A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.
And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.
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 previous two issues of Marvel Knights: X-Men have been surprisingly good. As someone who was a bit jaded with the X-books following last year’s Battle of the Atom crossover, this new (mini) series proved to be a breath of fresh air in almost all respects and the creative team of Brahm Revel and Cristiane Peter did some really good work on both these issues. They introduced the characters well and gave them a compelling mystery to sink their teeth into, something that could resonate with the reader alongside some of the more compelling X-Men stories.
But sadly, the third issue, released this week, proves to be a bit of a bummer. After the awesomeness of the previous two issues, we got a very disappointing issue this week. And its not so much as the art as the writing that is problematic here. The X-Men don’t exactly act in character and the revealed powers of Darla grow steadily more messy, in both story and art. I’m not sure really. I kind of enjoyed the story here, but I was also put off by it in several places. Perhaps that’s why I found it so disappointing.
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.
In the last few years, a really interesting trend has surfaced. When it comes to the entertainment industry, specifically the visual media segment, movies based on Marvel Comics characters have set a new benchmark for box office success in the superheroes genre. DC Comics characters have struggled to meet those same successes outside of the tentpole movies like the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and the recent Man of Steel. On the flipside, television shows featuring DC Comics characters have established their own high benchmarks that Marvel Comics characters are struggling to meet, rather desperately so. Case in point, the brand-new Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has been hemorraging viewers every single week while DC’s Arrow, now in its second season, has continued apace and its success has led to DC green-lighting several more shows.
However, when it comes to the animation divisions, there is much more equity between the Big 2 of the comics industry, and this is where Wolverine and the X-Men steps in. A fourth animated adaptation of the X-Men characters, the show brings along a whole different team, and things start off with a bang, with a three-parter opening arc which puts the X-Men on the offensive from the get go and touches on various different areas of the X-Men universe. It is bold, it is ambitious, and based on the first three episodes it is also rather good.
For this new seasonal end of year list, the fifth book cover that I pick is Christian Schoon’s debut novel from Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry, Zenn Scarlett. Launched last year, Strange Chemistry has put out some great novels and Zenn Scarlett is certainly one of the best that I’ve read. Despite being a near-future science fiction story set in the near-future on Mars, it is also quite a magical fairy tale as well. I love that dual aspect of the novel and I’d certainly recommend it.
And the fifth comics cover that I pick is the first issue of writer Brian Wood and artist Olivier Coipel’s X-Men. This series made some waves before its release because it is a book absent of any male characters in its core team of X-Men. A more appropriate title for this book would have been X-Women. As it is, many people refer to it is as such any way, typically X-(Wo)Men. This is the book that got me really started with reading the X-books, and its been a fun ride for the most part. Another recommended series to read!
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.
Marvel recently relaunched its Marvel Knights brand of comics, with Matt Kindt’s Spider-Man and Brahm Revel’s X-Men. The latter is the only of the two that I have taken any interest in, and the first issue launched last month proved to be quite a decent opening issue that tells a low-key, low-stakes story where the focus is on the characters first and the action second. Like I remarked in my review for it, the current crop of X-Men books all seem to be focused on telling the grand stories that affect absolutely everything and Marvel Knights: X-Men fills a niche in the opposite side of the spectrum.
The first issue set the stage for all the characters and it gave us an intro to the primary characters: Wolverine, Kitty and Rogue, as they set out for a small town somewhere in West Virginia where Rachel has seen visions of a mutant kid being murdered in cold blood. The story wasn’t all that dark per se but it did have a pretty serious message to it, and the message was that the X-Men protect their own, even when that person is not actually a part of the team. Revel worked in some really interesting commentary from all the characters and that was part of the reason I liked it so much. The second issue proves to be more of the same.
Marvel Knights is apparently an imprint within Marvel where the stories are all told as mini-series. They are all a part of the main Marvel universe, but are still… separate. I read the first issue of Marvel Knights: Spider-Man a while but didn’t like it. It was interesting that instead of SpOck (that is, Superior Spider-Man aka Otto Octavius), it had Peter Parker, who’s been dead for a while. That was quite a different approach, bringing back one of Marvel’s most enduring characters after a long time.
Revel’s Marvel Knights: X-Men is set before the events of X-Men: Battle of the Atom, and consequently the team is still largely together, although we focus on a few key characters only. As it turns out, the fact that this story is set apart from the all the regular X-Men titles works in its favours and is a strength, rather than a weakness. If more X-Men series could be like this, I would have an easier time of getting into these books!
Last week I posted a book survey, in response to a similar post by a blogger friend. I had a lot of fun writing that post and I immediately wanted to do a comics version of the same. In addition, I’ve talked two other friends, fellow The Founding Fields reviewer Bane of Kings and blogger Stefan at Civilian Reader, into contributing to this survey.
My post goes up today. Bane’s post will go up tomorrow (For those interested, you can check out Bane’s own A-to-Z Book Survey on his blog). And Stefan’s post will follow the day after. Do keep an eye on them!
Hope you enjoy! And even if not, do share your thoughts in the comments! And remember, all my comics reviews can be found here.
I mentioned in my review of X-Men #1 by Brian Wood, that I was struggling to find an X-Men book that I could enjoy. That was a rather specific case and the thing is that uutside of Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder, I’ve had a really tough time getting into Marvel comics. With DC, the fact that they rebooted their universe in Fall 2011 and that I’m already super familiar with a lot of their characters helped me in figuring out what to read and what not to. Not so with Marvel. And that’s despite the fact that Marvel too rebooted their universe in mid-Fall 2012. Although, they didn’t do a hard reset like DC, merely started renumbering their titles and putting out new books while (presumably) cancelling the ones that weren’t bringing in anything. Still, given my lack of familiarity with many of their characters, I just can’t figure out what to read.
I gambled on Aaron’s book because I’d enjoyed the Chris Hemsworth movie, but that’s about it. I tried reading Bendis’ All New X-Men but gave up after the first issue since I couldn’t understand any of what was happening. The same applied to Simon Spurrier’s X-Men: Legacy. Recently, I’ve started reading more, gambling with the titles, but still, Aaron’s Thor and Brian Wood’s X-Men are the only books that actually get me excited. One of my main draws to Wood’s book is that is has an all-female team and features some of my favourite X-Men characters. And, the first issue was right darn excellent, and the three issues since, including this week’s #4, have been just as great at least.
About a week or so ago, I posted a list of some of my favourite female authors in SFF, past and present (that is, some of the women on the list are now sadly deceased). For the follow-up, I wanted to focus on some of my favorite female characters in SFF, irrespective of genre. Until March last year, I didn’t really have such a list in my mind. Even though I had read a few books by then that had female protagonists or supporting characters, I’d never really considered if any of them were my “favourites”. But that changed around quickly when I read Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar, and all of a sudden, I realised that there were so many female characters I’d read of over the years that I would put on a list of favourites.
It was a really interesting revelation, and it led to me paying much more attention to such characters in the books I was reading, or had read, or would read. One thing that I noticed while compiling this list was that for the most part my favourite female characters fall into the role of the “warrior”, which is another subconscious thing I never really paid attention to.
Really weird how these things work out.
Once again, as caveat for this list, this is by no means comprehensive, just a small selection of a much wider range. And in this list, I’m not limiting myself to just novels and the like, I’m extending it to comics and movies as well, given that I am much more familiar with these media in terms of the content, rather than with the creators. Feel free to check out my reviews (books and comics) of the various novels I’ve read in the last two years for a bigger interest list.