CW’s The Flash has full-on moved into the second half of its debut season, and by all account it is doing a terrific job. The mid-season finale changed a lot of things for almost all the characters and the show’s return from its break has been nothing short of phenomenal. Of course, there are the occasional hiccups (which show doesn’t have them?) but by and large, The Flash has been a tremendous success for comic book properties, showing explicitly that you can have humour and seriousness at the same time without compromising or overdoing either. That really is what The Flash is all about.
This week’s episode, “Fallout“, picks up from where the last week left off, with Firestorm set to go nuclear and Barry and Caitlin racing to avoid the fallout. Well, it turns out that Harrison Wells’ quantum splicer did its trick after all and the good guys are able to separate Ronnie from Dr. Stein. But of course, the tale isn’t done because General Eiling is on Firestorm’s case and much of the episode deals with the back-and-forth between them, and we learn that General Eiling knows far more about what goes on at STAR Labs than anyone thought he did, and he also comes prepared for every eventuality. Almost. As great as the episode was though, the stinger at the end was beyond awesome and incredible. Totally fangasmic in the best way possible.
At a point when we are pretty much half-way through the first season of CW’s The Flash, there isn’t really any point in repeating myself that the show has been incredible since it started. Debuting the Scarlet Speedster back in October of last year, The Flash has made waves everywhere and I dare say that it has overtaken Arrow in terms of popularity, for the pure reason that it is such an uplifting show in general, less moody and more action-adventure with a bigger dose of humour. And thus the show totally fits the titular character, though the writers never shy away from showing some really serious stuff. Nor they should.
Episodes 12 and 13 of The Flash do a lot of great things. For one, we delve further into the mystery of how Ronnie became Firestorm and how Dr. Martin Stein is caught up in everything. This is where previous supervillain Hartley Rathaway fits in with a really interesting twist and we get to see Cisco get to kick some ass. Then there’s the whole thing with a new character being introduced into the mix, and suddenly, it is as if the show’s cast has increased to almost double, and I’m loving all that has been happening the last two weeks.
Another week of a “Magic 40″, though no graphic novels.
This week’s surprise hits were Ivar, Timewalker #1 from Valiant, Mortal Kombat X #4 from DC, and Twilight Zone: Shadow And Substance #1 from Dynamite. The disappointments of the week were Spider-Woman #3 from Dynamite and Spider-Verse #2 and The Amazing Spider-Man #13 from Marvel and Vampirella: Feary Tales #4 from Dynamite. Ongoing greats were Wonder Woman ’77 #3 , The Flash: Season Zero #11 and Supergirl #38 from DC, Black Widow #14 and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #4 from Marvel, and, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #6 from Zenescope among others.
Even though Fox’s Gotham had an interesting enough mid-season finale, the changes in the status quo didn’t really stick it out once the show came back on air a month ago, and things were back to normal pretty damn quick, as it were. All of which was rather disappointing since I was really looking forward to the writers exploring with the concept of Jim Gordon being a shift guard at Arkham. But at the same time we got to see the awesome Morena Baccarin as Dr. Leslie Thompkins, and things looked somewhat positive on that front.
In episodes 13 and 14 of the show, we see what the city is like once Jim Gordon is back in the GCPD as a full detective and thus back on the streets. And things are pretty damn crazy right now since Fish Mooney has finally been outed as Carmine Falcone’s enemy and is on the death-list, with Oswald Cobbelpot’s star in the ascendancy. While the main story deals with corrupt narcotics cops and the fearsome Dr. Crane, the subplots deal with the criminal politics of the city. And I’ve gotta admit that I’m starting to lose my excitement with the show since the stories are becoming more mundane and tiring than ever before.
Its really not a good time for Selina Kyle, or should I say, Selina Kyle-Calabrese. The head of the Calabrese crime family that rules a good portion of Gotham. She also happens to be in direct opposition to Roman Sionis aka the Black Mask and the Hasigawa family, though she is courting them for now and has a temporary alliance in place. With the advent of the new creative team, the title has undergone a serious makeover and has come off the better for it thankfully, with a superb crime story that also has some really great thriller moments to it.
When last we were with Selina, she had just ordered the death of her cousin, at the hands of his sister no less, and was also taken down a few pegs in the eternal battle for control of all criminal activities in Gotham. That definitely hurt her reputation and now in Catwoman #38 we see how she plans to bounce back from all of that, to regain the lost prestige of her family, and to come out of the experience with a solid and even unenviable position amongst all the other families. The story is great, the art is great, what more can you want really?
CW’s The Flash roared back with its mid-season premiere last week by showing the first good and proper villain team-up between Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold and Mick Rory aka Heat Wave. As part of The Rogues, Captain Cold and Heat Wave certainly have a lot of cachet among Flash’s rogues gallery, and the ending of the episode certainly bore that out with an off-camera debut for Snart’s sister, Lisa, also known as Glider in the comics. Of course, that wasn’t the end-all for the episode because we continued to see how the new status quo from the end of the mid-season finale was continuing to effect all the characters, especially the revelation that Harrison Wells was indeed Reverse-Flash.
In this week’s “The Sound and The Fury” we see the debut of another of Barry’s many villains, Hartley Rathaway aka Pied Piper. In this version of the villain, who still thankfully maintains his roots as a gay character, we see him as one of the many scientists who worked on the STAR Labs particle accelerator, but who is curiously never mentioned by any of the remaining member of Wells’ team. That’s the mystery here, exploring why Rathaway has it in for Wells and why he’s turned into a villain, in addition to some other stuff, almost all of which was pretty excellent.
