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.
After a two-month long wait, Afterlife With Archie returned last week with its third issue. Having debuted in the Halloween Month and received very well by fans, for me the series became one of the highlights of the year, so much so that I put it on my “Top 5 New Comics of 2013” list and the first issue made it to my “Best Comics of 2013” list. It was just that good. Mashing the zombie apocalypse with Archie and the Riverdale gang is something really amazing that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have done, and I applaud them for it. It is quite a refreshing story in all respects.
But that’s not all of course. There’s a hint of subversion in the story and the way that the backstories of various characters are teased out in issue #3, especially with regards to Hiram Lodge, make this one of the best comics to come out this past week. But the best thing here remains the character interaction and on that note we get to see a lot of different perspective in this issue. The creative team is giving their all to make this one of the best series out right now and I’m fully on that train-ride, watching as these characters try to fight things out the best way that they know how.
Less than a year since Detective Comics celebrated its 900th issue with New 52: Detective Comics #19, an anthology issue which brought together several different creators, we have New 52: Detective Comics #27, which celebrates the landmark issue of the original series that first introduced Batman to the world as Bat-Man, the caped crusader and dark knight of Gotham who solved the city’s crime with acts of vigilantism. And again, we have an anthology issue bringing together different creators, and telling some really different stories while also giving some bonus art to fans.
I was really excited for this issue. I kind of missed the whole lead-up to Detective Comics #19 since I wasn’t reading the series at the time, but I am now. And one thing that happened this afternoon was that I was massively disappointed. This issue, in its first half, basically retells classic tales and does a hack-job. The second half, with original stories that will be carried over in future issues, is actually good. But the first half definitely bothered me, and it was the writing far more than the art that bothered me.
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my eleventh and penultimate pick is Archie and the Riverdale gang from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie, a new mini-series in the world of Archie that deals with the zombie apocalypse, and in a really good way too. The series started off in the Halloween month and it continued pretty damn strongly in November. With the third issue due imminently, I’m very excited about the continuing madcap adventures of the Riverdale gang as they all deal with the outbreak of the zombie magic-virus.
Hit the break to see why I picked these characters.
A month ago, I could never have imagined the concept of mashing Archie with zombies. I mean, that’s as far out of the norm as you can get right? Its like mixing Stargate with classical zombies. Which is why the execution has to be pitch-perfect. There can’t be any room for a drop in quality or anything. You have to be consistently good or the premise is going to just conk out like a bad engine. Which is why I approached Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie #1 with a little trepidation last month, and why I was so impressed with it. They hit the exact right notes and delivered a fantastic story.
The second issue, which launched this week, continues the story of this quite horrifying zombie apocalypse as it ravages the quiet, wholesome and good-old-fun town of Riverdale. In the first issue, we saw how one person’s mistake, a second’s longing, and a third’s compassion brought about this whole event. In the new issue, we gain a wider perspective on things as the plague spreads through Riverdale and as the heroes begin to coalesce and decide their future.
As a general rule, I don’t read zombie comics. I have extremely limited interest in the genre and it never really clicks together for me the way fiction in other genres does. But there’s always an exception to a rule right? Its inevitable since nothing is ever absolute. But, with Halloween just a few days from now, I suppose its the perfect time to be reading some horror fiction. And what better way to do that than read what is possibly the most… unexpected mash-up? Archie + Zombies? Whoa….
I used to read Archie comics as a kid. It all started when an older cousin took a novel from me and somehow lost it. In return she gave me Archie comics to read for a long while and got me absolutely hooked. I read the comics for a good long while and really fell in love with all the characters. It shouldn’t be a surprise really, then, that Archie, Betty and Jughead are my three favourite characters from the comic. So watching things go so bloody downhill for them with this issue was stunning to say the least.