It is all well and good to have your hero triumph over villains who just aren’t on the same level as him. It is always thrilling to have Superman go up against low-key baddies, for example, but the true thrill only comes when he goes up against Darkseid, Brainiac or Lex Luthor, say. The same holds true for John Carter as well. It is awesome to see him fight against rogue Tharks and the other dangers of Barsoom, but when he is faced with another superhuman like Captain Joshua Clark, that’s when things get really interesting.
Having seen how their rivalry came about in the previous issues, and just why Clark hates Carter so much, issues #5 and #6 get down into the nitty-gritty of their final battle against each other, to decide who is the better man after all. And writer Ron Marz certainly doesn’t pull any punches in that regard. He keeps everything focused on the end-goal, and ends the first arc of the series on a great note. Similarly, artists Abhishek Malsuni and Roberto Castro do their best and the art on the series is as good as it was in the beginning.
There haven’t been any “Comics Picks of the Week” articles for a while, and the major reason for that is because I’ve just been too caught up with other stuff and I just can’t be… well bothered. It just takes too much out of my time to keep these titles going, especially when Wednesdays also see me trying to get through two TV shows and doing reviews for them. Though, that situation has kind of abated now.
Anyway, this week’s surprise hits were Batman: Arkham Knight #2 and Gotham Central Book 1 from DC. It was a relatively small week for me since I didn’t read all that many new titles and most of those were middling. Ongoing greats were Django/Zorro #4, John Carter: Warlord of Mars #4, Fantastic Four #643 , Inhuman #12, Aquaman #39 , Catwoman #39 , and He-Man: The Eternity War #3 among others .
One of the newest kids on the block, John Carter: Warlord of Mars has turned out to be pretty impressive, reminding me of Arvid Nelson’s first arc on Warlord of Mars, which totally made me fall in love with the characters and the setting, though the movie John Carter had done that already to a great extent. The comics were just icing on the cake. In the soft-rebooted world of the new series, writer Ron Marz goes forward in a great way, touching on things we haven’t seen before, and artist Abhishek Malsuni has contributed well, creating some really strong visuals.
From this past week, John Carter: Warlord of Mars #4 finally touches on the animosity between John Carter and Captain Clark by giving us a flashback to the battle that set off their rivalry in the first place. And it makes for a really great read since that first meeting was under banners of war, much as their reunion in the present is going to be. Captain Clark has slowly developed as a major villain for John Carter, and this issue adds some much-needed backstory, not to mention that the artwork as a whole continues to be good.
No “Magic 40” in the first week of the new year, but the second week definitely sees me hit that landmark number, and with graphic novels mixed in to boot!
This week’s surprise hits were Angry Birds/Transformers #2 from IDW Publishing, Ares & Aphrodite #1 from Oni Press, Operation: S.I.N. #1 and Wolverines #1 from Marvel. The disappointments of the week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2 and Ant-Man #1 from Marvel and Future’s End #36 from DC. Ongoing greats like Swamp Thing #38 and Detective Comics #38 from DC, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #3 from Marvel, and John Carter: Warlord of Mars #3 from Dynamite to name a few were just as I expected them to be: superb.
As mentioned above, the graphic novels for the week were Legends of Red Sonja Volume 1 from Dynamite and Quest: Age of Darkness Volume 1 from Zenescope. The former was a fun book where Gail Simone brought together several different female prose writers, paired them with different artists, and wrote a grand, sweeping Red Sonja story. The latter was part of the publisher’s Age of Darkness event and was more a prequel story.
Dynamite’s latest John Carter series, John Carter: Warlord of Mars got off to a great start last year in November. The first two issues have been full of non-stop action and suspense, in the same vein as the original source material, and even in the same vein as Arvid Nelson’s first adaptations on the Warlord of Mars title. That plus the fact that the artwork by Abhishek Malsuni and the others has been pretty stellar as well, lending itself well to the world created over a century ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with some great flourishes and visuals.
Last week’s John Carter: Warlord of Mars #3 proved to be a good follow-up to what was one of the best issues in comics last year for me, and the fact that most of the issue focuses on how badass and awesome Dejah Thoris can be really fills me a great sense of satisfaction. I was slightly concerned about where her character was headed when we saw in the first issue that she was a prisoner, held without her will and ill-treated, but it seems that Ron Marz intended that as a distraction, and now Dejah really comes into her. Ron’s script is superb again, and the art team matched him beat for beat.
Last year I did a small roundup over at The Founding Fields with fellow reviewer Bane of Kings which contained a list of the best new comics to have come out in 2013. It was a rather small list with only 10 entries each from the two of us, reflecting our reading for the year and the consequent small pool to pick from. But in 2014, I greatly expanded my weekly reading, and so for the round-up of the best new comics to have come out in 2014, whether as mini-series or ongoings, I have decided to go much bigger.
There were a ton of new comics to come out last year and many of them started off well enough but unfortunately well by wayside since subsequent issues were nowhere near as good. That however, is a call to make on any new comic and you have to have a wait-and-see attitude for the most part. For this embiggened round-up, I have some mini-series here and some ongoing titles. Some have had multiple issues come out in 2014, while some have had less than three.
