DC’s Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman got off to a really great start last year, but somewhere along the way, it kind of lost its momentum with some really odd stories that seemed to be shoehorned in, for no reason at all. And that’s kind of why I felt turned off from the experience of reading the comics, and even writing the reviews, because I didn’t want to review what I saw as less-than-expected. There were some good stories in the middle, sure, but mostly, it was all just rather boring.
Thankfully, issues #33 through #35 provide something of a revival in that respect. Some of the recent stories have been really good, and I think that it is this arc, Vendetta, that puts it all into perspective. Written by Josh Elder, this arc is all about a fateful encounter between Diana and Ares, set against the backdrop of a racial civil war in a war-torn African country. It feels simplistic at first, but it has a great message, and that’s the true value of it. The art by Jamal Igle, Juan Castro, Wendy Broome and Deron Bennett is also fairly decent, though it could use some improvements.
As I’ve mentioned before, Geoff Johns’ Justice League found a new lease on life following the Forever Evil crossover and that it returned to its previous levels of awesome, especially with artists Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson coming on-scene to provide the other half of the team. The AMAZO virus storyline was definitely all kinds of awesome, and I really enjoyed getting back into such an involved and moving story after the (almost) dead beats of Forever Evil. But now it is time for something different yet again, and recent experience seems to hold up well in the new arc.
With the recent Justice League #40, Geoff Johns is kicking off yet another new phase in the title, this one titled “Darkseid War“. The issue itself is told through the viewpoint of the being known as Metron, a universal entity far above the ken of even such mighty beings as superheroes. The entire issue is pretty much his monologue, and we learn some startling things about the DC universe, as well as the true nature of the being known as the Anti-Monitor and how the ongoing Convergence event fits into the whole tapestry that Geoff and others at DC have been working on of late.
There haven’t been any “Comics Picks of the Week” articles for a while, and the major reason for that is because I’ve just been too caught up with other stuff and I just can’t be… well bothered. It just takes too much out of my time to keep these titles going, especially when Wednesdays also see me trying to get through two TV shows and doing reviews for them. Though, that situation has kind of abated now.
Anyway, this week’s surprise hits were Batman: Arkham Knight #2 and Gotham Central Book 1 from DC. It was a relatively small week for me since I didn’t read all that many new titles and most of those were middling. Ongoing greats were Django/Zorro #4, John Carter: Warlord of Mars #4, Fantastic Four #643 , Inhuman #12, Aquaman #39 , Catwoman #39 , and He-Man: The Eternity War #3 among others .
Not much of a secret of late that ever since Selina took over as the Head of the Calabrese-Kyle family that things have been heating up between the various crimelords of Gotham. She is a completely new element thrown into the picture, someone who never worked well with any of the others, being a lone wolf of sorts, but now she is suddenly at the head of the entire pack. Since taking over from the previous writer, Genevieve Valentine has been crafting a pretty incredible tale with the “former” Catwoman, and artists Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge have clearly enjoyed going to town with the new status quo of the titular character.
With all that Selina has been through of late, there are still plenty of challenges ahead of her and this past week’s Catwoman #39 presents one of the many ways in which she has started to bounce back after all the setup of the previous issue. This time, she takes Roman Sionis head on and even attempts to influence the Hasigawa family. Her enemies are all converging on her, and Genevieve shows that Selina is at her best with her back to the wall. This issue also presents some new opportunities to the artists, and they deliver quite well on the expectations.
In recent months, Geoff Johns’ Justice League seems to have found a new lease on being awesome after all the unpleasantness of the Forever Evil crossover, and has become one of my most anticipated titles in any given month. The current story arc with the AMAZO virus is incredibly by all accounts, and it is really nice to see a comic that mixes in supervillains working alongside superheroes work out so well. Plus, who can really fault a comic where the Justice League has to depend on Lex Luthor to save the day and even work with him on it? Crazy, I tell you!
We have seen in the previous issues that as far as the AMAZO virus is concerned, the fate of metahumans everywhere and even the world hangs in the balance. And all that stands between this supposedly sentient and ever-evolving virus and the world are Lex Luthor, Superman and Wonder Woman. Batman was a part of the action too, but unfortunately he too has “fallen” and is now part of the enemy host. What this issue does really well is show off the antagonism between Lex and Superman in a great way, while Wonder Woman gets some of the most amazing action sequences that a female superhero at DC has gotten in the last three and a half years.
