Category Archives: Challenges
Reading Top Cow comics always gives me a thrill. Whether its the characters or the story or the art, everything is always spot on and entertaining. Having read a wide variety of their books in the last year or so, I’ve enjoyed almost all of them, whether monthlies or trades, and the experience has been very positive for me. Reading Matt Hawkins’ futuristic reboot of the Aphrodite property has been one of the highlights of that experience, and for good reasons too.
Characters like Aphrodite, in all her different incarnations, are very few and far in between in comics. In the Top Cow Universe, she occupies a very specific and niche place, built up on the concept of Artifacts that a few select individuals are heirs to. Ever since I started reading Ron Marz’s Artifacts maxi-series last year, Aphrodite has been one of my favourite characters, and Matt Hawkins’ recent work with her has only solidified that, and given me even more reasons to like her.
So here we are. When I reviewed Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman #13-15 earlier this year, I’d said that I couldn’t justify picking up the book anymore or recommending it for that matter. The plot was stuck in limbo, the characters were doing the same thing over and over again, and the process in which Azzarello was introducing new characters to the series was just getting frantic. Pointless things were happenning and my interest in the series was waning.
Fast forward to eight months later, now, and I’ve picked up my first issue of Wonder Woman since then. Thankfully, Brian Azzarello is nowhere in sight, which is just perfect for me. This issue here is written by John Ostrander and is part of the ongoing Villain’s Month line-up as the writer deals with one of Wonder Woman’s more iconic and recognisable villains, someone that we’ve briefly seen before in the pages of Geoff Johns’ Justice League.
There have been two rather lackluster Batman Villain’s Month issues so far, Joker by Andy Kubert and Riddler by Scott Snyder (plot) and Ray Fawkes (script). They were also two of most highly anticipated issues for this month, so it kind of stings a little bit. The Riddler issue I’m still on the fence about, mostly because it seems to be a very low-key story for the character involved, but that doesn’t change my opinion on it all that much. Which is why when I read the new issue today, I was ecstatic.
I’ve never read any Frank Tieri comic before, to my knowledge, but after reading Batman #23.3, I certainly want to correct that oversight. While I don’t necessarily agree with how Penguin is portrayed, mucho serious and no comic-ishness, it was still a great issue and now I want to also go back to read Detective Comics Volume 3: Emperor Penguin, by John Layman. I’ve read some of the newer issues of that series and I love them, so that’s another motivation right there.
DC’s Villain’s Month went ahead full-steam last week with a ton of new releases. And on the other side of things with Marvel, their X-Men: Battle of the Atom event also continued apace with the release of X-Men #5. My reading is still all primarily DC, thanks to Villain’s Month because there are just so many comics to read. I’m attempting to change things around but its going to be slow. Just a comic or two here obviously doesn’t work and I intend to grab some graphic novels at the least.
We shall see what happens when it happens.
After a slightly lackluster Batman and Robin #23.1: Two Face, I was ready to be amazed and wowed. James Tynion IV, a former student of Batman-scribe Scott Snyder has written a few back-ups for Batman and is the writer for the ongoing Talon, which is a Gotham title featuring a Talon of the Court of the Owls, one of their assassins. So it is well and good that if James is writing a Villain’s Month title, it be about both the Court of Owls and the Talons.
Scott Snyder introduced the Court of Owls and their Talons in his first year on the rebooted Batman title, and in them, he created some of the most iconic villains for Batman. Once that storyline ended with Batman #11, I’d been looking forward to reading more about them eventually, which was where James’ Talon stepped in, but I haven’t read more than two issues of that unfortunately. Which is why Batman and Robin #23.2 was one of my most highly anticipated titles for Villain’s Month. James certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Batman and Robin is not a comic that I’ve followed from the beginning, except for reading the first arc at some point late last year. And I wasn’t really taken with it in any way, largely because I found Damian Wayne to be incredibly arrogant and a bit of a jerk as well. Plus, the story just wasn’t all that exciting. So I’ve held off on reading any further issues till now. Damian’s death earlier this year, in the pages of Grant Morrison’s Batman, Incorporated made me want to go read the relevant issues however, largely because the first issue of Batman and Robin after that fateful Batman, Inc issue was a silent-issue, no dialogue at all. I saw the previews for it and the silent emotions that were packed into it amazed me, and even made me cry. Only that issue and Batman #17, which ends on a similar note, have gotten me so emotional across all the Batman titles I’ve been reading it in the New 52.
And now we have the Villain’s Month issues, the first one featuring one of Batman’s best-conceptualised villains, Two-Face. I’ve been a fan of the character for ages, ever since I first saw him in Batman: The Animated Series, and I was highly anticipating this issue last week. I didn’t get a chance to read it then, but I was able to get to it last night finally, and I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with it.
