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 .
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!
The eleventh book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for James Lovegrove’s Age of Shiva, the latest novel in his Pantheon series. The new novel is a major departure from the previous novels since it covers Hindu Mythology this time, and presents the most compelling “origin” yet of the superhero-ish characters to be found within. With a subtle story that also deals with issues of cultural misappropriation and religious satire, Age of Shiva stands as one of the best novels I’ve read this year.
The first of the eleventh set of comic covers I pick this year is for John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 by Ron Marz, Abhishek Malsuni, Nanjan Jamberi and Rob Steen, with the cover by Bart Sears (another variant this time). The second is for Justice League #36 by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Carlos M. Mangual with the cover by Jason and Brad. The third and final cover is for Velvet #8 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser and Chris Eliopoulos, with the cover by Steve and Elizabeth. The first of these is obviously the first in a new series, one that has been pretty damn good in its first issues, with its soft reboot of John Carter’s mythology as developed by Dynamite and going in a very different to before. The second is for a series that I’ve recently come back to, only to find that two of my favourite artists are now on the title, which pleases me immensely, and the AMAZO virus story has been pretty fun I’ll admit. The third one is for a title that I think is one of the best ongoing titles of this year, by a good margin, with its focus on an awesome female protagonist and some great noir spy-action.
So without further ado, hit the break to see all the covers in their full glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
I’ve said this before and I say it again, Image’s Velvet keeps getting better with every issue almost without fail. Against all my expectations, this title has gotten better and better with time, and both the writing and the art have been the cause of that from the start. Velvet Templeton is a fantastic superspy who is so much better than any superspy in pop culture. This series has drama and action in equal measure while still maintaining he noir vibe that is at the heart of the series. Recently, she has taken some really drastic measures, and it is time for them to pay off now.
In this past week’s Velvet #8, we see what happens after Velvet kidnaps the Director of ARC-7, the spy organisation she was a part of until she seemingly went rogue back in the first issue. Ever since finding out abou the very recent death of an ARC-7 agent, she has been a woman on a mission, retracing his steps and also going back in time as she discovers some secrets about her own past and her field service for ARC-7. In the new issue, Ed Brubaker really ramps things up while Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser deliver some gorgeous visuals.
In a few short weeks, comics fans will be treated to Gotham, a gritty noir-styled live-action show that deals in the early days and the origins of some of the greatest heroes and villains in Gotham City, the home of one of the world’s most well-known superhero vigilantes, Batman. After the success of Arrow, Warner Bros. is launching several new shows this Fall season and Gotham is one of them, with a main cast that includes Gotham stalwarts Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, as well as villains such as Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot and others.
To mark the upcoming debut of the show, DC this week released a reprint of Gotham Central Special Edition #1, which is the prequel to Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, three of the biggest names in comics these days. This one-shot issue deals with a regular investigation gone wrong as Mr. Freeze steps in on the scene, and shows how Gotham’s finest deal with the danger of the supervillain running loose once more in the city. Rucka and Brubaker have crafted a really engaging tale here, which is brought to life by Lark and the other artists.
With everything going on right now, I had doubts whether I’d be able to get through many comics this week but it seems that this was indeed the week where I surprised myself in a big way. Not only did I catch up on quite a few new titles, but I also managed to read two graphic novels this week, one of them at almost 300 pages no less!
The surprise hits of this week were Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor #2 from Titan Comics, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division #2 from IDW Publishing and Inhuman #5 from Marvel Comics. This week’s surprise flops were Caliban #6 from Avatar Press, Grim Tales of Terror #3 from Zenescope, and Superman Unchained #8 from DC Comics. Of the others, they were mostly great, and I loved that both G.I. Joe Volume 1 and Witchblade Volume 3 are among my absolute favourite graphic novel reads of the year!
Each month I am more and more impressed with Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. In the title’s first arc they’ve taken the protagonist on an almost globe-hopping mission of investigation into the death of one of Britain’s finest intelligence agents, and they’ve done so by creating a protagonist who is nuanced, balanced, and one of the finest portrayals of female characters in comics, especially espionage comics. Velvet Templeton ranks as one of my favourite characters in comics since last year, when the title debuted, and the high of that has continued ever since.
As Velvet moves into a new phase, especially with respect to Velvet’s solo investigation, we see the action and the pure intensity of the story get really ramped up. We now know that the main reason Velvet gave up being a field operative for ARC-7 was because she had been ordered to kill her husband on their honeymoon, on suspicions of him being a mole. Issues #6 and #7 deal with the fallout of this realization and show that Velvet really means business when it comes to finding out about the truth. Truly, the art and the story have never been as good as they’ve been in these two issues.
As per my plans, I didn’t do one of these posts in the past 2 weeks since I was on a holiday. And a great holiday it was indeed. I didn’t get to do more than a very small handful of reviews, more like just two or three in all, but I managed to read a fair bit and kept myself on target for my comics reading.
The surprise hits of this week were Storm #1 from Marvel and Star Spangled War Stories #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman #33 from DC Comics. Not exactly a bad comic but just a disappointing one. All the other comics were pretty much good, excepting Flash #33, where I still can’t really connect with what the new creative team is doing there. I wanted to read a trade paperback comic as well during this week, but the first few days of the vacation were very busy and all these comics were pretty much read in the last 2-3 days of the week so that didn’t happen.
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the novels I have read in the first half of this year. That list followed the same format that I have been using for 2 years now, but with this new list I decided to make a big departure, owing to how many comics I’ve been reading in recent months, often 80+ comics in a single month! That’s crazy.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the year. The next post will be at the end of the year for the second half of the year.
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!