Even though Fox’s Gotham had an interesting enough mid-season finale, the changes in the status quo didn’t really stick it out once the show came back on air a month ago, and things were back to normal pretty damn quick, as it were. All of which was rather disappointing since I was really looking forward to the writers exploring with the concept of Jim Gordon being a shift guard at Arkham. But at the same time we got to see the awesome Morena Baccarin as Dr. Leslie Thompkins, and things looked somewhat positive on that front.
In episodes 13 and 14 of the show, we see what the city is like once Jim Gordon is back in the GCPD as a full detective and thus back on the streets. And things are pretty damn crazy right now since Fish Mooney has finally been outed as Carmine Falcone’s enemy and is on the death-list, with Oswald Cobbelpot’s star in the ascendancy. While the main story deals with corrupt narcotics cops and the fearsome Dr. Crane, the subplots deal with the criminal politics of the city. And I’ve gotta admit that I’m starting to lose my excitement with the show since the stories are becoming more mundane and tiring than ever before.
Fox’s Gotham had a very interesting mid-season finale in that it ended with Gordon demoted from being a Detective on the GCPD to a watchman at the Arkham facility, which had recently been the metaphorical scene for a war of control between Don Falcone and Don Maroni. Other characters weren’t all that well-off either, and it seemed that the show was going to take a rather dark turn, more so than expected, and that with the whole status quo shake-up things would get really interesting in that nothing was certain and there was a lot of chaos going on in everyone’s life, which works for me on one level.
But it seems that the writers aren’t really committed to making the new status quo stick for too long. Because while the mid-season premiere two weeks back was fairly solid and promised a lot, the follow-up this week (with a weird break in between) didn’t work so well for me. And that kind of highlights the shortcomings of the show in that the writers often put forward some really great ideas, but they don’t go the distance with them, coming up short to take things in a yet another direction. And that kind of rankles as a fan, particularly when one half of the cast doesn’t even get any screen-time in these two episodes! Criminal, I tell you!
Note: Some spoilers from these two episodes are mentioned in the review.
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.
I skipped outon the previous week since there was a very small number of comics released, and I wasn’t really interested in reviewing more of them than I already did. So, welcome to the first good and proper edition of this new feature, and have a blast!
The picks for this week are: Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #3, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2, Operation: SIN #1, Detective Comics #37-38, Justice League 3000 #12-13 and Vampirella #7-8.
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!
The eleventh book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for James Lovegrove’s Age of Shiva, the latest novel in his Pantheon series. The new novel is a major departure from the previous novels since it covers Hindu Mythology this time, and presents the most compelling “origin” yet of the superhero-ish characters to be found within. With a subtle story that also deals with issues of cultural misappropriation and religious satire, Age of Shiva stands as one of the best novels I’ve read this year.
The first of the eleventh set of comic covers I pick this year is for John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 by Ron Marz, Abhishek Malsuni, Nanjan Jamberi and Rob Steen, with the cover by Bart Sears (another variant this time). The second is for Justice League #36 by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Carlos M. Mangual with the cover by Jason and Brad. The third and final cover is for Velvet #8 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser and Chris Eliopoulos, with the cover by Steve and Elizabeth. The first of these is obviously the first in a new series, one that has been pretty damn good in its first issues, with its soft reboot of John Carter’s mythology as developed by Dynamite and going in a very different to before. The second is for a series that I’ve recently come back to, only to find that two of my favourite artists are now on the title, which pleases me immensely, and the AMAZO virus story has been pretty fun I’ll admit. The third one is for a title that I think is one of the best ongoing titles of this year, by a good margin, with its focus on an awesome female protagonist and some great noir spy-action.
So without further ado, hit the break to see all the covers in their full glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
As it moved towards its mid-season finale, Gotham introduced viewers to a new version of ADA Harvey Dent, one of the most classic of all Batman villains, known also as Two-Face. It was a fairly good episode, though also quite filler in some ways, so not all that exciting. But still, the job done with Dent, both acting-wise and visually, was good, and it made me really like Harvey. A very different take on the character than what we’ve seen before, especially since the Batman: The Animated Series cast him as an of-age friend to Bruce Wayne, but either way, this guy is going to have a big influence on the future Batman and this week’s new episode proves why.
