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Arrow Season 3 Eps 18-20 (TV Show Review)

Since it premiered back in 2012, Arrow has not been a show to ignore the dark corners of the superhero psyche. Again and again we have seen some really horrible things happen on the show, whether it is torture or mutilation or what have you and betrayal of the self and betrayal of the family is something that has been a running theme on the show. Season 3 itself got off to a really grim tone last year, and recent episodes have shown that this theme isn’t going anywhere and that the times are indeed wholly dark for Team Arrow.

Episodes 18-20 of the show have been very interesting from a story perspective. Oliver’s secret is once again out in the open as Ra’s al Ghul intensifies his… pressure on Oliver to become the next Demon’s Head, and with this come some true heroics from the team. And not only that but we also get to see Ray Palmer become a hero himself, as he begins to embrace the difference he can make alongside Team Arrow and even perhaps as a part of it. But that is all overshadowed by what is happening in the flashbacks, where Oliver and the Yamashiros’ freedom has become anything but.

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Arrow Season 3 Ep 17 (TV Show Review)

In recent weeks, CW’s Arrow has taken a somewhat darker turn, and it all has to do with how the metaplot concerning the League of Assassins has developed and the large shadow that the season villain, Ra’s al Ghul, has begun to cast on the characters. He is a downright manipulative bastard and since Oliver has refused to take up his offer of becoming the next Ra’s al Ghul, the current incumbent has seen fit to take it upon himself to make sure that Oliver does what he wants, no matter who has to die for that, criminals or innocents or both.

Last week’s “Suicidal Tendencies“, while it involved the Suicide Squad for much of the episode’s running length, was pivotal in what it made Oliver confront when it came to the League. Maseo is wholly sworn over to the League and he is now on a mission to destroy the Arrow’s reputation in Starling, on orders of Ra’s al Ghul. And this creates problems, not the least of which is Ray confronting the Arrow while decked out in his brand-new ATOM suit. And on the other side of the world in Kaznia, the Suicide Squad team does a few really unexpected things, things that really made me love the likes of Deadshot and Cupid. Oh and there was a wedding involved, which was kind of fun amongst the darkness.

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Comics Picks For 07.01.2015

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.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Arrow Season 2.5 #10 (Comics Review)

Arrow Season 2.5 kicked things off pretty nicely with the ninth issue a while back (I read it last week), and it was one where some recent plot developments on the third season filtered back into the tie-in comic. Set between the second and third seasons, the series helps bridge the narrative gap between the two and it has been chugging along very nicely indeed, focusing on the characters and their relationships with each other more than anything. Oh and yeah, there’s also some great 2-page Suicide Squad backups here, though some of them aren’t as exciting as others since it is taking a loooong time for the team to get off on its next mission.

In Arrow Season 2.5 #10, we finally see some great plot progression. Like I said above, the tension isn’t there so much since we know how the characters fare in the third season, but this is still some great stories being told, and this issue highlights that to a great degree by showing us how Oliver planned to take back control of Queen Consolidated after he unwittingly handed it over to Isabel Rochev in the second season. And also, we finally get to see the Suicide Squad make a move for its Kahndaq mission, which is what I’ve been waiting for since the early issues.

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Comics Picks For 31.12.2014

The first Comics Picks of the new year, and while I of course wished for a Magic 40 to kick off 2015, I’m happy with the fact that I didn’t go overboard much and read only a few measly 10 comics, two of which were graphic novels.

For the first week of 2015, the top hits were SHIELD #1 from Marvel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from Boom Studios, Legends of Red Sonja Volume 1 from Dynamite, and Star Trek/Planet of the Apes from IDW/Boom Studios. The disappointing reads of the week were both from Zenescope unfortunate, Dark Shaman #3 and Quest: Age of Darkness Volume 1. The others… they were decent, nothing major.

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.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Arrow Season 2.5 #9 (Comics Review)

The first four months of Arrow Season 2.5 have seen many ups and downs for the characters involved. Along with the return of Brother Blood, albeit under a new identity, we have also seen the introduction of a new villain, the return of some heroes, and the gearing up of Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad for another mission, this time against religious extremists. This tie-in comic to the show has been quite brilliant so far and though there have been a few things here and there that didn’t work for me, the writing and the art have both remained more or less consistent.

