The first half of Realm War: Age of Darkness was packed with a hell of a lot of action. Writer Joe Brusha devoted a lot of time to fleshing out the post-Grimm Fairy Tales #100 world, one in which the bad guys won and took over the realms, even as the heroes rose up again to fight them, to reclaim their individual worlds. And things have certainly been downhill for them for most of the way. It was a rather classical approach, and it worked out well for me, for Brusha presented lots of fun mysteries and relationships, even as artists Sami Kivela and Maxflan Araujo went to town on the illustrations and all the cool action sequences and what have you.
But, Realm War #7 marks a turning point in that we move into the second half of this epic crossover, and the good guys are now starting to make some real headway. Despite all the adversity, all the losses and the betrayals, it looks like the good guys finally have a real chance of stopping the Dark Queen (retrospectively we know already that they win, courtesy of the other titles from the publisher, namely Grimm Fairy Tales itself). Issues 7 through 9 are full of more epic action, more character moments, etc, and it is the ninth issue that finally gets the ball really rolling, as the heroes strike out for a major blow against the villains, a definitive one in fact.
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.
With all the meta-level shenanigans that have been going on in Zenescope’s Realm War: Age of Darkness series of late, it is easy sometimes to lose sight of the small details. But they are always there, and each issue focuses on something different from the rest. This then ends up giving space to some of these mysteries to develop in each issue, and that’s what I love about this ensemble-cast series, that it focuses on both the meta and the more immediate stories so you get a healthy balance of both.
In Realm War: Age of Darkness #6 from this past week, we finally learn one of the biggest secrets of the Grimm Universe, and thus are able to finally figure out why Robyn has been such an important character since her birth, and why Lucinda the Dark Queen courted her so damn much, eventually turning over the Realm Knight to the cause of the evil and mighty Dark Horde. But that’s not everything here since we also get to see how Sela and the others are holding up in the face of constant attacks by the Dark Horde and how it is breaking them all on an emotional level.
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!
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the comics I read in the second half of 2014. And back in July of 2014, I did the first “best comics of 2014” post. The reason I mention that is because of the changes I’ve made for this list. While previously I used to do it so that I put up my top 6 comics, in July’14 I did a top 12 on account of the increased number of comics I was reading at the time. And that same holds true for this list as well since I’ve gone up on the number yet again, and this list has the top 20 and then 20 honourable mentions.
More comics, yay!
So, with the books of the second half of 2014 already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the same period. The next post will be a list of the top graphic novels I read in all of 2014.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
As I’ve mentioned in several places this year, Zenescope’s Age of Darkness crossover event has been really good from all that I’ve read and it continues to be so as the event progresses. Going on for almost a year now, with a lot of prep before that, we’ve seen how the Realms have come under attack from all sides and how the heroes have been tested by their before enemies and how, for the moment, that villains have gained the upper hand. I jumped into the story in the middle of everything back in with the Grimm Fairy Tales #0 FCBD issue, and then carried on with some of the specials that came along, but I didn’t go back to read the whole story from the beginning until much later.
Age of Darkness Volume 1 collects issues 94-98 of Grimm Fairy Tales and also the Dark Queen: Age of Darkness one-shot that preceded the first of those, back in January. While the lead-up to the event had been happening before that, it wasn’t until the Dark Queen: Age of Darkness one-shot that things really kicked off when the Dark Queen made herself known to the Realm Knights. What followed after that in the flagship Grimm Fairy Tales was basically a bunch of one-shots that touched on many of the different things happening in the Realms as the heroes and villains made their moves and countermoves against each other. And in all of this, one thing was a constant: Lucinda is an insane evil queen and she wants what she wants, no matter who or what she has to destroy. Kind of fun!
The seventh book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Star Trek: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow, which is the fourth novel in last year’s The Fall quintology, itself a series that is a part of the larger Typhon Pact mega-arc in the setting. James carried on from David Mack’s excellent A Ceremony of Losses in this novel, and the story he told, focusing on William Riker and Tuvok, among other characters, totally pulled me in. There’s a larger story at work here of course, and I’d certainly recommend reading from the first novel in this series, Revelation and Dust by David R. George III, which is a bit of a rough start, but builds up towards the end and the other two novels after that, The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack and David Mack’s A Ceremony of Losses are all damn good reads.