This week saw the mid-season finale of Gotham. Building on from plot-threads introduced in last week’s “Harvey Dent” this week’s “Lovecraft” finds assassins infiltrating Wayne Manor to kill Selina Kyle and all the adventures that result while on the other side of Gotham Don Falcone tries to find out who it was that raided his armoury and stole his money and all that. This was a much better episode in a lot of ways than some of the previous ones, more so because this one actually gave us an interesting angle on the Waynes’ murder other than just “Selina Kyle saw the murderer”. Definitely a recommended watch.
Hard to believe that we are moving into the THIRD month of Gotham. How things change! When the show was announced, I didn’t care about it and thought it was all a big joke. But then the premiere happened and something fantastic and wonderful began that I haven’t been able to keep my eyes away from. In its first seven weeks, the show set up some really great things and delivered some pretty big moments. And now, it seems the show is moving into its second phase, introducing new plotlines while carrying forward a few of the old ones and continuing to show Gotham’s slow decline into insanity.
The villain in last week’s “The Mask” didn’t really work for me and I said as much in the review. I took far greater pleasure in seeing how previous plot-threads were carried on rather than what happened with the villain. And that’s kind of the thing here as well. There isn’t really one villain in this episode, more like a handful of them with none really getting any actual development. But once again, past plotlines really come to the fore here and in Nicholas D’Agosto, Gotham seems to have found a really, really great Harvey Dent, aka the future Two-Face. Kudos on that front!
In last week’s episode of Gotham, we got to see some really big things happen. There were lots of plot-threads running through the episode that found their genesis in the show’s premier, and it brought things to a nice conclusion, for now. The game board was changed in a major way and the cliffhanger promised more chaos in the future episodes. I loved it. It was the best episode on the show, by far, and I loved that the writers were dedicated to providing game-changing twists. The show has had a somewhat troubled beginning, but it is now settling, and I expect greater things from it.
Which is where this week’s episode, “The Mask” comes in. After the status quo changed last week, this week’s episode is more of a “setting the scene” episode. It goes back to the villain-of-the-week format, but it also moves the story forward and addresses some of the elephants in the room, such as the fact that Fish knows Penguin is now working for Maroni and that the entire precinct abandoned Gordon when Zsasz came for him. The villain this week didn’t do much for me, so my satisfaction this week came from the threads carried over from last week, and seeing how many of the relationships on the show have now changed.
I’ve said this before and I say it again, Image’s Velvet keeps getting better with every issue almost without fail. Against all my expectations, this title has gotten better and better with time, and both the writing and the art have been the cause of that from the start. Velvet Templeton is a fantastic superspy who is so much better than any superspy in pop culture. This series has drama and action in equal measure while still maintaining he noir vibe that is at the heart of the series. Recently, she has taken some really drastic measures, and it is time for them to pay off now.
In this past week’s Velvet #8, we see what happens after Velvet kidnaps the Director of ARC-7, the spy organisation she was a part of until she seemingly went rogue back in the first issue. Ever since finding out abou the very recent death of an ARC-7 agent, she has been a woman on a mission, retracing his steps and also going back in time as she discovers some secrets about her own past and her field service for ARC-7. In the new issue, Ed Brubaker really ramps things up while Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser deliver some gorgeous visuals.
Right in the very first episode of Gotham, we saw some pretty big things happen. The Waynes were murdered. Gordon and Bullock caught the supposed murderer and killed him (though it later turned out that it was a setup). The two came close to losing their lives at the hands of Fish Mooney, one of Gotham’s resident mob bosses, working under Falcone. And Gordon was forced to kill Oswald Cobblepot, or so everyone believed. It was a right ruckus and in the cliffhanger last week, Oswald revealed publicly that he was very much alive, though that does create a lot of problems for Gordon.
Through and through, this week’s “Penguin’s Umbrella” is entirely focused on Gordon as it shows the aftermath of Oswald’s revelation and what it means for the young, unjaded cop as he strives to make a difference in the city. He is a marked man since he went against the orders of Carmine Falcone and everyone is pretty much just waiting for him to drop dead. This episode is pretty much the best episode of the show so far, showing what Gotham can really be like in a lot of ways, and we also see the cameo of a long-standing Batman villain here, who is every bit as creepy as you’d expect him to be. The cliffhanger is pretty damn jaw-dropping as well, and I dare say that Gotham can definitely hold its own against Arrow and The Flash if it continues like this.