Blog Archives

Comics Picks of The Week 08.01.2014

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.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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NANP: On Choosing Names

Joining me today on the blog for Names: A New Perspective is one of 2013’s biggest debut authors, Jason M. Hough. Published by Del Rey Books/Random House, his Dire Earth Cycle trilogy is about a post-apocalyptic world brought on by the advent of an alien space elevator in Darwin, Australia in the near future. I’ve only read the first two books so far, The Darwin Elevator (review) and The Exodus Towers (review), but I have been impressed by both, and The Darwin Elevator even made my “Best Debuts of 2013” list. Both books are really good explorations of a human society that is struggling to survive in the face of a Resident Evil style viral epidemic and dwindling resources while at the same time also riven by the base natures of individuals who care only about power. I would recommend both books highly and will say that whatever Jason puts out next, I’ll definitely be reading it. In the meanwhile, while I figure out when to read the concluding novel in the trilogy, The Plague Forge, here’s what Jason has to say on the topic of names.

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Comics Picks of The Week 31.12.2013

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!

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Rocket Girl #2-3 (Comics Review)

Part of Image Comics’ 2031 fall line-up, Rocket Girl debuted in October and quickly become quite a favourite. A mix of a near-future setting where there are teen cops, a fun protagonist with a really fun attitude and personality who is one of those teen cops, time travel into the past, and overall some really good writing and art, Rocket Girl was definitely among my favourite reads of the month. All the elements put together by writer Brandon Montclare and artist Amy Reeder really gelled as a whole for the debut issue and I hoped that the next two issues would hold up to that.

Which they do. Rocket Girl #2 and #3 came out soon after, in November and then December, and they have both been as good as the first, at the least. There’s been a slight bit of dodginess with the script, but nothing too severe and not enough for me to not enjoy the story at all as it turns out. What matters most here is that both these issues have continued to do some really fun things with the characters and the setting, and there have been surprises galore to keep me hooked on for the rest of it.

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Best of 2013 Part 2a: Books

Since 2013 is now over, its time to do my second “Best of the Best” list, for the second half of the year from July-December. There were some really good reads in this period, and as always, picking the best has been a chore. I always try to keep these lists as diverse as I can and hopefully you agree.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then! Read the rest of this entry

Best Debuts of 2013

In a lot of ways, 2013 has been a fairly good year for debut novels, as much as 2012 was. There have been some really fantastic releases, and they have all continued an unofficial tradition of doing something different with the genres that they have been set in. I can say for certain that of all the debut novels I read this year, none of them have been quite what I expected. Some of these novels have been really, really good while a small handful have been disappointing.

I put together a list at the end of last year in which I ran through my top picks of all the debuts I’d read, and I found the experience to be quite rewarding, and a great help in figuring out just why these novels were so good beyond just writing up the reviews.

All in all, of the 20 debut novels I wanted to read this year as per my list (link), I read 18 of them. Here are the 8 books I consider to be the best of the bunch.

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Advent Review #25: Almost Human Season 1 Eps 1-3 (TV Show Review)

Almost Human is one of the newest shows to join the Fall line-up of television entertainment and it is yet another police procedural. But where it departs from the norm is that it is also an SF thriller through and through. It is set in the future and in this setting, each cop is paired up with a synthetic, an android cop. The ever-fantastic Karl Urban and the excellent Michael Ealy are in the lead roles here and much as with Fox’s Sleepy Hollow pairing of Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, the interaction between the two leads is what really helps sell the show.

I’d seen the trailer for the show a few weeks ago when io9 ran a round-up of the debut shows, but I’d forgotten about it since then. But a couple friends on Twitter were talking about them recently and I got interested all over again. So I decided to watch the shows, and came away with yet another big hit for myself. With Arrow, Sleepy Hollow and now Almost Human, my TV viewing has never been better. Almost Human hits pretty much all the right notes for me and the storytelling, the visuals, and the acting are all top-notch in here.

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Comics Picks of The Week 11.12.2013

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.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Advent Review #16: Arpeggio of Blue Steel Season 1 Ep 2 (Anime Review)

In an action-oriented anime like Arpeggio of Blue Steel or any of the Gundam series, it is always vital that the anime deliver on that promise and that the action scenes always be tense affairs with a fair sprinkling of tactics and strategy. This lends an air of realism to the anime and enhances the viewing experience, at least for me. In its pilot episode, Arpeggio delivered on that promise quite handsomely, more so for the fact that it featured extensive naval combat, which isn’t something that’s all that common really. And it did a fair job of introducing all the characters and the premise itself, so I was definitely interested in sticking with the anime for a while.

I saw the second episode last night and while it was a bit thin on character progression and even on story progression, it did satisfy some of my urges and held my interest from start to finish. The very fact that the anime features so much naval combat, on the same level as Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED: Destiny means that I’m liking it for the most part despite some of its flaws in the animation department. The anime looks visually appealing, quite a bit, but there are times  the CGI fails to impress despite all the great little quirks.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #3

For this new seasonal end of year list, the third book cover that I pick is Stephanie Saulter’s debut novel for Jo Fletcher Books, Gemsigns, the first novel in the ®Evolution near-future series which deals with the ethics of genetic engineering and whether or not those genetically engineered can be considered human or not. It is the most thought-provoking novel that I’ve read this year and also one of the best. Where most SFF novels content themselves with telling a story with good/great characters, this novel went the extra mile and actually made me think about the events therein.

And the third comics cover that I pick is the fourth and final issue of Mateus Santolouco and Erik Burnham’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of The Foot Clan, which Mateus drew as well. A short mini-series that delved into the origins of Shredder, the Foot Clan and Master Splinter himself, it stands as one of the best TMNT stories that I’ve experienced to date. Possibly the best. Which is a pretty damn big deal, all things considered. It reignited my love of the characters and the setting, something that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

So 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.

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Arpeggio of Blue Steel Season 1 Ep 1 (Anime Review)

I’ve been a fan of anime since my college days, when a friend got me hooked on stuff like Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Rurouni Kenshin. In all my time watching anime, the mecha anime genre has really drawn my interest, the one genre that has really drawn me in. In recent years, I’ve attempted to branch out of that and watch some other styles of anime, like Death Note and Samurai Champloo. New anime on the block, Arpeggio of Blue Steel, bridges both interests. It is military SF with a strong naval combat twist to it.

I heard about Arpeggio of Blue Steel last week through an article on Kotaku that talked about the top 5 anime series to watch out for this fall. The description really intrigued me and so I decided to get it. I saw the first episode this weekend and I have to say that it is off to an interesting start. The first episode reminds me of the opening episodes for both Gundam 00 and Gundam SEED. They started off slow and picked up in later episodes. I just had to stick with it all.

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Robocop: The Last Stand #1 by Frank Miller and Steven Grant (Comics Review)

Growing up, the Robocop animated series was very much fringe viewing for me. I was never really interested in it to the same degree as I was with stuff like Johnny Quest, Tom & Jerry, Aladdin, Superman, Batman or a whole bunch of other shows from the same era. But, I enjoyed watching it all the same and if an episode of Robocop was on, I’d be certain that I watched it in full. I even used to borrow a cousin’s taped VHSs on occasion.

When I heard recently that Boom Studios was doing a mini-series based on Frank Miller’s unused screenplay for Robocop 3, I was pretty interested. I’ve never seen the Robocop movies, so I don’t know what kind of quality they had or what have you, but this news got me intrigued enough to find out more. I’ve actually had this issue for a while, but never quite got around to reading it. But I did read it a few minutes ago, mostly looking for something completely different to the stuff I usually read, and I have to say that this series is off to a so-so start.

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