The 2014-15 season has been pretty incredible for the DC universe. Not only did we have CW’s Arrow returning for a third season, but we also had The Flash on CW as well, alongwith projects like Gotham and Constantine on others. Not to mention some of the other stuff that is in the works, such as the recently announced Legends of Tomorrow, which is going to be the second spin-off show for Arrow (a truly awesome achievement by the way!), and the upcoming Supergirl.
Yes, Supergirl is coming to television for the 2015-16 season! And last night, CBS released a “First Look” trailer for the show, which appears to be basically a(n) (extended) teaser from the upcoming pilot episode. Can. Not. Wait!
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.
Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ Wayward from Image has been one of the best new titles I’ve read in the last year or so. The series hit the ground running back in August, and seemed to kick all sorts of ass as it progressed through to the conclusion of its first arc. And that final arc was certainly quite explosive too, in more ways than one, and it was also an unexpected one. Jim Zub took some pretty big chances with that finale, and I think it served the series well, and of course the art by Steve & Co has been up to showing off those chances in as great a light as possible.
Issues 6 & 7 of Wayward start off a new storyline with a new central character. This time we get to spend some time with Rori’s classmate Ohara Emi who develops some powers of her own and ends up hooking up with Ayane and Nikaido, who have become… freelancers of sorts. Following the end of Wayward #5 they have been taking the fight to the demons as best as they can, and Emi’s journey as part of their team really helps shine a light on the new direction that the series is taking, and that’s pretty darn great too!
Last month Dark Horse and Dynamite finally launched their collaborative new series, Conan/Red Sonja, which brings two of the biggest swords-and-sorcery heroes together once again. The first issue detailed the first meeting between the two of them, and it proved to be all-out fun, beating my expectations of the title, whether we talk about the story or the art. Collaborative projects can’t be easy to pull off but if Conan/Red Sonja is any indication, then things are going to go great for this series, which is great as far as I’m concerned.
Conan/Red Sonja #2 is the second meeting between the two titular heroes, and an interesting meet-up it is too. And more than just the titular heroes, we also have two of their greatest allies as well, Belit for Conan and Annisia for Sonja. The two sides meet together in a naval battle, and the story involves some really hard-hitting action from both sides while the art portrays that to the fullest. This issue is another example of the finest that you can expect from a creative team that includes the likes of Gail Simone, Jim Zub, Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart.
As part of the celebrations for the tenth anniversary of Dynamite publishing Red Sonja comics, the publisher last month launched a new series with the character, Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle, which explores the character when she is way past the prime of her life and has taken to opening an academy where young women are given weapons training and are prepared for war. The first issue was excellent, with Nancy A. Collins and Luke Lieberman displaying a great grasp of what makes the character who she is while artists Fritz Casas and Adriano Lucas nailing the visual feel of the book.
Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #2 from this past week carries on from where the first issue left off and it deals with Sonja and her students bringing the priest Sefkh back to the Academy to question and interrogate him about the demon Sonja dealt with back in the city. Set’s son Sutekh has been let loose in the world and he has made war on the entire world, intent on bringing it all down and then offering it to his god-father. The writing here was even better than it had been in the first issue, and the art is pretty much on par, so I had a blast reading this issue as well.
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.
Last Fast-Shot Comics Review for comics released in January 2015!
The picks for this week are: Bitch Planet #2, Jungle Book: Fall of The Wild #2, Robyn Hood #6, Wolverines #1-4, Gotham By Midnight #1-3 and Unity #13-14.
It isn’t without reason that one of DC’s newest books, Gotham Academy, has found such success among the glut of superhero comics everywhere. A story set in Gotham that focuses on kids in a school environment with some inbuilt horror and thrills, Gotham Academy has quickly become one of my favourite comics to read every month. The writing on this is excellent, and so is the art. Plus I just adore the characters, and the whole mystery with what happened to the protagonist over the summer, something related to Batman no less, well, that’s a great hook too, I think.
In Gotham Academy #4 from last week, we see more of what is happening at the boarding school. With all the (light) supernatural things going on, it has been a pretty rough time for Olive and we are finally beginning to get some answers about the whole thing, not to mention that we are slightly closer to understanding what happened to the protagonist over the summer. More mysteries, more thrills, some answers, more questions, there’s a hell of a lot here to unpack and the new issue was just as good as the previous issues, if not better.
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.
With two solid arcs behind them, writer Gail Simone and artist Walter Geovani kicked off their third arc on Red Sonja last November in a story that revisited the character’s roots and also shed some light on the most defining moment of her life, the murder of her family and the rest of her village. Of course, going back to the roots doesn’t mean that it is all a song and dance because there’s actually a dark twist to things here, and that’s where Red Sonja #13 really excelled. It paved the way forward for yet another superb engrossing story and I’ve been waiting for the second installment ever since.
In Red Sonja #14, coming some two months after the release of the previous issue, we see what is happening to Sonja with the curse that has been placed upon her by a dying necromancer, the curse to never be able to forgive anyone and to take serious offense at the lightest insult, even a perceived one. Suffice to say, things are tough, and as the big baddy of the arc makes his own appearance, it is clear that with all that the character has faced recently, her true troubles are just getting started.
When it comes to swords and sorcery fantasy, there are no bigger icons than Conan and Red Sonja I must say. Sure, there might be some other heroes out there as well, but the creations of Robert E. Howard and Roy Thomas have well-stood the test of time and are very popular today in the comics world with the recent ongoings from Dark Horse and Dynamite Entertainment respectively. So it only stands to reason that there would be a crossover between the two properties, given that they are both set in the same world.
Conan/Red Sonja was meant to come out last year, around February/March, but for whatever reason it got pushed back to almost a year, and the wait has certainly been a long one. Jim Zub and Gail Simone have been given the task of shepherding this series, and I think that they did a splendid job here. This story chronicles the first meeting of these two heroes and it is well-paced with some great dialogue. The art by Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart is also excellent, being a bit stylized but also very action-packed and free-flowing. For me, who has been waiting for it for so long, Conan/Red Sonja #1 is pretty much what I wanted it to be, and then some.