Vertigo’s The Kitchen was one of my top 25 picks of the best new comics series to come out last year and with good reason too. Where Ollie Masters really captured the narrative feel of ’60s New York in the tale of three women making their own way after the arrest of their husbands, criminals all of them, artists Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire did the same with their amazing art, which pretty much perfectly captured the visual feel of the same. The first two issues have done a lot to flesh out this budding story, and it seems the team is still going all-guns-out.
The Kitchen #3 from last Wednesday furthers the story of Kath, Raven and Angie, picking up from the previous issue, at the end of which the women murdered a man who was trying to blackmail them. At the same time, one of their old friends, or rather a friend of their husbands’, is back in town and he joins up with them, leading to some really brutal scenes later on. As great as the previous two issues were, I think this one was even better. There’s something really compelling about how these three women are taking over their husbands’ businesses, and the art is pitch-perfect.
About 10 days ago, news hit the web that CW had finally gone ahead and renewed The Flash for a second season, and to go along with that we also learned that Arrow had been renewed for a fourth season. Phenomenal stuff. With all the new records that The Flash has set and with all the continuous positive buzz it has generated since the start, this was inevitable, but it is also great to see that the higher-ups also fully believe in the show. And well they should, because the first nine episodes were an awesome rollercoaster ride and the mid-season finale was totally awesome, by any metric you care to measure it by.
It is time for the mid-season premiere though, and Revenge of the Rogues has all the right feels for an episode that brings back a previous villain, and also introduces a new one, while also moving several other stories forward simultaneously and setting up yet more surprises for future episodes. In the wake of learning about the Man In The Yellow Suit, Barry has been working himself hard to up his abilities, to run faster, move faster, think faster. The Reverse-Flash showed him up again and again, and for their next confrontation, Barry wants to be ready. But when Captain Cold returns, this time with his friend and partner Heat Wave in tow, that’s when the show takes a huge step up to show that Barry Allen is every bit the same kind of guy we saw in the first episode, and that despite everything he has seen and done since his transformation, there are things about him that haven’t changed.
Fox’s Gotham had a very interesting mid-season finale in that it ended with Gordon demoted from being a Detective on the GCPD to a watchman at the Arkham facility, which had recently been the metaphorical scene for a war of control between Don Falcone and Don Maroni. Other characters weren’t all that well-off either, and it seemed that the show was going to take a rather dark turn, more so than expected, and that with the whole status quo shake-up things would get really interesting in that nothing was certain and there was a lot of chaos going on in everyone’s life, which works for me on one level.
But it seems that the writers aren’t really committed to making the new status quo stick for too long. Because while the mid-season premiere two weeks back was fairly solid and promised a lot, the follow-up this week (with a weird break in between) didn’t work so well for me. And that kind of highlights the shortcomings of the show in that the writers often put forward some really great ideas, but they don’t go the distance with them, coming up short to take things in a yet another direction. And that kind of rankles as a fan, particularly when one half of the cast doesn’t even get any screen-time in these two episodes! Criminal, I tell you!
Note: Some spoilers from these two episodes are mentioned in the review.
No “Magic 40″ in the first week of the new year, but the second week definitely sees me hit that landmark number, and with graphic novels mixed in to boot!
This week’s surprise hits were Angry Birds/Transformers #2 from IDW Publishing, Ares & Aphrodite #1 from Oni Press, Operation: S.I.N. #1 and Wolverines #1 from Marvel. The disappointments of the week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2 and Ant-Man #1 from Marvel and Future’s End #36 from DC. Ongoing greats like Swamp Thing #38 and Detective Comics #38 from DC, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #3 from Marvel, and John Carter: Warlord of Mars #3 from Dynamite to name a few were just as I expected them to be: superb.
As mentioned above, the graphic novels for the week were Legends of Red Sonja Volume 1 from Dynamite and Quest: Age of Darkness Volume 1 from Zenescope. The former was a fun book where Gail Simone brought together several different female prose writers, paired them with different artists, and wrote a grand, sweeping Red Sonja story. The latter was part of the publisher’s Age of Darkness event and was more a prequel story.
I skipped outon the previous week since there was a very small number of comics released, and I wasn’t really interested in reviewing more of them than I already did. So, welcome to the first good and proper edition of this new feature, and have a blast!
The picks for this week are: Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #3, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2, Operation: SIN #1, Detective Comics #37-38, Justice League 3000 #12-13 and Vampirella #7-8.
Last year I did a small roundup over at The Founding Fields with fellow reviewer Bane of Kings which contained a list of the best new comics to have come out in 2013. It was a rather small list with only 10 entries each from the two of us, reflecting our reading for the year and the consequent small pool to pick from. But in 2014, I greatly expanded my weekly reading, and so for the round-up of the best new comics to have come out in 2014, whether as mini-series or ongoings, I have decided to go much bigger.
There were a ton of new comics to come out last year and many of them started off well enough but unfortunately well by wayside since subsequent issues were nowhere near as good. That however, is a call to make on any new comic and you have to have a wait-and-see attitude for the most part. For this embiggened round-up, I have some mini-series here and some ongoing titles. Some have had multiple issues come out in 2014, while some have had less than three.
Irrespective of that, these are all the most promising new series of 2014, and I think that they are all well worth the read in 2015.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!