The seventh set of comic covers I pick this year are for Death Vigil #1 by Stjepan Sejic, with cover by him as well, and the second of the set is for Grimm Fairy Tales #99 by Joe Brusha, Joel Ojeda, Stephen Schaffer, Eric Arciniega and Jim Campbell with the cover by Artgerm. Death Vigil is Stjepan’s first full work in that he is the writer and artist both, and he has been absolutely fantastic on this series. Month after month he’s delivered a great story and even better art, and the title is definitely among the best of the debuts this year. Grimm Fairy Tales #99 is basically one of the keystone moments of Zenescope’s massive Age of Darkness crossover event that has been going on for more than a year already, and it sets in motion some of the biggest events of the crossover, and is a prelude to the big… defeat of the Realm Knights themselves, the guardians of all the different Realms that connect to Earth in Zenescope’s reimagining of various fairy tales and folk tales and other myths and legends.
So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.
No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.
Zenescope’s Age of Darkness event has still been moving steadily ahead after Grimm Fairy Tales #100 in the current mini-series Realm War that looks at the world as it in the aftermath of the Horde’s victory over all the different realms. Even as the heroes try to gather their forces for a strike at their enemy, the villains are having some problems of their own, though they are still quite powerful and the writing and the art both have been pretty spectacular since the start, which is a huge bonus indeed as a reader.
This week’s Realm War #5 proved to be just as exciting an issue as any of the previous ones, as far as I’m concerned. While it gives the story a lot of forward momentum and marks finally moving against Lucinda, given everything that has been happening elsewhere, it also did a lot to show what Lucinda the Dark Queen is planning and how she plans to deal with all insurrection, whether internal or external. Goes without saying really that I loved the art a lot here and the writing was pretty good too, given all that writer Joe Brusha tries to do here. Read the rest of this entry
Hit the almost-magic number of 35 once again and though I have yet to repeat my personal best of 40, I think this was my best week regardless since I managed to read 31 singles and 4 graphic novels. That definitely counts as an achievement, yes?
My surprise hits for this week would be Tales of Honor #1 from Top Cow, Swamp Thing Annual #3 from DC, Inhuman #7, Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 and Deathlok #1 all from Marvel. Those that count among this week’s top disappointments would be Conan the Avenger #7 from Dark Horse. Justice League United Annual #1 from DC. Others like Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #4 and Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood #3 from Zenescope, Wayward #3 from Image, The Flash Volume 2 from DC, and a bunch of others were as good as I expected them to be, probably better even.
The graphic novels for this week were Supergirl Volume 4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, The Flash Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul, Krypton Returns by Various and Thanos: The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin.
Among the many things that have happened in the wake of the epochal events of Grimm Fairy Tales #100 and the victory of the Dark Horde over the Realms, we have seen that tensions between the Dark Queen and the Dark One are at their worst. While the former glories in her new-found power and victory, the latter is increasingly relegated to the background and even insulted at every turn as the events of the recently-concluded Inferno: Rings of Hell show. This is the cornerstone of how the events of Realm War are going to play out and it is a most interesting time indeed for GFT fans.
After what happened in Realm War #3, I was very excited to see how the new issue this past week would play out. Robyn up against Britney and Sela? That is Grimmverse gold right there. The mystery of what the Dark Queen did to turn Robyn against the good guys deepens even further in this issue, and we see how it further affects the already-tenuous relationship between Malec and the Dark Queen. And amongst all of this, there is precious little good news for the good news. Joe Brusha’s story and Sami Kivela’s pencils are at their best in this issue, though at times the artwork seemed a little forced. Read the rest of this entry
Lightning strikes in the same place for a third time. I mentioned last week that I read 38 singles and 2 graphic novels for that release week, and that holds true for this week as well. I had a chance to read a bit more, but I chose to use that time to get done with some of my novel reading and also catch up with some of my reviews. 15 titles out of 40 read were reviewed by me this week. I feel good!
The surprise hits of this week were Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1, both from Dark Horse Comics, Pathfinder: City of Secrets #5 from Dynamite Entertainment, Catwoman: Future’s End #1 from DC Comics, Hack-Slash: Son of Samhain #2 and Chew Volume 1 both from Image Comics. Comics which disappointed me this week were Edge of Spider-Verse #3 from Marvel Comics, Sensation Comics #7 from DC Comics, and… that’s it thankfully! The graphic novels of this week were Chew Volume 1 and Thor: God of Thunder Volume 3.