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.
It has been quite an interesting month in many respects as far as Marvel’s latest round of relaunches is concerned. This is their big month, marking the release of several new series such as Avengers World, All-New X-Factor, Black Widow and more. It seems that in the first months of all the new series, Marvel is double-shipping the titles, and with Black Widow at least that has really paid off since Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto have delivered on an amazing book. I read All-New X-Factor #1 a couple weeks back and it was not so good. It was a letdown basically.
But All-New X-Factor #2 seems to be turning that around. I enjoyed the story for sure. I wasn’t really expecting it to be better, but it was and I have to say that there’s a big difference between this issue and the debut issue. The art is slightly better as well, although it could be more well-defined at the least, so there’s that. When all is said and done, I’m now getting interested in the title, and if things continue to improve, I can see myself sticking around for a while.
It seems that Marvel is taking a pretty big chance with its All-New Marvel NOW! launch of new titles (and a sprinkling of some relaunches as well) in that the new titles all appear to be double-shipping in their first months. That’s pretty significant I believe and hints also that they trust these books to that degree. Since Black Widow is the only title I’ve read so far (two issues that is), I won’t comment on whether it is a strategy that is working for me since the bigger picture needs to be looked at, but damn, Black Widow #2 was an awesome issue on all fronts.
Black Widow #1 was a damn good issue. The writing was perfect, and the art almost perfect. It was a perfect blending of talent for a character that I’ve really come to love thanks to the recent run of Marvel movies. With Black Widow #2, Nathan Edmondson continues to build on her world, perfectly contextualising her within the movies continuity while perfectly doing his own thing as well. I love what he is doing. And having now gotten a good taste of Phil Noto’s style, the art here was damn gorgeous.
Once again, a very light reading week, with no graphic novel reading at all. I took a trip to India and back over the weekend, mostly because preparations for a cousin’s upcoming marriage and mom’s treatment, so reading time was extremely limited. I’m even behind on my novel reading at the moment, so I’m generally not doing well on that front at all.
Some really fun titles launched this past week, such as Night of the Living Deadpool, so it was an entertaining week at least, for the most part.
Its been an interesting year for the movie industry, whether we talk Hollywood or Bollywood. Big tent-pole movies were the norm at the box office, and there were both successes and flops from each region. It can’t be denied either that some of the box offices successes have proved to be quite surprising, such as the runaway hits Frozen and The Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire, which continue to tell studio executives that female-led movies, especially action movies, CAN be successful if given a chance and that hiding behind ridiculous sexist attitudes and thinking just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Or let’s talk Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim which underperformed in the US but was a big hit in international markets and the reason for the former can no doubt be laid at the feet of the subversive trend in American media of trash-talking movies that are different.
But enough of that. This post, the first such that I’m doing, is meant to celebrate the movies that I thoroughly enjoyed this year, whether Hollywood or Bollywood, and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. So let’s have at it.
Its been almost two months since I last did a review for this show. Some of you might have wondered why. I mean, I was covering the show on a weekly basis with every new episode for nine weeks straight and then I didn’t cover the mid-season finale, which was a rather explosive moment for the series, on several different levels. Those of you who follow me on social media knew well how I felt about that episode though. Sadly, my feelings have hardly changed with the show’s return and the recent two episodes. Thing is, for me the mid-season finale was very boring, with the follow-up episode being extremely disappointing and this week’s episode being barely decent.
The mid-season finale brought back Mike Peterson, who we last saw in the series premiere. It was an episode with a personal twist for him and the ending made me really frustrated. The mid-season premiere made me cringe all throughout. And this week’s episode, while it had some good moments and was overall better than the previous two episodes, still did not make a dent in my growing dislike of the show. At this point, I’m just about going through the motions. I went from tuning in for the show weekly to catching up on the two recent episodes this weekend late at night the day before and yesterday. I just can’t get all that excited any more.
Note: This review contains spoilers about the resurrection of Phil Coulson and other important moments, particularly Skye’s mysterious parents.
Last week Marvel began the revival of its Marvel UK line with Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 by Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill and Rich Elson. It was a pretty good first issue for a new series, actually the first in a new crossover specific to Marvel UK, and I really liked it. I had no prior connection to any of the characters so that uniqueness helped the charm too. That issue ended on a really interesting note and I was excited about how Kieron Gillen and Dietrich Smith would handle Dark Angel, who made her revived first appearance in the closing stages of Alpha #1. Sadly, the reality failed to match the expectations.
Handling a character’s revival isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The main problem I had with this issue is that it went to great lengths to give me Dark Angel’s back-story and it was all poorly executed. That is the bottomline. While Smith’s art is really good for the most part, Gillen’s script and his dialogue just did not work for me, and I can only hope that the next couple issues pick up the slack and do better, because this is a series that I do want to like.
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.
To continue with the whole theme of Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative which has heralded several relaunches, this week also saw the resurgence of the publisher’s Marvel UK titles with Revolutionary War: Alpha #1. Until last year, I had no idea that Marvel had a distinct line of British heroes and villains. Then I heard about Captain Britain passing on his mantle to Faiza Hussain as part of the Age of Ultron and my curiosity was piqued but I didn’t have the reading space then to really explore the Marvel UK line. With the advent of the Revolutionary War crossover though, I can get on board!
Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 is the first issue of this entire crossover which will span several titles and bring back a good majority of the Marvel UK characters. The heroes of this particular series appear to be Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom, plus some other characters who are recruited and brought on board over the course of this issue. Based on this issue, I’d say that things are off to a fairly good start, whether we talk about the writing or the art, both of which were quite good despite a few flaws here and there.
Just earlier this week I was listening to Kelly Thompson’s podcast with Sue from DC Women Kickin’ Ass where they talked about gender parity at Marvel and DC, both in terms of the characters and the creators. And a point was raised that Marvel has done less than DC, or that DC is currently just better with it. The podcast was released just after NYCC last year, and some of the news that came out at the time was about Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative which would mark the first big step forward in the company’s Marvel NOW! relaunch of its titles, with a slew of new titles, and a few restarts as well. In light of that news, while the creator gender parity hasn’t increased any, the character gender parity certainly has. And new title Black Widow is at the leading edge of that.
Black Widow should be familiar to anyone who’s been watching Marvel movies for about four years now. Under Scarlet Johannson, the character has seen a revival of sorts and she’s quickly become a fan favorite with the fandom demanding she get her own movie. I concur. This is why I was so taken up with the idea of a Black Widow solo comic because I see it as a great step forward to make that happen, though there’ve been a number of Black Widow titles over the years. With this new series, Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto deliver something truly amazing.