DC’s Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman got off to a really great start last year, but somewhere along the way, it kind of lost its momentum with some really odd stories that seemed to be shoehorned in, for no reason at all. And that’s kind of why I felt turned off from the experience of reading the comics, and even writing the reviews, because I didn’t want to review what I saw as less-than-expected. There were some good stories in the middle, sure, but mostly, it was all just rather boring.
Thankfully, issues #33 through #35 provide something of a revival in that respect. Some of the recent stories have been really good, and I think that it is this arc, Vendetta, that puts it all into perspective. Written by Josh Elder, this arc is all about a fateful encounter between Diana and Ares, set against the backdrop of a racial civil war in a war-torn African country. It feels simplistic at first, but it has a great message, and that’s the true value of it. The art by Jamal Igle, Juan Castro, Wendy Broome and Deron Bennett is also fairly decent, though it could use some improvements.
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.
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.
CW’s debut superhero spinoff show has been going all-out of late. While things have been heating up with regards to the overall mystery of Dr. Harrison Wells and the Reverse-Flash, the various characters’ lives have also been affected a great deal. Some characters have come out of it positively, while others haven’t. But that’s fine I suppose since the cast of the show is so big. And through all of it, there’s always that strong sense of optimism that the good guys, even while the villain of the show carries out his inside-man job.
Last week’s “Who is Harrison Wells?” and this week’s “The Trap” showcase really well how things are changing on the show. For the good guys, Harrison Wells’ secret is out in the open, they just have to find some solid proof of all the criminal things he has done so that the biggest mystery of the show can be finally solved as far as the CCPD is concerned: did Barry’s father really kill his mother? That has certainly been the driving force for Barry since that fateful night, and we are finally getting some major revelations, with these two episodes leading the way as The Flash
‘s debut season moves into its final stretch with just three more episodes to go.
Two episodes back The Flash finally addressed the question of whether Barry would get to time travel or not when he accidentally went back in time for about a day, and then ended up repeating that day (to a degree). The writers also did well in addressing the notion of what happens when you time travel, how you do it, and what the consequences can be. Of course, the time travel was important in more ways than one since in the “repeat” events unfolded in a manner conducive to Dr. Wells not killing Cisco, so that was a thumbs-up in my eyes. Some of the other things though, well, they really didn’t sit well with me.
And the two most recent episodes, “Tricksters” and “All Star Team Up” haven’t really done much to address those issues. If anything, things have kind of gotten worse, at least as far as Iris and her relationship with everyone is concerned. In last week’s episode we saw the amazing Mark Hamill return to the franchise as the Trickster, though now aged and past his prime when the CCPD gets him to consult on a case that ties into his legacy. Suffice to say, it was an explosive episode in the way that only an episode with the Trickster can be. And in this week’s episode, we saw yet another crossover with Arrow when Ray Palmer and Felicity arrive in Central City to consult with the STAR Labs team on Ray’s suit, and all sorts of hilarious shenanigans follow, including one of the most… well, weird villains the show has had to date.
The Flash last week ended on a pretty exciting note: Barry doing some real time travel finally, amid a whole host of other complications for the scarlet speedster that leave him in some of the most complicated situations of his life as a superhero. With all that happened in last week’s episode, what I wanted out of the episode this week was to go big and go explosive because it is a pretty big freaking moment for everyone involved on the show, and the trip getting there was certainly one to talk about and go home to.
In this week’s episode, “Rogue Time“, we have the consequences of Barry time-traveling as he did. Like I said, it was a pretty big moment, with him going back in time almost an entire day, and this episode lays out just what that is going to cost him in the long run. For one, though Cisco doesn’t die in the “new” day, and Barry is able to ensure that Mark Mardon is caught well in time, the Rogues are back in town and they make life hell for Barry. And all the complications of time travel mean that it is not just Barry’s superhero life that is affected, but also is his personal life, especially his relationships to two other characters.
Note: This review contains some major spoilers about this episode.
We currently live in one of the greatest periods in comics history. First, superhero movies have become the real BIG thing on the box office and there are several studios scrambling to get a slice of the big pie it is and create some lasting legacies. Second, superhero television has continued to grow at a breakneck pace in the last three years, surpassing most expectations I dare say, even after all the previous greats that we’ve already had. And leading the charge for superhero television right now is CW’s The Flash, which has done much to incorporate comic-book concepts in a realistic way for the audience and also balance the humour and the grim realities really well.
About a month ago, The Flash left us off with a great episode that did much to cement the place of yet another superhero in the incredible line-up of CW’s other characters, Firestorm. The episode also finally gave us a good view of Gorilla Grodd, in an epic scene that involved Harrison Wells and General Eiling as well. Returning this week, the show kind of got back to the basics as Clyde Mardon’s brother Mark Mardon returned to Starling to avenge his brother’s death, while also moving forward with the whole “identity of the Reverse-Flash” plot that has been swinging about in the story for a good while now.
There haven’t been any “Comics Picks of the Week” articles for a while, and the major reason for that is because I’ve just been too caught up with other stuff and I just can’t be… well bothered. It just takes too much out of my time to keep these titles going, especially when Wednesdays also see me trying to get through two TV shows and doing reviews for them. Though, that situation has kind of abated now.
Anyway, this week’s surprise hits were Batman: Arkham Knight #2 and Gotham Central Book 1 from DC. It was a relatively small week for me since I didn’t read all that many new titles and most of those were middling. Ongoing greats were Django/Zorro #4, John Carter: Warlord of Mars #4, Fantastic Four #643 , Inhuman #12, Aquaman #39 , Catwoman #39 , and He-Man: The Eternity War #3 among others .
Not much of a secret of late that ever since Selina took over as the Head of the Calabrese-Kyle family that things have been heating up between the various crimelords of Gotham. She is a completely new element thrown into the picture, someone who never worked well with any of the others, being a lone wolf of sorts, but now she is suddenly at the head of the entire pack. Since taking over from the previous writer, Genevieve Valentine has been crafting a pretty incredible tale with the “former” Catwoman, and artists Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge have clearly enjoyed going to town with the new status quo of the titular character.
With all that Selina has been through of late, there are still plenty of challenges ahead of her and this past week’s Catwoman #39 presents one of the many ways in which she has started to bounce back after all the setup of the previous issue. This time, she takes Roman Sionis head on and even attempts to influence the Hasigawa family. Her enemies are all converging on her, and Genevieve shows that Selina is at her best with her back to the wall. This issue also presents some new opportunities to the artists, and they deliver quite well on the expectations.
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.