On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
Arrow returned from a long break of some six weeks or thereabouts three weeks ago and just while things were building up the momentum once again, it is taking a two-week break for the next two weeks. It will return on February 26th. But to help us tide over, this week’s episode packed a hell of a lot of awesome, just as the mid-season finale did with everything that went on with Barry Allen and Sebastian Blood and Roy Harper. I’ve said several times that I love the show despite its faults, because it does a ton of things right, and because it has improved a lot since its first season.
This week’s episode, titled Heir of the Demon, brings back Sara Lance aka Canary and it also introduces Katrina Law as Nyssa Al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul, the immortal leader of the League of Assassins, of which Canary is a part. The majority of the episode is focused on the relationship that Sara has with Ra’s, and it also gives us some interesting flashbacks to six years back before Ollie and his father went on that fateful trip on their yacht. This particular episode packed in a ton of emotional drama that I really liked, and for that alone, I loved it.
Note: This review contains some significant spoilers.
Things are finally beginning to really heat up in Green Arrow by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. Their issues over the last six months have been really amazing and the current arc, The Outsiders War, has been highly entertaining as well. In the past two issues, we saw a lot of the setup for this arc as Green Arrow traveled back to the island with Shado, looking for answers to a lot of questions. He found few answers and many more questions. Green Arrow #27 ended on a jaw-dropping cliffhanger, and the new issue carries on straight from there.
As always, I’m not really sure what to say here, except that the star of this issue is definitely Andrea Sorrentino with his mind-blowing pencils, and even Marcel Maiolo with his captivating colours. The story here is pretty good of course, as are most of Jeff Lemire’s scripts, but the art is totally something else. The time for revelations to be had is over and it is the time now for action, whether we talk about the heroes or the villains. And John Diggle finally makes his return here after the teaser we got in one of the previous issues. So this book is definitely firing on all cylinders.
After all the exciting epilogue-ish reveals of last week’s episode, Arrow did one better this week by dropping a big bomb on the proceedings and showing that whatever we as viewers thought was going to happen with certain characters isn’t quite going to happen like we imagined. I love the format that the show has evolved into, where the last five minutes or so are often used to drop hints and clues as to the larger story arcs of the season. Last week’s highlight was we saw Slade Wilson as Deathstroke, in full gear, laying down justice on four of Blood’s henchmen for the price of Blood failing in his mission. This week, well, this week was quite special altogether on a different note.
Once again, we have an aptly named episode. While the name “Tremors” might give you certain ideas about the plot of the episode, it is also something more, it is about the shake-ups in the lives of the main cast and the supporting cast. Each and every character in the show is impacted to a certain degree here and their world is shaken up because of it. All I can say on seeing the episode is that I am still in love with the show. It is going from strength to strength and is finally picking up the momentum after the recent six-week break.
With the show back on air for season 2 following the recent big break and the awesomeness of seeing Barry Allen on the show in the moments before he becomes The Flash, its time to get the momentum going once more for Arrow. The mid-season finale was a hell of a place to stop before the long break, and while the mid-season premiere wasn’t quite what I was looking for despite being a good episode, my enthusiasm in the show is undimmed. In fact, each and every week I am more and more excited because the show has surpassed pretty much all my expectations of it in this season.
Episode 11 is, first and foremost, aptly named: “Blind Spot“. It is all about the blind spots that the various leading characters have with regards to each other. This episode does a great job of thematically exploring that concept even though that’s pretty much what a lot of it has been about from the get go. But I dare say that nothing we’ve seen so far has been quite on point as in this episode. And additionally, the biggest thing of all, I finally got to saw one particular character kick ass just the way that I wanted the character to ever since the character’s first moment on the show. So indeed, this was a pretty good show.
Note: The review contains a spoiler to a really awesome and cool moment from the mid-season finale, episode nine.
