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.
Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs launched the tenth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in great fashion some five months ago, and they’ve made this book into one of my top favourites of the year, something that I can depend on being super-good month after month. As I’ve said before, I got introduced to this due through their work on Angel & Faith Season 9 and they’ve brought the same awesomeness to this title. Reliving the adventures of this entire group through this new lens of comics is an incredible experience and the best things about it all remain the best still.
In last month’s Buffy #4, we saw that Dracula, out of his own hubris and inconsiderate manipulation of Xander, had begun to turn into the demon Maloker, the demonic father of all Vampires. In the midst of all the great character interactions, Christos Gage told a really involved story about friendships, love, betrayal, infatuation and manipulation, and he continues all of that in last week’s Buffy #5 as the first arc of the new season draws to a close. Not to be outdone, Rebekah also turns in some fantastic artwork coupled with brilliant colours from Dan Jackson.
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!
This post is coming in at a slightly later time than I’d prefer, about two weeks late at least, but I guess I can’t really “complain” when the lateness is due to my own wedding which took place exactly two weeks ago on the 5th. It has certainly been a very busy and intense time, what with being engrossed in all the marriage stuff and then even after that there’s been one thing after another. Reading time has definitely suffered greatly, which makes me a little sad considering how much I love reading, but eh, all for a good cause really.
With half the year now over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st January to 30th June. There’s been a ton of books that I’ve read in this period as usual, and I made a very strong effort to read more tie-in fiction than I usually do, so the list is most assuredly going to reflect that. Tie-in fiction is a very important part of the publishing industry I feel and it always deserves some recognition. Now if we could only get an award started that celebrated tie-in fiction and all would be alright with the world. Or so my thinking goes.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
Well, it has been a couple weeks again since I did this feature. The week before, well, it was marriage week for me and I barely read 4 books, so it didn’t really make sense to do a post on just those four, so I skipped it. And it was a really slow week all in all, especially for blogging, so I just decided to let things rest for an entire week. But I’m back again this time!
The surprise hits of this week were Death Vigil #1 from Top Cow andGrayson #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Spider-Man 2099 #1 from Marvel Comics. Expectedly great comics such as Fantastic Four #7 from Marvel Comics, Batgirl #3# from DC all delivered on their promises as well. Not a lot of comics this past week, certainly not as much as the week prior or my usual number of ~25/week, but definitely a good number at 21 issues. Might take a dive in the next week though!
Going into the finale, at only just eight episodes, one might wonder what it is exactly that Penny Dreadful has been building up to. Is it the story of Frankenstein’s Monster, Caliban, and his search for an immortal mate? Or is it the larger story of the hunt for the Master Vampire who has Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina in his spell? Or could it be the mystery of the libertine Dorian Gray and his frivolities? Or perhaps the story of Ethan Chandler and the possibility that he is the Wolf Man after all, being one of the stellar crown jewels of penny dreadful stories that the show evokes? The answer, of course, is that it is all of it.
Aptly titled “Grand Guignol“, the entire main act of the finale takes place in the Grand Guignol theatre where Caliban works as a stage-hand and where he has some measure of contentment and peace, having experienced the charity and friendship of one of the actors, and perhaps something more from another one. All of the storylines come to a close in this finale, though some are frustrating dead ends, and that’s where the finale failed for me, though I enjoyed the resolutions to the Sir Malcolm/Vanessa/Mina arc and the reward at the end of the Brona/Ethan arc.
Note: There will be spoilers here.