, Chastity.
Marc Andreyko came to my notice recently with his run on Batwoman for DC, where he wrote quite a few good issues, the handful that I read at any rate. I kept meaning to go back and get up to date on his run, but that didn’t pan out. And then I heard about his new title Chastity for Dynamite and I got excited, especially after looking at the previous pages. Now with three issues out, I have to say that Chastity has hit most of the right buttons for me and that I am really enjoying the story here. Dave Acosta and Thiago Ribeiro’s artwork hasn’t slouched either, making the title one of the more consistent new titles in recent months.
The new Vampirella series is everything that I could ask of it and more. Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter have gotten off to a great start with the first three issues as they put Vampirella through her paces against a sort of enemy that she has never fought before. There’s a fair bit of originality in the story and the real fun part is seeing all the different kinds of vampires cooked up by the creative team, from the traditional to the monsters and freaks. To be honest, this is a damn good title, whether we talk story or art, and that in itself is something to celebrate..
In the new issue from this past week, Vampirella’s quest to find the rarest vampires in the world and drink their blood continues as she travels to the Greek island of Lamos this time, on the hunt for a vampire called the Lamia. The Lamiae are a very different breed of vampire than the usual ones, being a part of Greek mythological lore even, and this time Vampirella has to seek some… outside help. The story was as engrossing as always and Collins really brought out the dark humour of the book, even as Berkenkotter and Co. continued to deliver on some great visuals of Vampirella and the monsters.
The Strain premiered almost two months ago and since then it has had quite a bit of success. With the successful format of the “half-season” shows, The Strain has quickly become one of FX Productions’ successes and with Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan backing it up (they are also the creators of the story and characters etc through their The Strain novels), it looks set to become even bigger next year when the second season begins airing. For me, The Strain is currently one of the best horror shows on cable networks, easily the match for others like Sleepy Hollow and even, to a degree, Dracula.
The first two episodes of the show set the basis for what was to follow, establishing the series ground rules, mysteries, character relations etc. As introductions go, these two episodes were pretty good. Wonderful blend of horror, mystery and character drama. The next three episodes go even further, and the stakes are raised for every element that you can imagine. Whether it is Abraham van Setrakian finally getting around to killing vampires, or Ephraim and Nora learning the truth of Regis Air 753, or Vasiliy encountering the reason why the city’s rat problem has gotten so much worse. All the excellent stuff from the first two episodes continues here, and it is a blast to watch.
Thankfully, I’m finally settling back into the groove with comics reading and, most importantly, comics reviewing, as I managed to review a fair bit of titles this week and even caught up with reviewing some previous titles that I’ve unfortunately had to neglect for one reason or another.
The surprise hits of this week were Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War: Billy and Mandy #1 from IDW Publishing, Wolverine Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Vampirella #3 from Marvel Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman: Eternal #20 from DC where the title seems headed downwards just when it was getting once again, and The Wicked + The Divine #3 from Image where the title took a nosedive this week after a second issue that was really good. No graphic novels again sadly, though I hope to correct that that this week. I hope..
Dynamite’s relaunch of Vampirella got off to a great start back in June with Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter’s Vampirella #1. Much like Red Sonja from Gail Simone and Walter Geovani, the new series presents a new jumping-on point that is not tied down to years of continuity and lore. I loved the first issue, I really did, and I did want more because reading about Vampirella is always a fun experience, no matter what kind of a story it is, or the artists behind her. And what I wanted more of after reading the new Vampirella #1 was more of the same..
Vampirella #2 and #3 continue the story of Vampirella as she comes under attack by the Church itself. Long an agent and warrior of the Church, Vampirella’s most recent mission has seen her damned doubly and now she is out on her own, with the hounds of the Church itself after her to prevent her from becoming a much bigger threat. And in the midst of it all, Vampirella teams up with a most unlikely ally and the mysteries just keep building. While Nancy A. Collins’ writing is great, it is the artwork by Patrick Berkenkotter and Co. that is the real star of these two issues.
Last month writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs closed out their first arc on the new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it was a pretty damn awesome issue by all counts. Pretty much perfect in fact, an issue that I really, really liked. The two of them were a really solid team and with this new season of Buffy they’ve made me really nostalgic for the good old days of watching Buffy and Angel on the small screen. That’s as it should be, by my count, since these are tie-in comics that continue on the story of the shows once they finale’d themselves and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 especially is one of the best new comics of this year.
The new arc on this series sees Rebekah Isaacs replaced by the duo of Karl Moline and Cliff Richards, and what’s great is that the two of them stay really close to Rebekah’s own style. Christos still tells a damn good story, one which involves all the members of the team as they try to get back to some semblance of a normal life after the recent events involving Dracula and the demon Maloker. The personal story here really speaks out to some real problems the team faces and I loved how that transitioned to a really great mission.
Is this the year of horror shows or something? Are horror shows suddenly the next big thing? And are vampires really that hot a property right now? First we had the awesome Sleepy Hollow last year which got off to a great start, ended on a similarly grand note, and the second season of which is going to be on in a few short weeks. And then there was also Dracula, which fared somewhat badly but was rather interesting regardless, with a fresh take on the whole Dracula mythology. There are others, some that are on my radar, some that are not. And a part of all of them is this year’s The Strain, which started off just five weeks and seems to be doing well enough.
The Strain is an adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel trilogy The Strain which was originally concepted as a television show but later developed into a procedural-style horror novel trilogy. I’ve read a couple issues of the comics adaptation by Dark Horse and I was always struck by how unrestrained the entire feel of the story was and in the first two episodes of the new show, the writers and directors and showrunners have managed to capture exactly that. The Strain presents a very different vampiric mythology than viewers are undoubtedly familiar with and it packs in a lot of subtle action and tons of character development in just the right mix for a gritty, realistic show like this.
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.
Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Cimmerian. These are the more popular names of the sword-and-sorcery hero Conan who has been a trend-setter for many decades now, his popularity itself going up and down a fair bit. Not all are familiar with King Conan however, from a time when Conan was no longer just a warrior and a mercenary but a ruler with far lands to call his own, with subjects, with a queen even. I started reading King Conan: The Conqueror from the mini-series’ first issue a few months back and it has been one of the most entertaining Conan stories I’ve read to date. Certainly among the best, by far.
King Conan: The Conqueror #6 marks the end of this mini-series and also of the story that began back in King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon. Now, everything that Conan has been through in the past five issues comes to a resounding (and somewhat obvious) conclusion and really, it could not have been better. Truman and Giorello take the reader for a ride through Aquilonia and beyond, and all along the way they are as impressive as they’ve ever been in this series. No doubt about that. This particular mini-series is certainly going down in my list as one of the best Conan stories I’ve read to date.