Its been ages since I’ve read any Black Library short stories. I used to read them quite religiously up until January of this year, but then it all just kind of fell off since I was focusing far more on reading novels, whether from Black Library or any other publisher. A couple weeks ago, I started to go through some of the recently released short stories, and by “recently released” I mean the last eight months. And I was intimidated by how many had been released in this window.
However, the ones that really caught my eye were the three short stories that featured the Eldar and told the three-stage tale of the Carnac Campaign. Written by Joe Parrino, Graeme Lyon and Rob Sanders, these short stories proved to be among the best of the format that I’ve read over the years from Black Library. Nightspear, Sky Hunter, and Spirit War each tells us a different aspect of the Carnac Campaign, and I thoroughly enjoyed each of them.
Its no secret that Marvel, ever since its universe relaunch last year under the Marvel NOW! banner, has released Avengers titles, with all sorts of team make-ups, whether featuring all the older and recognisable heroes or some of the younger generation heroes, many of whom are directly tied to the older heroes. I’ve had a rough time getting into any of Avengers comics because of this and only recently have I made any inroads on that front, having read the first two issues of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Kieron Gillen’s run on Young Avengers so far. Given how Mighty Avengers shaped up with its first issue, it looks like I just might be adding it as well to my regular pull-list alongside Young Avengers.
When it was announced a few months ago, I was kind of really excited for the title. It seemed to feature heroes that I know next to nothing about such as Monica Rambeau and Luke Cage, or heroes whose current incarnation I have no experience with, such as Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body and calling himself the Superior Spider-Man. My excitement was slightly tempered by the fact that Greg Land was drawing this comic, an artist who seems to be quite reviled among many fans to an almost Rob Liefeld level. So I was hesitant going into this title. But I got to say, I kind of really enjoyed this book, on almost all levels.
Teen Titans is a book that I’ve been struggling with ever since I picked the first issue just about a year ago. The writing hasn’t been all that great and the art has been decent but inconsistent at best. I can somewhat tolerate bad art in a comic, as long as the story makes up for it, which hasn’t been the case at all with this series. Scott Lobdell’s writing just meanders on and I really, really don’t understand why he needs to tie together all the books he’s working on. The first year of the series was all crossovers, first with Superboy and then with Ravagers, and all this meant that the writing was really fractured and the series was struggling to stand on its own. Things haven’t improved in the second year, even though the Death of the Family crossover issues were slightly better. Post that event, the writing just went downhill and I finally gave up after #19. I just called quits after that.
Then I heard about Villain’s Month and that Marv Wolfman was going to be writing the first tie-in issue, featuring Trigon, a villain who was being setup as the big bag for Lobdell’s current arc in the series. This excited me because finally someone other than Lobdell was going to be working on Teen Titans and because this gave me a chance to get back to the series. I want to like this series but Lobdell’s writing just turned me off big time. Thankfully, Wolfman was there to save the day, at least for this issue.
My love for everything that Gail writes is no longer a surprise. Or it shouldn’t be at any rate. She is one of the best writers working in the industry right now and a good part of it is because she is able to portray her characters so well. And her scripts are always exciting, no matter what. I’ve been following her from series to series, whether that be her original run on Birds of Prey, or the second, or Batgirl, or The Movemehernt, or even Red Sonja. And I can’t wait to read her Tomb Raider comic when it comes out.
With Red Sonja, for two issues now, Gail has presented a very nuanced and personal take on the titular character and this is something that she continues in the new issue. But this time, she takes things a step further and presents a much more modern and ass-kicking back-story for the character, something that has been in Sonja’s lore since her very inception. And it rocks.
Darkseid is one my all-time favourite supervillains in the DC Universe. My love for the character, or rather I should say my hate-love for the character began from the days of Superman: The Animated Series and continued through to the Justice League animated series. He’s just such a great villain. Which is why I didn’t really care much for how he was portrayed in Season 10 of Smallville, which I think, was a really bad portrayal. He is such an iconic villain and he got a… less-than-cameo.
And then came the first arc of the relaunched Justice League for the New 52 and we got to see some great action with the big bad himself. It was less than what I wanted, mainly because Geoff Johns told a very condensed story, but I was still delighted to see Darkseid in comics again. So when DC announced a Darkseid one-shot for Villain’s Month, I got all kinds of excited, until I saw that it was being written by Greg Pak, a writer I’ve barely been impressed by. His Silver Surfer: Devolution was so-so, but his first three issues of Batman/Superman have been rather boring.
I was really anxious going in, and it seems that Greg Pak justified all my fears with this origin story.
DC’s Villain’s Month kicked off in style last week with several one-shots featuring some of DCU’s biggest villains, plus the first in Geoff Johns’ new event series. Its certainly been a power month for DC. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to read any Marvel comics this weeks, which sucks, but hoping to change that this week.
One can hope!
So once again, in no particular order, here are the comics I read this week, the reviews I put up for them, and my top picks. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.