Blog Archives

Monthly Report: August and September 2013

So once again, these monthly reports are delayed big time. They are just so onerous to write that sometimes I just don’t care really. But I do them regardless because they happen to serve as a good check on my writing, especially when I lose track of things, as I am often wont to do, for no reason really.

I still can’t seem to find the right frame of mind to work on anything fictional, while my non-fiction work and my editorials continue apace. Its really weird. You can find the June/July Report here.

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G.I.Joe: Special Missions #1-3 by Chuck Dixon (Comics Review)

As a long-time fan of Marvel’s original run on G.I.Joe under Larry Hama, and the cartoon series that those comics spawned, I’ve had a really great experience with the various comics that IDW Publishing has been putting out of late. I found out about them last year in June, and I haven’t looked back since. I haven’t been able to catch up to all the comics as yet, and trust me, there are a fair few of them out there right now, but I certainly intend to do just that.

Recently, IDW did a reboot of sorts for their range of G.I.Joe comics, headlined by Fred Van Lente who is the ongoing writer for the excellent Archer & Armstrong series from Valiant Comics, and this reboot has led to at least two spin-offs, Special Missions by Chuck Dixon and Cobra Files by Mike Costa, both of whom have worked extensively on the previous runs of IDW’s G.I.Joe comics. I read the first three issues of Chuck’s Special Missions just an hour ago, and I find myself quite taken with the story.

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Batman: The Dark Knight #23.3 by John Layman (Comics Review)

Its the third week of DC’s Villain’s Month and alongside The Flash, Batman: The Dark Knight is the only series so far that has had three consistent villainous one-shots. Gail Simone’s Ventriloquist was the first, followed by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Mr. Freeze. And now we have John Layman’s Clayface. Fantastic stuff all around. Not all of Batman’s various villains have come out on top so far, especially not the ones I really expected to. So its a surprise for me when I ended up loving all these three issues so much.

I’ve recently started reading John’s run on Detective Comics, with the current arc that focuses on the villain Wrath, and I’ve been enjoying all these issues. He definitely gets the dark, moody tone of Batman comics and the setting, Gotham itself. He really excels at it. While Clayface is more of a humor piece, it is still quite dark and gothic. Interesting dichotomy right there.

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The Flash #23.3 by Brian Buccellato (Comics Review)

Three weeks into DC’s Villain’s Month and I have to say that The Flash has come out on top so far with the best-written and best-drawn titles so far. Grodd was a fantastic issue that made me want to go back and read up on the Gorilla Warfare arc. Reverse-Flash was another oustanding issue that carried on the current arc, which I’m following, really, really well and ended on an awesome cliffhanger. And this week’s Rogues was a yet another excellent entry.

With each of these issues, writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have given me innumerable reasons to catch-up on their entire arc for the New 52 version of the Scarlet Speedster. I’ve mentioned before that the first three issues of the run, which I read last year, didn’t hook me but that all the recent issues have and I really want to go back and read ’em all. Which would be a perfect thing to do since the second arc of the series deals with the Rogues and should prove to be excellent reading material.

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Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells (Book Review)

Earlier this year, in January, I set myself a very particular reading challenge. The goal of this reading challenge was to read through 25 different SFF series (link), from across the genres and across times. To be specific, I wanted to read through at least 12 of these various series, to get a start on them. I hit that mark sometime in July, with Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy #1: The Assassin’s Apprentice (review). As of last month, I added another notch to that reading challenge by reading Jaye Wells’ first Sabina Kane novel, The Red-Headed Stepchild.

Throughout the year, I’ve read all sorts of novels, good, bad, decent, meh, everything. Fortunately, Jaye’s novel proved to be one of the better ones. Urban Fantasy wasn’t all that big a genre for me until late last year and since then I’ve had a lot of fun with the genre. For me, The Red-Headed Stepchild stands as one of the better examples of the genre, a really fun and interesting story throughout, with a hell of a lot things to recommend itself.

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Aphrodite IX #5 by Matt Hawkins (Comics Review)

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.

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Wonder Woman #23.1 by John Ostrander (Comics Review)

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.

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Batman #23.3 by Frank Tieri (Comics Review)

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.

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Comics Picks of the Week 11.09.2013

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.

In the meantime, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Batman and Robin #23.2 by James Tynion IV (Comics Review)

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.

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Batman and Robin #23.1 by Peter J. Tomasi (Comics Review)

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.

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Carnac Campaign (Short Story Review)

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.

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