Its been a long, long wait, but after almost a month, Arrow returned this week to CW and all was right with the world. In episode 9, the mid-season finale before the Christmas/New Year break, we got a really good half-resolution to the second season and saw a lot of new beginnings for various characters. Mirakuru, Sebastian Blood, Slade Wilson, Barry Allen, Roy, and a lot of other things got addressed, and it was a really fun time. There was also a character death involved, which was really heartbreaking, but something like that was coming, so I wasn’t too shocked by it. Saddened yes. Still, all in all, CW ended things on a good note.
And now we are here with episode 10 as things get back underway once more and we see some bigger changes on the horizon than we have seen before. Overall, while I liked the new episode, I have to say that at times it felt as if the writers were channeling the season 1 mentality rather than the season 2 mentality. The show wasn’t quite as intense as previous episodes have been this season and if I had to sum it up, I’d say that they played off things safe rather than take some left-field chances. But that’s fine with me. There’s been a long break in between the mid-season finale and this episode, so they need to rebuild their momentum so to speak.
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.
With last month’s Green Arrow #26, the current creative team of Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo began their next arc for the series, carrying on what’s come before and taking the series into new territory while also showing that there’s a big direction for everything that’s happened so far. I jumped on the series with Green Arrow #23 and its been quite a fun ride so far. The creators have done some incredible work and they keep improving, with each issue truly better than the last and the consistency is just mind-boggling.
And now, with Green Arrow #27, it looks like a higher bar has been set, overall. I’m no stranger to mind-bogglingly great cliffhanger endings in comics, or in related media. CW’s Arrow, based on Green Arrow and his lore over the decades, has done some similar things and done them well. Everything I love about that show is reflected here, almost everything since the comic is doing some different things, but overall, there is a great synergy between the two in terms of exploring Ollie’s history and his role as a hero, which is damn fantastic.
A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.
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!
The eleventh pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for author Rachel Aaron’s latest release, Fortune’s Pawn, the first in her new Paradox space opera series, written under the pseudonym Rachel Bach to help differentiate from her epic fantasy series Eli Monpress, all of them published by Orbit Books. Sure, I’m a huge fan of Rachel’s books, and the covers for her novels have been quite good, whether the old covers or the new ones. Having read Fortune’s Pawn a few weeks ago, I can say with confidence that it is most definitely one of the best SF novels I’ve read in the last three years, right up there with the best of the best.
The eleventh comic cover that I pick is Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo’s cover for Green Arrow #25, written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Andrea Sorrentino. I credit CW’s Arrow and fellow TFF reviewer Bane of Kings for getting me interested enough in this title to read it. Thanks to Jeff Lemire’s excellent storylines and Andrea Sorrentino’s amazing artwork, Green Arrow has become one of my favourite DC monthly comics and in the weeks that new issues of the series come out, Green Arrow is definitely among my first reads.
Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
Here we are, the mid-season finale of Arrow for its second season. Up until now, in almost each episode, we’ve seen how the writers, the producers, the actors and the directors and everybody else involved have all tried to push the bar and set new levels of achievement with the show. The season started off really well and as expected, the mid-season finale something of a smash-hit as well. The defining thing about this season has been the show’s willingness to take characters and concepts from the comics and reinvent them for a modern television audience who are looking for a balance between the goofy comic concepts and something that they can well relate to.
This week’s episode, the last one we’ll have since the show is now on a one-month break till January 15th, is the second of a 2-part arc which saw the introduction of Barry Allen aka The Flash, one of the core characters of the DC comics universe and a major hitter since he’s been a part of various Justice League teams since his intro. But things didn’t end there of course. Given the long break, the writers tie up a lot of the loose ends and give closure to quite a few subplots that had been running through the season so far. And they do it all in fantastic style. As I mentioned to various friends on Twitter, the last five minutes of the episode left me with my jaw hanging open.
Three Ghosts was a damn awesome episode and I seriously wish that all future episodes are this good.
Note: This review contains some minor spoilers about the episode, although your mileage may vary.