In the first installment of the title in the new year, this past week’s Arrow Season 2.5 #9, we see how some of the recently introduced plot-threads on the show filter back into this prequel comic as nightmares and visions. Some of the narrative flow between the different scenes felt a bit off but was made up by the fact that writers Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu delivered some really interesting character moments, putting aside the usual high-tempo action for a more sedate and personal story.

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Comics Picks For 10.12.2014

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 HexedJohn Carter: Warlord of MarsBatman: EternalBirthrightPrometheus: 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.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Arrow Season 2.5 #8 (Comics Review)

The previous issue of Arrow Season 2.5 was a pretty rough one for Oliver. It turned out that during his escape from the Church of Blood, the new Count Vertigo (played in the season 3 premiere by the amazing Peter Stormare) had dosed him with a dangerous hallucinagen and that made him fight his friends, and the memories of his family. As an exploration of Oliver’s damaged and tortured psyche, it was a fairly good installment and though it was a surprise to see Count Vertigo debut in the comic, it also made for a rather thrilling read toward the end so no complaints there.

In this week’s Arrow Season 2.5 #8, we see the consequences and lead-off from Oliver’s big fight against his memories and friends while dosed up on the drug from the new Count. It turns out actually that Sara is indeed in town on some assignment and she helps the team get back on its feet and beat-off the after-effects of a rather terrible night, a mission gone totally wrong. And on the other side, we have Waller continue to position her pieces with the Suicide Squad, preparing them to go to Kahndaq on a mission to kill a local warlord.

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Arrow Season 2.5 #7 (Comics Review)

I remarked back in the review for Arrow Season 2.5 #6 that despite rumours, the digital-first issue didn’t quite feel like an end to the “Blood” arc. It rounded off with the heroes escaping the clutches of the Church of Blood and them discovering some disturbing things about the enemy, which came as a shock to them. It was a good story for sure though, and I especially liked the thrust of the Suicide Squad 2-page backup, which has been one hell of a tease so far in this series, some three months into Season 2.5, almost maddeningly so.

In Arrow Season 2.5 #7, we see how the arc hasn’t really ended and how there is much more of a story here than Marc Guggenheim previously hinted at. And we see the introduction of one of the villains introduced in an early episode of the third season of the show, which was a real surprise and not something I was expecting. Really though, this issue is all about Oliver exploring his own damaged and tortured psyche, even as we see how things are really heating up in Kahndaq and the setup for the Suicide Squad to go in guns blazing. Oh and did I mention that there are a ton of guest artists on this issue?

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Comics Picks For 12.11.2014

Getting on a roll again, this week I managed to repeat the “Magic 40” with 2 graphic novels and 38 singles, with many of the latter being absolutely new series, so that was a lot of fun for the most part.

My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1  from Valiant Comics, Deep State #1 from Boom Studios, Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Vertigo Comics, and The Kitchen #1 from Vertigo Comics also. The most disappointing comics of this week were  Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #4 both from Marvel Comics, New 52 – Batman #36 from DC Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Hexed, Fables, New Suicide Squad, Red Sonja and Unity all proved to be immensely fun.

The graphic novels for this week were King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon by Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, and Fables Volume 5 by Bill Willingham, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Arrow Season 2.5 #6 (Comics Review)

While CW’s Arrow has been chugging along well enough with its third season, DC has been chugging along with its companion digital-first comic that explores the time between the last season and the new one. Not much has actually happened here, other than the fact that the Church of Blood has become resurgent under Clinton Hogue, Sebastian Blood’s henchman last season and has been causing all sorts of problem for the heroes. And in the last issue things got plenty screwy as Ollie and Diggle were both captured by the Church. Now, we see how this first arc ends.

Arrow Season 2.5 #6 is supposed to be the end of the first arc and while I enjoyed it, it doesn’t feel like quite the ending that it should be. It is basically a reprieve as the title moves off to other characters and other adventures. But the fact remains that Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu know all their characters really well and they tell compelling stories about them. Not to mention that the backup with the Suicide Squad feels really great and the art overall is as great as ever.

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