Since October last year, this has been coming, the end of one of the best shows on television in the last five years. Something that a lot of people hoped would be great, but doubted would actually get to that stage. But CW’s The Flash beat pretty much every expectation that fans had of it. It breezed by, changed the landscape, and maintained one hell of a consistency week after week. Sure, there were the occasional silly things such as the Bug-Eyed Bandit and what not, but by and large, and for me at least, The Flash was so much better of a show than Arrow, and I don’t say that lightly.
In episodes 21 through 23 (“Grodd Lives“, “Rogue Air“, and, “Fast Enough“), we see some of the most incredible moments of the show as yet. The first of those is pretty obvious. Gorilla Grodd was hinted at as being a villain on the show since the pilot and much of my fascination with the show was because of that expectation, which this episode met in a really great way and did justice to one of my favourite villains from the DC verse. The second switched things around a bit when Barry got Snart and his gang involved in his fight against Harrison Wells, with some truly tragic results, but which also solidified his moralities. And then, and then we have the finale from last night, which was beyond incredible. I had such huge expectations from the finale, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It was what fans needed and deserved after a season’s worth of trust and promise.
Note: This review contains some major spoilers for all three episodes, though I’ll try to keep things simple for the finale.
Last time we were with Kamala Khan aka the new Ms. Marvel, Loki crash-landed a prom party and she rightly schooled him for his scheming and planning, in addition to some great heroics in general. That’s one of the most endearing things about the title and the character because G. Willow Wilson has made Ms. Marvel into a very fun and relaxed title that occasionally deals with real world issues but never gets too heavy with the allusions so that you go and think “geez, not this again”. More than a year on since release, and Ms. Marvel is still one of the best titles on the shelves, and for good reason!
Taken together, issues #13 through #15 of Ms. Marvel are about Kamala exploring more of her Inhuman legacy and also learning more about herself and fighting against everyday challenges borne out of the patriarchal bias of society. G. Willow Wilson has taken a somewhat similar line before, using Kamala’s adventures as social commentary in one way or another, but she really hits it out of the park with these three issues, and the art by new-to-series Takeshi Miyazawa impresses as much as that of Adrian Alphona before, making for a very seamless transition.
The previous issues of Black Widow have been pretty spectacular, as has been the norm on the title since its launch early last year. Natasha’s investigations into the organization CHAOS that has been causing all sorts of problems for SHIELD of late yielded some surprising results back in #15 and it made for a really interesting change of pace as far as the story was concerned. It also gave artist Phil Noto a chance to really go to town with the visuals and none of that seems to be headed for a slowdown in any way.
The two most recent issues, Black Widow #16 and Black Widow #17 are all about what CHAOS really is and what plans they have for Natasha and others like her all over the world. The reveal about CHAOS is something that really twists the head in ways you wouldn’t expect. Nathan manipulates the story in a really deft way and he shows some really mad skills as he has Natasha navigate the web of lies and half-truths being peddled by CHAOS. Supporting him, Phil also does a pretty incredible job and though some of the scenes were a bit more low-key than usual, his own mad skills were never in doubt I’d say.
Stjepan Sejic released his BDSM-centric OGN Sunstone Volume 1 a few months ago and it was pretty much a hit. Having seen some success with the material on his DeviantArt page, he went a bit further and put it out through Top Cow/Image to a much wider audience. And I have to say that the story really changed my mind about the value of the story contained therein. Sunstone isn’t a pornographic comic by any means. Sure, it has a few racy scenes, but they deserve to be looked at through the context of the story in entirety, which is about two young women coming to terms with their wilder side and maturing into a healthy relationship.
This is where Stjepan picks up in the recently-released Sunstone Volume 2, which takes the story of Ally and Lisa even further. In the previous arc, we met with them as they discovered each other, experimented sexually, opened up about their past and present, and settled down into their budding relationship. Now, we see matters progress further as Lisa is exposed to the wider world of BDSM through Ally’s friends, and she learns some of the more tragic aspects of her history as well. Once again, the story and art are both superb here, and I think that Stjepan does a great job yet again of presenting the material in a way that neither offends the reader, nor belittles the subject.
It has been a good long while since we’ve had a Death Vigil release. Stjepan Sejic ended the sixth issue on a very grim note, with events heading completely downhill for the Vigil, especially Bernie, and it was a really, really bleak moment for the entire crew, especially once there was a betrayal from within. It was a grim story, but at the same time, a lot of Stjepan’s comic timing really made its presence felt as well, and that kept me chugging along. And it kept me foaming at the mouth for the next release, which was unfortunately delayed until recently.
Some personal problems for Stjepan meant that we didn’t get Death Vigil #7 until last week, and that too through his own blog rather than through the regular distribution. I won’t go into the specifics as they are kind of irrelevant to matters at hand, but suffice to say that the new issue is well worth the long wait since mid-January. Stjepan launches straight into the story and picks up the beats from where he left off, and the new issue proves to be one hell of a ride, keeping up a fine tradition that began in Death Vigil #1 last year.
For the Super Sunday Series Championship 2015 in the weekend of the 24-25th January this year, Wizards of the Coast ran a slightly different limited format for part of the event: Sealed Draft. In Booster Draft, the way it works is that you draft 3 boosters to build a 40-card deck (including lands), and in Sealed Deck, the way it works is that you open 6 boosters to build a 40-card deck (again, including lands), and then you just play. But Wizards mixed the two together so that you opened 3 packs to build towards a deck, and then drafted 3 more packs to create your full pack and then go play and have some fun.