In the world of Swamp Thing, the new Machine Kingdom has made some incredible advances in a very short amount of time, going so far as to create its own Avatar, thereby picking one of the titular hero’s greatest enemies as its champion. And the battle that has followed from that has not been kind to the hero or his closest allies either. In fact, Swamp Thing and the others are losing the fight, and that’s where the fun really comes in I think, to see the hero tested beyond what you’d expect, and to see the incredibly rich lore of Swamp Thing really come alive.
In Swamp Thing #39 from last week, we pick up from where we left off in the last issue, namely with the cliffhanger of Swamp Thing being confronted by his own formally mortal body, now reincarnated by the Machine Queen to serve as her ace in the hole. The new issue is absolutely brutal in its execution, and writer Charles Soule sets a brutal pace for the reader. Losing to the combined power of his doppelganger, the Machine Queen and Arcane, Swamp Thing is now in for the battle of his life, to eke out the smallest measure of victory from these dark events.
DC’s Grayson has been very impressive since its debut, with only an odd issue along the way that didn’t exactly capture my attention, and that’s saying something since each issue has pushed boundaries. And last month Grayson #6 pushed even more boundaries by finally setting up a defining conflict between Agent 37 and Midnighter, one that proved to be really informative on how Dick sees himself, and how people constantly underestimate him, whether his allies or enemies. And you underestimate Dick Grayson aka Agent 37 only at cost to your own self.
Following the events of the previous issue where Dick came to blows for a third time against the Midnighter and finally met the Gardener finally Helena Bertinelli aka Matron figured out what the Fist of Cain was planning, this past week’s issue sees the hero try to set off a psychological bomb going off in Tel Aviv during a concert. There’s some really intricate stuff happening, and each is quite merited after all the cloak-and-dagger stuff of late, despite the occasional high-intensity action. But the ending, well that is indeed something different.
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.
Last Fast-Shot Comics Review for comics released in January 2015!
The picks for this week are: Bitch Planet #2, Jungle Book: Fall of The Wild #2, Robyn Hood #6, Wolverines #1-4, Gotham By Midnight #1-3 and Unity #13-14.
Its really not a good time for Selina Kyle, or should I say, Selina Kyle-Calabrese. The head of the Calabrese crime family that rules a good portion of Gotham. She also happens to be in direct opposition to Roman Sionis aka the Black Mask and the Hasigawa family, though she is courting them for now and has a temporary alliance in place. With the advent of the new creative team, the title has undergone a serious makeover and has come off the better for it thankfully, with a superb crime story that also has some really great thriller moments to it.
When last we were with Selina, she had just ordered the death of her cousin, at the hands of his sister no less, and was also taken down a few pegs in the eternal battle for control of all criminal activities in Gotham. That definitely hurt her reputation and now in Catwoman #38 we see how she plans to bounce back from all of that, to regain the lost prestige of her family, and to come out of the experience with a solid and even unenviable position amongst all the other families. The story is great, the art is great, what more can you want really?
From one great story arc to the next, there’s no stopping Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier it seems. The current arc, Maelstrom, has really done a number on fleshing out Aquaman’s personal history and also that of Atlantis itself. That is indeed something that seems to have carried over from Geoff Johns’ run on the title, and it seems that Jeff Parker is going all-in by showing us more of Atlantis’ past and what really happened to Atlanna, Arthur’s mother, on the night of her assassination. It has been a crazy ride so far and it doesn’t look it is stopping anytime soon.
Last month in Aquaman #37 we saw that Arthur and Mera took a portal from Atlantis to Gorilla City, met up with both Solovar and Grodd, and came to some interesting conclusions. Of course, Grodd is always a treacherous bastard, and he did betray them all at the end of the turn, but that was expected anyway and now we see what happens in the aftermath of that. There are yet more twists in this story, and we see some nice connections with the upcoming Aquaman movie too, a nod to be sure, but still good stuff.
DC’s Supergirl experienced yet another creative team change about 2 months back, and thankfully, it has been a good change for once, with a team that is focused on empowering and developing the titular character without making her suffer through yet more angst and family issues that were so… roughly executed in the first three years of the rebooted title. Putting the character in a school-environment in outer space has done wonders for the character as far as I’m concerned, and that’s what I want to see more of, as this particular story is developed further.
The first 2 issues by the new creative team did a lot to flesh out the new phase of Supergirl, as the titular character met some new people, honed her abilities further, and learned more about the wider galaxy. At the same time, she has also had somewhat of a tough time fitting in, having had to contend against some natural biases among her fellow students at Crucible Academy, and that’s where this book really excels I think. Goes without saying that the art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Hi-Fi, Rob Leigh and Tomeu Morey has also worked out really well with the new direction.