Years ago, there used to be this little animated series called Defenders of the Earth. To a young kid growing up in the 90s, the show was one of the most memorable ones at the time, in part because it featured The Phantom, a comics character from my childhood that I had a ton of fun reading about in the Hindi-version comics that were released in India. I don’t remember the show all that much, but I do remember that Phantom, Flash Gordon and Mandrake pretty much kicked ass every time and that Ming the Merciless was utterly despicable, a true villain.
Fast forward to now, when Dynamite has begun releasing Kings Watch, a mini-series that focuses on the adventures of this trio and goes to some new places. The original animated series was set in 2015. It is now 2014 (the series started in September last year). Funny how that works out, huh? Reconnecting with these characters after all this time has been quite a thrill, and this first issue has been very entertaining. The story isn’t quite as put together as I would like it to be, but the art is pretty top notch and this is definitely a really good issue. One that makes me want to pick up the others immediately.
If anything, February has been a bigger month for Marvel and its All-New Marvel NOW! launch than January was. More titles, a bit more oomph in general, and just as interesting in the final tally. And given that January was a pretty damn good month for the publisher in terms of unit sales and market share, I’m thinking that February is going to be equally good. I mean, when you launch these many new #1s and with many of them getting their sequel issues in the same month, that’s going to add a lot of padding to your wallet. Like a lot.
But that’s fine, as long as the titles being released are decent. And New Warriors #1 is kind of entertaining I suppose. There’s an overload of characters and everything is basically frontloaded at the reader as far as the team’s makeup is concerned, but that’s fine. This is not a group that I’ve really read about before (I hardly remember what I read in Civil War), so there’s that charm about them that I drew me to the title. Beyond that though, I can easily see this as being a good replacement for Young Avengers, following the cancellation of that title recently. Art is good, story is decent. All good.
Boom Studios debuted a new title last month, the supernatural horror tale Curse which features a werewolf among other elements. For a title that I’d picked up on a whim and thus didn’t really have any expectations for, it was surprisingly good with its debut issue. I enjoy a good werewolf story now and then so reading the same in comics form is quite a thrill. But that wasn’t all with the first issue, for it had a lot more going for it than I initially realised, and I had wondered then if the second issue would keep up with that and continue to develop the same.
I really shouldn’t have worried since the second issue, released earlier this week, did in fact build on every single plot element from the first issue. There is a mystery developing here that I find very intriguing and that can’t be said for most other such stories that I read. They often have quite a singular focus so its nice to see that the writers here have branched out to do a whole bunch of different things together. And of course, the art was just as impressive as in the first issue. I love all the contrasts in the backgrounds and the snowy landscapes that we get here.
Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s Red Sonja, launched last year in July, has proven to be one of the best new comics of recent months. It even made my “Top 5 New Comics of 2013” list. For a fan of the character and the setting, Gail and Walter have done some incredible work with the series and their first arc of six issues was always fun and enjoyable without fail. Now, they are launching into their second arc after a 2-month break and it looks like they have both upped their game significantly. Which is all that I wanted really.
As said, this issue starts off a new arc. After defeating Dark Anisia in the previous arc and freeing the populace of an usurper king, now Sonja is headed all over Hyrkania and beyond to round-up the six greatest artisans of the age for an immense banquet being held in a month’s time by Samala, the Emperor of a pseudo-Egyptian kingdom. Gail’s writing is as top-notch as ever this time around and even the art clicks together very well. This might just be my favourite issue of the series thus far.
After a bit of a mixed start with its first three issues (the very first issue was a #0 issue), it looks like this series just might be getting back on track. I am a pretty big fan of Harley from the Batman: The Animated Series days and while the Harley that Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are writing is nowhere near the same Harley, whether in terms of characterisation or visual design, she is distinctly reminiscent of the totally goofball and oddball behaviour of that first appearance that catapulted her into the big leagues of DC’s characters. Its actually been quite fun to see how Jimmy and Amanda have been tackling her and despite a somewhat mediocre issue last month, my enthusiasm for this title is still fairly high.
The new issue is a Valentine’s issue. This is odd considering that we had Valentine’s a week back. I don’t see why this issue wasn’t released last week, two days before Valentine’s, to kind of fit that whole atmosphere and mood better. But still, it is probably for the best. I doubt that anyone celebrates Valentine’s by getting all violent and taking out a bunch of mass murderers and assassins who are coming after her. Yeah, definitely not. But that’s totally Harley! Kind of.
Today, IDW’s Khan mini-series comes to a close. It has been an interesting ride thus far as the creators attempted to do a new spin on this classic character given that the current Star Trek movies have rebooted the entire universe and last year’s Star Trek: Into Darkness thus gave us a new Khan for this reboot. The first two issues of the series were quite decent, largely because it was all setup to lead into the meat of the story. The third and fourth issues however have proven to be not as good and the story has pretty much just dragged along.
