The first half of Realm War: Age of Darkness was packed with a hell of a lot of action. Writer Joe Brusha devoted a lot of time to fleshing out the post-Grimm Fairy Tales #100 world, one in which the bad guys won and took over the realms, even as the heroes rose up again to fight them, to reclaim their individual worlds. And things have certainly been downhill for them for most of the way. It was a rather classical approach, and it worked out well for me, for Brusha presented lots of fun mysteries and relationships, even as artists Sami Kivela and Maxflan Araujo went to town on the illustrations and all the cool action sequences and what have you.
But, Realm War #7 marks a turning point in that we move into the second half of this epic crossover, and the good guys are now starting to make some real headway. Despite all the adversity, all the losses and the betrayals, it looks like the good guys finally have a real chance of stopping the Dark Queen (retrospectively we know already that they win, courtesy of the other titles from the publisher, namely Grimm Fairy Tales itself). Issues 7 through 9 are full of more epic action, more character moments, etc, and it is the ninth issue that finally gets the ball really rolling, as the heroes strike out for a major blow against the villains, a definitive one in fact.
Last month’s installment of Grimm Fairy Tales proved to be a rather interesting one in that it developed some of the concepts introduced back in Grimm Fairy Tales #102, and it was also a stand-alone, so it helped center readers with respect to the meta-story of the series. However, while the issue was interesting, it didn’t wow me as much as the other issues prior to it, and I was hoping that it would just be a blip on the radar-like, because generally in recent months the title has been really good, and I wanted it to stay like that.
Fortunately, this past week’s Grimm Fairy Tales #107 gets things back on track in a great way. It is the start of a new arc on the series, focusing on a former Realm Knight who kinda sorta went missing sometime back, and the issue also brings back Agent Jessica Ciampo, one of my favourite characters from the Age of Darkness crossover, so it was generally all good. I certainly enjoyed this issue much more than I did the last, possibly because it feels like a fresh start, and I’m all for something like that.
Another week of a “Magic 40”, though no graphic novels.
This week’s surprise hits were Ivar, Timewalker #1 from Valiant, Mortal Kombat X #4 from DC, and Twilight Zone: Shadow And Substance #1 from Dynamite. The disappointments of the week were Spider-Woman #3 from Dynamite and Spider-Verse #2 and The Amazing Spider-Man #13 from Marvel and Vampirella: Feary Tales #4 from Dynamite. Ongoing greats were Wonder Woman ’77 #3 , The Flash: Season Zero #11 and Supergirl #38 from DC, Black Widow #14 and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #4 from Marvel, and, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #6 from Zenescope among others.
With all the meta-level shenanigans that have been going on in Zenescope’s Realm War: Age of Darkness series of late, it is easy sometimes to lose sight of the small details. But they are always there, and each issue focuses on something different from the rest. This then ends up giving space to some of these mysteries to develop in each issue, and that’s what I love about this ensemble-cast series, that it focuses on both the meta and the more immediate stories so you get a healthy balance of both.
In Realm War: Age of Darkness #6 from this past week, we finally learn one of the biggest secrets of the Grimm Universe, and thus are able to finally figure out why Robyn has been such an important character since her birth, and why Lucinda the Dark Queen courted her so damn much, eventually turning over the Realm Knight to the cause of the evil and mighty Dark Horde. But that’s not everything here since we also get to see how Sela and the others are holding up in the face of constant attacks by the Dark Horde and how it is breaking them all on an emotional level.
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.
The first arc on the softly-rebooted Grimm Fairy Tales ended last month, and it was a fairly good end to a fairly strong arc. We got to meet with the next generation of probable Realm Knights and saw how they all interacted with each other and how they were all influences by their own past events, their histories and their own experiences. It created what I think of as a really volatile mix since they are all coming off the Realmsopcalypse that was Age of Darkness, and while things are back to normal, there are still some things needing a work-out.
In this week’s Grimm Fairy Tales #106, we are witness to the start of a new arc, and it doesn’t go off without its own troubles. The students begin combat training under Shang, and their differences quickly rise to the fore, especially between Ali and Wulf, all of it leading to some rather dark things in the second half of the issue. On the other hand, we have Sela seeking answers as to whether her new charges just might be too powerful for their own good, or if there’s a way that their immense powers can be curtailed. I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as I have the other ones, especially from an art perspective, but it was a decent issue still.
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!
As I’ve mentioned in several places this year, Zenescope’s Age of Darkness crossover event has been really good from all that I’ve read and it continues to be so as the event progresses. Going on for almost a year now, with a lot of prep before that, we’ve seen how the Realms have come under attack from all sides and how the heroes have been tested by their before enemies and how, for the moment, that villains have gained the upper hand. I jumped into the story in the middle of everything back in with the Grimm Fairy Tales #0 FCBD issue, and then carried on with some of the specials that came along, but I didn’t go back to read the whole story from the beginning until much later.
Age of Darkness Volume 1 collects issues 94-98 of Grimm Fairy Tales and also the Dark Queen: Age of Darkness one-shot that preceded the first of those, back in January. While the lead-up to the event had been happening before that, it wasn’t until the Dark Queen: Age of Darkness one-shot that things really kicked off when the Dark Queen made herself known to the Realm Knights. What followed after that in the flagship Grimm Fairy Tales was basically a bunch of one-shots that touched on many of the different things happening in the Realms as the heroes and villains made their moves and countermoves against each other. And in all of this, one thing was a constant: Lucinda is an insane evil queen and she wants what she wants, no matter who or what she has to destroy. Kind of fun!
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.
After the end of a first arc involving an evil Genie released in Arcane Acre courtesy of the silly curiosity of Wulf and Hailey, last month writer Pat Shand kicked off a new arc, a 2-parter that delved into Hailey’s origins in Neverland and explored why and how she came to study at Arcane Acre with the new Realm Knights-in-training. It was a fairly good issue since while I’m familiar with most of the other characters, Hailey and Wulf are among those I know nothing about and the new arc helped me get familiar with them.
At the end of last month’s issue we saw that Sela managed to intervene on Neverland and get the kids back to Arcane Acre, all except Wulf who got left behind, through no fault of his or Sela’s or anyone else. Pat Shand picks up the story from the get go after that and launches straight into the action after that. This one is quite the action-packed issue, by a good margin, and we get to see Wulf become a badass hero, even as Hailey’s life is completely turned around once again. Pat Shand certainly doesn’t relent on the narrative front and Andrea Meloni’s art fares pretty well under the pressure too, not as much as I’d hoped for.
A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.
No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.