After all the build-up in the previous issues of Justice League Dark and The Phantom Stranger, writer J. M. DeMatteis gets things into gear finally with this week’s issue of the latter series. We’ve seen how the manifestation of pure evil that crossed over from Earth 3 to Earth 1 with the Crime Syndicate has begun to effect the supernatural-oriented heroes of the DC Universe and we’ve seen how Constantine and his allies have tried to take the fight to this manifestation, Blight, and failed. Now, Constantine has rebounded from that defeat by doing the impossible: bringing the Trinity of Sin to his doorstep in chains in order to solicit their help, essentially at the point of a gun.
Ever since DeMatteis took over on the series he has been turning out one great issue after another and this new issue follows that trend. It is moody, it has character drama, it has tension, it has action. Its got everything, in short, and DeMatteis has been incredibly consistent with his writing along with Fernando Blanco and Brad Anderson on the artwork. Issue #14 is where the status quo for all these characters really shifts and where a new (temporary) Justice League Dark is born.
Last time I mentioned that Sleepy Hollow had become a surprise hit for me after watching the first few episodes. I’m not a big fan of the horror/supernatural genre, but I’ve seen a few shows and movies over the years that I’ve liked, and a few that I haven’t. If done right, they can be quite good. If handled badly, they can be really terrible. Sleepy Hollow is a straight up horror show that works because first and foremost the characters are excellent and second, the stories are all engaging and brilliantly told with a clear overall narrative. The last of those two is quite important for any show, more so for one that really depends so much on the audience’s suspension of disbelief.
The first three episodes of the show really hooked me in right from the start. I’d started watching the show on a whim because of a passing interest at best but after that pilot and then the next few episodes, I couldn’t get enough of the show. As of writing this review, I’ve caught up with all nine episodes of the show so far (the tenth airs tomorrow) and its great to see that the writers have kept the overall story on track despite taking an occasional detour to tell some side stories that build on the overall narrative. These three episodes, they did a great job of building on the overall mythology of Sleepy Hollow and giving some new perspectives on all the events that have been going on in the town.
Slightly slow comic-reading week again, but not by all that much since I got to read a graphic novel as well, so that balances things out a little bit. Really interesting week this one, particularly with the launch of a Harley Quinn ongoing from DC Comics and some really good second issues or the start of new arcs for some of the other regular books.
The month is closing out now though, not all that much time left, just a handful of days, and I’d like to end the month on a good high. TO that end, I might well be reading two graphic novels at least this weekend to catch up on things a little since that particular reading pile creeps higher every week or two weeks. Getting almost scary now!
As a rule, I typically don’t watch shows with a supernatural bent to them. They don’t interest me all that much and my preferences are very particular within the genre. Buffy, Angel, Charmed, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, these are the ones I’ve watched and liked, except for Vampire Diaries which just bored me so much that I stopped mid-season. Vampires are good, if done right. Witches are good, if done right. But generally, I don’t watch them since I enjoy science fiction/fantasy shows much more, stuff like , Stargate, Smallville, Andromeda, Star Trek, Defiance, Game of Thrones, etc.
Recently I started watching Sleepy Hollow on recommendation from a couple of friends on Twitter and because of the overall positive buzz that the show was getting. It also helped that I really liked the trailer for the show, which promised a very interesting take on Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman urban myth/folk-tale/legend is a really interesting premise and I’ve seen numerous adaptations of it over the years. Among all of them, Fox’s adaptation stands out as the best, across the three episodes that I’ve seen so far.
This is the year that Wizards of the Coast goes really big. They are in the midst of launching the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons and to tie-in with that they are releasing a series of linked novels that tell of how all the changes to the D&D settings, such as the Forgotten Realms, end up happening. Each book is written by Wizards’ top talent and links to existing series. Bob Salvatore’s The Companions is the first tale of The Sundering and it is also the latest novel in Dark Elf Drizzt Do’Urden’s epic saga that has lasted for a great number of novels.