My previous experience with Limited in Khans of Tarkir block is with Fate Reforged Limited and Dragons of Tarkir Limited. They were decent experiences, but nothing particularly standout, and that’s fine with me since I look at Limited as less competitive and more for the fun of opening packs, drafting, and playing weird decks, which can sometimes work out well or just totally fall flat. So for this past weekend, I suggested the Sealed Draft format to my LGS owner. It is something that no one has played before, so I thought that it would be a great opportunity and an experiment as well. And I like to think that it worked out rather well inf act!
The 2014-15 season has been pretty incredible for the DC universe. Not only did we have CW’s Arrow returning for a third season, but we also had The Flash on CW as well, alongwith projects like Gotham and Constantine on others. Not to mention some of the other stuff that is in the works, such as the recently announced Legends of Tomorrow, which is going to be the second spin-off show for Arrow (a truly awesome achievement by the way!), and the upcoming Supergirl.
Yes, Supergirl is coming to television for the 2015-16 season! And last night, CBS released a “First Look” trailer for the show, which appears to be basically a(n) (extended) teaser from the upcoming pilot episode. Can. Not. Wait!
As I’ve mentioned before, Geoff Johns’ Justice League found a new lease on life following the Forever Evil crossover and that it returned to its previous levels of awesome, especially with artists Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson coming on-scene to provide the other half of the team. The AMAZO virus storyline was definitely all kinds of awesome, and I really enjoyed getting back into such an involved and moving story after the (almost) dead beats of Forever Evil. But now it is time for something different yet again, and recent experience seems to hold up well in the new arc.
With the recent Justice League #40, Geoff Johns is kicking off yet another new phase in the title, this one titled “Darkseid War“. The issue itself is told through the viewpoint of the being known as Metron, a universal entity far above the ken of even such mighty beings as superheroes. The entire issue is pretty much his monologue, and we learn some startling things about the DC universe, as well as the true nature of the being known as the Anti-Monitor and how the ongoing Convergence event fits into the whole tapestry that Geoff and others at DC have been working on of late.
The first half of Realm War: Age of Darkness was packed with a hell of a lot of action. Writer Joe Brusha devoted a lot of time to fleshing out the post-Grimm Fairy Tales #100 world, one in which the bad guys won and took over the realms, even as the heroes rose up again to fight them, to reclaim their individual worlds. And things have certainly been downhill for them for most of the way. It was a rather classical approach, and it worked out well for me, for Brusha presented lots of fun mysteries and relationships, even as artists Sami Kivela and Maxflan Araujo went to town on the illustrations and all the cool action sequences and what have you.
But, Realm War #7 marks a turning point in that we move into the second half of this epic crossover, and the good guys are now starting to make some real headway. Despite all the adversity, all the losses and the betrayals, it looks like the good guys finally have a real chance of stopping the Dark Queen (retrospectively we know already that they win, courtesy of the other titles from the publisher, namely Grimm Fairy Tales itself). Issues 7 through 9 are full of more epic action, more character moments, etc, and it is the ninth issue that finally gets the ball really rolling, as the heroes strike out for a major blow against the villains, a definitive one in fact.
DC’s He-Man: The Eternity War has been kicking butt since it started. Spinning out of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, this new book has really ramped up everything that was great about that series, and given it a new context, one that is grander and just generally more epic. While I loved the contributions from the early creative team on that series, the change of guard with Dan Abnett as writer made things so much better, and The Eternity War has pretty much delivered on everything that I could ask of it, month after month.
Issues #4 and #5 continue the tale of Hordak’s all-out invasion of Eternia as the big bad himself has come to the world now, intending on destroying his enemies in a final all-out conflict. He-Man and his sister She-Ra have done much to head him off, what with He-Man and She-Ra leading an army of Serpent Men against Hordak’s forces, even as the rest of the loyal Eternians do their own thing. But things are really heating up now, and even as one of He-Man’s oldest enemy returns, the future of the war to save Eternia is very, very uncertain, because if there’s one thing that defines this setting, it is the constant betrayal and deception that is employed by the villains.
Darkness Falls was meant to be one of the big moments for the Top Cow universe a while back, given everything that was going on in David Hine and Jeremy Haun’s The Darkness: Rebirth at the time, just about a little over 2 years ago. The build-up was definitely fantastic, but then plans got delayed for some reason, and so we never really got the follow-up to Hine and Haun’s big-moment finale of the second volume of the series, up until now, and in the pages of Witchblade no less.
White writer Ron Marz began a new arc on Witchblade with its #179th issue, issues #180 and #181 are devoted to the re-energized Darkness Falls: The Death of Jackie Estacado storyline. A confrontation between Sara and Jackie had been signposted for a good while in the pages of The Darkness: Rebirth so it was rather rewarding to see it all come about finally, even though it kind of felt as if the story didn’t get the execution it deserved and kind of fell a little flat as well. But things heated up rather nicely with the recent #182nd issue, which reverts back to the new arc that Ron Marz had started, and presents a few answers to a few mysteries already introduced.
Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ Wayward from Image has been one of the best new titles I’ve read in the last year or so. The series hit the ground running back in August, and seemed to kick all sorts of ass as it progressed through to the conclusion of its first arc. And that final arc was certainly quite explosive too, in more ways than one, and it was also an unexpected one. Jim Zub took some pretty big chances with that finale, and I think it served the series well, and of course the art by Steve & Co has been up to showing off those chances in as great a light as possible.
Issues 6 & 7 of Wayward start off a new storyline with a new central character. This time we get to spend some time with Rori’s classmate Ohara Emi who develops some powers of her own and ends up hooking up with Ayane and Nikaido, who have become… freelancers of sorts. Following the end of Wayward #5 they have been taking the fight to the demons as best as they can, and Emi’s journey as part of their team really helps shine a light on the new direction that the series is taking, and that’s pretty darn great too!