Recently, and starting with Homeland, I’ve come to take an interest in contemporary espionage shows. There’s something quite fascinating about FBI, CIA agents and others of their kind taking down the bad guys, mass murderers and terrorists and more. After having seen the first three episodes of Homeland a while back however, I’ve kind of fallen off due to other shows (not that Homeland is boring or bad or anything, quite the contrary), but watching The Blacklist recently has gotten me really interested in the whole genre once again.
The reason that I started watching The Blacklist in the first place is because of the lead actor James Spader. I’ve seen a lot of his films, especially the sci-fi flick Stargate that spawned no less than three spin-off shows, and have seen him in Boston Legal as well where he was just amazing alongside William Shatner. Spader is a great actor and I dived into The Blacklist last week nothing about the show. It so happened that I loved it, and now, having seen the first three episodes, I can say that the show is really good. Almost all the actors are top-notch and the plots are quite interesting as well, which always helps.
The end of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Zero Year arc on Batman is just around the corner now. From the very first issue of this arc, they’ve both delivered a fantastic reading experience (minus #25 which was a bit of a downer), and the extended art team has also been on top form. Retelling the origins of as iconic a character as Batman is no easy feat, but I feel that the team has performed admirably thus far. With Batman #27, out yesterday, we are in the final arc of this chapter, and the dominoes are all beginning to fall together finally.
In the last couple issues, we’ve seen a ton of character exploration while the plot continues to progress forwards. The overall arc took a bit of a detour with introducing a new villain in Batman #25 and while we have yet to see much of him, or the Riddler for that matter, the story has been good. Seeing a young Batman’s violent interactions with the Gotham City Police Department, and Gordon in particular, has definitely been a big highlight, and this issue is all about that.
The Fall 2013 season has been quite good for television programming, what with Arrow returning for an awesome second season and the launch of new shows like Almost Human and Sleepy Hollow which have been really good so far from all that I’ve seen. Agents of SHIELD has been the only down-kicker, of all the new stuff I’ve seen in the last few months. Joining the line-up of good shows returning for the second half of their new (or debut, as appropriate) seasons is ABC’s Killer Women, a show seemingly styled along the likes of Chuck Norris’ classic Texas Ranger, except with a female protagonist, which is pretty damn great.
Tricia Helfer, of Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice, Tron: Uprising and Two And A Half Men fame among others, plays the lead character Molly Parker. Molly is a Texas Ranger, newly minted and she’s a tough no-nonsense individual who goes on instincts more than she does protocol. The series premiere was broadcast earlier this week and I’d say that its off to a good start. Sure, there are some cliches here, but I wouldn’t condemn the show just on the pilot. I’ll give it my Agents of SHIELD treatment, give it until a mid-season mark or something before deciding whether to stick with or drop it. But right now, I’m definitely sticking with it.
Welcome to the first CPoTW post of the year. Technically this should be the last of the previous year, but publishers did this funny thing where the new comics came out on 31st December, so, you get the picture.
This was an extremely thin week of comics reading for me, and I’m not quite sure what more to say more than that. I read just six comics in total and as it turns out, they all happened to be good. I suppose that even a reading machine like me needs a break now and then. And I could probably have used it, in hindsight, since I moved through through three graphic novels in the previous week. And that’s a lot. At least, all six of these new comics were good!
Part of Image Comics’ 2031 fall line-up, Rocket Girl debuted in October and quickly become quite a favourite. A mix of a near-future setting where there are teen cops, a fun protagonist with a really fun attitude and personality who is one of those teen cops, time travel into the past, and overall some really good writing and art, Rocket Girl was definitely among my favourite reads of the month. All the elements put together by writer Brandon Montclare and artist Amy Reeder really gelled as a whole for the debut issue and I hoped that the next two issues would hold up to that.
Which they do. Rocket Girl #2 and #3 came out soon after, in November and then December, and they have both been as good as the first, at the least. There’s been a slight bit of dodginess with the script, but nothing too severe and not enough for me to not enjoy the story at all as it turns out. What matters most here is that both these issues have continued to do some really fun things with the characters and the setting, and there have been surprises galore to keep me hooked on for the rest of it.
A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
Almost Human is one of the newest shows to join the Fall line-up of television entertainment and it is yet another police procedural. But where it departs from the norm is that it is also an SF thriller through and through. It is set in the future and in this setting, each cop is paired up with a synthetic, an android cop. The ever-fantastic Karl Urban and the excellent Michael Ealy are in the lead roles here and much as with Fox’s Sleepy Hollow pairing of Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, the interaction between the two leads is what really helps sell the show.
I’d seen the trailer for the show a few weeks ago when io9 ran a round-up of the debut shows, but I’d forgotten about it since then. But a couple friends on Twitter were talking about them recently and I got interested all over again. So I decided to watch the shows, and came away with yet another big hit for myself. With Arrow, Sleepy Hollow and now Almost Human, my TV viewing has never been better. Almost Human hits pretty much all the right notes for me and the storytelling, the visuals, and the acting are all top-notch in here.
After a slight bit of delay, Witchblade #171 is finally out. When Witchblade #170, marking the start of a new arc on the title with Ron Marz returning after a long time, came out in October, I was pretty damn excited for the issue, being a big fan of Witchblade and Sara Pezzini. Joining Ron on the title was artist Laura Braga, and together they turned out a fairly good issue that was better than I had expected. Not having kept up with the series for a while, I felt I would be lost, but with the new arc, Ron and Laura turned out a great jumping-on point.
Witchblade #171 continues the arc begin in the previous issue and it deepens the mystery surrounding the cliffhanger ending that we saw at the end of that issue. And the flashback scenes are perfectly placed to move along the overall narrative. The ending to this issue is just as damn awesome as the one for the previous issue, and given the flashback, it makes a strange kind of sense. The mysteries continue and everything looks pretty darn good for sure.
As far as me experimenting with non-superhero comics is concerned, Image has been my go-to publisher of choice. They have an incredible diverse array of books out right now and they continue to add more each month. One of the new properties they added this year is Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus, a post-apocalyptic series featuring a female protagonist. With its 4-issue first arc, the creators set up a really great setting with some great characters and despite the extra one-month break in-between the last issue and the new one, my interest in the series has not dimmed at all.
The first arc ended rather explosively, with quite a few things going down and the new issue picks up where #4 left off so that we see what kind of a fallout those events have had and how the characters themselves have changed and adapted to suit the new status quo. Apart from everything else, Rucka and Lark take us back in to the past with a great flashback, and we get to see even more of the world as it has come to be. Particularly, we see what kind of events have shaped Forever as she is. And that’s a huge part of the fun of the new issue.
This month, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s big-arc on Batman continues with the sixth installment of the Zero Year plotline that last month extended to several other titles as well and gave us a crossection of what was happening in the city at this time from the perspective of the other heroes, many of whom were basically just beginning to reinvent themselves as vigilantes out for justice on the streets, for one reason or another. Last month’s issues of Batman was actually quite disappointing for me, in many respects, and I was somewhat apprehensive about this issue.
I needn’t have been though, because Scott and Greg come back into this week’s release with a bang. I’m not really sure what last month’s issue was, just a blip on the radar perhaps, but I’m happy to say that this one is a true Scott/Greg issue, what they’ve been giving us since the New 52 launched. This issue was a damn fun read, despite from all the serious stuff that happened here, and all the big revelations (of sorts) that were to be had. This is the kind of stories that I want these two guys to tell, because they are good at this kind of stuff.