Paul S. Kemp’s latest, The Godborn, is the second book in The Sundering and it is also the latest in his Erevis Cale series that has lasted for seven novels thus far and doesn’t look like its going to stop anytime soon. I read the novel last month and it proved to be just as damn good a read as the previous two trilogies. There were a lot of plot threads left open at the end of the Twilight War trilogy, even as Paul provided a very satisfying, but emotional, conclusion. With the new novel, he addresses many of them and creates yet more mysteries, maintaining a healthy balance between the two.
Last year Marvel made controversial history when it killed off Peter Parker and brought in the notorious supervillain Doctor Octopus as the Spider-Man. Doc Ock is the one who killed Peter and took over his body and his memories, essentially becoming Peter Parker, and reinvented the persona of the hero as Superior Spider-Man. As I hadn’t really read any Spidey comics before, I wasn’t really interested in the status quo, not until I began to read Al Ewing’s Mighty Avengers and read Mike Costa’s 3-part crossover Arms of the Octopus.
This is my first comic reading fully about Spider-Ock in his own title. And I have to say that I really liked it. I’ve read Christos’ Angel & Faith comics before and I really liked them, so Christos is definitely a writer I’m willing to try on any title. He brings a simplicity to this issue that really works. This is a fairly good stand-alone story that ties into the larger story being told by Dan Slott, the series writer, and I think it served as a good intro to the reinvented character. It definitely did for me.
Managed to read a handful of more comics this week, since there were a lot of titles released that I was really interested in, and a couple from previous weeks that I hadn’t been able to get around to at the time. As usual, it was all a mixed reading experience, with some really good comics mixed in with some bad ones and a few that straddle the fence between the two extremes. More positive ones than negative ones.
No graphic novels this week sadly, since this week was a real slog in reading, again, and I was struggling for time in general with everything else too. Perhaps this coming week can be different!
Part of DC’s third wave of launch titles for its New 52 reboot from 2011 was The Phantom Stranger, written by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and drawn by Brett Anderson. I picked up the zero issue (which was the first of the new ongoing) in September last year but I wasn’t too taken with it. The story just didn’t work for me, and I ended up ignoring the title altogether. But then came the Trinity War event this year and since a different writer was on the series at the time, I decided to read the tie-in issues and see if things had gotten better. They had.
I’ve been reading The Phantom Stranger since issue #10 (July), and I have to say that I’m really enjoying. There’s something about DeMatteis’ writing that really draws you in, presents a compelling character that you can really follow, with some great premises in each issue and a great build-up of all the mysteries in Phantom Stranger’s life. It also helps that Fernando Blanco is an excellent artist. All of which means that, first with Trinity War and now with the Forever Evil: Blight arcs, I’m really enjoying this series.
Note: This review contains spoilers for Trinity War and possibly the Forever Evil story so far.
Slow reading this week, mostly because of the fact that my weekend was taken up entirely with celebrations for Diwali, an annual Indian festival, and because the National Novel Writing Month began on the weekend too. So I was either having a blast with cousins, and getting tired out a lot, or doing lots of writing on a new project which you can read about here.
Right mix of comics once again, some of them disappointing, some of them unexpectedly good, and some in between as well. Got another graphic novel finished this week, which was good. I’ve had it on my reading list for ages now, so its nice to get that out of the way and reduce my immense reading pile by that much at least. Pretty tough to maintain a reading list as long as mine.
Next week, or this week rather, should be good since there are a lot of cool comics coming out. And I’m hoping to get another graphic novel out of the way. We’ll see.
Earlier this year, in January, I set myself a very particular reading challenge. The goal of this reading challenge was to read through 25 different SFF series (link), from across the genres and across times. To be specific, I wanted to read through at least 12 of these various series, to get a start on them. I hit that mark sometime in July, with Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy #1: The Assassin’s Apprentice (review). As of last month, I added another notch to that reading challenge by reading Jaye Wells’ first Sabina Kane novel, The Red-Headed Stepchild.
Throughout the year, I’ve read all sorts of novels, good, bad, decent, meh, everything. Fortunately, Jaye’s novel proved to be one of the better ones. Urban Fantasy wasn’t all that big a genre for me until late last year and since then I’ve had a lot of fun with the genre. For me, The Red-Headed Stepchild stands as one of the better examples of the genre, a really fun and interesting story throughout, with a hell of a lot things to recommend itself.