Irrespective of that, these are all the most promising new series of 2014, and I think that they are all well worth the read in 2015.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the comics I read in the second half of 2014. And back in July of 2014, I did the first “best comics of 2014” post. The reason I mention that is because of the changes I’ve made for this list. While previously I used to do it so that I put up my top 6 comics, in July’14 I did a top 12 on account of the increased number of comics I was reading at the time. And that same holds true for this list as well since I’ve gone up on the number yet again, and this list has the top 20 and then 20 honourable mentions.
More comics, yay!
So, with the books of the second half of 2014 already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the same period. The next post will be a list of the top graphic novels I read in all of 2014.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
The eleventh book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for James Lovegrove’s Age of Shiva, the latest novel in his Pantheon series. The new novel is a major departure from the previous novels since it covers Hindu Mythology this time, and presents the most compelling “origin” yet of the superhero-ish characters to be found within. With a subtle story that also deals with issues of cultural misappropriation and religious satire, Age of Shiva stands as one of the best novels I’ve read this year.
The first of the eleventh set of comic covers I pick this year is for John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 by Ron Marz, Abhishek Malsuni, Nanjan Jamberi and Rob Steen, with the cover by Bart Sears (another variant this time). The second is for Justice League #36 by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Carlos M. Mangual with the cover by Jason and Brad. The third and final cover is for Velvet #8 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser and Chris Eliopoulos, with the cover by Steve and Elizabeth. The first of these is obviously the first in a new series, one that has been pretty damn good in its first issues, with its soft reboot of John Carter’s mythology as developed by Dynamite and going in a very different to before. The second is for a series that I’ve recently come back to, only to find that two of my favourite artists are now on the title, which pleases me immensely, and the AMAZO virus story has been pretty fun I’ll admit. The third one is for a title that I think is one of the best ongoing titles of this year, by a good margin, with its focus on an awesome female protagonist and some great noir spy-action.
So without further ado, hit the break to see all the covers in their full glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
Almost a month after the last time, I finally had a Magic 40 week! And not just any plan Magic 40 week, but one where I managed to read three graphic novels as well!
For this week, the surprise hits were Fables: The Wolf Among Us #1 from Vertigo Comics, Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #6 and Spider-Man & The X-Men #1 from Marvel Comics, Justice League #32-36 from DC Comics and The Valiant #1 from Valiant Comics. The comic (yes, the only one!) that proved to be rather disappointing, even unexpectedly so, was New Suicide Squad #5 from DC. Apart from that, a good run continued on several other titles like Hexed, John Carter: Warlord of Mars, Batman: Eternal, Birthright, Prometheus: Fire and Stone and others.
The three graphic novels for this week were: Grimm Fairy Tales: Code Red Volume 1, which is set during the recent Age of Darkness crossover event from Zenescope Entertainment, Mighty Avengers Volume 2 from Marvel, which is an effort by me to catch up on this mostly-good title, and Supergirl Volume 1, which is an older Supergirl title, pre-New 52.
Last month Ron Marz and Abhishek Malsuni breathed some new life into Dynamite Entertainment’s John Carter franchise with the release of their John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 which is the first new comic to come out in the post-settlement era (between the ERB estate and Dynamite). And it was a pretty awesome start to the series, packed with all the action and character I could have asked for, especially with the establishment of a new villain for John Carter to eventually face off against.
This week’s John Carter: Warlord of Marz #2 continues the story of a Barsoom under siege by an alien species led by an Earther, Captain Joshua Clark who fancies himself as a nemesis to John Carter, having fought opposite him during the Civil War back in America. Ron Marz starts off the new issue on a very strong note, by showing John facing off against a White Ape of Mars, and continues in the same vein as we get even more character development with the cast, and as Abhishek Malsuni continues to impress with is energy-packed visuals which really capture the wild and ferocious nature of life on the Red Planet.
Dynamite Entertainment’s adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter novels and the spinoff Dejah Thoris comics were among my first introductions to the world of comics when I got back into them in 2012. Since then, I’ve had a lot of fun in reading many of the different stories that have been put out in the last few years, and while some have been really good, some have been not quite as good. Fact remains that these comics have done much to expand the world of Burroughs’ characters and setting, and as we move to a new phase in the wake of the 100 year anniversary of the books, it looks like the awesome is going to continue.
Ron Marz and Abhishek Malsuni are at the helm of the Warlord of Mars series reboot, retitled as John Carter: Warlord of Mars and the action-packed first issue gets off to a great start as we are (re)introduced to the core cast and what the world of Barsoom aka Mars is really like. Ron presents a very interesting villain for the first arc of the new series, someone with ties to John Carter and he also gives a brief recap of things here, getting new and old readers alike on the same page before moving into the meat of the story. And Abhishek Malsuni’s artwork is pretty gorgeous when combined with Nanjan Jamberi’s colours, making this is a pretty awesome book.
As per my plans, I didn’t do one of these posts in the past 2 weeks since I was on a holiday. And a great holiday it was indeed. I didn’t get to do more than a very small handful of reviews, more like just two or three in all, but I managed to read a fair bit and kept myself on target for my comics reading.
The surprise hits of this week were Storm #1 from Marvel and Star Spangled War Stories #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman #33 from DC Comics. Not exactly a bad comic but just a disappointing one. All the other comics were pretty much good, excepting Flash #33, where I still can’t really connect with what the new creative team is doing there. I wanted to read a trade paperback comic as well during this week, but the first few days of the vacation were very busy and all these comics were pretty much read in the last 2-3 days of the week so that didn’t happen.