Not as busy a week as the last but fairly busy nonetheless. The new creative teams on various ongoing titles continue to go strong, particularly Justice League Dark and Witchblade while some of the newer titles like Black Science continue to be exception, so that’s one thing that I really liked about this past week. January in particular has been a really excellent month of comics what with Marvel’s full-on All-New Marvel NOW! launch and some really good issues for DC’s Forever Evil event.
Just one graphic novel again this week, the Lee/Buscema magnificence that is Silver Surfer: Judgement. I was meaning to read at least one more, but time wasn’t on my side and I missed out. Hopefully the new month gets off to a good start.
The road to the end of Forever Evil: Blight begins here in Justice League Dark #27. It has been five months coming, but we are finally moving towards the finale here. First with Trinity War and then with Forever Evil, this book has become one of my favourites of the New 52. The current series writer J. M. DeMatteis has done excellent in carrying on from where Jeff Lemire left off at the end of Trinity War. Now, I’ve liked everything that he has done with the current crossover and this issue in particular really does its job well.
This is one of DC’s “Dark” novels and in that vein, DeMatteis does an excellent job of showing just what that entails. This is not just any other superhero book, this is a superhero book which combines magic with the weird. We have seen a lot of big stuff happen in this book thus far and the trend continues. Great action all throughout, great magic all throughout, and Mikel Janin doing some of his best work with his fellow inkers and colourist.
So welcome to the first Comics Picks of The Week for 2014 where I list the comics that were actually to be the first ones released in the new year. Everything that has been revealed so far about 2014 promises an amazing year, I have to say. Well, for the most part at least. There are some things that I don’t quite understand, or like, but eh, it is still going to be a great year I feel.
This past week, Marvel finally launched its All-New Marvel NOW! line with Black Widow, All-New X-Factor and Revolutionary War: Alpha and they aren’t going to stop. New releases will continue throughout March at the least and we will even be getting some of these new titles double-shipped, such as Black Widow #2 which comes out next week. In other news, I had some fun reading DC titles this week, although Detective Comics #27 proved to be quite disappointing for most of the first half. And my disappointment is on several levels, not just with one particular aspect of it. But, more on that in the reviews.
My first graphic novel of the year happened to be the (unfinished) mini-series that Steve Gerber and Matthew Sturges wrote a few years ago, with the former writing the tale of a new Doctor Fate while the latter wrote about the supervillain Eclipse. Only eight issues of this double-sized series were released, but I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it and based on that, my graphic novel reading is off to a good start.
The new year might have come but comics are still dealing with ongoing events that began last year, and one of these events is Forever Evil by DC in which the world has been taken over by the supervillains and evil is everywhere. Tying into this larger event is an 18-part mini-event Forever Evil: Blight which deals with the goings on in the supernatural world and concerns the remnants of the Justice League Dark as per their reformation since October last year and DC’s mythological (New 52) heavyweights Pandora and the Phantom Stranger. Till now, I’ve read only the Phantom Stranger and Justice League Dark issues of the crossover, both written by J. M. Dematteis but I have to say its been quite a fun time and Phantom Stranger #14 ended in a really good place.
Phantom Starnger #15 carries on directly from the ending of Justice League Dark #26 from the previous week, and its actually quite exciting to see this entire story develop. Having read the new issue, I do feel that I should really catch up on Ray Fawkes’ Pandora and Constantine since there is finally a lot of crossover between the books, with references being thrown back and forth, but still, I feel that if you are reading both Phantom Stranger and Justice League Dark then you are good. You’ll get the story here and you won’t be lost. Plus Fernando Blanco, Miguel Sepulveda, Brad Anderson and Travis Lanham’s art is pretty good too.
Note: This review contains some minor spoilers about the issue.
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!
Anybody reading my blog knows that my patience with the entire Forever Evil event has been wearing a little thin of late, especially given how the last two installments of the event, Forever Evil #4 and Justice League #26 proved to be less than good, at best. And with all the different tie-in arcs like Arkham War, Rogues Rebellion and ARGUS and Blight things are a little convoluted. But I gotta say that Ray Fawkes and DeMatteis’ writing on Blight is quite good. They’ve put out some great issues of late and DeMatteis’ Justice League Dark #25 was really good.
Released yesterday, DeMatteis and Mikel Janin’s Justice League Dark #26 proves to be another stellar issue. Till now they have built up a really good mystery about Blight’s plans and the fate of the missing members of the team, so its only right that as we hit the mid-point of the entire event-arc, we finally start getting some real answers about the members of Justice League Dark. And Constantine’s new team finally goes up against a member of the Crime Syndicate, with rather unexpected but quite intriguing results.
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.
This was a really busy comics reading week, primarily because I read two graphic novels this time around, both of them for Marvel no less. I have finally dipped my toes in full in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and the first taste has been quite interesting and fun. On the flip side, the somewhat older Immortal Iron Fist proved to be a bit of a mediocre book, but no less intriguing for that fact and I’m quite interested in the character now. Other than, a lot of the DC comics this week were really good and this is quite pleasing in fact. And Zero Year tie-ins are finally over so I look forward to a month of no such tie-ins.
I still have a big backlog of graphic novels to burn through, so I have that to keep me busy further I suppose. More on that as it happens.
Last month J. M. DeMatteis kicked off the Forever Evil: Blight arc, the fourth tie-in story to DC’s current mega-event, Forever Evil. Blight is an 18-part arc that will run through most of DC’s supernatural books all through March. Forever Evil was already DC’s biggest crossover in the New 52 relaunch, but with the addition of Blight, it has grown significantly, and for me, it definitely conveys a sense of scale that the event requires with all its involved internal complications.
Justice League Dark #24 was an excellent issue, the best in the entire series so far I have to say. Topping it would have been a tough job but I trusted DeMatteis to prove equal to the task. And he almost does. While Justice League Dark #25 isn’t as excellent as its predecessor, it is still a damn fine comic. J. M. DeMatteis continues to impress with each issue and this one is no exception at all. I enjoyed his Phantom Stranger #13 earlier this month as well and DeMatteis is definitely on a good streak right now (as long as the new Larfleeze holds up, which I’m sure it will!).
Zero Year has finally kicked off for the non-Batman titles for DC and its been pretty good so far. Lots of interesting stories to say the least and this coming week promises to be even better with Batman #25 and Batgirl #25 hitting the stands as well, so good times to be had. Didn’t read too much outside of DC this time around, which is fine with me since I like my superheroes a particular way and other comics don’t interest me all that much really.
Read another graphic novel this week, mostly to catch up with a series I’m following right now, so that’s a bonus for the most part. I’d say I have a good thing going here if I can scrape in a graphic novel a week. Could be more, depending on certain things, but I’m fine I suppose.
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.
Justice League Dark is a title that I had no interest in until quite recently, when DC announced its Trinity War event. I was already reading the other two JL titles and since this was going to be a short event, I was really enthused about finally picking up the the third title as well, just so I was current on all the characters and what brought the JLD team together. It proved to be a somewhat mixed experience, given all the creative changes on the book, but Trinity War proved to be rather excellent.
With that event ended, we are now in the Forever Evil phase and we finally get an issue with the characters of the book in focus. Or rather one of them that is, John Constantine, confidence man and magician extraordinaire. And that’s not all of course, since with this issue the fourth Forever Evil tie-in begins, Blight, and this one doesn’t have its own mini-series, but is a large tale across four different titles. So this issue had a lot to live up to with new writer J. M. DeMatteis, and delivers aplenty.