And now we have the fifth and final issue, wrapping everything up. My complaints from the previous two reviews still exist. The art is off, the characterisation is… also off. I don’t know. I just couldn’t get into this at all. But, it was kind of nice that everything was wrapped up for the most part. But still, I get the feeling that there just hasn’t been enough room to explore the entire story in just five issues. It is simply too intricate!
My introduction to Marvel’s Marvel UK line has been fairly decent so far. With the entire brand relaunched as part of a crossover involving one-shot issues for almost all the major characters and teams, this has been one of the more fun things that Marvel has done for its Marvel Now initiative. Alpha #1 and Knights of Pendragon #1 were really cool while Dark Angel #1 was fairly decent. Now we finally get to see Death’s Head II #1, and this one thankfully continues the story that ended in Alpha #1, something that I’ve wanted to see since I read that issue.
As part of the entire crossover, this is a fairly good issue, but on its own, not so much. Characterisation is the big stumbling block for this issue, and even the art is not all that good, compared to the other one-shots that have been released so far. Death’s Head as a character is a really fun, but that’s all that there is to this issue, and the material never really transcend itself like what happened in Alpha #1 and Knights of Pendragon #1. Still, it wasn’t all that bad, and it did move the overall story forward, so that was nice.
Up until some time last year, hard to pin down exactly when, but I’m thinking middle of the year, I had no idea that She-Hulk even existed. For that matter, up until a handful of months before that, I had no idea that there was a Red Hulk. In fact, the only Hulk I’ve ever known about is Bruce Banner’s plain-joe Hulk. Still, it was exciting to hear that Marvel was launching a new She-Hulk series for its All-New Marvel NOW! launch-wave, though my excitement was tempered by the fact that Charles Soule, a writer I don’t like all that much and would prefer to avoid altogether, was on the writing duties for this.
I went in with an open mind because She-Hulk is a character that I am really interested in exploring more, but all the same, I ended up being disappointed. That too for the reasons I expected, and a few that I didn’t expect. The big culprit here is the art, unfortunately, making this the second of Marvel’s new series I’ve read this week that failed for me on the art level, and which has a passingly good story, more mediocre than anything. I frankly expected more out of this.
Another new week of comics, and that means another new week with a new book launching from Marvel, as part of its brand-new All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, under which the publisher is either relaunching some series, or launching new ones with characters old and new alike. One of this week’s big highlight is X-Force, which already existed under the Marvel Now banner, but not quite in this form, I’m given to believe. I’ve never read any X-Force or related comic, and neither have I read anything with any of the characters featured here, except for Psylocke, who has had some good moments in Brian Wood’s X-Men of late.
Being my first X-Force comic, and with these characters in particular, the transition is a bit rough. I barely know any of them, and Si Spurrier’s writing isn’t very comfortable in that regard either. But, I think the series has a really interesting premise all the same, with the X-Force team being mutantkind’s self-appointed black ops team, and that’s the charm, certainly. Rock-He Kim’s art on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired and is definitely one of the weaker points of this issue. It has neither the substance nor the charm that I expected.
Spinning out of the Wanted arc and then the Gothtopia tie-in last month, the new issue of Batgirl goes in a surprisingly different place as Gail Simone explores the thematic links between Gotham’s Bat-family and vampires of urban myths. As I keep saying, Gail Simone has made this title one of DC’s relative heavyweights since the New 52 relaunch, and its definitely one of my highest anticipated titles of each month. The Wanted arc was pretty damn excellent, and now it looks like we might be getting some smaller stories again, like the Ventriloquist 2-issue arc that we had before Wanted.
Barbara has been through a ton of things recently, and she is still picking up the pieces of her life. Its not easy, especially not when a madman comes into town, seemingly intent on some kind of righteous vengeance, a complete and total loon as it were. But she does gain an ally, someone who hasn’t been around in the series for a while and her return is quite fun indeed since I love her as a character and Gail injects a lot of humour in her scenes. To top it all off, Fernando Pasarin and Jonathan Glapion’s art is excellent as ever, another plus.
Frustratingly enough, just when the Zero Year arc on Batman is winding down to a close, we get a filler issue with a story that doesn’t begin for almost another two months. I’ve liked most of Zero Year that I’ve read so far, and while some of the things have been dragged on a bit, such as the entire second half of the arc involving the Riddler and Doctor Death, it has definitely been a fun story thus far, and I really, really want to see how it all ends. That said, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this story, and what I ended up getting was packed with a bunch of awesome it turns out.
Batman #28 is a story that sets up Batman: Eternal, which will be a new series that DC is going to launch in April this year, and is meant to be a weekly series, with a rotating cast of 4 writers for the first big arc. As such, the story is set in Gotham’s future, quite a few years from now, and it posits a world where Gotham has suffered some kind of near-apocalyptic event. Perhaps a zombie apocalypse? Hmm, that might be a good story actually! Anyways, this was a fun story with James Tynion IV coming back to co-write with Scott Snyder and this time the art isn’t handled by the series regulars, but by guest artists who I presume will be working on the new series.