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.
Sleepy Hollow is one of those shows that kind of slips under the radar for a while before quickly coming out explosively. The first six episodes, while really good in almost all respects, still skirted with some expected stuff. The stakes were high, the tension was always high, but still the show felt somewhat limited in scope. As you’ve no doubt seen from my previous reviews, I really enjoyed the six episodes, in particular the chemistry between the two leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison, who might as well be the 2013-2014 television programming season’s breakout stars for me.
Episodes seven to nine did much to up the tension even more, and increased the scope of everything, whether we talk about character backstory, or the stakes involved, or just the character drama involved. Additionally, episode eight in particular hinted in a big way that there is a very big story arc involved for the first season. Additionally, episodes seven and eight marked the return of the Horseman to the show and that in itself is worth every single second of those episodes. And episode nine really did a number with giving us more of Katrina’s backstory and had a huge reveal for Ichabod. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed these three episodes.
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!
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.
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.
Looks like its going to be the month of busy weeks. The last two weeks I’ve read two graphic novels each along with all my regular monthlies and this past week proved to be no different. Both Detective Comics Volume 4 and The Flash Volume 4 proved to be exceedingly good and now I have two more series that I need to catch up on for the New 52. Tall order, but doable. And as regards the usual monthlies, there were comics across the board, in all sorts of ways: genres, publishers, characters, etc, etc. The year has slowly transformed over the months into a really solid year for comics overall.
I still haven’t made any dent in the pile of graphic novels I have to read, but I’m not too worried about any of it, to be honest. Already used to that phenomenon from my novel reading.
The tenth pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for Wesley Chu’s The Deaths of Tao, the sequel to his 2013 debut from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao by Argh! Oxford. The Lives of Tao is one of the best debut books I’ve read this year, largely because how approachable and… normal its protagonist, Roen Tan, is. The Deaths of Tao lives up to the promise of its predecessor and its a book that’s an adventure from start to finish and I couldn’t get enough of it. The launch of The Lives of Tao was so successful that Angry Robot pushed the release of the sequel up several months and The Deaths of Tao was released quite recently. Which is pretty frikkin’ great actually. I’m hoping that the third novel is release soon as well.
The tenth comic cover that I pick is Marc Silvestri and Sunny Gho’s jaw-dropping cover for Ron Marz and Laura Braga’s Witchblade #170, which sees Ron Marz return to the series after a long hiatus and newcomer Laura Braga join in as the artist. I’ve read a fair few Witchblade comics prior to this and I have to say that Witchblade #170 is definitely among the best by quite a margin. Now that I’m following this series regularly, I’m very excited where things are going, especially given how Witchblade #171 ended. Can’t wait for Witchblade #172, which will be coming in about 4 weeks or so. Long wait.
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.
After a slight bit of delay, Witchblade #171 is finally out. When Witchblade #170, marking the start of a new arc on the title with Ron Marz returning after a long time, came out in October, I was pretty damn excited for the issue, being a big fan of Witchblade and Sara Pezzini. Joining Ron on the title was artist Laura Braga, and together they turned out a fairly good issue that was better than I had expected. Not having kept up with the series for a while, I felt I would be lost, but with the new arc, Ron and Laura turned out a great jumping-on point.
Witchblade #171 continues the arc begin in the previous issue and it deepens the mystery surrounding the cliffhanger ending that we saw at the end of that issue. And the flashback scenes are perfectly placed to move along the overall narrative. The ending to this issue is just as damn awesome as the one for the previous issue, and given the flashback, it makes a strange kind of sense. The mysteries continue and everything looks pretty darn good for sure.
Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda’s Coffin Hill #1 set a wonderful tone for the new horror series from Vertigo when it came out in the month of horror. We got a good dose of supernatural mysteries and met some interesting characters, including the protagonist Eve Coffin. Last month, Coffin Hill #2 continued to build on that foundation and further both the story and the characters themselves so that by the end of it we had the beginnings of a really nice, multi-layered story involving characters who weren’t cardboard cut-outs but did have some depth to them.
The two creators go that extra mile with the third issue, released this past week, and it is definitely quite a fun issue. Some ten years ago something dreadful and horrific happened in the woods near the Coffin mansion, and that began a series of really gruesome events in the town that have now led to Eve returning after years of being away and history repeating itself. Sort of. The most fun part of the comic is still the interactions between the characters, and Caitlin does not disappoint in that regard. Nor does Inaki disappoint with the artwork, which is pretty damn good.